Don’t want to take drugs for pain? With these natural alternatives, you have choices

If you’ve ever taken ibuprofen or aspirin for a backache or a sprain, then you’ve taken an NSAIDa non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.While they are effective, NSAIDs pose some risks,including gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney damage and even heart attack. If you would rather rely on natural alternatives for routine aches and pains, there are options.

Turmeric is being studied as a powerful ally in the fight against pain. Its active ingredient, curcumin which gives curry its characteristic yellow hue is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. However, it can increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners. You can get turmeric capsules at a health food store or simply buy the spice and add it to your food.

Ginger has been a component of Chinese medicine for centuries and is commonly used today as an anti-nausea agent. It also contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, called gingerols, that can block pain with less risk of digestive distress. Use of ginger can also increase the risk of bleeding. Ginger root supplements are available at health food stores, but its cheaper and tastier to add ginger to meals when you’re cooking.

Capsaicin is the chemical that puts the hot in hot chili peppers,and it has been proven very effective in relieving minor aches and pains associated with arthritis when its applied to the skin. Talk to your pharmacist about capsaicin ointments.

Vitamin D: A Wonder Nutrient

A growing body of research indicates that vitamin D previously thought to be important only for supporting healthy teeth and bones may be essential for enjoying good overall health and preventing disease. Some of the emerging benefits of vitamin D:

  • Vitamin D appears to block the growth of colon cancer. According to the nonprofit Vitamin D Council, colon cancer rates dropped as patients vitamin D levels rose.
  • Vitamin D may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies show a link between vitamin D deficiency and elevated coronary artery disease risk.
  • Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of premature death from all causes by 26 percent according to several studies, including a 2011 study published in Archives of Internal Medicine.

According to Archives of Internal Medicine, about 41 percent of American men and 53 percent of American women are deficient in vitamin D. Talk to a Sams Club pharmacist about the potential need for vitamin D supplements.