Asprin is a powerful medication, which like most drugs was plant based and 'discovered' during the 1800's. It is taken for many things, but it is most commonly known as a pain reliever. Your Doctor may also prescribe it as a preventative for Heart Disease as it reduces inflammation and reduces pain by breaking the pain cascade of inflammation. It certainly has a place in preventative and treatment protocols, but like all things, there is a risk and the risk analysis is needed. Interesting too, is that different co-compounds that asprin is used in also changes the biochemical action, and the effectiveness of the drug for the specific actions required. As mentioned, there are some aspirin side effects that you’ll want to consider first; and there are also natural alternatives worth considering.
Aspirin works by reducing the hormone-like compounds triggered when a body part is injured or immune cells realise there is a threat in the body. This can be a cut, bruise, bacterial/viral infection, bite, chemical irritant. The job of these hormone like compounds is to promote the inflammation response to draw protecting white blood cells to the area, increase blood supply, dilute/wash the area and isolate the site from spreading the infection from the containment area. Inflammation also increases blood clotting to ensure blood does not escape through the open wound. This is all very important if there is a risk of infection, cut, bruising etc that the body much contain or minimise, but, if the body is inflamed due to foods, stress, internal toxicity, immune imbalance, nutrient deficiency or it isn't turned off as it should, then these people are at greater risk of doing harm and creating even bigger problems. Anti-inflammatory treatment can save pain and long term complications, but the better treatment protocol needs to be considered and matched against the trigger, the action the immune system is taking and weigh the risk to benefit ratio. Confused? That is understandable, the body is complex and we need to consider it as you would a Porshe or anything precious.
What Is Aspirin? Is it something that you might consider?
Aspirin was discovered in 1853, but it wasn’t until 1897 that it was used medicinally in powder form. Then the little white aspirin pill that we know today was introduced in 1915. The most active compound in aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, was originally isolated from the bark of a willow tree. Did you know that this aspirin ingredient can also be found in beans, peas, jasmine and clover? The ancient Egyptians actually used willow bark to relieve pain long before they understood the benefits of salicylic acid.
Other ingredients in aspirin include cornstarch, hypromellose, powdered cellulose, triacetin (a solvent) and carnauba wax.
There are three main reasons that people take aspirin regularly:
Aspirin works by reducing prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that control the body’s inflammatory responses and processes like blood flow and the formation of blood clots. This is how taking an aspirin can help to reduce your risk of stroke and heart attack, which are caused by clots in your coronary arteries or blood vessels.
Taking an aspirin occasionally to address these health issues is not my concern, but when you are taking an aspirin every day for a long period of time, you are putting yourself at risk of the many potential aspirin side effects and complications. The biggest precaution here is if you are reactive to salicylates, you may react to asprin and extreme care is required.
Is It Safe to Take Aspirin Every Day?The Medical fraternity does not recommend taking aspirin regularly as the threat of seriousness of aspirin side effects. Whether or not regular aspirin use is right for you and your current health condition is an issue that should be addresses with your doctor.
Fortunately, research shows occasional aspirin use may be just as beneficial as long-term regular use for reducing blood related health conditions. A 2016 study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation analyzed the effects of occasional and regular use of low-dose aspirin taken for prevention of vascular diseases. Researchers investigated 1,720 pairs of patients taking aspirin occasionally or regularly between the years 1997 and 2000. They found that hemorrhage and stroke occurred in 25 and 67 occasional aspirin users and 69 and 100 regular users. The development of cancer was also tracked and it occurred in 32 occasional users and 26 regular users. Researchers concluded that long-term regular use of aspirin my not be better than occasional use in the prevention of heart attack and stroke. (3)
For people who are taking aspirin every day as a preventive therapeutic agent, this is something to consider. Is regular aspirin use necessary for you and your health condition? And do the potential aspirin side effects outweigh the potential benefits of aspirin?
The following has been taken from the works of Dr Axe
Aspirin Side Effects
1. Kidney Failure Research shows that damage to the kidneys from regular aspirin use, which is called analgesic nephropathy, can occur. Analgesic nephropathy is a form of chronic insufficiency of the kidneys that results from long-term regular ingestion of analgesic medications like aspirin. Many times this chronic kidney disease exists without the development of immediate symptoms and it leads to deadly kidney failure or the need for daily kidney dialysis.
2. Liver Failure When you use aspirin regularly, it is absorbed by the liver, which can lead to liver disease or failure. This is a serious problem because the liver is your body’s detoxification system. And when toxins are continually put into your body, you can experience a toxic overload that causes the liver to stop working properly.
3. Ulcers According to the American College of Gastroenterology, the second leading cause of stomach ulcers is the regular use of aspirin, which leads to irritation of the stomach lining and the formation of painful sores. On top of that, the regular use of aspirin when an ulcer already exists can lead to further complications, including bleeding ulcers and perforated ulcers. (7)
And research published by the Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare points out that the gastrointestinal side effects that are associated with aspirin therapy are a major complication in patients with gastrointestinal ulcers. Researchers have found that aspirin and Helicobacter pylori, a type of bacteria that infects the stomach, are both important contributors to ulcer development. (8)
4. Tinnitus and Hearing Loss Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that’s usually a symptom of an underlying disorder that affects your auditory sensations and the nerves near your ears. It can be caused by excessive use of aspirin and serves as an early sign of toxicity. (9)
5. Hemorrhagic Stroke Although some people take aspirin on a daily basis to thin their blood in order to prevent heart attack and stroke, aspirin use can actually do more harm than good in some cases. Sometimes, strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain. And when blood-thinning aspirin is used, it only exacerbates the problem and could potentially lead to permanent brain damage or even death.
