Pain and Inflammation – Natural Alternatives to Ibuprofen

This post was inspired by my friend developing a very painful condition called coccydynia – a pain in the tailbone (coccyx) which normally results from a fall or sitting down too abruptly. She doesn’t remember sitting down abruptly or falling.

Sometimes it happens without any apparent reason actually. But the fact of the matter is that for the past few weeks she has been complaining about sharp pain in the tailbone when she was sitting and even walking.

This prompted her to look for solutions. The GP was the first port of call. She went to see the GP twice, and only on the second visit was told what was the cause of her pain, and advised to “sit properly”.  Nothing about what “properly” meant. On the third visit, when the pain became absolutely agonising, she was prescribed Ibuprofen and another medicine to protect the stomach.

Ibuprofen is well-known to have a destructive effect on the stomach lining, leading in some cases to ulcers and perforation of the stomach and intestinal tract. It also has a detrimental effect on the heart and circulation and can result in strokes and heart attack.

But the destructive effect on the digestive tract is the scariest. When the doctor prescribed Ibuprofen to my friend she asked the doctor about the side-effects. The GP suggested another medication to line up the stomach before taking Ibuprofen. Doctors recognise it has a destructive effect, but still prescribe this stomach-stripping medicine. Alarm bells started ringing for my friend and she came to me for help. We started researching the other side-effects of ibuprofen and found out that it had quite a few of them.


Other side-effects of ibuprofen and NSAIDs include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Gas, bloating
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Difficulty breathing and swallowing
  • Pain in the upper part of the stomach
  • Loss of appetite
  • Passing of blood in urine
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Blurred vision
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Blurred vision, changes in colour vision
  • Confusion
  • Aggression.

How bad is that?? This list has only some of the scary side-effects we had learned about. As if it wasn’t enough, we also found out that in some case it can even cause death.

Having read all this, I started researching natural alternatives to Ibuprofen. I found a fantastic article which contained results of extensive research information into effects of NSAID medications, including Ibuprofen. But it goes further than this, by showing how natural remedies can do the job of ibuprofen, only without the terrible side-effects.

This is a list of herbal and other natural remedies listed by the website

  • Fish oil. “The active ingredients in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhance the conversion of COX to prostaglandin E3. A natural anti-inflammatory agent, prostaglandin E3 competitively inhibits the effects of the arachidonic acid conversion to prostaglandin E2, a highly inflammatory substance.”
  • Curcumin (Turmeric). “Curcumin is known to inhibit inflammation by suppressing NF-kB, restricting various activators of NF-kB as well as stemming from its expression”.
  • Green tea. “Green tea research now demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects.”
  • Pycnogenol. “Pycnogenol inhibits TNF-α–induced NF-kB activation as well as adhesion molecule expression in the endothelium. Grimm et al, recently reported that oral intake of pycnogenol inhibited NF-kB activation in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated monocytes as well, thus decreasing the inflammatory response. It also statistically significantly inhibited matrix metalloproteinase-9.[46] This matrix-degrading enzyme is highly expressed at sites of inflammation, and contributes to the pathogenesis of various chronic inflammatory diseases.”
  • Boswellia serrata resin (Frankincense) – “Boswellia can inhibit the leukotriene biosynthesis in neutrophilic granulocytes by inhibiting 5-LOX, thus affecting various inflammatory diseases that are perpetuated by leukotrienes.[95] Clinically, the substance is used in the treatment of degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders. It reduces the total white blood cell count in joint fluid, and it also inhibits leukocyte elastase, which is released in rheumatoid arthritis.”
  • Resveratrol – a plant-based molecule derived from various plant sources. “Elmali et al, reported in 2007 using animals that intra-articular injection of resveratrol protects cartilage and reduces the inflammatory reaction in simulated knee osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol have also been observed in experimental animal models with paw oedema, which is attributed to suppression of inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis.[29]”
  • Uncaria tomentosa (cat’s claw)the bark of cat’s claw has been traditionally used to treat arthritis, bursitis, and inflammatory conditions of the joints. “This herb has been shown to prevent the activation of the transcriptional factor NF-kB and it directly inhibits TNF-α production by up to 65-85%. It inhibits the expression of inducible genes associated with inflammation, specifically negating the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, and hence attenuates nitrous oxide production.”
  • Capsicum annum – a small shrub which originated in America, but now grows all over the world. Its fruit has been used by Native Americans for hundreds of years for its medicinal properties. “Capsaicin produces highly selective regional anaesthesia by causing degeneration of capsaicin-sensitive nociceptive nerve endings which can produce significant and long-lasting increases in nociceptive thresholds. Capsaicin potently activates transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, which is the main receptor underlying nociception. It also inhibits NF-kB, thus producing an anti-inflammatory effect.”
  • Serrapeptase (or Serratiopeptidase) – an enzyme which is made in the digestive tract of silkworm which uses it to digest the cocoon. Serratiopeptidase is an enzyme isolated from a non-pathogenic bacteria called enterobacteria Serratia E1. The enzyme which is also called “miracle enzyme”  has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is especially beneficial for post-traumatic swelling and bronchitis. It digests dead tissue, blood clots, cysts, and arterial plaques. Clinical studies have shown it to be effective at reducing swelling and oedema and reducing scar tissue.

“Serratiopeptidase is also known for its ability to reduce pain by blocking pain-inducing molecules from inflamed tissues. There are no known side effects with this. The most common pain-reducing aids are aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, which are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID`s). These drugs are known to deplete renal and hepatic glutathione and to deplete the body of critical B vitamins and trace minerals leading to stomach, kidney, liver and heart problems.

A 2008 study compared Serratiopeptidase and its anti-inflammatory activity with 2 human pancreatic proteolytic enzymes (trypsin and chymotrypsin) and aspirin. Although all groups were effective at reducing inflammation, serratiopeptidase was the most effective. (6) It was also proven to be effective at reducing swelling and pain intensity in individuals with carpal tunnel and sprained ankles. (7-8) Other studies have shown similar anti-inflammatory effects after oral surgery was performed. (9)

A 2006 study looked at the role serratiopeptidase has in improving immunity. This experimental animal study involved implanting a biofilm-forming bacteria (Staphylococcus epidermis) into a group of rats. The group given serratiopeptidase was highly effective at eliminating this infection. The researchers credited the antibiofilm properties of this specific enzyme as being the key factor. It is also hypothesized that this enzyme may be used to make antibodies more effective. (10)”.

So as can be seen from all this research, there are plenty of natural alternatives to allopathic medicines with th