Treatment of pain by pharmaceuticals is becoming increasingly dangerous. Some pain relievers, such as fentanyl, are responsible for many deaths due to their similarity to heroin (fentanyl is said to be at least 50 times more potent than heroin.)
I remember when I was in college studying premed and I went to a doctor with some pain and was given a narcotic pain drug. I didn’t take it, but the experience haunted me. Did I want to become a drug dealer? I later found out that the pain-killing drug I was given was highly addictive. Glad I didn’t take it.
That was several decades ago. Now we find that many types of pain-killing pharmaceuticals have numerous side effects. Some pain killers – notably narcotic opiods such as oxycontin and others, are highly addictive. As a result, we find millions of children and young adults addicted to opiods (including heroin) following a doctor’s seemingly innocent prescription of a narcotic pain killer.
Now we don’t typically see opiod abuse from NSAID use. But NSAIDs have their own array of adverse effects, including gastrointestinal problems, ulcers and even a risk of cardiovascular events.
Yet doctors will insist that NSAIDs are the safest form of pain reliever. Really? The safest?
How about COX-2 inhibiting NSAIDs such as rofecoxib (Vioxx) that had to be withdrawn from the market because it was found to cause heart attacks? Similar warnings exist for celecoxib (Celebrex), found to increase the risk of heart attack by 37 percent in addition to causing gastrointestinal problems.
As if nature has not created any safer pain relievers.
In fact, the first form of pharmaceutical NSAID is aspirin – which was a synthetic version of the salicylic compound isolated from the safe Meadowsweet herb.
And there are many other pain-relieving herbs, some of which have been proven to work as well as NSAIDs, but without the negative side effects.
Derris scandens relieves pain
The Derris scandens herb is one of these herbs that reduces pain as well as NSAIDs but without the negative side effects.
Never heard of Derris scandens? This is a medicinal plant that grows throughout Asia. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic, Thai and Chinese herbal medicine to treat a variety of painful conditions, including muscle pain, joint pain, arthritis and headaches.
But does Derris scandens work as well as NSAIDs?
Yes. In a 2016 meta-analysis from researchers at Thailand’s Naresuan University and the Prince of Songkla University, four studies that included 414 pain patients were analyzed. The clinical studies each compared Derris scandens with NSAIDs for relieving pain. The analyzed clinical research results found that D. scandens reduced pain just as well as treatment with NSAIDs, but without the negative side effects. The researchers stated:
“The effects of oral D. scandens on reducing pain score were no different from those of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at any time points (3, 7, 14 days and overall). The overall pain reduction in the D. scandens group was not inferior to treatment with NSAIDs without evident of heterogeneity.”
How does D. scandens beat NSAIDs?
This collection of studies – along with the next one – illustrate that D. scandens reduces pain equivalent to NSAIDs. How can we say that D. scandens beats NSAIDs then?
Because the D. scandens doesn’t cause the amount of gastrointestinal and other related side effects that pharmaceutical NSAIDs cause.
Certainly side effects must be included in the analysis of one treatment against the other, yes?
Let’s use an example. Let’s say that you are going to paint a house and you are comparing two paint brands. One paint brand contains lead and the other doesn’t. Both will cover the walls about the same, right? But the paint brand that doesn’t contain the lead should be considered far superior to the one with lead – because it won’t poison your children, right?
Derris scandens relieves osteoarthritis pain
These are not the only clinical studies showing how well this herb can reduce pain. A 2011 study from Thailand’s Mahidol University college of medicine studied 107 patients with primary osteoarthritis of the knee.
For four weeks, half of the patients received 500 milligrams per day of the NSAID naproxen. The other half received 600 milligrams of D. scandens per day.
The researchers used the Western Ontario McMaster Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) to gauge pain and function. They also tested each patient with six minute walking scores.
The researchers found that pain was reduced among both of the two groups. The WOMAC scores were almost equal and joint function was practically identical between the two groups.
However, the naproxen group experienced significantly more adverse side effects. The most reported side effect among the naproxen group was gastrointestinal irritation and dyspepsia – heartburn.
The researchers concluded:
“Derris scandens Benth extracts were efficacious and safe for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis.”
What is Derris scandens?
Derris scandens Benth is also called Jewel Vine in European herbalism and Gonj in Ayurveda. It has also been called Malay Jewelvine and Hog Creeper. The medicinal herb Derris scandens
The plant is a woody evergreen climbing vine than can grow up to 40 feet in height. It grows throughout Asia, including India, Thailand, Malaysia and tropical regions of China.
Traditional healers have utilized the plant’s bark, leaves and roots to relax muscles, quell infections and treat pain, inflammation and rheumatism. The herb is slightly diuretic and anti-cachexic.
D. scandens inhibits COX and LOX enzymes
Major medicinal compounds found in D. scandens include Genistein-rhamnopyranosyl-glucopyranoside (or GTG). This compound has been found to inhibit cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX). Inhibiting these two enzymes means interfering in the inflammation and pain process.
NSAIDs and other pain-relieving pharmaceuticals are also known for their ability to inhibit COX and sometimes LOX. The problem is they also inhibit the body’s secretion of mucosal membrane fluid. This is why they tend to cause ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues – because these tissues – and other mucosal membranes throughout the body – require mucosal membrane fluid in order to be protected.
C. scandens and other natural COX- and LOX-inhibiting medicinal compounds (such as Willow bark and Meadowsweet) are different. These will also have compounds that will stimulate natural mucosal secretions, in order to balance the COX- and LOX-inhibition.
Among some of these other compounds in C. scandens include trihydroxy-diprenylisoflavone and lupalbigenin. These two compounds have been shown to halt the growth of breast cancer.
Other compounds in D. scandens include dimethylallylweighteone and scandenin – both found to be potent antioxidants.
You see, nature is smarter than the pharmaceutical companies.
Discover: Derris Scandens Benth.
Puttarak P, Sawangjit R, Chaiyakunapruk N. Efficacy and safety of Derris scandens. (Roxb.) Benth. for musculoskeletal pain treatment: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (Roxb.) Benth. for musculoskeletal pain treatment: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Sep 9. pii: S0378-8741(16)30755-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.09.021.
Kuptniratsaikul V, Pinthong T, Bunjob M, Thanakhumtorn S, Chinswangwatanakul P, Thamlikitkul V. Efficacy and safety of Derris scandens extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):147-53. doi: 10.1089/acm.2010.0213.
Jutathis K, Kitisripanya T, Udomsin O, Inyai C, Sritularak B, Tanaka H, Putalun W. An Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay for Genistein 7-O-[α-rhamnopyranosyl-(1→6)]-β-glucopyranoside Determination in Derris scandens using a Polyclonal Antibody. Phytochem Anal. 2016 Jul 20. doi: 10.1002/pca.2633.
Laupattarakasem P, Houghton PJ, Hoult JR. Anti-inflammatory isoflavonoids from the stems of Derris scandens. Planta Med. 2004 Jun;70(6):496-501.
Tedasen A, Sukrong S, Sritularak B, Srisawat T, Graidist P. 5,7,4′-Trihydroxy-6,8-diprenylisoflavone and lupalbigenin, active components of Derris scandens, induce cell death on breast cancer cell lines. Biomed Pharmacother. 2016 Jul;81:235-41. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2016.03.044.
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Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.