How Aspirin Works and Aspirin’s Side Effects

Aspirin

Common/Trade Names of Aspirin:
Aspirin
: Acetylsalicylic Acid, Acuprin, ASA, Asaphen, Aspergum, Aspir-low, Aspirtab, Aspro Clear, Bayer Aspirin, Bayer Timed-Release Arthritic Pain Formula, 8-Hour Bayer Timed-Release, Disprin, Easprin, Ecotrin, Ecotrin Low Strength, Emprin, Entrophen, Halfprin, Healthprin, Lo-Dose Aspirin, Lowprin, Norwich Aspirin, Novasen, Rivasa, Sloprin, St. Joseph Adult Chewable Aspirin, Therapy Bayer, ZORprin.

Aspirin and Codeine: Aspalgin, Codral Cold & Flu Original

Aspirin and Tylenol are some of the most widely prescribed medications, in fact, Aspirin entered the Guinness Book of World Records in the ’50s for being the most prescribed pain medication. Every day 30 million Americans take an Aspirin. Our goal in this paper is to research the facts surrounding Aspirin, understand it’s the purpose, how it works and if Aspirin has a toxicity level, if so at what adult and baby dosages? We will look at how Aspirin works on the body and the system to produce it’s desired effect. This paper is not intended as medical advice!

What is Aspirin prescribed for?

(NOTE: these are some of the symptoms Aspirin is prescribed for. Please read the research below before taking Aspirin.)

Pain, specifically caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systematic Lupus Erythematosus, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Reiter’s Syndrome, Osteoarthritis, tendinitis, and bursitis

Fever

Headaches

Inflammation.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatic Fever

Heart Attack – it is also prescribed in certain cases for a heart attack to prevent blood clotting.

Common Aspirin Side Effects

Most common side effects are:

  • Dizziness, ringing in the ears, blurred vision
  • Drowsiness, fatigue, depression
  • Thirst, sweating, fluid retention, swollen ankles
  • Abdominal discomfort or bloating
  • Nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation
  • Difficulty hearing or ringing in the ears
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of eyes or skin (can be a sign of toxic poisoning)

Serious long term side effects:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Abnormal and uncontrollable bleeding
  • Easy Bruising/bleeding
  • Inflammation of the stomach lining, intestinal bleeding, and peptic ulcers
  • Vomiting blood may resemble coffee grounds and bowel movements that resemble black tar
  • Allergic reaction, wheezy breathing, and a tightness in the chest in adults, hives in children, and in some cases swelling of the face, lips, tongue or around the eyes
  • Reduced kidney and liver function
  • Severe liver toxicity
  • Increased mortality

Is Aspirin a Blood Thinner

Aspirin is an Antiplatelet drug and does prevent blood from clumping together.  It can be dangerous to take Aspirin alongside blood thinning medication such as Warfarin or Coumadin. It should be noted that unnatural prevention of blood clumping leads to increased mortality from internal bleeding/hemorrhaging. Herbs do not have this risk and often have a healing action on internal bleeding as we shall discuss below.

How does Aspirin work on the body?

Aspirin is an NSAID(Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug) as is Ibuprofen, although they are not equal. NSAIDs like Aspirin work by preventing an enzyme in the body called cyclooxygenase or COX for short. These enzymes are catalysts and have a role in producing prostaglandins which is part of the inflammatory process and play a part in swelling which also triggers pain signals.

Now, this sounds perfect, who wants swelling and pain right? But are COX really the bad guys? And what is the result of blocking them? There are many things that these enzymes play a role in but let us discuss two very important. First, contrary to popular belief inflammation is not your enemy, the cause of the inflammation is. Let me drive this point home with an example.

If you suddenly feel a burning sensation in your hand and turn to find your hand resting on a hot stove, you would be a fool to cry out, O my stupid body causing me pain again! Your body is warning you that something is wrong, it is not your enemy but your friend.  That is part of what inflammation does, the other part is an attempt by the body to protect the area and begin a healing process. So COX is not the enemy, in fact, it has so many roles in healing that when you understand it’s purpose you will be less likely to want to block it.

