This post is the first in a series taken from the article by Keith Wassung entitled “Aspirin: Helpful or Hazardous”. This series focuses on Aspirin, it’s side effects, bleeding, heart attacks, and non-Aspirin pain killers. This week’s post provides a brief introduction to Aspirin.

Aspirin, one of the first drugs to come into common usage, is probably the most widely used drug inthe world. Approximately 35,000 metric tons are produced and consumed each year, enough to make over 100 billion standard aspirin tablets. It is estimated that over one trillion aspirin tablets have been consumed in the past 100 years. Each year over 60 billion aspirin tablets are taken worldwide with Americans consuming 34 billion of those tablets. Presently, aspirin is most frequently prescribed for the prevention of heart disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, over 50 million Americans take aspirin for the prevention of heart disease. This accounts for about 350 million dollars in annual sales. It is estimated that in the next ten years, medical doctors will recommend that an additional ten million Americans should begin taking aspirin on a daily basis.

What is Aspirin?

Aspirin, known chemically as acetylsalicylic acid, with a chemical formula of C9H804, is made from the bark of the willow tree. First introduced in 1899, it is probably the most widely used drug in the world. It is found in such products as Ascription, Ecotrin, Bufferin, Aspergum, Alka-Seltzer, and many others.

When a cell is damaged, it releases a substance called a prostaglandin, which carries a chemical message to the central nervous system that the cell is in need of repair. The central nervous system responds by initiating the healing process that is needed to repair the damage. Aspirin destroys the prostaglandins so that communication is broken between the damaged cells and the nervous system and the healing process is interrupted.

“Symptoms represent the body’s best efforts to heal itself. By treating symptoms, you are suppressing the body’s natural response and inhibiting the healing process. Instead of treating symptoms, doctors should stimulate the body’s defenses to allow for completion of the healing process.”1

Dr. Stephen Cummings

In a review of several studies, flu sufferers who took an anti-fever medication were sick an average of 3.5 days longer than people who did not take drugs. The drugs may make the flu more bearable by relieving aches and pains, but they may make it last longer. On average, flu symptoms lasted 5.3 days in participants who did not take aspirin or acetaminophen, compared with 8.8 days in people who took the anti-fever drugs. One possibility is that reducing fever may interfere with the immune system’s response to an infection, the authors note. Dr. Karen Plaisance, lead author and professor of pharmacy at the University of Maryland, noted that similar findings have been reported in studies of chickenpox.2

Aspirin temporarily relieves the discomfort of the symptoms, but by doing so, it slows down the healing process, which prolongs the problem rather than correcting it. Additionally, aspirin causes many adverse reactions and side effects.

REFERENCES

  1. Cummings, S. “Everyone’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine” 1997, Putnam Publishing, NY
  2. Plaisance K.“Anti-fever drugs may prolong flu” Pharmacotherapy, Dec, 2000, 2: 1417-1422