Anti-inflammatory drugs and our bodies natural production of anti-inflammatory processes

How do anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, NSAIDS, and steroids block normal prostaglandin function in our body? Before we can answer that question, we need a basic understanding of what a prostaglandin is and what it does for our body. 

What is a Prostaglandin?

Prostaglandins are hormone like essential substances for our body. These occur in nearly all body tissue and fluids. Prostaglandins are responsible for many activities in the body including: maintaining homeostasis, Increasing blood flow to our kidneys, dilating bronchial tubes, regulating cells communication system (opening and closing chanels) and last but certainly not least, controlling inflammation. That’s some pretty important stuff! 

Where do they come from:

Prostaglandins are synthesized in the cells’ membrane. They are created from elongated forms of essential fatty acids (EFA). We need to consume EFA’s because our body is not able to produce these. Fats and oils (lipids) that we eat are a collection of fatty acid molecules. One lipid is made up of triglycerides. One Triglyceride is three fatty acids + one glycerol molecule.

Two kinds of the essential fatty acids (EFA) that our body needs for anti-inflammatory actions are polyunsaturated fats:

  • Linoleic Acid (LA) – Omega 6
  • Alpha-linoleinc Acid (ALA) – Omega 3

What kind of Fatty Acid does our body need to produce prostaglandin?

There are three types of prostaglandins that our body needs for different functions. These are PG1, PG2 and PG3. PG1 and PG 3 control anti-inflammatory responses and PG2 control inflammatory responses. Our body needs both capabilities in order to heal and protect itself naturally. For example, our body allows our ankle to swell when we step off a curb and twist our ankle. This is protecting the area and rushing blood cells to this affected area to start repair. 

Prostaglandin 1

PG1 is formed from Omega 6 Fatty Acids. This includes:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Black currant seed
  • Evening primrose
  • Borage Oil

However, PG1 needs a few co-factors (contributing factors) in order for the formation to occur. 

PG1 Cofactors

  • Proper functioning digestion
  • Proper function from the liver
  • Enzymes
    • Amino Acids
    • B6
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc

PG1 production is stimulated by:                                  PG1 production is inhibited by:

  • Vitamin E, C, B3 and B6                                          – Trans fatty acids
  • Magnesium                                                               – Aspirin/NSAIDS
  • Zinc                                                                            – Alcohol
  •  Steroids

Prostaglandin 2

PG2 is formed from saturated dietary fats. This includes:

  • Organ meat
  • Red meat
  • Dairy
  • Shell fish
  • Coconut oil

PG2 also needs a few cofactors in order to be produced. These are:

  • Proper functioning digestion
  • Proper function from the liver
  • Enzymes
    • Amino Acids
    • B6
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc

PG2 production is stimulated by:                        PG2 production is inhibited by:

  • Vitamin C, B3 and B6                                  – Aspirin/NSAIDS
  • Low dose Vitamin E                                    – EPA
  • Zinc                                                                – High doses of Vitamin E
  • Bioflavonoids
  •  

Prostaglandin 3

PG3 is formed by Omega 3 fatty acids including:

  • Flax/flax oil
  • Wheat Germ
  • Walnut
  • Hemp
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Fish oils

PG3 cofactors include 

  • Proper functioning digestion
  • Proper function from the liver
  • Enzymes
    • Amino Acids
    • B6
    • Magnesium
    • Zinc

PG3 production is stimulated by:                    PG3 production is inhibited by: 

  • Vitamin E, C, B3 and B6                             – Trans fatty acids
  • Magnesium                                                  – Aspirin/NSAIDS
  • Zinc                                                               – Alcohol  
  •                                                                        – Steroids                                                                                                                            

If an NSAID is taken for something such as a headache or other inflammation issue, Prostaglandin is not produced due to the inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes. By doing this, we are not allowing our body to naturally produce PG1 and PG3 for anti-inflammation. 

If our bodies were supported properly with things such as proper functioning digestion, liver function, sources of Omega 3’s and 6’s, amino acids and sufficient micronutrient support our body could naturally fight inflammation instead of just putting a bandaid on the root cause with aspirin or NSAIDS.  

Many of the fatty acid sources listed above can be added to your everday diet very easily. Find out what oils work well for cooking at high temps here

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