How many times have you reached for the Voltaren to deal with a pain that is in your back? How many times have you got out of the chair and stretched to deal with a pain in your back? How many times have you reached for the Sudafed tablet for a headcold, before doing an infusion inhaling or a Nasal clean? We are a culture of ‘quick fix’. A culture that relies on the liberal application of synthetic drug use to solve symptoms of conditions and keep pain at bay.
So what of the real reasons behind conditions? What of the contributing factors that actually contribute to the pain and disease that plague us? Do we recognize and take responsibility for our own health or are we happy to only allow pain to be the one factor that we address, without making any preventative measures initially.
Synthetic and ‘over the counter’ drugs are there to keep us ‘going’. To make sure we can continue to lead our ‘busy’ lifestyles, keeping to deadlines, maintaining a gym routine and keeping the hectic frenetic pace which we have set for ourselves.
However, what do these products do to our internal passages? Drugs are in tablet form. They are taken orally. This means they have to pass through the Gastro-intestinal tract (mouth/oesophagus/stomach/intestines) where they are broken down and released into the blood stream and the body. Other products can be administered into the nasal passage directly where they work on the sinuses etc. My question is that if we are ‘constantly’ taking products of this nature to deal with pain, are we taxing or damaging our internal organs and passages?
Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s) need to make it to the stomach where, heat and an acidic environment exist to assist with breaking down the pill into its microscopic elements where they are absorbed into the bloodstream via the stomach. Most pills are coated to make the act of swallowing them more ‘palatable’. It is in fact these coatings that can sometimes be the most detrimental aspect of a ‘pill’. Some ‘pills’ can take up to 20min to dissolve
NSAIDs, including diclofenac, can cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) adverse events including inflammation, ulceration, bleeding, and perforation of the stomach, small intestine, or large intestine, which can be fatal.
The big issue here is what the stomach is doing to dissolve these ‘foreign articles’. The acidic environment creates a searing ‘pressure cooker’ which can not only break down pills, but can also attack the delicate lining of the stomach. Ordinarily the stomach can handle this, but what if long term exposure or even not eating or drinking (or drinking alcohol) is present? This can lead to ulceration of the stomach lining. Resulting in internal bleeding of the stomach and leaking of the stomach acid outside the chamber, which in turn creates a whole plethora of other issues.
Nasal sprays have a similar ingestion method, being sprayed directly into the nasal passage, bypassing the nasal hairs and delicate ‘first line of defence’ where air is filtered and cleaned so as to avoid damaging the lining of the nasal passages. The liberal use of decongestants (which do contain chemicals such as oxymetazoline, phenylephrine, xylometazoline, and naphazoline) actually restricts blood flow to the nose and if administered for more than 3 days, can have the reverse effect of creating more mucus, downgrading sensitivity to the drug itself and exposing to further and more damaging infection.
Sometimes its about being self aware enough to ask the question of ‘what can I do to help myself?’ Instead of reaching for the ibuprofen, have you thought about stretching, taking a bath or even getting some soft tissue treatment to assist with recovery? A good therapist will identify issues that may also be outside the presenting symptom that is causing you pain. With colds and flus, a herbal inhaling bath where you place a towel over your head and breathe in the hot medicated air can be more effective (however unpleasant) at removing mucus and creating relief. It’s not very glamorous but if you’ve seen what comes out of your orifices after this, you’ll believe in the good of it.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe that pharmaceutical products have their place. I have taken headcold tablets when I have been in a tournament, or been required to get through that last week at work without stopping. They are there to be used and for a purpose. I do also believe though in asking that question of ‘why am I sick to begin with’ and what can I do to really treat the problem. And for the reasons outlined above, I think it’s important that we don’t come to rely on topical drugs that ultimately tax our liver and stomach for resolving all our ills and ailments.
 Check out this experiment done on a number ofNSAID’s.