Aspirin: Is It All That It’s Cracked Up To Be?
Aspirin is often prescribed as a preventative blood thinner to ward off strokes and prevent heart attacks in those with a previous history of heart disease. However researchers from Southampton University and Maastricht University in the Netherlands examined health records of people who were prescribed aspirin to prevent heart disease and found that people who took aspirin daily were 1.9 times as likely to suffer an acute heart attack.
Aspirin was first discovered in 1853 as an extract from bark of the willow tree. (Did you know that the Egyptians and Native American Indians used willow bark as a natural pain reliever before it was understood that salicylic acid (aka aspirin) was found in high quantities in the bark?) Did you also know that there are naturally occurring foods high in salicylic acid such as raddish, chicory, alfalfa, broccoli, fava beans and sweet potato? The white aspirin pill that we know today was introduced in the market in 1915 and now, more than 100 years later, its consumed at an alarming rate of 120 billion tablets per year – making it the first of the three most-used drugs in the world.
You may be wondering, why do so many people take aspirin on a daily basis? It’s because aspirin use is recommended heavily for males between the ages of 45 and 79, and females ages 55 to 79, simply reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke and its readily available over the counter as a quick-fix pain pill. Sadly, it doesn’t look like aspirin usage will be decreasing anytime soon, with its use being recommended for everything from a headache to even research saying it helps to preventing cancer?! So is this “harmless” white pill really the holy grail of OTC health care? Once or twice a year for the various aches and pains – ok, probably not a lot of issues there. But, when you are taking an aspirin every day for a long period of time, we know that you are putting yourself at risk of the many potential aspirin side effects and complications.
Documented Side Effects of Daily Aspirin
1.Kidney Failure – aka Analgesic Nephropathy. The majority of kidney failure in the US is from Aspirin Use.
2. Liver Failure: All medications are processed through the liver and can induce liver disease with large quantities.
3. Gastric Ulcers: The 2nd leading cause of stomach ulcers is aspirin use (active h. pylori infection with a weakened immune system is #1 cause).
4. Tinnitus and Hearing Loss: Ringing in the ears is a long term indication of aspirin induced auditory nerve sensations and is often the initial sign of toxicity.
5. Hemorrhagic Stroke: Aspirin is a blood thinner and over time can cause additional bleeding to occur in the the small vessels of the brain causing strokes
Natural Alternatives to Aspirin
1. Anti-inflammatory Diet – Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory, so hopefully it makes sense that avoidance of inflammatory agents is the first step to a natural alternative. Avoid eating foods that promote inflammation, swelling and pain — like C.R.A.P. food (carbonated beverages, refined sugars, artificial ingredients, processed and packaged foods. Alcohol also tops the list of inflammatory agents).
Now that you have avoided the heavy hitters, the next step is to repack them with foods that are anti-inflammatory: Leafy greens and other colorful vegetables, berries, healthy fats like wild-caught salmon and coconut oil , bone broth, nuts and seeds (macadamia nuts, flax seeds & chia seeds), clean Meats grass-fed/wild caught etc ., anti-inflammatory spices (see #2 and #3) .
2. Ginger - Did you know that ginger has more blood clot-busting power than aspirin? Eating ginger regularly, either directly in your foods or as a tea, can help you to prevent heart attack and stroke. The additional benefits of ginger far outweigh the risks of daily aspirin use, including its anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties. Gingerol, the most therapeutic component in ginger, acts on receptors that are located on your sensory nerve endings. Because of its ability to reduce pain and inflammation, ginger is often used as a natural therapy for degenerative conditions like arthritis and rheumatism, and cardiovascular disorders like hypertension and heart disease.
3. Turmeric Research shows that turmeric could potentially be used in the place of almost all OTC and prescriptive medication. This powerful anti-inflammatory has been shown to possess anti-clotting, anti-thrombotic properties (which makes it a powerful blood thinner), and anticoagulant. Its also been shown to be a powerful pain killer and with ZERO side effects. This is certainly one herb that you should be taking daily. Note: it would take a significant amount of raw turmeric powder to equal that of its active ingredient “curcumin” which has the most beneficial effects. Ensure your supplemental source is around 1000mg of curcumin, not turmeric.
4. Magnesium – Magnesium deficiency is directly connected to hypertension, kidney and liver damage, muscle cramps, migraine headaches, risk for stroke/heart disease and depressed immunity. Second to Vitamin D deficiency, magnesium deficiency is the most common vitamin deficiency in humans – so it stands to reason that perhaps your magnesium deficient, not aspirin deficient. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to decrease blood pressure and open the vessels of the heart and brain preventing ischemic stroke and various types of arrhythmia. Not bad for a vitamin that only needs to be taken at 250mg (1 tsp) daily.
5. Bromelain - Chances are you may not have associated pineapple with heart health. Bromelain is and enzyme found in the central core of pineapples (make sure you eat the middle!) and is often used to treat inflammation in conditions like arthritis. Research shows that it can be used to relieve post-operative pain and swelling, joint pain and inflammation of the sinuses and that it has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects. Bromelain also aids the digestive process and together with the other 4 items mentioned can increase blood circulations and boost the immune system.
For anyone who is taking aspirin every day as a preventive therapeutic agent, here are some questions to consider:
Is regular aspirin use really necessary for you and your health condition?
Do the potential aspirin side effects outweigh the potential benefits of aspirin?
Has your doctor discussed with you the long term complications of daily aspirin, even “baby aspirin”
Could you benefit from an alternative approach to your heart health?