Most over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs carry a risk of causing food intolerances and chronic, low-grade inflammation. Aspirin is an exception. But this is why it’s best taken with bicarbonate and glycine. IMPORTANT NOTE: Give 30-60 minutes between any dose of bicarbonate and aspirin to avoid hurting your stomach. Tune in to learn more!
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This is how to take aspirin safely and why bicarbonate and glycine could help.
If you’re taking aspirin or you’re taking other anti-inflammatory drugs this episode is for you.
Hi. I’m Dr. Chris Masterjohn of chrismasterjohnphd.com, and this is Chris Masterjohn Lite, where the name of the game is “Details? Shmeetails. Just tell me what works!”
And today we’re going to talk about how to take aspirin safely.
This episode is not about why you should start taking aspirin if you don’t or why you should start taking anti-inflammatory drugs if you don’t already, but if you do take anti-inflammatory drugs then this is what I have to say.
So first of all, all anti-inflammatory drugs or most of them that are available over-the-counter appear to have the risk of: Number 1: creating food intolerances and Number 2: promoting chronic low-grade inflammation. And this is because they all work on an enzyme called COX.COX promotes the initiation of inflammation, it makes you start getting inflamed, but it also helps you get rid of inflammation once the inflammation has run its course.
So these drugs when the inflammation is going up they prevent the inflammation from ever getting as bad as it would and they cause it to start leveling off, but then because the enzyme that they’re suppressing is the same enzyme that helps you resolve the inflammation when the inflammation is on its way down, those drugs stop the inflammation from ever going back down to zero and they leave you stuck in the middle, just a little inflamed all the time.
Out of all the over-the-counter anti-inflammatories aspirin is the best one because instead of inhibiting COX, or instead of lowering the amount of COX you have it actually modifies COX in a way that jump-starts it so that instead of producing the chemicals that cause inflammation to increase it skips that step and starts making the chemicals that help the inflammation to go away. So while most over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are likely to prevent you from ever fully resolving inflammation, aspirin is likely to help you start getting rid of the inflammation.
But aspirin still has some potential downsides. So first of all aspirin is acetylsalicylate. That acetyl part of the salicylate is what modifies the COX enzyme to jumpstart it to help you start resolving inflammation. What’s left over after it does that is salicylate and salicylate acts just like all the other anti-inflammatory drugs by blocking COX or making you produce less of it so you have less of it available.
So in a certain way aspirin is most likely to have its best effects if the acetyl group jump-starts the COX to start resolving inflammation, and then you get rid of the salicylate. Well how do you get rid of salicylate? Number 1: you use glycine, an amino acid that I’ve made many episodes on in the past, so keyword search chrismasterjohnphd.com for glycine if you want to learn more about it. You take glycine and you add it to the salicylate and that neutralizes it so it doesn’t have its biological effects. The second thing you’ve got to do is pee it out. And you can pee out some of the salicylate. You don’t have to glycinate it first.
You don’t have to add the glycine first. So you can pee out salicylate with the glycine on it or without, but the more you add glycine to it the better you neutralize it and prevent it from carrying out nasty effects. And then the faster you pee it out either way the faster it’s gone. So you want glycine and you want to pee it out.
Well what determines you peeing it out? The pH of your urine. As your urine pH goes from 6 to 7 you pee out 17 times more salicylate, or you pee it out 17 times faster I should say. As the pH of your urine goes from 6 to 8 you pee it out 25 times faster.
Now the second potential negative effect of aspirin is the fact that you do use glycine when you detoxify it. So about one to two percent of people report that they get asthmatic symptoms in response to taking aspirin. But when people are given aspirin in a controlled setting in a laboratory where they can measure their lung function about 10 to 20 percent of people given a therapeutic dose of aspirin develop signs of asthmatic symptoms that can be detected in the laboratory.
My suspicion is that this is because it’s depleting the glycine and the glycine is needed to make glutathione, which is the principal protection against asthma in your lungs. So you want enough glycine to prevent glycine from being depleted and contribute to the asthmatic symptoms and to help you get rid of that salicylate by neutralizing it. Unfortunately there are no dosing experiments with glycine in the context of doing exactly what I’m saying here.
In studies of aspirin toxicity 10 to 20 gram glycine doses have been used, but in studies of healthy people to get benefits of glycine 3 to 5 gram doses have been used. So my default guess is that for each dose of aspirin that you take, take three grams of glycine powder with it, along with it. That might give you other benefits as well as helping you neutralize that salicylate really fast.
Then the other thing is bring your urine pH up to 7. You could go up to 8, but I think you get most of the benefits from 7 and I think that way you can avoid some of the negative effects of becoming too alkaline. So what I would do is first of all measure your urine pH every time you pee while you’re trying to figure out the dose of bicarbonate that you would need.
Next start with a 1/4 teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, on an empty stomach and see how much that brings your urine pH up and how long that effect lasts. Figure out– the amount of dose–figure out the dose of bicarbonate that you need by slowly going up a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, and figure out how often you have to take it in order to throughout the day.
Once you can consistently maintain your urine pH at 7 or a little higher then that’s when you can take aspirin with the three gram glycine dose. Always use the aspirin according to the label. Always check with your doctor to make sure that taking aspirin is safe for you. And if you’ve experienced negative effects of glycine in the past, be very careful with the glycine and don’t jump to three grams.
If you’re often sensitive to nutritional interventions like this you might want to start with a lower dose of glycine just to test it out and make sure you don’t have a negative reaction to it, most people don’t.
If you’re taking a different over-the-counter anti-inflammatory then I think you should talk to your doctor to make sure that whatever you are taking it for it’s safe to switch to aspirin, but I do believe that taking aspirin providing that you can render it safe in this way is better both from the perspective of not causing chronic inflammation and not causing food intolerances than the other options available over-the-counter.