If you’ve ever experienced a headache, body pain, inflammation, or fever, there’s a good chance you’ve used a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, or Aleve. While effective for short-term relief, there are severe long-term health risks to taking these drugs. So what NSAID alternatives exist? And can CBD play a role as an all-natural alternative?
How Do NSAIDs Work?
This class of drugs reduces inflammation in the body to alleviate several types of ailments. But how? Essentially, NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins, which are naturally-occurring chemicals the body uses to promote inflammation, pain, and fever. They also help with blood clotting and protecting the stomach and intestines from acid damage.
The process of reducing prostaglandins is done by blocking the enzymes that produce them, called cyclooxygenases 1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenases 2 (COX-2). But that’s where the potential for severe health consequences comes into play. Since COX-1 is responsible for producing prostaglandins that aid in blood clotting and protection of the stomach and intestines, an NSAID that blocks that particular enzyme can leave long-term users vulnerable to several conditions, including:
- Increased risk of bleeding
- Kidney and liver failure
Additionally, the FDA warns that NSAIDs increase risk for heart attack and stroke.
What NSAID Alternatives Exist?
There are several substitutes, but the right option depends on what sort of issues a person is experiencing, budget, and many other factors. We’ll take you through some options below.
As mentioned before, NSAIDs work by blocking COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, but the issue is COX-1 enzymes produce the prostaglandins that protect the stomach and intestines. However, there are some anti-inflammatory medications that are still considered NSAIDs but block COX-2 enzymes and impact COX-1 enzymes much less. These are known as COX-2 inhibitors. While this class of drugs might be a better option, there’s still risk involved.
For pain, non-NSAID pain relievers like acetaminophen are a potential alternative. Instead of targeting inflammation, this class of drugs, called analgesics, targets the pain specifically by raising the user’s pain threshold. Basically, more pain would have to develop before the person experiences it. The only downside is analgesics don’t offer any relief from inflammation.
A multi-symptom treatment that’s becoming more mainstream is acupuncture. This type of procedure is done by targeting different points in a person’s body with needles to stimulate nerves. The idea is that the activated nerve sends signals to the brain, triggering the release of neural hormones that give relief. A meta-analysis of 29 studies published in 2012 found that acupuncture was effective in treating chronic pain.
For some, relief can be as easy as just getting some extra sleep. In a study done at Johns Hopkins University, researchers found that participants who were awakened for long stretches during the night experienced lower pain thresholds. By disrupting normal sleep patterns, the body’s pain control mechanisms were also disrupted.
Another potential NSAID substitute for pain relief is turmeric. Its usage could be as simple as adding this yellow spice into your diet. The active ingredient in turmeric, called curcumin, is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Also, when paired with other spices like black pepper, a synergistic effect can occur that helps the body get the most out of turmeric.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
One option that may not replace anti-inflammatory medications entirely but can still be useful is increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. According to the Arthritis Foundation, adding fish, fish oil supplements (at least 30% omega-3s), nuts, and seeds can help reduce pain and inflammation.
Can CBD be an All-Natural Alternative to NSAIDs?
Potentially, yes, it can. There’s growing evidence to suggest CBD can alleviate pain and reduce effects felt from a number of difference sources, including:
How Can CBD Help with Pain & Inflammation?
CBD helps boost natural hormones found in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). A particularly useful hormone is called anandamide, which helps regulate pain and mood. By amplifying that particular hormone, we’re better able to control how we feel on a daily basis. But CBD doesn’t stop there with the ECS. It can also have an effect on both types of receptors (CB1 and CB2) found in the ECS.
Although CBD doesn’t form a strong bond with CB1 receptors, which are found mostly in the brain and nervous system, it can help them receive the body’s cannabinoids. Sometimes, the body breaks down beneficial cannabinoids too quickly, but by both amplifying natural hormones and helping the body receive healing properties from those hormones, CBD users have the potential to feel relief.
Additionally, CBD’s interaction with CB1 receptors can help users get better sleep. As mentioned above, there isn’t a tight bond between CB1 receptors and CBD, but their interaction can help control the body’s serotonin release. Whether that means speeding up or slowing down the release, having better control can mean a calming effect.
On the other hand, CBD does bond directly to CB2 receptors. Those receptors, which have a high presence in the GI and immune systems, are thought to play a role in regulating inflammation and pain. When CBD forms a bond with CB2 receptors, the result is a more balanced ECS system that may help a user experience less pain and help with inflammation.
Which Type of CBD Product Is Right for You?
It depends on the type of relief you need, but Frontier Jackson offers several CBD options that have the ability to help.
To target a specific area, topicals are a potential solution, as you can apply them directly to the affected area. Or if you’re looking for full-body relief, there are a variety of tinctures, oils, vapes, and edibles available. Keep in mind that, no matter which product you choose, you’re able to control dosage to get the customized results you desire.