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6 Natural Ibuprofen Alternatives Backed by Clinical Research

So often my patients come to me looking for pain relief while not wanting to take narcotics, ibuprofen, and/or Tylenol. The over the counter options are pretty limited. Thankfully, there are some naturally occurring herbs that alleviate pain without the deadly side effects as noted below. I used to eat ibuprofen like candy secondarily to my many joint pains from rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking and Brazilian jiu -jitsu. That is until I did some research and found out ibuprofen is an absolute poison that actually gives you rebound pain from the withdrawals it causes in your system (making you want to take more of it). Below is a great article I came across from This is an amazing site with an enormous amount of information on alternative medicine modalities. Almost daily I recommend this site to the curious patients in my practice and I highly recommend it to my readers who are looking for non-BigPharma backed evidence. The website has an extensive database that is easily searchable and can help you get out from under the standard western medical conundrum of placing bandaids on symptoms and marching you to a slow death just long enough to drain your pocket book.

With the public's growing awareness of the deadly side effects associated with the regular use of synthetic painkillers like ibuprofen, the need for natural, evidence-based alternatives has never been greater.

People generally think that over-the-counter drugs are safer than physician-prescribed ones. Unfortunately that does not hold true for drugs like ibuprofen, consumed at a rate of billions of doses, annually, and responsible for thousands of cardiovascular disease-related deaths each year.

Did you know that Merck's blockbuster drug Vioxx caused more than 27,000 deaths and heart attacks between 1999 and 2003? In fact, it was the FDA's own drug safety researcher, David Graham, who blew the whistle on the agency in 2004 at a Congressional hearing, estimating that over 60,000 Americans died as a result of its use, and the FDA's inaction around their well-known side effects.

What does this have to do with ibuprofen? Researchers have known that ibuprofen is at least as dangerous as Vioxx for at least six years. But millions continue to take this drug, daily, without receiving adequate warning, while heart disease and cardiac mortality statistics continue to expand unabated.

For further background on the severe and still underreported dangers of ibuprofen, consult the following articles:

  • Ibuprofen Kills Thousands Each Year, So What Is The Alternative?

  • Ibuprofen Can Stop Your Heart (31% Increase In Cardiac Arrest Risk)

  • Is Ibuprofen As Deadly As Vioxx?

You can also view our ibuprofen database which presently collates the peer-reviewed research on the link between ibuprofen use and over 30 different diseases.

Considering the veritable nightmare of adverse effects associated with ibuprofen use -- the "pain killer" that that is 'so effective' it permanently cures pain by killing the patient -- it behooves both the medical profession and the health consumer to find safer alternatives, even if that means going back to the time-tested, multi-culturally validated tradition of herbal medicine.

Here are a 5 clinically validated, natural alternatives worth considering:

  1. Arnica: a 2007 study found that arnica, applied topically, was as effective as ibuprofen for relieving symptoms associated with osteoarthritis of the wrist, and with less side effects.

  2. Ginger: a 2009 study found that ginger was effective as ibuprofen for pain symptoms associated with difficult menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea).

  3. Turmeric: a 2014 study found that turmeric extracts were as effective as ibuprofen for relieving symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.

  4. Thyme: 2004 study found that an extract of thyme was as effective as ibuprofen in reducing pain and spasm symptoms associated with difficult menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea).

  5. Omega-3 fatty acids: a 2006 study found that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation with fish oil helped neurosurgery patients reduce their need for medications, and experienced results consistent with previous research indicating palliative effects at least as effective as ibuprofen.

  6. Cinnamon: a 2015 study found that cinnamon was as effective as ibuprofen for pain associated with difficult menstrual cycles (dysmenorrhea).

Sayer Ji is founder of, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation.

For related research, use the GreenMedInfo databases on natural anti-inflammatories and analgesics. Consider also that ibuprofen is not the only NSAID with debilitating and even lethal side effects. Learn more about the dangers of this chemical class, including aspirin, on our NSAID database.

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