COX has a complex role in protecting your stomach lining and your gastrointestinal tract. It helps to prevent ulcers and accelerate the healing of ulcers.1)Role of cyclooxygenase isoforms in gastric mucosal defense This is why Aspirin causes ulcers, as it prevents your body from defending itself against them, therefore increasing their likelihood.  Taking Aspirin is akin to smashing your dash check engine light out on your car, you won’t have the painful reminder that something is wrong but you didn’t fix the issue and it will come back with a vengeance.

Aspirin attempts to provide temporary pain relief by attacking a symptom instead of the cause, thereby stripping your stomach lining, leaving your defenses bare and making you more vulnerable to ulcers. Just to clarify, Aspirin does not provide any healing action, does not do anything but block a natural and needed process of the body.

Internal bleeding caused by Aspirin

Aspirin causes postoperative bleeding because of the same reason it is purported to prevent heart attacks – it impairs (natural) platelet function which increases bleeding time.2)Postoperative bleeding caused by aspirin

In a standardized Ivy bleeding time technic an aspirin tolerance test with a double-blind control group. The results were “highly significant” and showed Aspirin has a “significant effect” on bleeding. Researchers observed “prolongation of bleeding time” and “larger size of the drops of blood” in normal individuals,3)The Standardized Normal Ivy Bleeding Time and Its Prolongation by Aspirin exposing a very huge concern that Aspirin can cause an otherwise harmless bleed to be fatal.

Another important study addressing the postoperative use of Aspirin found that patients in the Aspirin group had “significantly increased chest-tube blood loss 12 hours after operation”. They further discovered that Aspirin patients had “significantly increased requirements for postoperative packed red blood cells and fresh-frozen plasma transfusions”. And the only patients that required reoperation for bleeding were the aspirin-treated group. Six patients from the Aspirin group were not included because of an even more drastic increase in bleed time.4)Preoperative Aspirin Ingestion Increases Operative Blood Loss after Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting

The study concluded with “We conclude that aspirin ingestion increases postoperative blood loss and transfusion requirements, and we recommend discontinuation of aspirin therapy before cardiac procedures.”

Aspirin Allergies

One study found a 1.74% incidence of allergy related to Aspirin. This study looked at about 4761 patients.  While this is a relatively low percentage, the concern is that it is often very dangerous and even fatal. Skin tests with aspirin are usually negative and dangerous.5)Aspirin Allergy By C. H. A. Walton, M.D. and Donna L. Randle M.D.

Therefore if you have Asthma, rhinitis or migraines Aspirin may worsen these symptoms over time and could make them fatal.

Where does Aspirin come from?

The precursor to Aspirin, like many drugs, comes from nature but sadly rather than espousing and humbly acknowledging what nature has given us modern medicine tends to discount, disqualify and disparage nature as insignificant inferior and outdated.

The original Aspirin as it is found in nature in a whole form is White Willow Bark. It was prescribed by Hippocrates and has been used by millions since. For thousands of years, it has been used for many conditions including pain without the side effects that Aspirin poses. The reason being is that nature bundled White Willow bark in a special way to provide the benefits without the negatives. Nature is amazing! The problem is when you try to remove salicylate out of White Willow and make a drug suddenly you find a series of adverse reactions that are not found in its natural form. A review of White Willow bark extract versus Aspirin revealed: “Adverse effects appear to be minimal as compared to non‐steroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs including aspirin.”6)Efficacy and Safety of White Willow Bark (Salix alba) Extracts

The reason is that nature produces a therapeutic action through various processes, elements, polyphenols, flavonoids, etc. These processes work together and equalize each other to create a healing environment. Aspirin only does one thing: it shuts down the bodies ability to perform two functions. White Willow bark, on the other hand, regulates the body, this is a huge difference.  Nature is always superior!

