Enzymes are a special type of protein that help to create, or speed up, a chemical reaction within your body.
The stomach containsCOX-1 enzymes, which control the production of prostaglandins that help to protect the stomach from acid (which is usually present in the stomach).COX-1 enzymes also keep your blood relatively sticky, which helps to prevent excessive bleeding.
White blood cells containCOX-2 enzymes, which control the prostaglandins that are involved in pain and inflammation. NSAIDs help to reduce pain and inflammation by preventingCOXenzymes from releasing the prostaglandin chemicals that cause pain and inflammation.
As NSAIDs block the effects of theCOX-1 enzyme on the blood, they can also be used as a blood-thinning medication in people who have a high risk of developing a blood clot.
However, because prostaglandins carry out many different functions within the body, interfering with them can cause a number of different side effects, such as indigestion and stomach ulcers.
There are two main types of NSAIDs:
- non-selective NSAIDs – such as ibuprofen, which block the effects of bothCOX-1 andCOX-2 enzymes
- COX-2 inhibitors – such as celecoxib, which only block the effects ofCOX-2 enzymes
COX-2 inhibitors were designed to treat chronic conditions that cause pain and inflammation without affecting the stomach.