Dr. David Brownstein,  editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter, is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

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Advil User? Read This

Monday, 02 May 2011 12:31 PM


Question: How safe are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)?

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

Danish researchers studied more than a million subjects to ascertain the safety of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also called NSAIDs (i.e., ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.). Specifically, the scientists looked at the relationship between cardiovascular problems and the use of NSAIDs.

According to results published in the July 2010 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, one type of NSAID, diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam), was associated with a 91 percent increased risk of cardiovascular death. Rofecoxib (Vioxx) showed a 66 percent increase. Furthermore, there was a dose-dependent increase; the larger the dose of the drug, the more the risk of cardiovascular death increased.

The researchers also reported a 29 percent increased risk for fatal or nonfatal stroke associated with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin). Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) did not show an increased cardiovascular risk in this study.

All drugs that poison enzymes or block receptors should be used with caution, as they all have adverse effects. Long-term use of NSAIDs has been shown to cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys; use of NSAIDs is a leading cause of kidney failure. NSAIDs also increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

There is nothing wrong with a short course of anti-inflammatory medications. However, you should try to minimize the length of time you take them. There are many natural therapies for inflammation that do not have the adverse effects of NSAIDs. These include digestive enzymes, ginger, iodine, and vitamin C.

But the very best anti-inflammatory treatment is to maintain adequate hydration.


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