Taking Aspirin is like sticking a rod into a moving bike wheel. White Willow is like applying the handbrake. One is going to stop that bike dead in its tracks but is also likely to cause serious damage to the rider. The other is going to take a more holistic approach and protect you. More about White Willow below. Aspirin often works faster but White Willow usually has a more lasting effect.

Does Aspirin inhibit bone healing?

Aspirin not only increases your chances of a return visit to the hospital if used after surgery but it also inhibits and hinders your body’s ability to heal bone damage naturally. Therefore it could accelerate and empower issues such as arthritis. But why does Aspirin inhibit bone healing? Because bone healing happens as a process. The first step in that process is inflammation believe it or not. Aspirin blocks COX enzymes as we discussed earlier, which is part of that necessary inflammatory process. One review explains “NSAIDs not only achieve their desired anti‐inflammatory effects but also inhibit the increased production of PGs that is necessary for bone healing to occur.”7)The Mechanisms of the Inhibitory Effects of Nonsteroidal Anti‐Inflammatory Drugs on Bone Healing: A Concise Review

Another study made this startling conclusion: “When fracture healing or spine fusion is desired, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided.”8)Effects of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on Bone Formation and Soft-Tissue Healing – yet Aspirin is commonly prescribed for these cases. So this eliminates its use in any arthritic conditions, which is one of the most common ways it is used. Again, we wish to point out, White Willow does not have these negative side effects and does not inhibit bone healing. In fact White Willow may assist in bone healing.

Baby Aspirin a Day for the Elderly

It is common for Doctors to prescribe an aspirin a day for the health of the elderly and we would assume this is based on Scientific research but it actually is not. A large study of 19,114 persons found the exact opposite was true.  After the study, they found absolutely NO health benefits from prolonged used of Aspirin, absolutely ZERO! Yet, the Aspirin group had an increased occurrence of hemorrhages. They concluded, “Aspirin use in healthy elderly persons did not prolong disability-free survival over a period of 5 years but led to a higher rate of major hemorrhage than placebo.”9)Effect of Aspirin on Disability-free Survival in the Healthy Elderly

Baby Aspirin Dosage

Based on Scientific research as noted in this article we cannot recommend a safe “Baby Aspirin” dosage. The claims of benefit are largely misleading and not based on solid research or fact. It is our belief that it is extremely dangerous and should be avoided.  In the research quoted above, it was shown that a baby aspirin a day provided NO benefit to the elderly.

Aspirin for the Heart?

The American Heart Association recommends Aspirin to those considered at risk for heart attack and even sometimes those who have already had one. The Aspirin in Reducing Events in the Elderly (ASPREE) trial wanted to evaluate the risk to benefit of Aspirin on those with no previous heart events. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sept. 2018.  The conclusion of the study reads “The use of low-dose aspirin as a primary prevention strategy in older adults resulted in a significantly higher risk of major hemorrhage and did not result in a significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease than placebo.”10)Effect of Aspirin on Cardiovascular Events and Bleeding in the Healthy Elderly

Just to make this perfectly clear, there was ZERO efficacy found in regularly taking Aspirin to prevent a heart attack.

Also in this same ASPREE trial, in apparently healthy older adults who received daily Aspirin, Higher all-cause mortality was discovered across the board but specifically cancer-related.11)Effect of Aspirin on All-Cause Mortality in the Healthy Elderly

To summarize this honest trial, daily Aspirin had NO efficacy in preventing heart attacks, it increased ALL MORTALITY especially cancer, and did not prolong survival without disability. In other words, it is a complete lie that Aspirin protects the heart and is based on funding by big pharma.

