Drugs such as Ibuprofen and Asprin are widely available to us on supermarket shelves and the use of non NSAID anti-inflammatory use amongst us is massive in the UK and worlwide. According to Holford (2010) the US market for non steroidal anti-inflammatories is worth $30billion.
Are Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs safe? Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs account for more adverse drug reactions and deaths than any other class of drug! The $30billion dollar figure suggested by Holford is in fact made up of two parts. Firstly the $17billion for the drugs themselves, and secondly $13billion dollars for the treatment of side effects. This suggests that no, they are not as safe as we are led to believe.
As athletes we may well use Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs to fix minor injury or niggles, to reduce inflammation and pain from a hard training session or to reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis in well-worn knees after years of running. It is not made clear to us however that taking the NSAID, although swift symptomatic relief is observed, the long-term effects of arthritis for example are quickened and exacerbated.
Not only this, but in Holfords description of the health-drug cycle the use of Non NSAID anti-inflammatory are instrumental in the decline of health over time, from sub-optimal to seriously ill and death. The illustration blow shows where Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs fit in to the cycle.
The Drug-Health Cycle (Adapted from Holford 2010)
What Are The Alternatives To Non NSAID Anti-Inflammatory?
As cyclists, runners or triathletes should we take these drugs and are there any and what are the alternatives? Since the primary reason to consume Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs is for their anti-inflammatory properties I am vey pleased to show you some health-giving alternatives, that not only will provide the anti-inflammatory response but an array of health benefits too.
Natural pain killers:
1. Hop extract
2. Tumeric,active compound curcumin shown to be
5. my favourite ginger all have pain-killer properties.
(all available from your local health food shop in tablet form)
1. Fish oils and in particular look for the EPA and DHA content as well as their purity.
2. Krill oil is 'the next big thing' being claimed to be 44x more potent than fish oil with no toxins to purify from.
3. Antioxidant rich, polyphenol containing foods: green tea, grape skins, onions, and of course high ORAC rating fruits and vegetables. Olives contain an extract called hydroxytyrosol ten times more potent than vitamin C in terms of antioxidant power.
So in a nutshell I highly recommend avoiding non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs at all costs. Try the natural versions first for inflammation and pain relief and keep the drugs for real emergencies. Certainly if you are in a habit of taking Non NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs on a regular basis then it is recommended to reduce or stop alltogether.