When you’re in pain, you want something that works fast. You want relief that does more than simply mask pain, but also stops inflammation without the risks to your kidneys, stomach, liver, and heart.
In this Terry Talks Nutrition®, we’ll look at natural ingredients that reduce inflammation and relieve pain by inhibiting the COX-2 (cyclooxygenase-2) and 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) enzymes, without the side effects. In fact, these natural ingredients are superior to conventional drugs in both efficacy and safety.
Inflammation and Pain: The Connection
Inflammation is the beginning of all pain. It is triggered by damage to your body. Typically, when we think of inflammation we think of heat, redness, swelling, and pain. Pain is our warning signal that something is in need of repair. Inflammation and pain are normal and necessary when we have an injury, such as a sprained ankle. Chronic inflammation that lasts and lasts, however, is not normal and is, in fact, a disease. This type of inflammation is at the root of almost all serious illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and painful conditions such as arthritis.
Relieve Inflammation and You Relieve Pain
Inflammation is triggered by the release of hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins, especially PGE2, and is sustained by the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme. If it were possible to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, it would be possible to control inflammation and possibly even cancer. Did you know that cancer cells are surrounded by an abnormally heavy concentration of COX-2 enzymes?
In fact, many years ago, drug companies found that aspirin inhibited COX-2, and that aspirin users have less cancer. But of course, there is a downside to chronic aspirin use. At the same time it inhibits COX-2, it also inhibits COX-1, which is a protective prostaglandin for the lining of the digestive tract and blood vessels. Therefore, without adequate COX-1 protection, you can have ulcers and leaking of the blood vessels. While aspirin is fine for temporary use, extended use may cause serious side effects and even death. One report has estimated that over 40,000 people die annually from the overuse of drugs in the aspirin family.
Also, consider the “advanced” COX-2 inhibitors Vioxx®, Bextra®, Celebrex®, etc. These drugs did not cause ulcers or weak blood vessels so the expectation was extremely high. Scientists later found that the results experienced were offset by the fact that these anti-inflammatories caused heart attacks and strokes because they induced clots in the blood. The risks were so great that the FDA took Vioxx and Bextra off the market, and now requires a “black box” warning on Celebrex, which is the strongest warning class for prescription drugs.
The natural ingredients I recommend have been traditionally used and clinically studied, and provide the relief you need without side effects or worry. Additionally, they work quickly – some report relief in as little as 45 minutes. I consider them to be truly advanced pain relieving ingredients.
Natural Inflammation Fighters – Safe, Effective, Fast-Working
What people truly need is an anti-inflammatory product that inhibits COX-2 and 5-LOX, without side effects. I’m happy to say that it exists. It includes two common herbal ingredients – curcumin and boswellia, and it stops the cause of pain – fast.
Curcumin is a compound from the herb turmeric (Curcuma longa). It is extremely effective in relieving inflammation, which, along with oxidation, is the cause of all chronic disease, including cancer. The curcumin I recommend has also been clinically studied to stop pain, inflammation, and heal joint damage.
One of the studies followed 45 individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, randomized to three groups. Group one received 50 mg of diclofenac sodium twice daily; group two received 500 mg of high-absorption curcumin twice daily; and group three received both diclofenac sodium and curcumin. The high-absorption curcumin was more effective than diclofenac sodium at reducing joint pain and swelling. Taking the curcumin with the drug was no more effective than using the botanical alone, and taking the drug alone was less effective. Makes you wonder why effective natural products aren’t the first course of action right away, doesn’t it?
But You Need the RIGHT Natural Ingredients
While curcumin is amazing, the form of curcumin you choose makes all the difference. That’s because not all curcumin extracts are the same, and they don’t all absorb well. In fact, in many of the studies with curcumin, researchers have needed to use very high amounts – up to 12 grams daily – in order to maintain therapeutic blood levels that showed a benefit.
Supplement manufacturers have tried to make it easier for the body to use with varying degrees of success. Many standardize their extracts to 95% curcumin, but unfortunately that method alone isn’t very effective.
