Written by Divinity Nutra, Updated on March 13, 2023
Inflammation is a common response of the immune system to injury or infection, but it can also be a chronic and harmful condition in certain diseases. NSAIDs are a class of medications commonly used to relieve pain, fever, and inflammation. But, is naproxen an NSAID and can it help reduce inflammation?
This article will explore the mechanism of action of naproxen and its potential benefits and side effects for reducing inflammation and swelling in the body. We will also discuss its most common uses as well as safety precautions for using naproxen.
What is an NSAID?
NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which is a type of medication commonly used to reduce pain, inflammation, and fever.
NSAIDs work by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX), which plays a role in the production of chemicals called prostaglandins. By blocking the construction of prostaglandins, NSAIDs can help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and lower fever.
Is Naproxen an NSAID?
Yes, naproxen is an NSAID because it can reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain by blocking the production of certain pro-inflammatory enzymes in the body.
Most common naproxen brands: Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox, Mediproxen
How Does Naproxen Work?
As mentioned, naproxen works by inhibiting the activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, which interferes with prostaglandin production in an attempt to slow the body’s inflammatory response.
There are two types of COX enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2.
- COX-1 is involved in maintaining the normal functioning of the stomach lining.
- COX-2 is responsible for the production of prostaglandins, one of the primary causes of inflammation and pain.
Naproxen inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, but it is believed to have a higher affinity for COX-1, which may cause unintended gastrointestinal side effects in some individuals (more on this later in the article).
Common Uses for Naproxen
Naproxen is commonly used for a variety of ailments and conditions. Here are the most common uses for naproxen:
- Pain relief: Naproxen is frequently used to relieve mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, toothaches, menstrual cramps, and arthritis.
- Inflammation reduction: Naproxen is also used to reduce inflammation in conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis, and gout.
- Fever reduction: Naproxen is often used to reduce fever, especially in children.
- Migraine treatment: Naproxen is regularly used in combination with other medications to treat migraines.
- Dysmenorrhea treatment: Naproxen can be used to relieve the pain and cramps associated with dysmenorrhea.
Naproxen Side Effects
Naproxen, like all NSAIDs, can cause a range of side effects. Here are some of the most common:
- Upset stomach: Naproxen can irritate the lining of the stomach and cause pain, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion due to COX-1 inhibition.
- Ulcers and bleeding: Long-term use of naproxen can increase the risk of developing stomach ulcers and internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening.
- Kidney problems: NSAIDs like naproxen can cause kidney damage, especially in people with existing kidney problems.
- Cardiovascular problems: Long-term use of naproxen may increase the risk of heart attack or stroke, especially in people with pre-existing heart disease.
- Allergic reactions: Some people may experience an allergic reaction to naproxen, which can cause symptoms such as rash, hives, and difficulty breathing.
- Other side effects: Other less common side effects of naproxen can include dizziness, headache, ringing in the ears, and liver problems.
This is not a complete list of side effects. It is important to speak with a healthcare provider if you experience any side effects or adverse reactions.
Safety Precautions for Naproxen
Here are some safety precautions to take when using naproxen:
- Follow the recommended dosage: Take naproxen as directed by your doctor or by following the instructions on the label. Do not exceed the recommended dose or take it more frequently than recommended.
- Take with food or milk: Taking naproxen with food or milk can help to reduce the risk of stomach upset.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can increase the risk of stomach bleeding when taken with naproxen. Avoid alcohol when taking this medication.
- Tell your doctor about any medical conditions: If you have any medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, high blood pressure, or heart disease, you should let your doctor know before taking naproxen.
- Check for interactions: Naproxen may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners, antidepressants, or other NSAIDs. Check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking naproxen if you are taking any other medications.
- Watch for side effects: If you experience any side effects, it is important to contact your doctor or seek medical attention.
- Do not take during pregnancy: Naproxen is not recommended during pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should talk to your doctor before taking naproxen.
Naproxen vs Ibuprofen
Naproxen and ibuprofen are both nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that are commonly used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. The main difference between the two is their mechanism of action.
Ibuprofen primarily blocks COX-2, which is responsible for inflammation, and secondarily blocks COX-1, which protects the stomach lining.
Naproxen, on the other hand, blocks COX-1 more prominently than COX-2.
Because of its more potent inhibition of COX-1, naproxen is generally considered to have a higher risk of gastrointestinal side effects than ibuprofen. However, both drugs can cause similar side effects such as stomach pain, nausea, and increased risk of bleeding.
In terms of effectiveness, both drugs are effective in reducing pain and inflammation but may be better suited for different conditions.
OTC Alternatives to Naproxen
Naproxen isn’t the only option for pain relief. You can use other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, you can try acetaminophen, or you can implement more natural remedies for inflammation.
It’s worth noting that while acetaminophen can alleviate pain, it isn’t an NSAID like naproxen and therefore cannot combat inflammation or swelling. Rather than directly targeting the source of the pain, acetaminophen works by blocking pain signals sent to the brain.
If all you need is an over-the-counter option for pain relief, some well-known acetaminophen brands include:
- Excedrin (also contains Aspirin)
There are several types of NSAIDs available for reducing inflammation, and today we’ve talked about two of them—naproxen and ibuprofen. Another commonly used NSAID is aspirin, which can be an effective option for certain individuals. If you’re looking for a specific brand, here are some of the top options for the other two types of NSAIDs.
- Ibuprofen: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin
- Aspirin: Bayer, Bufferin, Excedrin, Ecotrin, Anacin
How to Lower Inflammation Naturally
Last but certainly not least, let’s discuss the best strategies for long-term natural pain relief. These are proven techniques you can use today to help deal with chronic inflammation and live a healthier and happier life.
- Eliminate inflammatory foods: Some foods can cause inflammation in the body. Avoiding or minimizing the consumption of these foods, such as processed and fried foods, refined sugar, and artificial additives, can help reduce inflammation.
- Eat more foods that reduce inflammation: Certain anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation in the body. Some examples include fatty fish, leafy greens, berries, nuts, and olive oil.
- Make lifestyle changes: Making healthy lifestyle choices such as getting regular exercise, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep can also help reduce inflammation in the body.
- Take dietary supplements: Some anti-inflammatory herbs, such as turmeric or ginger, have potent antioxidant properties that can fight oxidative stress and lower inflammation.
It can be tough to find the best anti-inflammatory supplements on the market without hours of research. But here are three that have withstood the scrutiny of the scientific community, and have proven very useful for inflammation and pain relief.
Turmeric contains a natural compound called curcumin, which has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin works by inhibiting several different molecules that play a role in inflammation.
- Learn More: 10 Best Turmeric Curcumin Supplements for 2023
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It may also help regulate the body’s pH level, which can play a role in reducing inflammation.
- Learn More: 10 Best Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies for 2023
Elderberry is rich in flavonoids called anthocyanins, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These compounds have been shown to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can contribute to chronic inflammation.
- Learn More: 10 Best Sambucus Elderberry Gummies for 2023
Naproxen and NSAIDs: Final Thoughts
Is naproxen an anti-inflammatory? The answer is yes. Naproxen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is commonly used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain in various medical conditions. Its mechanism of action involves blocking COX enzymes, with a greater effect on COX-1. This leads to a decrease in prostaglandin synthesis, thereby reducing inflammation and swelling.
While naproxen can be effective, it is important to use it safely and follow the recommended dosage, as it can also have side effects and potential risks for certain individuals. It is always best to consult a healthcare professional before using any medication or treatment.