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Posted on 06-06-2013

Every day we see patients who are in pain and it is uncommon when we come across people that have not taken at least one or a few over the counter pain relievers such as Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc.   I recall professors in grad school telling me that patients typically underestimate how much pain reliever they take, and after 12 years of practice now, I can tell you he was dead on.  People will often say things like “I take a few here or there” and when we dig a little deeper we find that they take these medications on average per day more often than not throughout the year.  Multiply that out over the course of 10, 20, or 30 years and you can see why our livers and kidneys take a beating and often fail with overuse of these medications.  It has become such a problem in our society that many of these OTC medications have or will have warning labels on them.  I always recommend that each person in the household that utilizes OTC pain relievers has their own bottle, then write the date purchased on it so you can keep track of your average daily use. 

When we look for a natural and safe alternative to OTC anti-inflammatories for pain relief and inflammation control, we should consider the herb curcumin.  Curcumin is derived from the curry spice turmeric and has very powerful anti-inflammatory properties.  Not only can it curb pain, it is a general anti-inflammatory for the entire body and many studies are pointing to chronic inflammation in the body as primary factors in diseases you wouldn’t necessarily think of, like cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. 

We have used curcumin in our office for many years now and one of the main obstacles to using curcumin instead of generic OTC pain relievers is #1 cost and #2 effectiveness.  Because curcumin is not a pharmacological agent, it is not as strong at relieving pain and thus in order to gain benefit, you typically had to consume a significant amount of it, which meant 4-8 pills per day!  However, we have recently begun using a new product called Theracurmin.  This particular product is new to the marketplace and has been showing to be almost 30 times more absorbable than standard curcumin, which means you can gain the benefits of this amazing herb without having to take as much, which saves you money and the hassle of taking many pills per day.  The benefit of using this over standard OTC medications is that there hasn’t been any research showing any toxicity to the liver or kidney, in fact some studies suggest it has liver supporting properties. 

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