Omega-3 EFA, found in fish oil, can directly reduce the degenerative enzymes, aggrecanase and matrix metalloproteinase, as well as IL-1, TNF-α, and COX-2, to reduce the inflammation in synovial cartilage. A recent study of 250 patients with cervical and lumbar disc disease, who were taking NSAIDs, revealed that 59% could substitute fish oil supplements as a natural anti-inflammatory agent for the NSAIDs.[71] The recommended dosage is a total of 1.5–5g of EPA and DHA per day, taken with meals.

Wasabi is another spicy food with natural painkilling properties. Scientists are studying the isothiocyanates in wasabi as potential pain relievers. Researcher from University of California San Francisco made a recent discovery suggesting that isothiocyanates could block an inflammation receptor, making it a potentially important natural painkiller. (2)


Pain relief products that provide a cooling sensation can help distract the body from pain signals to ease comfort. One to try is Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, which is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers to relieve muscle and joint pain. The formula contains 4 percent menthol—which is responsible for the cooling sensation—as well as an herbal blend of camphor, aloe, arnica, calendula, and more. The cream is NSAID-free and doesn’t contain parabens or propylene glycol.
Warning: The gel is for external use only. It is flammable therefore keep it away from heat or open flames. Check with your healthcare provider before using it if you have sensitive skin are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not put it near your eyes or mucous membranes or apply to wounds, sores, scratched or imperfect skin. Do not use this product with other creams, sprays, liniments, or ointments. Never put a bandage over the area. Stop using if your skin becomes red, has a rash, or feels irritated. Never use with a heating pad on top of the area and always wash your hands after using. Contact your doctor if problems continue after use. Consult your pediatrician if your child is under 2-years-old. Keep out of the reach of children.
Acetylsalicylic acid works by irreversibly disabling the COX enzymes to block the cascade [Figure 1]. NSAIDs have evolved from blocking both COX-1 and COX-2 to selectively only blocking COX-2 in order to inhibit the inflammatory response and reduce the production of inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes. The major push to develop the selective COX-2 inhibitors has been the recognition of significant complications associated with the nonselective COX-1 and COX-2 NSAIDs. Nonselective NSAIDs’ major side effects include significant gastrointestinal upset, gastritis, ulceration, hemorrhage, and even death. By locking COX-1, which also normally acts to protect the gastrointestinal mucosa, nonselective NSAIDs and aspirin can cause significant gastric tissue damage.[34,51,78,91,3,101,115]

The use of both over-the-counter and prescription nonsteroidal medications is frequently recommended in a typical neurosurgical practice. But persistent long-term use safety concerns must be considered when prescribing these medications for chronic and degenerative pain conditions. This article is a literature review of the biochemical pathways of inflammatory pain, the potentially serious side effects of nonsteroidal drugs and commonly used and clinically studied natural alternative anti-inflammatory supplements. Although nonsteroidal medications can be effective, herbs and dietary supplements may offer a safer, and often an effective, alternative treatment for pain relief, especially for long-term use.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse.[3] In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.[4]
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