NSAIDs or Natural Nutrients for Pain Relief?

While many of us look forward to the fun and camaraderie of the imminent festive season, it can also be one of the most stressful of times. Additional work, family feuds and squabbling kids often leave me with a lopsided grin and intense headache! Add to that the aches and pains of over exertion and excess of the wrong foods, booze and it’s tempting to grab what we think as a quick relief. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory and over the counter drugs (NSAIDs and OTCDs) to the rescue!

Before you expose yourself to their possible negative side effects, consider natural nutrients for pain relief.

Natural options may help to address root causes of both acute and chronic pain: nutrient imbalances, excess acidity and inflammation.

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes help to replenish and rebalance the critical components required for effective digestion: soluble fiber, enzymes, phenolics and prebiotics.

You can find many supplements and foods which focus on only one or two of these key components. We’ll have a look at them in a minute. Or you can benefit from a synergistic combination of them in our proven Kiwi fruit Digesten K formula.

This works in a number of different ways. Firstly it improves the digestion of proteins through the action of enzymes. Secondly it encourages the growth of good bacteria through natural prebiotics. Thirdly, it inhibits the growth of pathegons (bad bacteria) with phenolics.  Finally the soluble fibre content may help improve bowel function.

The result is improved assimilation of nutrients from food and supplements, improved consistency of stools and a clean colon.  It can also help reduce the likelihood of toxins leaking into the blood stream.

Other natural compounds and enzymes

Other natural compounds and enzymes to aid digestive balance and reduce pain and inflammation include:

Bromelain / Papain

Bromelain is a natural compound extracted from pineapple and papaya containing several proteolytic enzymes. These help to break down and digest food proteins and to short-circut pain pathways in the body.  Papaya also has papain. This is contains a variety of proteolytic enzymes which break down proteins. Studies show its effectiveness in treating diabetes, herpes, cancer and digestive issues like bloating and chronic indigestion. Papain has also been shown to attack tumor cells and boost the immune system.


The antioxidant turmeric seeks and destroys free radicals and so reduces pain and swelling.  A study at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Research Center in New York reports how Tumeric was not only more safe but also more accurate in treating pain and swelling than any of the NSAIDs they tested.  Indeed, turmeric and ginger have the same analgesic properties as aspirin or ibuprofen - without savagely attacking your stomach lining or putting too much pressure on your kidney functions.


Boswelia is one of the most widely used herbs in Indian medicine for treating pain, inflammation, and for supporting healthy blood circulation.

Natural Supplements

The following anti inflammatory nutrients are also beneficial: curcumin, quercetin, ellagic acid, resveratrol, garlic, magnesium, pine bark extract, Vitamin E (containing gamma-tocopherol and tocotrienols) and  Vitamin K to reduce levels of IL-6, a pro-inflammatory messenger. Vitamin K also helps in the treatment of osteoporosis by regulating calcium and promoting bone calcification. If you are taking Coumadin or other anticoagulant medicine, consult your physician before taking vitamin K.

All these and more are found in our recommended protocol for inflammation and pain:

Anti-inflammatory Diet

As you will appreciate, the above natural nutrients will be most effective when taken with an anti inflammatory diet of fresh, preferably organic fruits, vegetables, wild seafood, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, protein from free range cattle, eggs, and the right balance of healthy fats. By ‘healthy fats’ I mean a mix of mainly monounsaturated, Omega 3 and some saturated fats.

Some more great anti-inflammatory and pain reducing foods include:

  • Tart cherries (great for arthritic pain)
  • Vitamin C rich fruits like strawberries, kiwis, oranges, guavas, lemons, and limes provide powerful antioxidants which help to reduce pain
  • ExtraVirgin cold pressed olive oil which is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which hinder the pain-causing mechanisms within the body. As a monounsaturated fat, it also reduces high blood-pressure, a prime cause of headaches.
  • Lettuce which contains salicylic acid, a compound found in aspirin. Romaine lettuce in particular is  rich in this compound, which is known to treat inflammation.

Adequate water / liquid intake is also critical, especially if excess alcohol and soda have lead to dehydration and acidity. Other than pure water, and fresh vegetable juice, one of the healthiest drinks you can have is fresh, sweet coconut water. I love it and gratefully guzzle up to a litre daily when I can.

While it’s true that the above natural nutrients may not always provide the quick relief claimed by NSAIDs and OTC drugs, they do help your body repair damage and address the root causes of pain. For sure, NSAIDs and OTC drugs cannot claim those lasting benefits!