Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug also known as NSAIDs derived from propionic acid by the former Boots Group (now Alliance Boots) of Nottingham, England, UK.

Discovered by Dr. Stewart Adams, he was subsequently awarded the Order of the British Empire after initially successfully testing ibuprofen on a hangover!That same year, the Boots Group was awarded the Queen’s Award for technical achievement in 1987.

Patented in 1961 and launched as an arthritis treatment in the UK in 1969 and the US in 1974, it remains a treatment for headache, arthritis pain, uterine pain during menstruation, fever and as an anti-inflammatory analgesic. It is on the EssentialĀ Medicines List of the World Health Organization.

Typical over the counter doses range from 200 mg to 400 mg every four to six hours with labels warning not to exceed 1200 mg daily unless directed by a doctor. It works as a non-selective cyclooxygenase inhibitor, inhibiting the isoforms COX-1 and COX-2. Purposeful benefits come from the COX-2 inhibition, while adverse effects are the result of the inhibition of COX-1, resulting in the damage of the gastrointestinal tract as well as platelet aggregation, though the platelet aggregation properties comes in useful as an arterial circulator and prevention of thrombotic cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease when anticoagulants are inoperative.

In moderate doses following the daily maximum recommendation on the label,Ibuprofen is said to have the lowest incidence on the gastrointestinal tract compared to all other NSAIDs. Among common side effects are nausea, dyspepsia,gastrointestinal ulceration/bleeding, raised liver enzymes, diarrhea, epistaxis, headache, dizziness, priapism, rash, Salt and fluid retention andĀ hypertension. Uncommon side effects include esophageal ulceration, heart failure, hyperkalamemia, renal impairment, confusion and bronchospasm.

The main problem with it in treating hangovers is the damage to the gastrointestinaltract. While treating an occasional hangover with a couple of pills in the morning, frequent alcohol use has a severely damaging effect on the gastrointestinal tract. Absorption of alcohol begins immediately at the mouth and through the esophageaous and further at the stomach and the small intestine.

Chronic use associated with alcohol abuse and alcoholism can lead to oralcancer, Barrett’s esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), esophageal stricture,gastrointestinal bleeding, gastritis, esophageal cancer, Mallory-Weiss syndrome and esophageal varices.

Both alcohol and Ibu profen share similar damaging effects the the gastrointestinal tract, with one drug exacerbating the other.

I’m no doctor, but it’s clear to me that using ibuprofen, while easier on the system than aspirin or acetaminophen, further damages the GI tract after an already vicious night out. Use this treatment sparingly and with caution.

World Health Organization. March 2005. List of Essential Medicines Retrieved 2006-03-12. – Rossi 2004 ibuproofenadverse effects – Fleming MF, Barry KL, Manwell LB, Johnson K, London R. Brief physician advice for problem alcohol drinkers. A randomized controlled trial in community-based primary care practices. JAMA 1997: 277:1039-45. – American Gastroenterological Association (2006, May 22). Alcohol Consumption Habits