How NSAIDs Alter your Microbiome and What to do Instead!

Headaches are quite a headache, literally! Whenever in pain, it is normal to reach out for over-the-counter medication like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Drugs such as Advil have been misused for years because they offer fast, convenient relief from pain, but you may need to take precautions when taking these drugs due to their effect on your microbiome (gut).

NSAIDs Defined

First things first, what are NSAIDs? These are anti-inflammatory, anti-fever, and anti-pain drugs that are available over the counter such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Aspirin. The accessibility of these drugs makes it easy to misuse them, as people reach out for them to treat symptoms, risking inefficiencies in early diagnosis of some conditions since the patients never get to the root of their discomfort when relying on the drugs. Others are only available on prescription purposes making it easier to standardize and regulate their distribution. Unfortunately, while the drugs are heaven sent for taking away that nagging and frustrating time, they come with a set of negative effects, including damaging your microbiome (gut).

Effect of NSAIDs on the gut

So, how can such allies be foes to your system at the same time? Here is a list of ways the NSAIDS affect your microbiome negatively:

1. NSAIDs can subject the stomach to digestive upsets by triggering symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, gas, and bloating.

2. Besides these upsets, the NSAIDs may also lead to heartburn and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) due to their effect on the intestinal and esophagus lining.

3. Intake of NSAIDs exposes one to the risk of bacterial imbalance, since the drugs reflect the number and type of micro-organism that exists in the gut. For instance, intake of drugs like Ibuprofen predisposes one to an increase in Enterobacteriaceae, which are the disease-causing bacteria. The effect of such imbalances is different for various people due to their underlying conditions.

4. The regular use of NSAIDs may cause intestinal bleeding as well as ulcers by disrupting the guts mucous protection layer through the interruption pf prostaglandins production and prevention of Cox-1 enzyme.

5. Additionally, the NSAIDs may cause the gut to leak though increased permeability and compromising the gut lining.

Alternative Medicine

These adverse side effects of NSAIDs are quite scary, but headaches can be a menace too. So, what can you do to get rid of headache and pain without resorting to the drug? Alternative medicine, using natural and readily available interventions is the best way to handle pain without drugs. A lifestyle check is the first and most efficient way to determine the nature of the headache and counter it. Lifestyle choices such as a healthy diet, exercise, rest, massage, sleep, and limited alcohol and substance intake can relieve the headache. Supplements also work in relieving the pain, as do essential oils and B-Complex Vitamins and Magnesium. Cold and warm compresses also help to relieve the pain.

However, it is essential to remember that in cases where the pain is persistent, it is advised to call for professional help rather than resorting to over-the-counter self-prescription. I used to suffer from daily headaches and weekly migraines, I used Advil like it was my job and when that didn’t work, I was put on multiple prescription medications and was even on steroids at one point. None of these medications helped, and they caused damage to my microbiome, leading to leaky gut, food sensitivities and many other ailments. It wasn’t until I got to the root of my problems that my headaches went away. I have helped not just myself, but many clients rid their headaches by getting to the root of their issues, and I would be honored to be able to help you on your journey to rid yourself from headaches and migraines.

A great way to begin your journey to headache free days is to do a detox of inflammatory foods and then a reintroduction of those foods. My Fall Detox guides you through how to eliminate common foods that cause symptoms like headaches, migraines, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other uncomfortable symptoms. This is a great way to become in tune with your body and how different foods effect you and cause you symptoms. Some people are able to fully get rid of their headaches and migraines just by eliminating certain foods and enhancing their detoxification pathways, but for some it goes beyond that. If you would like to work one on one when I am accepting new clients in January, fill out this form and I will contact you when my schedule opens up! Wishing you headache free days in the near future.

To your health and happiness,

Nicole Ritter


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