Aspirin Toxicity

The danger of Aspirin toxicity is that it can often go unnoticed because the symptoms are commonly written off as symptoms of the underlying issue that the Aspirin was prescribed for rather than as coming from the Aspirin itself. Salicylate(Aspirin is one of the most common) poisoning is a major clinical hazard and can result from accidental ingestion by underage children, suicide attempts, and therapeutic doses as prescribed. According to a JAMA Internal Medicine article “Alkalemia or acidemia, alkaluria or aciduria, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, and water and electrolyte imbalances may occur; nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, hyperpnea, hyperpyrexia, disorientation, coma, and/or convulsions are common.”12)Acute and Chronic Effects of Aspirin Toxicity and Their Treatment

Gastrointestinal Toxicity

In an analysis of 21 placebo-controlled trials of Aspirin, that looked at over 75,000 person-years of Aspirin exposure it was found that Aspirin posed serious health and toxic risk to the gastrointestinal tract. They stated “Aspirin does have significant gastrointestinal toxicity and that it varies on dosage so low dosing when using Aspirin was recommended.

A Springer lead article entitled “Gastric Toxicity of Antiplatelet Therapy with Low-Dose Aspirin”, the author makes some startling conclusions: “Low-dose aspirin is widely employed as antiplatelet therapy for cardiovascular disorders. However, even in the dosages usually employed for that purpose (75 to 325mg daily), the drug maintains its ability to damage the gastric mucosa by inducing bleeding ulcers and/or erosions.”13)Gastric Toxicity of Antiplatelet Therapy with Low-Dose Aspirin

He goes on to explain that new forms of NSAIDs to prevent this damage are “discouraging”. Meaning no matter how they try to make these NSAIDs they all have the same flaw, they wreck your internals! But Doctors act as if they are safe and prescribe them like water.

Gastric mucosal damage is considered a “common” side-effect for Aspirin so ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and gastric erosions are deemed a normal side effect. NSAIDs should be used “cautiously” and in our opinion rarely.14)NSAID-induced gastric mucosal damage

What to do about Aspirin toxic poisoning?

You should consult your doctor or the ER if you feel you or a loved one may be poisoned! Oral activated Charcoal is given by hospitals and doctors in certain cases of Aspirin poisoning usually at a dosage of 50g for adults and 1 g/kg body weight for children.

Poisoning – Salicylate levels in mg

Mild Aspirin Poisoning: Adult: 300-600mg, Children/Elderly: 200-450mg –
Clinical symptoms: 
Lethargy, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, dizziness

Moderate Aspirin Poisoning: Adult: 600-800mg, Children/Elderly: 450-700mg
Clinical symptoms: Mild features & tachypnoea(rapid breathing and/or heartbeat), hyperpyrexia,  sweating, dehydration, loss of coordination, restlessness

Severe Aspirin Poisoning: Adult: 800mg, Children/Elderly: 700mg
Clinical symptoms: Hypotension, significant metabolic acidosis after rehydration, renal failure (oliguria), CNS features e.g. hallucinations, stupor, fits, coma

Salicylate(Aspirin) poisoning can result in severe morbidity and mortality. If you believe you may be poisoned, see a Doctor as soon as possible. You can see the clinical flowchart for treatment here15)An evidence-based flowchart to guide the management of acute salicylate (aspirin) overdoseif taking charcoal it is important to note that a study in adult volunteers given 1.9 g of aspirin showed that three, four hourly 50 g doses of charcoal resulted in a significant decrease in salicylate absorption when compared with one or two doses of charcoal. This would be a safe way to treat Aspirin poisoning while waiting for the Doctor.

Alternatives to Aspirin

We have found that not only Aspirin but all forms of NSAIDs have serious and sometimes life-threatening side effects so the obvious question we must pose is, are there safer alternatives to Aspirin?

White Willow as an Aspirin Alternative

There are two main alternatives, White Willow which is where Aspirin steals its glory. But it is wrong to compare Aspirin to White Willow because the Willow has low quantities of Salicin whereas Aspirin has magnitudes higher values. But could it be that nature knows best? Could it be that having an overabundance of Salicin and none of the other attributes or properties of the Willow is why Aspirin is toxic? Indeed we have proven this already!

Aspirin provides an Analgesic solution through one method. White Willow provides an Analgesic effect through multiple Flavonoids, Polyphenols and nutrients that work together in synergy to not only provide an anti-inflammatory response and pain relief but also provides an environment conducive to healing. Aspirin provides no healing!

