Neem, Ulcers & Pain
Terrifying reports of prescription painkillers that put users at greater risk of heart attacks and stroke have dominated news media over the past few months. Medications like Vioxx and Celebrex, drugs called cox-2 inhibitors, were once hailed as lifesavers because they are less likely to cause gastrointestinal bleeding than other pain relievers.
Concurrently – although with much less fanfare in the news media – a series of reports from India and Hong Kong is showing that neem extracts, specifically neem bark extracts, have potent antiulcer properties.
Most common pain relievers including aspirin and ibuprofen are part of a class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (often abbreviated as NSAIDs) that are highly effective but can cause gastrointestinal irritation and occasionally life-threatening ulcers. That’s because they may damage the protective mucous layer of the stomach, allowing stomach acids necessary for digestion to further injure the stomach’s lining.
From the perspective of patients with chronic pain, particularly senior adults suffering from arthritis, the studies may indicate that neem bark used in combination with NSAIDs could be an effective alternative for people faced with the choice of an increased risk of heart attack from cox-2 inhibitors or the potential gastrointestinal injuries from NSAIDs alone.
In addition to its gastro-protective compounds, neem has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory treatment with some more recent researching confirming that use. Compounds found in neem compare favorably with cortisone acetate and hydrocortisone according to a study published in the Journal of Indian Medical Research (not available online), which notes that neem may gain efficacy over a period of one to three weeks when treating inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.