The Anti-inflammatory Story

February 12, 2014

A seemingly harmless habit, can be affecting your health and your performance more than you know.  The group of drugs known as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), includes aspirin, naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), are used almost daily for some athletes to help with pain management and recovery. Many athletes use NSAIDs as part of their pre-race ritual too in hopes that it will improve race day performance.NSAIDs


Here are the top 5 things you need to know about the anti-inflammatory drugs you may rely on:


1.  They turn off your body’s ability to manage inflammation on it’s own.

This is important for protecting you against chronic diseases.  Your body is designed to do it all, to heal itself.  It has the ability to create an inflammatory response and also the know-how to stop that inflammation when necessary.  But by taking NSAIDs, your body will limit the production of the enzymes that are designed to reduce the inflammation in your body, which is necessary for fighting the pathogens and toxins that we come into contact with daily.


2. They slow down the recovery process.

Your body knows best.  Inflammation is created as a healing process to repair the damaged tissues.  Taking a substance to block that response will lead to a longer recovery time and most likely even more pain.


3. They cause gastrointestinal problems.

While some athletes rely on NSAIDs to get through a race with less pain, they often are greeted with a greater pain in the form of GI distress.  NSAIDs will cause irritation to the gut which leads to minute bleeding. While this happens to almost everyone who takes them, it’s rarely visually noticeable.  What they will notice is the nausea and stomach pain they have during and post-race.


4. They increase your susceptibility for hyponatremia.

Hyponatremia is the condition in which your total body water level is too high and blood sodium levels are too low that results in the swelling of your brain. It’s a very dangerous condition and has lead to death in some athletes.  NSAIDs interfere with the kidneys ability to properly regulate arginine vasopressin (AVP) and antidiuretic hormone (ADH), the two hormones responsible for controlling your water and sodium balance.


5. They damage your kidneys.

Over time this altered function of AVP and ADH can lead to long term kidney damage.  The mis-function of the kidneys is also exacerbated when coming the use of NSAIDs with severe heat and dehydration.

If you do use NSAIDs and find relief from them, it is a sign of larger health issues that should be addressed. I’d be happy to help you figure out how to get on the right track and toss the NSAIDs for good.

Feel good, do what you love,

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