Does a painkiller without negative or even dangerous side effects exist? Without the risk of hemorrhage in the stomach (aspirin, ibuprofen)? Or damage to the liver (paracetamol)? Or drowsiness and intestinal obstruction (opioids)?
Yes this exists. There is a painkiller that is produced in our own body, and which only needs to be supplemented during chronic pain. This substance is called palmitoylethanolamide and has been available as a supplement. The brand name is PEA.
Recently this was published in a column of the Erasmus University:
Over half of the patients that run an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding don’t receive the right treatment for this. On top of the painkiller, these patients need medication to protect the stomach. This is not the case for 60% of the patients, according to researchers of the Erasmus MC.
Patients that are treated with certain painkillers can develop stomach complaints. These patients are 4 times more likely to develop serious stomach complaints. These stomach complaints can have serious consequences, like stomach ulcers or a hole in the stomach. In rare cases, patients can lose their life due to these side effects.
You’re in pain, you get a painkiller. That painkiller has so many negative side effects on the stomach that you need another drug for those complaints. That’s insane isn’t it?
With palmitoylethanolamide these type of situations are not necessary anymore, because this pain reliever does not have any negative side effects. We know this for certain, as our own body produces palmitoylethanolamide; it’s already present in our body. It has been thoroughly researched since 1957 during multiple clinical studies and among thousands of patients.
Painkillers with side effects
Only several years ago people found they were insufficiently informed on the negative side effects of painkillers:
Pharmacists hardly inform their customers on the risks of painkillers.
A random survey, conducted by de Consumentenbond, among 30 pharmacies showed that customers buying the painkiller Ibuprofen are hardly informed on the risks and side effects. In only 3 of the 30 pharmacies customers buying ibuprofen were asked if they were taking any other medicine. The use of ibuprofen can cause undesirable side effects among hart patients that use the blood thinner Ascal cardio.
Again we see unwanted side effects due to drugs like ibuprofen and (too) commonly used painkillers. Ibuprofen belongs to the category of NSAID’s. What does this mean?
Apart from simple painkillers like paracetamol there are also painkillers that have anti-inflammatory and fever reducing qualities, the so-called NSAID’s. This is short for Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs.
This can be explained as non-hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs, or anti-inflammatory painkillers. There are many kinds of anti-inflammatory painkillers.
Some examples include: Advil, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, Antigrippine Ibuprofen, Ascal, Aspro, Brufen, Diclofenac, femapirin, Ibuprofen, Naxproxen, Nurofen, Voltaren, Zafen. Most are taken in tablets or capsules, some need to be dissolved in water and there are also products available to that need to be applied to the skin.
For what type of problems are these painkillers used?
This type of painkiller can be used for lower back pain. Anti-inflammatory painkillers can decrease inflammation in the joints, but only with the right dose. As a matter of fact, this is most commonly used drug for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
Who administers these? Many anti-inflammatory painkillers are available without prescription at the drug store or pharmacy. Some are only available with prescription.
A little more about the side effects and risks of NSAID painkillers
The down side of NSAID drugs is that the have more side effects than simple painkillers, like paracetamol. Common side effects include gastrointestinal complaints, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. On top of that they can cause stomach ulcers.
Other side effects include an increase of blood pressure, decreased blood coagulation function and liquid retention. For people with a kidney condition, they can worsen kidney function.
To avoid possible stomach conditions, the tablets are best taken with a meal and a glass of water or milk. Be careful using alcohol together with NSAID’s.
Always read the enclosed instructions. Many people with rheumatoid arthritis take stomach-protecting medicine against the side effects of anti-inflammatory painkillers.
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) as a painkiller
With the availability of PEA we now have a good alternative for painkillers with side effects. You can find more information about this substance on other pages of our website.
More about side effects of painkillers
Question: Can naproxen cause shortness of breath?
“I have asthma. Recently I got prescribed naproxen and experienced shortness of breath. The doctor told me to stop using this drug. Can the painkiller cause this and is there another kind I can use?”
Answer: Some people with asthma will experience shortness of breath due to NSAID’s like naproxen. There is a chance you will also experience shortness of breath with other painkillers from the NSAID’s category (Ibuprofen, Brufen, Artrotec, etc). The use of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) and paracetamol is safe for asthma patients.
Question: Bloodshot eyes as a side effect to painkillers?
