The popular OTC medication that could land you in the ER

Last week I told you about a misleading study that would have you believe all herbs and supplements are unsafe. The paper made a big splash in the mainstream media, which scooped it up and ran with it — even going so far as to say that supplements don’t have any known benefits.

You and I know that’s just not true. That sort of misrepresentation of the science is exactly why I keep at this day after day. I’m determined to keep you informed, even while Big Pharma and mainstream media conspire to do the opposite.

So today I want to share some news that isn’t dominating the headlines — though it should be, since it affects far more people than the study I reported on last week. The difference, of course, is that this study is about a pharmaceutical medicine. Not only that, it’s one of the most trusted classes of drugs there is: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen.

The results of the study were so striking, and the dangers so dire, that they led the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to warn people who are using NSAIDs to stick to the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.

Here’s what has the BHF so worried. In the study, published in The BMJ, (formerly the British Medical Journal), researchers compared health records of almost 10 million patients who took NSAIDs against those of people who didn’t. They found that the ones who took the drugs had an almost 20 percent increased risk of landing themselves in the hospital with heart failure.

If a supplement posed that kind of risks, it would be removed from the market so fast your head would spin. And I would be jailed for even recommending it.

And yet many people in this country and across the world pop NSAIDs like candy. They’re so ubiquitous that people have come to believe they’re perfectly safe. But that clearly just isn’t the case.

This study highlights the dangers especially for older adults (average participant age was 77). In addition, people who take very high doses increase their risk two-fold.

The good news is that most of the conditions that drive people to NSAIDs — joint pain, backache, and headache, for example — can be treated with safe, natural methods. Here are just a few of the ones I recommend:

  • Exercise. Fresh air and the endorphins released when moving dull pain and give you something else to focus on.
  • Relaxation. Taking time out of your busy life to stretch and breathe will ease the tension in your body. And that’s a great way to overcome muscle tension and pain.
  • Nuts. Eat a few almonds, which contain salicin, an ingredient found in most over-the-counter painkillers.
  • Ginger. In addition to easing nausea, ginger acts as a natural aspirin that suppresses pain.
  • Drink up. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of headache. As soon as you feel one on the way, drink a large glass of water and you may be able to stop it in its tracks.
  • Use your imagination. Relax, find a quiet place to sit down, and use your mind to distract yourself from the pain. Be patient and picture a place where you feel truly relaxed. Is it on a beach with waves crashing in the distance? Is it sitting next to a mountain stream, leaves shimmering above and water bubbling past? Whatever it is, picture it in detail and feel yourself transported from your pain.
  • Listen to music. Research shows that listening to music after surgery is about as effective as a dose of painkillers. There’s no particular music that’s most effective — just pick something you enjoy and engage with.

And of course there are nutritional supplements that help — glucosamine and chondroitin for joint pain, for example. But perhaps we should rely less on taking pills and more on making diet and lifestyle changes that will improve our health in general.

Even a small increase in cardiovascular risk is a cause for concern. So considering the huge increased risk posed by these incredibly popular over-the-counter medications, it’s imperative that we get the word out.

People’s hearts — and lives — depend on it.