Pain killing drugs may work well (for pain) but they are not good for your health. The most commonly used pain killers are called NSAID’s for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. And drugs like these kill. Prolonged NSAID use is associated with kidney problems, GI bleeding, ulcers, and even heart disease.
The Associated Press reported the results of a research study on over-the-counter pain killers like Aleve, Motrin and Advil. The study found that anyone taking any of these drugs for at least 6 months had “twice the risk of dying of a heart attack, stroke or other heart-related problem”.
Tylenol is no better.
Many people, hearing of the dangers of NSAID’s turn to acetomenophen (Tylenol). Unfortunately acetomenophen is “the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States”.
A particularly diabolic drug combination is found in Vicodin. Vicodin contains opiates which are addicting combined with acetomenophen which damages the liver. Vicodin is also the most prescribed drug in the United States. In giving Vicodin to a patient a doctor is giving and addictive drug that damages one’s liver.
Vicodin referred to by surgeon as “Candy and Poison”.
The foregoing information on acetomenophen is found in an article titled The Danger Of Mixing Candy And Poison. It was written by a liver transplant specialist at the University of California. No doubt this doctor is seeing personally the ill effects of Vicodin in his liver transplant patients.
Pain also causes damage.
I would never suggest that anyone suffer pain. Pain is also damaging to the body. One study followed chronic back pain sufferers for one year. MRI scans of the brain were taken at the beginning and end of the twelve month period. These MRI’s were compared with MRI’s of matched subjects who did not suffer any pain whatsoever. The difference was astounding. Normally as we age, we lose grey matter in our brain. The MRI scans could measure the amount of grey matter in the brain of each test subject at the beginning and end of the one year time period. The brains of the group suffering chronic pain aged the equivalent of 10 years when compared to the pain free group.
So what’s a solution? How about natural pain killing omega-3 fats that relieve pain with no negative side effects, only spectacular health benefits?
By now most everyone has heard of the benefits of taking fish oil, flax oil (oils containing Omega-3 fats). The important component of Omega-3 fats when it comes to pain is EPA. EPA is a building block for a potent anti-inflammatory hormone found naturally in the body. Most Americans are woefully deficient in Omega-3 fats and EPA. When our body doesn’t have enough of the building material to make this critical anti-inflammatory substance, it cannot control inflammation. (Chronic pain is often associated with chronic inflammation). EPA is especially concentrated in certain fish oils.
Research studies show the pain relieving effects of fish oil.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons published a study entitled “High-Dose Omega-3 Oils used to Treat Non-Surgical Neck and Back Pain”. This study involved 250 patients who suffered from chronic neck pain and who were taking NSAID’s for relief. Researchers gave the patients high doses of fish oil daily. After 75 days nearly 2/3’s of the patients (59%) had stopped taking their pain drugs for pain, saying that the oil provided satisfactory relief. 88% of the entire group in the study said that they planned on continuing with the oil after the study.
Many types of pain are relieved by fish oil.
Another study published in The Clinical Journal of Pain was titled “Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Neuropathic Pain: Case Studies”. Neuropathic pain is nerve pain. This pain arises directly from the nerve and is different than the pain of arthritis, a strained muscle or a bruised knee. Neuropathic pain is usually harder to treat and is often more severe. The study followed the cases of five patients. Each patient had a different ailment causing pain. They suffered a cervical radiculopathy (a pinched nerve in the neck), thoracic outlet syndrome (nerve compression in the chest/shoulder), fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, and one a burn injury. The patients were given high doses of omega-3 containing fish oil. Here’s how each of these patients fared after just taking oil.
Pain from pinched nerve and herniated disc relieved.
Patient #1 was a 53 year old man, had a disc herniation in his neck pinching a nerve, which caused radiating pain into his arm. Previous treatments such as physiotherapy and NSAID drugs did not help. After 2 ½ weeks taking fish oil his pain lessened. After taking 8 months he had improved so much he started playing competitive hockey again. After 19 months he felt he was cured and had no restrictions whatsoever. However, if he stopped taking the oil for more than 4 days, his pain began to return.
Fibromyalgia pain and thoracic outlet syndrome relieved.
Patient #2 was a 48 year old nurse who was injured at work. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thoracic outlet syndrome. (Thoracic outlet syndrome is a compression of nerves as the travel from the neck to the arm through the upper chest and shoulder). Previous treatments with pain drugs and physical therapy had not helped. After 7 months of taking high doses of fish oil she had improved greatly. After 13 months she felt she was cured of both conditions.