“After an accident I got prescribed the painkiller diclofenac. Within a few days my eyes looked bloodshot as if some small veins had popped. “Quit this drug immediately” was my doctor’s advice. In case I need another painkiller, which one could I use?”
Answer: Diclofenac belongs to the NSAID category. A side effect of the NSAID’s is that they can slow down the production of blood vessels. This means it takes longer for bleedings to be stopped when they occur.
Most people that don’t use other medicine will hardly notice this. Nor will they notice the reduced blood coagulation.
If you use an anticoagulant on top of the NSAID’s, it could be possible that you do notice the reduced blood coagulation. This can result in blood shot eyes.
In this case you are better off using PEA or paracetamol; these painkillers do not affect blood coagulation.
People that go to a thrombosis clinic to have their blood coagulation checked are recommended to mention the use of NSAID’s.
Question: What’s the deal with tramadol: pain relief but constipation and stomach pain?
“After my hip surgery I have been taking tramadol. I was advised to take 1 or 2 tablets twice a day. However, I only take them when the pain is bothering me a lot. What are the benefits and disadvantages of this painkiller?
Tramadol is a morphine-like painkiller, but its effect is less strong than morphine. Doctors usually prescribe this drug for severe pain and nerve pain. If you are only in pain occasionally there is no harm in taking a painkiller only at those times. The only disadvantage is that you have to wait 30 minutes to an hour for the effects to work.
If you take tramadol a couple of times a day, the pain relief is continuous. Tramadol can have side effects, like many other drugs, especially drowsiness, confusion and dizziness are common.
This is why it’s advised not to drive a car the first two weeks after you start taking tramadol. Most people get used to the side effects and are able to drive a car again after these two weeks. Some people experience nausea the first few days.
Less common side effects are intestinal obstruction and a dry mouth. When you experience a dry mouth you can stimulate the saliva production by chewing on some chewing gum. Eating foods that are rich in fiber can prevent constipation.
PEA can strengthen the pain relieving effect of tramadol, in which case you need less tramadol and thus experience fewer side effects of the drug.
Question: What are the side effects of codeine?
Codeine belongs to the opioids, which means the opium family of drugs. The body converts codeine to morphine. But codeine is not nearly as addictive as other members of the opioid family. Its pain-relieving effects are also not as strong. The pain relieving effect is about a tenth as strong as that of morphine, but the drowsy effect is almost the same.
The most important way of administering the drug is a combination of paracetamol and codeine. There are different companies that provide the paracetamol/codeine phosphate. The generic medicine acetylsalicylic acid/paracetamol/codeine phosphate also includes acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin). And AcCod is a combination of acetylsalicylic acid and codeine that contains caffeine, an addition that’s absolutely useless.
Codeine causes drowsiness, can cause constipation and has all the side-effects that opioids do, but generally less strong. PEA can strengthen the effectiveness of codeine or replace it.
A story about Celebrex:
“Celebrex is prescribed for treatment of arthritis. The side effects are serious. An acquaintance of mine was prescribed this drug to treat pain in her thumb. After taking the drug for 14 days, 200mg per day, her legs got swollen, she got a skin rash, liquid retention and she couldn’t go out on the street anymore.
Initially, the doctor that prescribed her the drugs didn’t know were the complaints came from. She decided to read the instructions and discovered that the drugs can cause skin irritation as a side effect. Now she is bandaged on both legs daily and hasn’t been able to go anywhere for two months.
What a painkiller. This should be taken off the market…”
The instructions of Celebrex read:
Celebrex is used to relieve signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (inflammation of the joints), arthrosis (wear of the joints) and spondylitis ankylopoetica (inflammation and stiffness of the spine’s vertebrae). Celebrex belongs to a group of medicine called Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) and the specific sub-group COX-2 inhibitors.
About the most common side effects:
Very common: occurs in more than 1 out of 10 people:
- High blood pressure*
Common: occurs in 1 to 10 people out of 100:
- Heart attack*
- Liquid retention in ankles, legs and/or handsELE 063 NL PIL 20Dec2012
- Urinary tract infections
- Shortness of breath*, sinusitis (sinus infection, sinus inflammation, painful sinuses), blocked or runny nose, sore throat, cough, cold and fly symptoms.
- Dizziness, trouble sleeping
- Vomiting*, stomach pain, diarrhea, digestive disorders, gas and bloating
- Rash, itching
- Muscle stiffness
- Difficulty swallowing*
- Worsening of existing allergies