A question we get asked all the time is; “Should I keep taking ant-inflammatory medication?”, or “do I need to take these to get well?”. Our answer to both of these questions is NO!

Many people have the incorrect belief that inflammation is bad and taking a drug to block this process is good.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injured tissue and it occurs in several phases:

  1. The acute phase. Mast cells in collagen tissue are broken during the injury and they release histamine (hence the group of drugs called antihistamines used to control inflammation usually associated with allergies). Histamine acts on the walls of the capillaries, making them more permeable allowing fluid carrying specialised cells from the blood to leak into the damaged area. The temperature of the area increases, which assists the natural chemical reactions for these blood cells, that engulf, damaged tissue cells in preparation for the next phase.
  2. The repair phase. Once damaged tissue has been engulfed and removed, other specialised cells move into the area to form new tissue. The collagen matrix is rebuilt cell by cell where the damaged area once was.
  3. Remodelling phase. Initially new tissue is laid down in a big blob, like a scab on a skin wound. Once the damaged area has been filled in by new tissue, certain cells remove part of the scar, while other cells make new cellular tissue in the correct alignment with the original material.

Inflammation is characterised by swelling, heat and pain. In the natural world, these features have very important functions.

The swelling is the result of blood fluid and specialised cells entering the site of injury for clean up and repair.

Heat is partially due to the swelling and also the increased amount of chemical reactions occurring in the clean up and repair processes. This works to the body’s advantage because, as you might recall from secondary school Chemistry classes, chemical reactions occur quicker in a warmer environment. The temperature is set to an ideal level, adding additional heat from a hot shower or bath can prolong the process and cause more unnecessary pain and swelling.

The pain is caused by the nervous system detecting through pH, pressure and specialised pain sensors that damage is present and suggesting to the individual that they rest the area and not contribute further to the injury while it is healing.

While these things may be uncomfortable, they are evidence that your body is healing. If this process is left to its normal progression, the healing usually occurs quicker than if the process was slowed down by a drug, such as an anti-inflammatory which blocks some of the above processes.

Professor Peter Gotzsche, a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s foremost body in assessing medical evidence, warns about the use of prescription medications. Even the name for these drugs, “anti-inflammatory”, is not supported by evidence, he says. He has conducted a clinical trial and review of the evidence that has found there is no proof they reduce inflammation.

“These terms for our drugs are invented by the drug industry,” he said. “They had a huge financial interest in calling these things anti-inflammatory. It lured doctors into believing that these drugs somehow also had an effect on the disease process and reduced the joint damage.”

He estimates that 100,000 people in the United States alone die each year from the side-effects of correctly used drugs. Similar figures are not available in Australia, although the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 3000 people died after complications with medical and surgical care in 2012.

“It’s remarkable that nobody raises an eyebrow when we kill so many of our own citizens with drugs,”

For more information search “Professor Peter Gotzsche” or check out the following link from the Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/peter-gotzsche-founder-of-the-cochrane-collaboration-visits-australia-to-talk-about-dangers-of-prescription-drugs-20150207-136nqc.html

Dr Tim