Fighting Inflammation with Aspirin, Food & Supplements
I am suffering from widespread inflammation in my body
- I suspect largely through living in a leaky house.
The most significant area is in my neck, which now shows
a high degree of arthritis,
well beyond that expected for my age and lifestyle.
Whilst there is no proven cause of arthritis, inflammation
in general from high levels of stress,
poor living conditions or poor nutrition all contribute.
So forgetting about the cause of inflammation [athritis
or injury], what can we do to prevent inflammation or
There are three main courses of action:
- Taking an anti-inflammatory drug, such as aspirin
- Diet - avoiding inflammation
promoting foods and building up your diet with
- Nutitional Supplements
I take 4000mg of Omega-3 a day, along with 150mg Co-Enzyme
10, but I still need something more, so aspirin seems
a good choice. However, there is such a lot of controversy
around taking aspirin on a regular basis.
According to Dr Oz, taking 2 baby [or low dose] aspirin
a day reduces breast cancer by 30%, and reduces colon
cancer by 50% in women. He adds that “anyone over
the age of 40 should be taking aspirin”. [Obviously
with medical contradictions in mind.]
Baby/Low dose aspirin is generally an 81 mg dose of
acetylsalicylic acid, whereas an adult aspirin is 320
mg of acetylsalicylic acid. So the dose recommended
by Dr Oz is 160mg a day, or half a normal adult aspirin.
For once the cheap version of aspirin is best - cheap
aspirin crumbles faster and when taken with a big glass
of warm water prevents the aspirin from contacting the
stomach in a concentrated way, eroding the stomach lining.
The flip side ……
Taking aspirin on a continual basis may lead to bleeding
in the intestinal tract - particularly the stomach.
So just why is aspirin heralded as the anti-inflammatory
wonder drug, how real are the risks of taking it, and
what alternatives are there? I explored this quandary
in this article.
What is Aspirin?
Aspirin contains the active ingredient acetylsalicylic
acid, which is effective in relieving pain and lowering
fevers. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, working
to reduce the amount of prostaglandins - chemicals that
are released by cells at sites of injury. Prostaglandins
result in inflammation and swelling, and sensitise nerve
endings, which is why you feel pain.
Anti-inflammatories work by blocking certain enzymes
needed to make prostaglandins. Less prostaglandins =
less inflammation = less pain.
With repeated doses, anti-inflammatories may further
reduce pain and stiffness that occurs with inflammation-based
conditions such as arthritis and muscle sprains. Expect
it to take up to 1-3 weeks after starting a course of
tablets to reach maximum effect.
There are two main side effects of taking long term
doses of aspirin:
- Reduction in Mucus Production - the acetylsalicylic
acid in aspirin can damage the mucous lining that
protects the stomach. This causes a reduction in mucus
production, which eventually causes the stomach to
become susceptible to the gastric acid in the stomach,
resulting in painful stomach irritation, intestinal
bleeding and ulcers.
- Helicobacter Pylori - Scientists have also
found a link between the bacterium Helicobacter pylori
(H.pylori) and the use of aspirin. Many people have
H.pylori lurking in their stomach lining without any
symptoms. However, when it comes in contact with aspirin,
the stomach lining gets irritated. The stomach lining
then becomes sensitive to its own acidic juices and
the same result as above ensues.
For this reason, Bayer recommends taking aspirin with
food, because the food acts as a barrier that keeps
the acetylsalicylic acid from infiltrating the exposed
stomach lining. Alternatively, taking aspirin with a
full glass of warm water helps it to be absorbed by
the stomach more readily, reducing the time it is in
contact with the stomach linking.
Enteric-Coated Aspirin Tablets
Enteric coated aspirin tablets have a coating that
reduces the effects that acetylsalicylic acid has on
the stomach lining. The coating allows the tablet to
pass directly through the stomach and dissolve in the
intestines, where it doesn’t have the same damaging
Buffered aspirin is coated with a chemical that helps
to neutralize stomach acids as it dissolves.
NSAIDS were found to have an additional benefit of
reducing inflammation, and so helped alleviate not only
the symptom of pain, but also served to reduce the actual
cause of the pain, for example, reducing joint inflammation
High Risk Factors for Taking Aspirin
The risk of damage is increased with the following
- Age - older patients often require higher doses
of pain medications more often
- Previous Ulcer
- Alcohol - consumed at the same time they are taking
aspirin or NSAIDs have an increased risk of damage
to the intestinal lining
- Steroids- taking prescription corticosteroid
- Anti-coagulants - taking oral prescription anti-coagulants
e.g. Coumadin can increase the risk of bleeding 12-fold
- Dosage and Frequency - how much how often
Other Facts About Aspirin
Wider searches revealed some other interesting facts
about taking aspirin
- Taking just one tablet of aspirin a day is quite
safe - every aspirin tablet causes us to bleed internally...
by one teaspoon of blood.
