The Health Benefits Of Turmeric: Better Than Ibuprofen?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines, such as Ibuprofen, have been a long-time trusted pain-killer for those who especially suffered from arthritis and muscular aches, including menstrual cramps. However, scientific literature has been available since 2005 that says that Ibuprofen may not be as safe as once thought. Numerous studies have linked the popular over-the-counter pain relief aid to cerebrovascular accident (stroke) and other health maladies, including bleeding gastric ulcers and gastritis. The more of the medicine that is taken, the higher the incidence of these complications appears to be. But for millions, it’s been the only viable alternative to prescription opiates or living in pain and discomfort.

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SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 24: Containers of medical marijuana are seen at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary April 24, 2006 in San Francisco, California. The Food and Drug Administration issued a statement last week rejecting the use of medical marijuana declaring that there is no scientific evidence supporting use of the drug for medical treatment. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

However, there are several herbs and natural remedies that have been touted to carry the same anti-inflammatory properties of Ibuprofen but without the potential disastrous side effects. When one decides to go the “alternative” or “natural route,” it’s important to realize that these herbal preparations are drugs of varying strengths. Since the Federal Drug Administration does not control them, it is impossible to know the grade and quality of potency of the herb you take. That’s why it is important to always report all herbal medications that you take to your physician because they can interact with other medications by intensifying or decreasing their effects. When your doctor asks you for a list of your medications, don’t forget to include the herbs that you take.

While there are a few that still doubt the efficacy of herbs, a growing body of knowledge make people acknowledge that herbs have a place in medicine, and not just in Eastern medicine philosophies. Over half of Americans have reported taking at least one herb in their life for a perceived health benefit, prevention, or cure of symptoms or illness.

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SAN FRANCISCO - JULY 13: A worker at the Alternative Herbal Health Services cannabis dispensary packages medicinal marijuana July 13, 2006 in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When Ibuprofen’s dangers became apparent, many sought herbal remedies in its place. While there are several that have anti-inflammatory properties, the ancient herb turmeric is rising to the forefront of homeopathic remedies for its ability to fight inflammation and pain, according to The Alternative Daily. Many with chronic pain from rheumatoid arthritis and connective tissue diseases use it widely. Care2 states that many athletes turn to the healing and anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric. Dr. Charles Srour, a practicing chiropractor and founder of Dox Supplements, explains why so many athletes believe in the benefits of turmeric.

“By helping support the body’s inflammation levels, it is a valuable supplement for those active in sports. The repetitive trauma caused by athletic training causes inflammation and pain that can be controlled with curcumin (turmeric).”

Turmeric grows naturally, of course, but is not well absorbed unless taken in supplement form, according to some herbalists. This could come by the way of teas, the roots being incorporated into smoothies, or true curcumin supplementation, which carries enough anti-inflammatory properties to be beneficial. As with many herbs, it is known that the benefits of turmeric are multi-faceted; it also has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers. According to Shape, Maribeth Evezich, M.S., R.D., a dietitian based in New York City, says that the powerful anti-oxidant does have anti-inflammatory powers.

“Turmeric and curcumin, the most active constituent of the spice, have been the subject of thousands of studies. This research shows that curcumin has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and immune modulating activities.”

Many people use turmeric in tea, which is a viable and tasty way to get the benefits of the herb. While no one herbal preparation will help everyone, those suffering from chronic inflammation may very well benefit from the properties of healing that turmeric has been shown to offer.

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