6. Reye’s Syndrome Reye’s syndrome is a deadly condition that damages the vital organs of children, especially the brain and liver. Research indicates that Reye’s syndrome is extremely rare, but often fatal, with about 30–40 percent of cases leading to death because of brainstem dysfunction. The condition most commonly affects children and teenagers who are recovering from the flu or chickenpox, and aspirin use has been linked to the development of Reye’s syndrome. Researchers suggest that the drug acts as a co-factor in susceptible individuals. For this reason, children and teens with viral infections should never be given aspirin. (12)
Natural Aspirin Alternatives
1. Anti-inflammatory Diet If you are taking aspirin to reduce inflammation and swelling, there are other, safer and more natural ways to do so. And the best place to start is with your food choices. First off, you want to avoid eating foods that promote inflammation, swelling and pain — like junk food, processed and packaged foods, foods with artificial ingredients and added sugars, and too much caffeine and alcohol. (14, 15)
Instead, focus on eating foods that will promote your health and reduce inflammation. These anti-inflammatory foods include, if you test ok with them:
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 atherosclerosis. (16) Again, if you tolerate ginger, it doesn't work for everyone.
3. Turmeric Research shows that turmeric benefits go beyond those of anti-inflammatory drugs, anticoagulants, and pain killers. Plus, turmeric has relatively no known side effects unless it’s taken in extremely excessive amounts. Studies also indicate that curcumin — the most beneficial compound in turmeric — possesses anti-thrombotic activities and daily consumption of turmeric may help you to maintain anticoagulant status. (17) Tumeric needs fats to help absorption, but beware, because it stimulates liver detoxification, for some people, it can trigger reactions. Go slow and be sure to remove as much of the known triggers first.
Researchers also suggest that turmeric extracts can be used to alleviate pain. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that 1,000 milligrams of curcumin per day effectively relieved pain in patients with arthritis. In fact, five studies showed that there was no significant difference between the efficacy of turmeric and pain medicine. (18)
4. Cinnamon Cinnamon has anti-inflammatory and heart disease-protecting abilities. Studies show that a major cinnamon health benefit is its ability to reduce several risk factors for heart disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Cinnamon works as a natural blood coagulant and it increases blood circulation. It can also advance tissue repair, which aids the regeneration of your heart cells so that it can fight heart attacks and stroke. (19) Similar caution as per tumeric
5. MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)MSM is an adaptogen herb that helps your body deal with stress and heal after injuries, surgeries, exercise and stressful events. MSM supplements are often used to relieve chronic pain, muscle cramps, high blood pressure and eye inflammation.
MSM combats inflammation by adding sulfur to your body, which helps to repair the rigid, fibrous tissue cells that are in your muscles. MSM also helps to restore the flexibility and permeability of the cell walls within your muscles, helping them to repair more easily. (20)
6. Bromelain This enzyme found in pineapples 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. Test it first in case it causes upset or irritates a different inflammation pathway. The acidity may be too much for some people in significant amounts
Research published in Biomedical Reports indicates that two major bromelain health benefits are its anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects. It effectively increases blood circulation and boosts the immune system. (21)
7. Magnesium Did you know that a magnesium deficiency can lead to health issues like hypertension and cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, muscle cramps, depressed immune system and migraine headaches? (22)
Taking magnesium supplements can support your blood pressure levels and prevent hypertension. According to the Journal of Clinical Hypertension, conditions of the heart such as coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke and cardiac arrhythmias can be prevented or treated with magnesium intake. (23) Oral intake of Magnesium in large doses can cause gastric reaction, and a good cleanout. For this some this is needed, but again care is needed.
Risk Factors and Precautions If you are taking aspirin regularly, it’s important that you consult with your doctor about possible interactions, especially if you are currently using any other medicine (both OTC and prescribed drugs), vitamins and herbal supplements.
There are some medications that can affect the way that aspirin works in your body. These include: arthritis medications; medications used to treat chronic gout symptoms; blood pressure medications; blood thinners and medications used to treat blood clots; steroid medicine; and medications to treat seizures. (24)
Some people are more susceptible to complications from long-term aspirin use and they should not be taking this drug, especially on a daily basis and in larger doses. This includes people with the following health conditions:
Anyone who consumes more than three alcohol beverages per day should not take aspirin and it also shouldn’t be used by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, unless it’s recommended by a doctor.
Key Points on Aspirin Side Effects
A dietitian with an interest in mind, body, skill development and empowering people to help themselves. After living a lifetime in the first 40, it is now time take it easier and let things be and help others get their their 'life'.
All information shared on the Healthy Eats site is purely for general interest. If at any stage you feel the information is relevant to you and your health it is strongly recommended you speak with your health specialist. Healthy Eats and its employees do not accept any responsibility for misunderstanding what is presented here, and it does not replace the care of your Doctor or Allied Health Professional.