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Herbal Coxibs: Nature’s Aspirin

Rajgopal Nidamboor, Jawahar R. Nidamboor



Pain is part and parcel of most health conditions from joint disorders to cancer. This explains why several researchers were hooked on to unraveling the deep puzzle behind the pain mechanism and finding a better way to relieving it with medicines that went far beyond killing pain alone. When a landmark outcome emerged and identified prostaglandins, the body’s chemical messengers, as the cause of inflammation, or pain, and that they could be blocked, it catapulted research to a new frontier. The result: a novel pain-and-inflammation-relieving medicinal assembly line called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs are a large group of medications. There are several types of NSAIDs, and aspirin is the most familiar. Other examples of NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, piroxicam, nabumetone, and so on. NSAIDs were predictably hailed as “magic bullets” to quash pain. Slowly, however, it dawned that NSAIDs were effective, all right, but caused unwanted side-effects, some of them serious. This prompted researchers to think of alternatives, medicines that had all the good qualities of NSAIDs in the treatment of pain, but without their dangerous side-effects. The emergence of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors, or coxibs, a new class of medications, provided the means to that end, if not the end to a means. Besides, the arrival of coxibs that work by inhibiting the enzyme, COX-2, which triggers the release of prostaglandins, one thought, was a boon, until clinicians warned people with heart problems to exert caution and avoid their use. COX-2 inhibitors were said to be superior to NSAIDs, in several ways. Labelled “super aspirins,” COX-2 inhibitors were found to be as effective as the “wonder drug” aspirin is in relieving arthritic pain, for instance, in clinical and patients’ trials and treatment outcomes; they also had “comparatively” less tummy, or gastrointestinal, side-effects in comparison to medications, like NSAIDs [1]. Besides, they were thought to provide equivalent pain reducing and anti-inflammatory benefits associated with traditional NSAID use but, without the inherent side-effects or platelet-related (blood-thinning) problems of conventional NSAID agents. In addition, some researchers were of the opinion that they could be useful agents in the management of a host of general and specific ailments, including prevention and/or treatment of cancer. This brings us to the foundation of this review. Is there something better than conventional COX-2 inhibitors?


Keywords: Pain, pain relief, COX inhibitors, arthritis, cancer, NSAIDs, herbs, nature’s aspirin, ginger, turmeric, holy basil, green tea, conventional medicine, Ayurveda

Cite this Article

Rajgopal Nidamboor, Nidamboor Jawahar R. Herbal Coxibs: Nature’s Aspirin. Research & Reviews: A Journal of Pharmaceutical Science. 2015; 6(3): 13–22p.

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