- Taking aspirin with 800ml of water is better than
buffering - and possibly avoids any bleeding at all**
- Aspirin can cause significant gastric irritation
even in smaller doses.
- Alternatives for pain relief is acetaminophen [e.g.
paracetamol 500 mg 1-2 tablets every 6 hours] - but
these types of medications are not anti-inflammatories
so do nothing to help prevent or reduce inflammation,
So what else can we do - we could try avoiding foods
that promote inflammation and eat more foods that possess
natural anti-inflammatory properties.
A typical anti-inflammatory diet includes a well-balanced,
varied diet that is high in vegetables and low in refined
carbohydrates and undesirable fats, such as saturated
fats and trans fats.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Most colourful fruits and vegetables
- Oily fish (which contain higher levels of omega-3
- Nuts, seeds
- Certain spices, such as as cinnamon and ginger
- Extra virgin olive oil contains a chemical oleocanthal
that acts similarly to ibuprofen.
Avoid Pro-Inflammatory Foods
Pro-inflammatory foods will increase inflammation,
increase your pain from the inflammation, and may also
raise your risk for chronic disease.
Pro anti-inflammatory foods to avoid include:
- Refined oils
- Sugars - sodas, soft drinks, pastries, pre-sweetened
cereals and candy
- Saturated and trans fats - may enhance the creation
- Junk foods - high in fat and nitrates
- High fat meats
- Dairy products and eggs - high in saturated fats
and arachidonic acid
- Nightshade family of vegetables - potatoes, tomatoes,
- Essential fatty acids (EFAs) - most people consume
far too many omega-6 EFAs [pro-inflammatory] found
in most cooking oils [corn, safflower, peanut, and
soy oils], and too little Omege-3 EFAs, found in salmon
and other coldwater fish. The omega-3s compete against
omega-6s and reduce levels of three key pro-inflammatory
compounds in people: thromboxane B2, prostaglandin
E2, and interleukin 1-beta.
- Olive oil - rich in omega-9 fatty acids that enhance
the anti-inflammatory benefits of omega-3 fish oils.
- Rice bran oil, grape seed oil, and walnut oil.
- Protein - builds healthy tissue but eat more lean
poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, legumes and seeds;
and reduce red meats, which may trigger inflammation
- Soybeans, tofu, and soy milk - proteins which may
help to reduce inflammation.
- Carbohydrates and Fiber - from whole grains, vegetables
- Leafy vegetables, green and brightly colored vegetables,
and fresh whole fruits.
- Berries - blueberries and strawberries are packed
with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals and antioxidants
such as quercetin, which is also found in apple and
red onion skins
- Water - either alone or in 100% fruit juices, herbal
teas, vegetable juices and low-fat milk.
3 Fish Oils - great for overuse syndrome, athletic
injuries and athritis
- Soy Protein
10 - Daily dosage: 1-3 grams.
- Evening Primrose Oil - GLA - Gamma-linolenic acid
- an omega-6 fatty acid that behaves more like an
omega-3; boosting the body's levels of prostaglandin
E1 to suppress inflammation. Some research has shown
GLA and omega-3s have a synergistic anti inflammatory
effect. Daily dosage: 400-700 mg daily.
- Vitamin E - a fat-soluble antioxidant is also an
anti-inflammatory nutrient helping to reduce free
radicals generated by inflammation Daily dosage: 400
Vitamin C - an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
nutrient to help rebuild tissue damaged by inflamtion.
Low levels of vitamin C can result in fatigue and
irritability; more severe long-term deficiencies can
lead to easy bruising and rheumatic symptoms. Daily
dosage: 1-3 grams daily
- Pycnogenol® and grape-seed extract - also possess
anti inflammatory properties. Daily dosage: 100-300
B-complex vitamins - essential for normal nerve
function. A combination of B1, B6, and B12 reduce
musculoskeletal pain and enhanced the effects of NSAIDS,
which means a lower dose is required. Daily dosage:
high-potency B-complex supplement with at least 25
mg of vitamin B1.
- Glucosamine sulfate - reduce joint pain, and increase
the thickness of joint cartilage in those with arthritis.
It may make sense for people engaged in regular exercise
to take glucosamine sulfate supplements to compensate
for wear and tear to joint cartilage. Daily dosage:
- MSM - Methylsulfonylmethane - the active sulphur
ingredient in glucosamine sulfate - helps build tissue,
including skin, muscle, and cartilage. Daily dosage:
- SAM-e - S-adenosyl-L-methionine - natural byproduct
of protein also reduces inflammation and pain and
stimulates tissue repair and growth. Daily dosage: