Pain management should be healthy for the whole body. Pain relief is needed to make our lives better. Some pain remedies are more harmful than helpful. Cyclooxygenase (COX) is an enzyme that regulates prostaglandins in our bodies. Prostaglandins are mediators and messengers that assist in the control of many body functions – contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle, dilation and constriction of blood vessels, blood pressure, and inflammation.
There are two cyclooxygenase enzymes – COX 1 and COX 2. COX 1 is an enzyme that regulates prostaglandins that maintain the health of your stomach and kidneys. COX 2 is an enzyme created when inflammation occurs due to injury or illness.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are taken to reduce pain associated with an injury, headache, toothache, or other illness or condition. Scientists discovered that if the COX 2 enzyme could be inhibited from forming, the recovery would be faster, and the pain would be lessened.
Think about it for a moment. Assume you close the car door on your finger (this happened to me not long ago). The first thing you feel is the initial pain of the crushing of the door against the finger. You might or might not have broken the skin, but as you look at your finger, you discover that it begins to turn red, it becomes hotter and it begins to swell. You can feel pain associated with the injury.
The COX 2 enzyme was activated to induce swelling to prevent infection around that injury – a perfectly natural reaction of the body to protect itself. However, the swelling adds to recovery time and exacerbates the pain associated with the injury. What if the COX-2 enzyme could be inhibited or prevented from doing its job? Normal healing would begin, and the pain would not be as great.
NSAIDs (aspirin, acetaminophen, and other over the counter pain medicines) block the formation of COX 2 enzyme. The NSAID relieves the pain and you are happy. No more pain or ache. Like every drug, an NSAID has a side effect. One side effect of a COX 2 inhibitor drug (NSAID and others) is to inhibit the COX 1 enzyme also.
Inhibiting COX 1 is not healthy. COX 1 is required to keep your stomach lining healthy. Your stomach lining cells are replaced every few days. Interrupt this normal healing cycle and serious damage can occur to the stomach lining. If COX 1 is inhibited, then your stomach lining can be disrupted.
Stomach acid will create stomach irritation and digestive tract problems. Intestinal or stomach bleeding will occur over time. Your risk of serious health problems will increase. All because the COX 1 enzyme was inhibited. COX 1 also affects blood clotting.
Scientists developed COX 2 drugs to prevent COX 2 from forming while causing little COX 1 inhibition. However, the additional side effects of these ‘COX 2 selective’ drugs (VIOXX, CELEBREX, etc.) are far worse than inhibited the COX 1 enzyme. NSAIDs cause more deaths than opioid drugs annually according to the practical pain management website.
NSAIDs, inhibit the COX 1 enzyme, account for just under 20,000 deaths annually, and over 100,000 hospitalizations in the United States alone. NSAIDs are responsible for thirty percent of hospital admission for people with heart attack, stroke, and renal damage according to the British Journal of General Practice.
How many of you are taking ‘low dose’ aspirin to lower your risk of a heart attack or stroke? No matter how low the dose is, your COX 1 enzyme is being inhibited and you are putting your stomach and kidneys at risk.
I have made it a personal quest of mine to research and examine anything that claims to be a COX 2 inhibitor without inhibiting the COX 1 enzyme. I have only found four supplements to date that can do this. Gamma mangostin and curcumin will block or inhibit the COX 2 enzyme and not affect the COX 1 enzyme. Curcumin is not bioavailable by itself. Black pepper extract (Piperine) enhances the ability of curcumin to be absorbed in our bodies.
Omega-3 fatty acid is another COX-2 inhibitor. Omega-3 fatty acid is made up of EPA eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Omega-3 fatty acid does inhibit COX 1. Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory agent. It improves your health and reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes, and other cardiovascular diseases. At the end of the biochemical process, the COX 1 enzyme is used to create EPA. In this case, it does not inhibit the COX 1 enzyme but uses it as part of its biochemical processing.
High levels of omega 6 compared to omega 3 are not healthy. Omega 6 can be pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory – depending on the levels of omega 3 and other nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins. The typical diet in the United States has ratios of omega 6 to omega 3 in the range of 20:1 to 40:1.
This is highly inflammatory and detrimental to your health. Continuous and chronic levels of inflammation in your body increase your risk of degenerative diseases and aging. Both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are needed for good health – don’t eliminate omega 6 fatty acid from your diet – just moderate the amount your take and ensure that your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio is closer to 1:2 or 1:4.
A good indicator of your heart health risk is the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids – far better than homocysteine levels and cholesterol. COX 2 is used at the end of the biochemical process rather than COX 1 that increases the inflammatory processes in your body.
Omega-3 fatty acid inhibits inflammation by several other processes at the same time. Omega-3 fatty acid targets interleukin 1-beta, leukotriene B4, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and thromboxane – all of which promote inflammation through different methods.
NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) is the final supplement that inhibits COX 2 and does not inhibit COX 1. NAC enhances glutathione, reduces oxidative stress, provides protection against influenza, improves insulin sensitivity, fights Helicobacter pylori (an infection that causes ulcers), and more.
Live Long & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – https://RedOLaughlin.com
Hi Red, another excellent post. I am learning a lot from you. I appreciate it. Do you have any article in your archive about multivitamins? Thanks, Adam
No, Adam, I do not. The only vitamins I take are vitamin D3 (15000-20000 IUs daily), vitamin E (all eight components, the four tocopherols, and four tocotrienols), and vitamin K2 with both menaquinones (MK4 & MK7). The other vitamins I get from the foods I eat. I follow the Wahls Protocol for my dietary choices. It supplies us with the nutrients (over 30) the body needs daily. I have found that some of the vitamins are not that well-chosen. Vitamin B12 is usually cyanocobalamin and not methylcobalamin. Cobalamin does not do well in stomach acid and has to be taken under the tongue. Vitamin E is usually the synthetic version of Alpha or Gamma Tocopherol. Calcium is usually in carbonate form which is difficult to digest without food. There are many multivitamin/multimineral supplements and not all deserve my short critique above. If I get the vitamins and other nutrients from food, then the other parts of those vitamins found in nature that are not manufactured are available to our bodies. Great question! Thanks! RED
Thank you, Red