There is a better form, and it is the one I recommend the most. It stems from research by scientists in India who’ve isolated a curcuminoid complex (curcumin is one kind of curcuminoid). This form of high-absorption curcumin is re-blended with the essential oil of turmeric for greater absorption and blood retention time at meaningful levels compared to standard 95% curcumin extracts.
Because it is absorbed so well, curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil is extremely effective in reducing pain and inflammation. It not only inhibits COX-2, but does it in such a way as not to block it completely since we do need some COX-2 for other body functions. And it does this without any significant side effects! Remember, it isn’t just what you take - it is what you ABSORB that counts.
Curcumin’s Natural Partners – Boswellia and More
Boswellia (Boswellia serrata), another strong, traditionally used botanical from India, works extremely well with curcumin.
It is especially effective and potent at reducing joint pain associated with arthritis by inhibiting the inflammatory enzyme, 5-LOX. I believe that extracts with a guaranteed amount of AKBA (acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid) that also are low in β-boswellic acid (which interferes with beneficial activity) really boost the effectiveness of boswellia.
The uniquely standardized boswellia and high absorption curcumin I recommend have been proven to effectively fight osteoarthritis pain. An osteoarthritis study that compared the two botanicals to the generic celecoxib (known under the brand name Celebrex®) for individuals with osteoarthritis showed excellent results.
One group received 100 mg of celecoxib twice daily, while the second group received a 500 mg blend of high-absorption curcumin and uniquely standardized boswellic acid extract twice daily.
When it came to relieving pain, 64% of those taking the two-herb combination versus 29% in the drug group improved to such a high degree that they were able to move from having “moderate to severe arthritis” to “mild to moderate arthritis.” Like the RA study, this research shows that the power of a natural pain-fighting botanical was extremely impressive.
Fighting Inflammation, Improving Mood
The pain reliever DLPA (dl-phenylalanine) contains two forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. The “l” form improves mood-elevating chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. The “d” form of phenylalanine appears to block a nervous system enzyme (enzyme carboxypeptidase A) that intensifies pain signals. DLPA helps prevent the breakdown of enkephalins, one of the brain’s natural pain-killing substances, which are in the same family as endorphins. DLPA supplements combine the “l” and “d” forms of phenylalanine, which work synergistically to reduce chronic pain and improve mood – two concerns that are interconnected.
Many people confuse DLPA (found abundantly in fish, yogurt and tofu) with aspartame (NutraSweet® or Equal®), which also has the amino acid phenylalanine as an ingredient. These are not the same compounds and do not act in the same way in our body. Aspartame breaks down into an unnatural toxic substance not found in the human diet, which can cause some people to be sick or have migraine headaches. When DLPA breaks down, it converts to tyrosine, which is a precursor to helpful neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine; melanin, a healthy pigment in the skin; and thyroid hormone. It does not metabolize into toxic substances. There are no health concerns with DLPA causing migraine headaches or other problems.
Nattokinase – Bringing These Ingredients Together
The third natural partner for curcumin is the enzyme nattokinase. This enzyme extract helps to carry the other ingredients through the blood stream so they can get to where they are needed most – including your sore muscles and joints. Nattokinase also helps reduce circulating fibrinogen - a compound that causes stiff muscles and can, over time, actually damage muscle and joint tissue when present in elevated amounts.
Curcumin, boswellia, DLPA, and nattokinase make one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory and pain relieving combinations you can find. These ingredients have been proven time and again to be highly effective and safe for extended use. These ingredients will benefit anyone who is suffering from pain, whether it is acute, sudden pain such as a strain, over-exercising, sprains, or any exercise-induced injury, or chronic pain from arthritis, migraine headaches, bursitis, back pain, or any recurring pain. Using these natural ingredients can literally change your life. You can truly be pain-free and live to the fullest, naturally.
To safely and effectively relieve all types of pain, I recommend high absorption curcumin, uniquely standardized boswellia, DL-phenylalanine, and nattokinase taken one to three times daily.