NSAID anti inflammatory drugs are a part of modern life. Fast paced and stressful at times, with many hours spent sitting in front of a screen, sitting on the sofa and sitting in the car. Always on the go juggling career, family, social life etc.

It’s no wonder we are turning into a nation of pill poppers – NSAID addicts.

For example do you get headaches? How often? Are they stress related or something else?

The fact is many many people suffer from headaches on a regular basis. But are the drugs we take for them safe? Are NSAID anti inflammatory drugs safe to take?

According to the drug advisory body NICE headaches are one of the most common complaints presented to GPs and neurologists, with more than 10 million people in the UK experiencing them frequently or at regular intervals.


Headaches And Pain Killers


Did you know that 90 percent of headaches are actually related to hydration, and that they are a symptom that something is wrong.

In this case the headache could be internally brought on, or in others it could be external stresses that cause the problem. So why do we mask the symptom, rather than fix the problem?

Whatever the cause, a headache is a symptom that something is wrong, and many people who suffer from headaches choose to treat them with over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin – NSAID non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs.

These are widely available to us on supermarket shelves and the use of NSAID anti inflammatory drugs is common. You could even suggest to the point of a nation being addicted to pain killers, the UK and worldwide.

According to Holford (2010) the US market for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is worth $30billion.


Are NSAID Anti Inflammatory Drugs Safe?


NSAID anti inflammatory drugs account for more adverse drug reactions and deaths than any other class of drug! Too many to talk about today!

So how much does this cost our health – what is the real cost of taking pain killers too often?

The $30billion dollar figure suggested by Holford in 2010 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.


What Is Overuse Of Pain Killers And NSAID Drugs


NICE has recently performed a u-turn on its classification of overuse of painkillers, in light of research that suggests it may exacerbate and even cause headaches if used too frequently.


NICE defines medication overuse when certain drugs are taken up to 15 days per month for three months or more.


As normal people with stresses and strains to contend with we may well use NSAID anti inflammatory drugs to fix minor headaches or niggles, to reduce inflammation and pain from back-pain for example or to reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis in well-worn knees.

However, it is not made clear to us that taking the NSAID pain relief for swift symptomatic relief, that the long-term effects of, arthritis for example are quickened and exacerbated.

Not only this, but in Holford’s description of the health-drug cycle the use of NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs are instrumental in the decline of health over time, from sub-optimal to seriously ill and death.


The Drug – Health Cycle


drug health cycle

Holford (2010)

Alternatives To Non NSAID Anti Inflammatory Drugs


As health conscious people should we take these drugs and are what are the alternatives?

Since the primary reason to consume NSAID anti-inflammatory drugs is for their anti-inflammatory properties I am very pleased to show you some health-giving alternatives.

These not only will provide the anti-inflammatory response but an array of health benefits too.


Natural pain killers


1. Hop extract
2. Tumeric
3. Boswellia
4. Ashwagandha
5. Ginger

(all available from your local health food shop in tablet form, or food!)


Anti Inflammatory Foods


1. Fish oil – in particular look for the EPA and DHA content as well as their purity.
2. Krill oil
3. Antioxidant-rich, polyphenol containing foods include 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 NSAID anti inflammatory drugs most of the time. 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 NSAID anti inflammatory drugs on a regular basis then it is recommended to reduce or stop all together.

In terms of your weight loss goals, if you have been struggling to lose weight try eliminating pharmaceutical drugs from your body. Going through a detox to lose weight can be very effective and you’ll eliminate toxins from your body resulting in better health too.

I hope this is helpful. If you have experienced headaches or use pain killers regularly, you are welcome to share your thoughts and ask questions below. And of course, if you know someone who would find this article useful, please do share it below.

Have a great day!


I hope this helps you make an informed decision about whether to take painkillers or not. If you are keen to improve your overall health and nutrition is your biggest concern, then take a look at this guide on what makes great nutrition.

If you life is stressful and you find you resort to NSAIDs, you find yourself emotional eating and feel you want to improve your health, build a great relationship with food and you really want to make positive long term lifestyle changes, then take a look at coaching. It might be just what you need.

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