A headache that simply will not go away, a slightly elevated temperature or a heavy feeling in your arms and legs: many of us are familiar with such symptoms, and we commonly reach for the aspirin to get some relief. It's been around for years. Aspirin has also become well known for its blood thinning effects, which can be helpful to those with heart conditions. Is aspirin really such a good multi-purpose remedy, and should we be giving some thought to using it?
Salicylic acid – A proven substance with many uses
Let's take a closer look at salicin
or salicylic acid, which is the active ingredient in aspirin. It has been used for a very long time to treat pain. In its natural form the substance is an extract from willow bark, and people have known about it's effectiveness for hundreds of years. The tablet form has been available for about a hundred years, and many people now take it every day. The list of the ways that it can be used is long indeed.
It is used to provide relief from flu-like infections and headaches, as well as to treat tooth pain. In addition, many people all over the world take aspirin every day for its blood-thinning effects – this reduces the risk of heart attack. Moreover, several studies have successfully proven that the salicylic acid in aspirin has anti-cancer properties. All of these positive characteristics suggest that it might well be sensible for everyone to be taking aspirin preventatively as an anti-inflammatory compound…but is this correct?
Taking aspirin to prevent inflammation?
For anyone who has experienced a heart attack and been told by their doctor to take aspirin, then it of course makes good sense to do so. The reason is simple: it can reduce the risk of suffering another heart attack. For everyone else, this is not recommended as aspirin can have some side effects. These same blood-thinning effects that can be helpful in preventing a heart attack can actually trigger a stroke. In addition, aspirin can damage the mucous lining of the digestive tract. Naturally we would all like to be able to use the anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects of this substance to promote our good health, ideally with no side effects. As salicylic acid is not only available in its originally discovered form, i.e. as an extract from willow tree bark, this is fortunately possible to achieve without much difficulty.
A plea for natural things – Aspirin in its natural form
Human studies have shown that people with a primarily plant-based diets, including a good about of fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, actually have the same concentration of salicylic acid in their blood as people who take a small amount of aspirin daily. It seems that many of the plants we eat also contain salicylic acid, of course in combination with many other nutrients. Taking in salicylic acid in this way also causes no need to worry about harming the mucous lining of the digestive tract. In fact, just the opposite is true – it's actually good for our digestion.
Plant-based whole foods – The advantages of aspirin without the side effects
Normally consuming wholesome plant-based foods likewise reduces the body's tendency for inflammation, so eating this way is also something you can do to prevent a number of illnesses. For example, you can reduce your chances of having a heart attack or developing cancer. The traditional Japanese diet consists of about 5% animal products, and the mortality rates there were much lower than in the US or Europe, even in the 1950s, and the cancer rates were many times lower as well.
Such discoveries make it very clear how enormously important it is for our health to prepare our everyday meals ourselves, and include a lot of organic vegetables and fruits. As plants also make use of salicylic acid to avoid being damaged, it is all the more important to purchase untreated produce because the salicylic acid content is much higher. When you are preparing your foods, the use of spices is also something to keep in mind – spice can also somehow work like a natural aspirin. In particular turmeric, chilli and ground cumin are recommended for this purpose.
Source: Dr. Michael Greger and Gene Stone, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, Flatiron Books, 2015
Our "natural aspirin" tips:
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- It's best to avoid animal products, or at least cut down.
- Eat an abundant amount of fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, and look for whole-grain versions of products that normally contain white flour.
- Herbs and spices contain a lot of natural salicylic acid, and to go along with our advice above, we also recommend using our pure and organic Chilli & Cayenne Pepper Sea Salt:
As a more mild variation, you could also try our Herbs & Blossoms Sea Salt:
Naturally you can find all of our other products to benefit your good health in our online shop: click here!