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Are You A Target Of Smart Drug Marketing?

Looking down the supermarket or pharmacy aisles, it seems we are spoiled for choice when it comes to pain relief.

There are pain killing medications available for the relief of headaches, back aches, menstrual pain, joint aches and more.

Think Panadol Back and Neck (original or long-lasting caplets, the choice is yours), Panadol Osteo, Panadol Rapid, Panadol extra (for an extra caffeine boost) and just plain old normal Panadol.

If this variety isn’t enough, you also get to choose your favourite method of administration from tablets, quick acting tablets or if you have trouble swallowing tablets there are the handy options of soluble drugs, gel caps, mini caps, caplets and even suppositories and creams.

If we are to believe the advertising, it seems necessary to use specific pain killers to target every type of ache or pain.

Sadly though, the only targeting these drugs are doing is through their marketing.

In fact, in 2011 the Complaint Resolution Panel of the TGA ordered drug company, Reckitt Benckiser to withdraw their false advertising claims that Nurofen targets the source or cause of pain.

Why? Because these medications simply cannot target specific types of pain!


How Pain Killers Work 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Nurofen, Advil, Panafen, Herron Blue) work by blocking certain enzymes that produce inflammatory mediators, and thereby pain in the body.

These enzymes, called cyclooxygenase-1 and -2 (COX-1 and COX-2) are found all throughout the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, blood vessels and joints, not just the areas of the body that are painful.

Most NSAIDs inhibit both COX pathways which reduces inflammation and pain produced through the COX-2 pathway, but also causes damage to the gastrointestinal tract resulting in ulcers and gastric bleeding, as products of the COX-1 pathway are required to protect the lining of the gastrointestinal system.

Certain NSAIDs have been designed to target only the COX-2 pathway, thereby reducing the gastrointestinal side-effects of the drug while relieving pain.

However, some of these selective COX-2 inhibitors such as the drug, Vioxx have later been removed from the market after they were found to drastically increase heart attack and stroke risk through increased blood coagulation and thereby higher risk of thrombosis (blood clot formation).

In contrast, Paracetamol (Panadol, Panamax, Herron) does not have strong effects on the COX pathways and does not appear to significantly suppress inflammation so it has weaker analgesic effects than NSAIDs. The complete mechanisms of action of paracetamol are not yet clear but it is still commonly used for pain relief.

Paracetamol appears to be less damaging to the gut than most NSAIDs, however it depletes endogenous glutathione, a major antioxidant produced by the body, thereby increasing risk of liver damage and toxicity.

Find out more about the harmful effects of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen. 

In summary, it is clear that neither of these analgesic medications can specifically affect just one area of the body – they act in a systemic manner and will treat a headache in the exact same way they will treat a sore knee or menstrual cramps.


Why The Fancy Packaging? 

Most pain relief products under the same brand name contain the exact same amount of the active ingredient.

For example, standard Nurofen, Nurofen Zavance, Nurofen Migraine Pain, Tension Headache, Back Pain and Period Pain caplets all contain 200 mg of ibuprofen.

So if these drugs don’t actually target specific types of pain as claimed and are all the same or very similar strengths, why are there so many types being sold?

The main difference between products is the way in which the active ingredient is processed and subsequently absorbed and used by the body.

Different forms of the medication can influence how fast it is absorbed and takes effect. For example, the ‘specific pain’ products in the Nurofen range contain ibuprofen lysine and Nurofen Zavance caplets and tablets contain sodium ibuprofen dihydrate – both types of ibuprofen are more soluble than regular ibuprofen, making these medications quicker-acting than standard Nurofen tablets.

However, despite what the packaging tells us, the way in which these medications treat pain and inflammation is no different!


What Can You Do For Safe and Natural Pain Relief? 

Firstly, if you are experiencing pain or signs of inflammation – take notice and listen to your body!

These signs are there for a reason, to let us know our bodies are trying to deal with injury, infection or other traumas.

By suppressing pain with NSAIDs or paracetamol on an ongoing basis and not addressing the underlying causes of your symptoms, your problem will become more difficult to treat as acute inflammation becomes chronic and degenerative.

You may also suffer from a range of adverse effects from long term pain-killer use, like gastric ulcers, bleeding from the bowel, liver damage, increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and more.

So what can you do?

The real answer to controlling inflammation and preventing disease lies in nutrition and exercise. Certain foods, nutrients and natural medicines have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and will help to regulate your body’s inflammatory processes.

Find out how you can change your diet to reduce the amount of inflammation in your body and the level of pain you experience.

Consider taking one of Emed’s Best Natural and Safe Anti-Inflammatory Supplements.

Educate yourself on the health risks of pharmaceutical pain killers before you consider taking any of these medications.

Book an E-Consult with one of our qualified Practitioners to discuss personalised pain management options.


Further Reading: 


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