Over 50 million people in North America are regular aspirin users and this figure is rising rapidly. Aside from its uses as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent, aspirin has become increasingly popular with the medical profession for a variety of other reasons. Based on published research, the American Heart Association went on record in 1993 as recommending aspirin for the prevention and treatment of heart disease and stroke. The American College of Chest Physicians went further, recommending the use of aspirin for any of the risk factors for coronary artery disease including obesity, diabetes, elevated LDL-cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and a family history of heart disease. The benefits of aspirin in the prevention of cardiovascular disease are more likely to be seen in those over the age of 50 than those below that age.
The current aspirin fad is fueled by the conclusions of some spectacular studies. For example, peripheral vascular disease (blockages of arteries in the arms or legs) has been shown to respond to aspirin therapy in one study with an 85% reduction in the need for surgery. Studies also show that aspirin prevents new heart attacks in heart attack survivors while angina sufferers have fewer heart attacks and increased survival. Aspirin use has been shown to dramatically decrease the need for coronary bypass surgery as well as angioplasty. The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine even published an American Cancer Society sponsored study which concluded that those who took aspirin 16 or more times each month were 40% less likely to die from colon cancer than those who took no aspirin at all. Given all these facts, one is easily lead to believe that the great majority of the human race suffers from an aspirin deficiency.
So why even consider an alternative? The answer is the side effects and the availability of many safe and effective natural remedies that may, in fact, work better than aspirin.
POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS OF ASPIRIN Bleeding Gastrointestinal irritation (heartburn, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease) Increased gastric permeability and altered immunity Gastrointestinal hemorrhage (ulcers) Hemorrhagic stroke Asthma, chronic rhinitis and nasal polyps Hives (urticaria) Hyperactivity Reyes Syndrome in children Ringing in the ears (tinnitus) Hearing loss Vertigo Mental confusion Drowsiness Excessive sweating and thirst Inhibition of cartilage repair and accelerated cartilage destruction HOW DOES ASPIRIN WORK?
Aspirin prevents blood clotting factors called platelets from sticking to each other. It does so by blocking a platelet enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Aspirin, by inhibiting cyclooxygenase, can decrease the production of lipid peroxides (free radicals) and thromboxane, a powerful vasoconstrictor. This enzyme inhibition lasts for the lifetime of the platelet which is approximately 10 days.
Aspirin suppresses the activity of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body known as the PGE2 family of prostaglandins. It thus indirectly increases the activity of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins of the PGE1 family. A natural substance called GLA (gamma linolenic acid) found in plants like borage, black currant seed and evening primrose has also been shown to increase the activity of the PGE1 family, producing an anti-inflammatory effect similar to aspirin. Flax seed (edible linseed oil) does not contain GLA but is rich in linoleic acid which can be converted to GLA in the body to produce these same anti-inflammatory effects. GLA has been documented to lower serum cholesterol, reverse some cases of obesity, clear eczema, lower blood pressure, control allergies, improve autoimmune disease and prevent arthritis.
There are some researchers and clinicians who have been able to demonstrate a direct link between the presence of fungi in the body and cardiovascular disease of all kinds. This is known as the fungal mycotoxin etiology of atherosclerosis and has been promoted by Dr. Costantini and other researchers working for the World Health Organization. According to these doctors, aspirin is an antifungal drug which can go a long ways towards offsetting the negative effects of fungi and their mycotoxins. They believe that it is this antifungal property of aspirin that prevents heart disease, stroke and cancer – diseases all suspected to have a fungal mycotoxin etiology.
NATURAL ASPIRIN ALTERNATIVES
Aside from GLA which comes directly from evening primrose, borage and black currant seed and indirectly from flax seed, there are many other safe and effective natural substances that can mimic the ways in which aspirin works. It must be stressed, however, that if one continues to eat a lot of sugar, refined foods, saturated fat (e.g. red meat, chicken, dairy products, etc.), does not exercise, smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol to excess, neither aspirin nor any of the following alternatives can be guaranteed to do much good.
Beta carotene – The best source of beta carotene is whole carrots. Equally good is a live whole food concentrate of carrots. Eating carrots or swallowing live whole food carrot concentrate capsules is therefore better than just drinking carrot juice which in turn is better than just taking a beta carotene supplement. Carrot juice contains beta carotene but it also contains small amounts of protein, carbohydrate, fat, fiber, potassium, vitamin C and a long list of other essential nutrients. Several studies show an inverse relationship of the consumption of fruits and vegetables high in beta carotene and subsequent death from coronary artery disease. Beta carotene has mild blood clotting retarding effects. Carrots and carrot juice are alkaline forming foods. They lower the risk of cancer, especially smoking-related cancers like lung cancer. They help lower blood cholesterol and are excellent complementary treatments for all skin disorders and respiratory problems like asthma and bronchitis. They may also be of help for gastrointestinal problems like colitis, enteritis and ulcers. Beta carotene as well as other carotenoids all help boost the immune system against bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic diseases as well as cancer.
Source: Acupuncture Arlington