“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…” It’s an old joke about doctor’s reliance on the once perceived miraculous healing powers of aspirin. Even though it is no longer thought to be a cure all, many of us reach for a bottle of aspirin for every little minor aches and pains, and until recently, daily low dose aspirin was still recommended for heart patients.
So I am sure you would be very surprised to find out that bottle of aspirin that is probably sitting in one or more of your medicine cabinets right now, is not as safe and harmless as you think it is!
Taking aspirin, even in low doses, could lead to bleeding inside the skull, according to a report recently published in JAMA Neurology.
Researchers from Taiwan and California investigated the link between low-dose aspirin and intracranial hemorrhage, a type of bleeding that occurs inside the skull. While any form of internal bleeding is considered a medical emergency, intracranial bleeding has a relatively high mortality rate. Over 40 percent of patients with intracranial bleeding die within 30 days, and it claims around 20,000 lives in the U.S. every year.
The researchers reviewed a total of 13 randomized clinical trials involving over 134,000 patients. They found that even low doses of aspirin could potentially increase the risk of any intracranial hemorrhage event. According to the researchers, this risk offsets any potential benefit that aspirin might have when it comes to preventing cardiovascular disease.
The study also follows close on the heels of new guidelines from the American Heart Association regarding aspirin use. In the latest guidelines, the AHA noted that aspirin should not be used to prevent cardiovascular disease since it lacks “net benefits.”
Despite previous warnings, old habits die hard, it seems. A recent study from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston revealed that millions of Americans still take aspirin every day, regardless of whether or not their physicians recommend it.
Fortunately, natural alternatives to aspirin are available. Here are some of the best:
- Devil’s claw – This South African herb is well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s used to treat arthritis and muscle pain.
- White willow – The bark of the white willow is often referred to as the original aspirin, on account of it being a natural source of salicylic acid — the main component of aspirin.
- Curcumin – The active compound of turmeric, curcumin is effective in treating chronic pain and inflammation.
Besides providing effective pain relief, these natural medicines confer other health benefits, but without adverse side effects. This makes them infinitely better and safer to use than harmful aspirin.