Prostaglandins, are hormone-like substances involved in many body functions such as the dilation and constriction of blood vessels, the control of blood pressure, the relaxation and contraction of smooth muscles, and the inflammatory process. They are made by two enzymes: cyclooxygenase 1 (COX 1) and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX 2).
The prostaglandins made by COX 1 stimulate normal body “housekeeping” functions, such as the regulation of gastric acid, kidney water retention, platelet production, and the mucous lining of the stomach. COX 1 is expressed in most tissues, remain constant under many conditions and are protective and useful.
COX 2 enzymes are only produced in special cells when they are needed and are used for signaling pain and inflammation. They produce prostaglandins for inflammatory response and are stimulated as part of an immune response. Their production is stimulated by production is stimulated by inflammatory cytokines and growth factors.
For inflammation, we want to shut down COX 2 without affecting COX 1.
NSAIDS, like aspirin and ibuprofen, shut down both. Aspirin is toxic to the liver, can cause tinnitus, Reyes Syndrome, and GI ulcerations. Ibuprofen has the same effects, but with less liver toxicity.
There is a family of drugs which do inhibit COX 2 without affecting COX 1, but they have many negative effects such as headaches, serious (sometimes fatal) GI problems, and insomnia.
Some herbal, dietary, and other natural alternatives which have been traditionally used for reducing inflammation without these negative effects are:
Antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables – raw or lightly cooked
Omega 3 – ALA/GLA/EPA/DHA
Onions, Apples, and Berries
Manual therapies – acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, yoga and therapeutic exercises
Starwest Botanicals has some wonderful bulk organic herbs and herbal extracts! They have superior quality control standards and are committed to environmental awareness.
Difference Between COX 1 and COX 2 by Khezar Hayat , May 16 2013 found at http://medimoon.com/2013/05/difference-between-cox1-and-cox2/
The Role of Inflammation as a Factor in All Disease with Christopher Hobbs, RH(AHG)
August 4, 2014 – An American Herbalist’s Guild Webinar