Nearly one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding result from the use of aspirin, ibuprofen, or other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), according to an August 2005 report in The American Journal of Gastroenterology. But you may think, well, I only take low-dose aspirin, or baby aspirin, and my doctor told me to take it to prevent a heart attack. However, up to a third of these deaths from GI bleeding were due to low-dose aspirin. In real life figures, this means that for every 100,000 people who use aspirin, ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, 15 will die from it.

If these odds look good to you, continue. But if they seem pretty high and out of proportion to the reason you’re using painkillers, then you might want to look into some natural alternatives.

If you need a pain reliever, you should look into both acupuncture and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) if you want long-term results. Taking a pain-killing pill or supplement for a few hours is a coping mechanism, but not a solution. You have to find out why your body is experiencing pain and heal/release the root or cause of that pain from your body. I especially like EFT (which involves tapping on acupuncture meridian points) for this, because once you know how to do it, you can do it yourself and you don’t have to see a therapist for relief. EFT is amazingly effective with all kinds of pain; back pain, migraines, intestinal spasms, joint pain, etc. You can download the Basic Training Manual for free and also sign up for the free EFT newsletter (which is great) at:

Another natural pain reliever is White Willow Bark (where aspirin is derived from). White willow bark was originally used by Native American Indians and boiled to make a tea that was drunk for pain relief. It was also used 2,500 years ago by Chinese doctors, who also used willow bark to treat pain and fever.

In the 19th century, Western scientists discovered that the active ingredient in willow bark was salicin, a naturally occurring chemical that the body converts first to saligenin and then to salicylic acid. Using this model, German chemists synthesized acetylsalicylic acid (an unnatural molecular structure and therefore can be patented by the Bayer pharmaceutical company), from which all ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) pharmaceuticals are made. However, both ASA and natural salicin work in a similar way.

White willow bark reduces pain by blocking the body’s production of inflammatory prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances involved in inflammation and muscle contraction. White willow bark is also a very effective fever reducer. You can buy it in capsule form and swallow it, or open the capsules and mix the powder with cocoa butter to make a suppository (I do this for kids, but be sure to taper appropriately).

In its centuries of use, no contraindications have been recorded for the use of white willow bark, or salicin. Traditionally, it has been shown to be safer than aspirin and other synthetic salicylate-based anti-inflammatory drugs. No cases of serious side effects have been reported in the medical literature. It is easier on the stomach and has a less toxic effect on the body in general.

The only restrictions on use are that white willow bark should not be taken with aspirin or by people sensitive to salicylates (found in foods such as berries, currants, prunes, and raisins). People with gastritis or ulcers should also avoid it, or use it only in suppository form. It should not be used by children under 16 years of age, for the same reason that aspirin should not be used either: there is a possibility of developing Reye’s Syndrome in children, during a viral infection.

Numerous people have tried white willow bark for headaches and all said that it worked just as well as a pain reliever. You can take white willow bark for immediate relief and to sustain yourself while you learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Then, once you’ve addressed the root cause of your pain using EFT, you’ll truly be pain-free in the long run and won’t need any herbal painkillers or medications.

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