I have painful arthritis (psoriatic) and I heard that my medicine can cause cancer on the news. I am afraid of it being recalled because I need my Enbrel.
–D.T. Seattle, Washington
Answer: The news from the FDA has sparked even more discomfort for people in pain who rely on these medications. Currently, the FDA has not recalled any of the controversial drugs, they have just asked manufacturers to strengthen warnings about the potential dangers. Some studies point to an association with cancer, others do not, so it remains inconclusive.
The blockbuster drugs taking the heat include Humira, Remicade, Cimzia, Simponi and Enbrel. They are prescribed to treat rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. When I give lectures, it surprises people to hear that there are natural herbs that work on the same biochemical pathway as these drugs, and that help relieve many painful disorders.
Think of these drugs as fire extinguishers. They put out the “fire” in your body by reducing amounts of a pain chemical called “tumor necrosis factor alpha” or TNF alpha. When you block this or related nasty substances, the body senses less pain and inflammation. I’ve discovered some natural, over-the-counter products that block TNF alpha which were proven in human and/or animal studies. Many of the following herbs could be used with (or instead of) prescription pain relievers so ask your doctor what’s right for you, especially if you take blood-thinners or medications for asthma, heart disease or diabetes:
Curcumin: Derived from turmeric spice- studies show it’s a very powerful anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory herb.
Resveratrol: You know it as a red wine extract, but don’t drink the wine, it won’t work, plus it hurts your pancreas. Supplements seem to reduce inflammation and regulate blood sugar. Labels may read “Hu Zhang,” “Japanese Knotwood” or “polygonum cuspidatum.”
Cordyceps sinensis: A medicinal mushroom that is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost immunity and raise energy.
Boswellia: This extract of “Boswella serrata” has been used for centuries. Today’s supplements may prevent the deterioration of joint and cartilage tissue.
Serrapeptase: Derived from silk moths, this is a very strong anti-inflammatory supplement.
Ginger: You can buy fresh ginger root at most supermarkets, or get concentrated supplements at any health food store. This is a strong anti-inflammatory and stomach soother.
Go gluten-free: Gluten-containing foods such as wheat, barley, spelt and rye may increase autoimmune problems. It’s the “gliadin” protein in these foods which trigger nerve pain, inflammation, and digestive problems in some people.
The body of evidence supports the use of natural anti-inflammatory agents as viable alternatives to medications in certain people. You can buy them as single ingredient herbs, adding one new supplement every 2 weeks. Or you can buy multi-tasking formulas that combine a few of these, such as Zyflamend or Vitalzym.
Did You Know?
Biotin, a B-vitamin known to improve hair growth can also lower your triglycerides.
In addition to writing a syndicated column on health which reaches 20 million people each week, Suzy is the author of a number of books on natural health.
You may have seen Suzy on The Dr. OZ Show (6 different appearances), The View, The Doctors, Good Morning America Health and hundreds of morning shows. Quotes from Suzy, as well as her articles, have also appeared in major publications including Woman’s Day, Reader’s Digest, OK Magazine!, First for Women, Fitness, Natural Health and Better Homes & Garden and dozens more.
Read more from Suzy at suzyCohen.com
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