Man with disabling pain after an auto accident gets relief with fish oil.
Patient #3 was a 50 year old man who suffered from chronic neck pain and arm pain as a result of being in a car accident. This patient remained disabled even after treatments including chiropractic, massage, physiotherapies and NSAID drugs. After taking large doses of fish oil his pain began to improve. Eventually he was able to resume working out at the gym without pain. He also reported that he was thinking more clearly and had better concentration.
Patient with carpal tunnel syndrome avoids surgery and gets pain relief with fish oil.
Patient #4 was a 47 year old man with carpal tunnel syndrome. After 8 months of taking high doses of fish oil his pain symptoms improved significantly. A nerve conduction test also showed significant improvement in nerve function. He improved so much that he was able to avoid surgery.
Patient with 2nd and 3rd degree burns gets off of morphine and relieves pain with fish oil.
Patient #5 was a 54 year old man who had suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 30% of his body. He was hospitalized for over a month and had extensive skin grafts. His pain levels continued at such a high level that he was on morphine. Taking high-dose fish oil alleviated the pain so much that he was able to get off of the morphine.
Fish oil supplementation provides tremendous health benefits. Some of the documented health benefits include relief of inflammatory joint pain and chronic spinal pain, improvements of autoimmune diseases, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, improvements and reduced risk of depression, and relief of pain in fibromyalgia syndrome.
Things to be careful of when taking high doses of fish oil.
* Fish oil is a blood thinner. If you are taking a prescription blood thinner, you should start at a low dose while monitoring clotting times. If you are going to have dental work, surgery or any other invasive procedure (like a colonoscopy) you should stop taking fish oil two weeks before, because of its blood thinning effect.
- Before taking high doses of fish oil you should have a blood test that measures the ratio of Omega-6 (AA or Arachidonic Acid) to Omega-3 (EPA or EicosaPentaenoic Acid). An ideal AA/EPA ratio for heart health is 1.5/1 to 3/1.
- Take only “clean” fish oil. Better products are cleaned of contaminants and toxins commonly found in today’s ocean fish (mercury, PCP’s, dioxins). The gold standard cleaning process is called molecular distillation. A good product that is cleaned with molecular distillation is called EPA-DHA Extra Strength.
- There are numerous fish oil brands to choose from with many variables to consider. The number one consideration is the purity of the fish oil. Only take a clean fish oil that has been purified using the molecular distillation process. Taking a cheap fish oil product that is contaminated with ocean toxins is worse than taking none at all. Mercury poisoning from consumption of dirty (not cleaned) fish oil has been reported.
The next most important part of a fish oil is the amount of EPA and DHA in the oil. Fish oil capsules are generally 1000 mg, but this refers to the total weight of the capsule, not of the EPA and DHA which are the important components of fish oil that provide health benefits. EPA is more important with regard to relief of pain and control of inflammation.
Research studies refer to the amount of EPA + DHA given to patients in the study. A conservative dose is 2,700 mg of EPA + DHA combined. In the case studies reported at the end of this article, the subjects were taking 2400-7200 mg/day of EPA + DHA. Different brands of fish oil products contain different amounts of EPA and DHA. It can be confusing. Fish oil products will say 1000 mg of fish oil per tablet. But the actual amount of the active ingredients EPA and DHA is only a fraction of the total weight of the capsule (1000 mg). This makes it impossible to tell someone how many capsules to take daily (for a high dose) without knowing the brand and the specific amount of EPA + DHA in each capsule. A high dose of EPA-DHA Extra Strength is 7 capsules per day.
What’s the goal when taking fish oil, or when do you know that you’ve taken enough or too much?
It is possible to monitor the impact of taking high dose fish oil by measuring the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids in your body. This can be easily done through a finger prick blood test. When taking high dose fish oil for extended time periods it is advisable to check this ration annually.
Research suggests that an optimal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats in the human body is 2:1. Most Americans have Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio’s above 15:1. Clients that I have tested are ranging from 20:1 to 32:1. When there is proportionately that much of an excess of Omega-6 fat in someone’s body, it will take a long time of fish oil supplementation to bring the ratio down to the optimal 2:1. And you don’t want to go below this 2:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. An increased risk of stroke has been associated with a ratio of 1:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3.
I would suggest that anyone taking high dose fish oil for a year or more be tested for their Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio.