An Aspirin a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

It's common medical advice. Almost every traditional doctor tells almost every patient that the way to prevent cardiovascular events is to take one or two baby aspirin a day. Studies show that aspi

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It's common medical advice. Almost every traditional doctor tells almost every patient that the way to prevent cardiovascular events is to take one or two baby aspirin a day.

Studies show that aspirin thins the blood and reduces the number of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events. It couldn't hurt you, of course — it's for babies, for heaven's sake!

Once again, however, traditional medicine is on the wrong side of another very important health topic.

What did the studies actually show? Thousands of average people from all walks of life, every race and all sizes were asked to take an aspirin each day. Their health histories were monitored closely, and those taking the aspirin had fewer cardiovascular events than those taking placebo. But let's think this through differently.

The study focused on average people, but without regard for their initial health, dietary intake or whether or not they took any other preventive measures such as exercise or nutritional supplementation and then simply tracked their health history over time.

Only two concerns: Did they take the aspirin, and did they have a cardiovascular event? A direct connection was shown.

What the study is actually saying is that if you're an average American eating the average American diet and living the average American lifestyle — that means little to no exercise and no nutritional supplementation — you need to take aspirin.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in America, and its prevention is known to be diet related. You won't have a heart attack because you have a lack of aspirin floating around in your bloodstream — it's because of an improper lifestyle, which is defined as poor diet, poor nutrition and not taking preventive supplementation proven to thin the blood, like garlic, lecithin, Vitamin E and gingko biloba.

The study that wasn't done would have been on healthy people leading a healthy lifestyle and finding no benefit to taking aspirin at all. In fact, it might have found that aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) might have slowly impaired the health of these healthy people.

Used by 13 million people regularly in the United States, aspirin, we're led to believe, is of cardiovascular benefit to the non-health conscious and that other NSAIDs are perfectly safe. There are 70 million prescription and 30 billion over-the-counter NSAIDs sold in the U.S. every year. Over-the-counter NSAIDs includes aspirin, Aleve, Advil and Motrin; common prescription NSAIDs include Celebrex, Vioxx and Voltaren.

The FDA notes the most frequent side effects are indigestion, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, rashes, headaches, abdominal pain, gastric or intestinal bleeding, ulcers and bowel perforation. The Physician's Desk Reference confirms that NSAIDs cause calcium malabsorption and accelerates osteoporosis. The fine print included with this medicine states the danger to your gastrointestinal system, kidneys and liver.

The gastrointestinal complications alone result in between 76,000 to 103,000 hospitalizations per year, depending on the source. Annual costs exceed $2 billion. Deaths per year from NSAIDs-related causes are conservatively estimated at 16,500 in just rheumatoid and osteoarthritis patients. Total deaths from NSAIDs use exceed those from AIDS. Feeling lucky?

The body communicates through pain to let you know something's wrong. The inflammation associated with the pain is a purposeful part of recovery. Anything that interferes with normal repair processes will have long-term detrimental effects.

All NSAIDs change the chemistry so important to healing. They block the receptor sites from picking up the chemicals the body produces to communicate pain — but they don't address the cause of the pain. These chemistry changes affect prostaglandin production, and some are beneficial to the human body.

NSAIDs should be used only if you have exhausted all other alternatives. Unfortunately, your doctor can give you no alternatives.

Obviously, some people will be unable to live comfortably without the use of some sort of pain reliever. These patients usually have suffered some form of trauma or injury. For the rest of us, the pain from headaches, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, arthritis and other chronic pain syndromes can be managed more healthfully through the use of a more natural regimen.

Nutritional supplementation, herbs and dietary changes can all affect the production of pain in the human body. Did you know that certain foods produce pain in the body and others prevent pain? Supplementation might include essential fatty acids, curcumin, ginger, cayenne, boswellia, bioflavonoids, Vitamin C, quercetin and proteolytic enzymes. But which do you use, and where do you get them?

Only a properly trained holistic physician can assess the patient's needs and recommend the proper combination of supplementation and dietary change. Doing it yourself usually results in a recipe for failure, though not always.

Educate yourself and recognize that the drugs prescribed always carry side effects. Explore more natural methods — your health might depend on it.

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