What if I told you that chronic use of both over the counter and prescription anti-inflammatory drugs will inhibit your body’s natural ability to heal and increase the likelihood of systemic inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, NSAIDs, and steroids block normal prostaglandin function by inhibiting the conjugation of essential fatty acids in the prostaglandin pathway that ultimately lead to prostaglandin formation. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that the body can’t do without. They occur in nearly all body tissues and fluid. Prostaglandins have a multitude of functions in the body and are responsible for controlling inflammatory function by using three groups of prostaglandins to both inflame and anti-inflame the body. Prostaglandin 1 (PG1) and Prostaglandin 3 (PG3) are anti-inflammatory and Prostaglandin 2 (PG2) is the pro-inflammatory.
All three of these prostaglandins are important in the healing process of the body and it is important that they remained balanced. The body’s anti-inflammatory prostaglandins PG1 and PG3 are important for modulating inflammation. These inflammation processes happen all over the body, even in areas that we might not be able to perceive inflammation.
The body uses Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to create anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. Many of us are lacking in both the intake of quality fats as well as the ability to digest these fats making the conjugation of these prostaglandins a difficult process for the body, add to that the consumption of NSAIDs, aspirin, and steroids and we’re making an already difficult process harder. We need these anti-inflammatory prostaglandins to keep our body in homeostasis. If the body is unable to fight off both acute and chronic inflammation it will lead to dysfunction and possibly disease.
The third group of prostaglandins is conjugated by the consumption of saturated fats. The body produces PG 2 in response to illness or injury, it is part of the body’s inflammation management cycle. The body must first inflame before it can anti-inflame, this acute inflammation is necessary for the healing process but can also cause discomfort and pain. NSAIDs, aspirin, and steroids block the normal PG2 function by inhibiting the conjugation of fatty acids into arachidonic acid, and then into PG2. But too much PG2 and not enough PG1 and PG3 will cause an imbalance in the body and lead to the systemic inflammation that causes disease.
There are times where these drugs are helpful and might be necessary but if they are used habitually, they might be doing more harm than good.
NSAIDs, aspirin and the like are prescribed to help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with the inflammation process. The problem with this is that by taking these drugs you are shutting down the body’s own ability to heal. These drugs affect the production of all three types of prostaglandins and it’s very important that these three groups remain balanced in order to achieve optimal health.