When it comes to over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, ibuprofen is pretty ubiquitous: Most of us probably have a bottle or two around the house.
Believe me, I have ibuprofen in our house. It has its place and purpose. Like all drugs, it comes with its own sets of warnings and cautions; regardless, this type of medication—known as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID—is a popular choice when it comes to pain relief.
And there was a time I was taking ibuprofen morning, noon & night. Running out the door to work and not eating until mid-morning: hunger headache? Check. Mid-afternoon tension headache from work stress, stiff, tense shoulders & clenching my teeth? Check. Wanting to sleep soundly after a weekend-warrior workout or big night out? Check.
When I noticed I was buying the super-size bottle at the big box store on the regular, it became pretty obvious that I was relying on it a bit much.
Then I started reading more reports and independent studies pointing out the health hazards associated with taking too much ibuprofen (stomach and kidneys bear the brunt) and I got serious to find safer alternatives for everyday aches and pains for myself and my whole family.
With a good dose of curiosity and feeling highly motivated, I got searching. And in doing so, not only have I found some great replacements but I also discovered some improved habits to lessen the need for daily pain relievers to begin with.
First order of business: getting a protein-rich breakfast and plenty of water into my family and I in the morning became a no-excuses activity. By keeping blood-sugar levels even through the morning and the body and brain hydrated, those morning “hanger” headaches stopped being a thing.
Combatting the effects of everyday stress was a bit more challenging. By trial and error, these became the daily changes that really worked and stuck for me:
- adding B-complex and magnesium to my morning vitamin routine for energy and to help soothe any frayed nerves
- one less coffee in the morning and a switch to herbal tea in the afternoon eliminated caffeine-induced headaches
- having a stress-relieving combination of herbal supplements handy (an ashwagandha blend is our go-to both day and night) when deadlines and pressure builds up
- taking time outs during the day to be still and do deep breathing exercises as an instant stress-circuit breaker.
With these added routines, my mid-day tension headaches no longer bothered me. And popping some ibuprofen for the commute home was no longer a necessity!
Night time aches and pains stem from all sorts of issues. Taking Advil-PM seemed like such a great idea to me at the time to help me get to sleep and stay asleep. The things is, I was always groggy the next morning. And finding out the ibuprofen and the anti-histamine that acts as a sleep aid, both come with harmful side effects, made me go search for something safer for a quality night’s sleep.
So now if someone in our family is having trouble sleeping, we turn to valerian, lemon balm, and melatonin, a combination that helps you get to sleep quickly and stay asleep all night long, without the morning fog. When I am feeling especially anxious or stressed, I rely on the same ashwagandha blend mentioned above which helps my mind relax and prevents fitful sleep. For sore muscles from over-work or exercise, we use an herbal blend with tart cherry that relieves overnight muscle aches. Magnesium before bed is great any night for healthy sleep. And if joint pain or body aches are the issue, we depend on two other herbal blends (with glucosamine, boswellia, and safflower) that alleviate those annoying nighttime culprits.
It feels good not to have to rely on something that might take away everyday aches and pain but comes with unsettling health hazards or side effects. Now that’s a relief!
Information and advice included herewith are based on the opinions of the author, unless otherwise noted. All information is intended to motivate readers to make their own nutrition and healthcare decisions after consulting with their healthcare provider. Readers are encouraged to consult a doctor before implementing any new diet or exercise regime. This information is not intended as medical advice.