But what big pharma does not want you to know is that White Willow does not have the side effects that Aspirin has. This is a well-known and accepted fact. White Willow has a “broader mechanism of action than aspirin and is devoid of serious adverse events. In contrast to synthetic Aspirin, Willow Bark does not damage the gastrointestinal mucosa16)Willow species and aspirin: different mechanism of actions

Why White Willow is Safer than Aspirin

Aspirin contains Salicylic acid in very high doses which very easily and very quickly become toxic. White Willow, in contrast, contains Salicin which the body then converts to Salicylic acid as needed. Also, there are constituents and properties that are co-workers with Salicin which are not present in Aspirin. This is why when using the whole Willow bark the body is able to use what it needs and easily dispose of what it does not.

White Willow bark will take longer to produce an effect on the body but the duration of effect is also much longer than Aspirin. So it won’t provide as quick of relief but it will provide longer relief.

Methods of White Willow Bark use:

Tea

There are blogs that talk about White Willow tea and state something similar to: “When consuming willow bark tea it’s hard to tell how much salicin you are getting” – this is a flawed drug mentality. We live in a society that believes that we need specific doses because we are used to taking poison and should we take too much it could indeed harm us. But healing herbs and plants don’t work that way. As we have discussed previously when the whole plant constituents are taken in a tea form the body easily uses what it needs and easily disposes of what it does not. So you don’t have to worry about precise measurements. If the pain is worse then make a very potent tea and take several cups. You will learn what your body needs.

To make White Willow tea you first need to either buy Willow bark (we recommend Monterey Bay Spice company) or you can harvest it yourself. The best time to harvest is in the Spring from the young branches, where it will usually peel of fairly easily. Once you have your bark let it dry at room temperature or place in a freeze drier.  You can then store them in a jar until needed.  Use about 1-2 teaspoons of bark to 8 ounces of water, boil for 10 minutes then remove from heat and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes. The water will turn a reddish color. You can then strain the bark and compost it. You can add cinnamon and/or honey to flavor your tea as it will taste like bark. DO NOT add sugar. Sugar binds to and inhibits healing action. Honey and cinnamon do not appear to have this negative effect.

Tinctures

You can buy Willow Bark tinctures, these can be found on Amazon or herbal sites and are usually called an extract.  This may be the quickest method of use.  It is safe to ingest.

Capsules

Willow Bark can be taken in capsule form, some brands include the extract in the capsule to make it more potent. Ensure that the brand you choose is a quality company and that it doesn’t include other ingredients that might be harmful.

Meadowsweet

Meadowsweet is another alternative to Aspirin. Like Willow Bark, it contains Salicin although generally less than White Willow. Meadowsweet has been historically used for the treatment of inflammation, ulcers, and heartburn. It soothes and protects the mucous membranes of your digestive tract and lining of the stomach.  It was shown to have a protective healing effect on the liver.17)Hepatoprotective Properties of Fractions from Meadowsweet Extract during Experimental Toxic Hepatitis IMPORTANT NOTE! If Salicin is isolated from the plant it actually overtime damages the membranes. This is why we caution against the continued use of Aspirin or any NSAIDs.

Aspirin, NSAIDs and all purified isolates of Meadowsweet or Willow can cause irritation to the lining of the gut and bleeding but Willow Bark and Meadowsweet have an inverse effect as they heal stomach ulcers and protect the lining of the guy.18)Inflammation and the immune system Pharmacology 2009

Benefits of Aspirin

After reviewing thousands of pages of research we must conclude that the risks outweigh the benefits of Aspirin use. Occasional use may not show immediate symptoms however our concern is the damage that even potentially small doses can cause to the internal organs.  When we have safe herbal options such as White Willow bark and Meadowsweet we must ask why would you choose a known toxic instead?

There are no benefits that Aspirin provides that cannot be obtained through these herbs. And the research is clear, Aspirin is toxic, White Willow and Meadowsweet in their whole form are not.

 

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