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COX-2 is a molecule commonly targeted by anti-inflammatory medications. Learn about the risks and benefits of COX-2 inhibition, the role of COX-2 in the body, and more below.
What is COX-2?
COX-2 is a molecule used by the body to produce a type of inflammatory hormone called prostaglandin (R). Blocking or inhibiting the COX-2 molecule prevents creation of prostaglandins, and thus decreases inflammation (R).
COX-2 is only produced by the body as part of an inflammatory response, as opposed to many other molecules with a role in the immune system, which are continually produced to some degree (R).
The COX-2 pathway is also involved in the regulation of cell growth, programmed cell death, and cytokine expression (R).
Pharmaceutical COX-2 Inhibitors
Inhibition of COX-2 is the mechanism by which traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or aspirin, reduce sensations of swelling and pain (R).
NSAIDs typically inhibit both COX-2 and also COX-1, a similarly structured enzyme which helps protect the mucosal lining of the stomach (R). Long-term use of NSAIDs causes reduced immunity and increases the risk of ulcers due to their inhibition of COX-1 (R, R).
Relatively recently, drugs that are able to target COX-2 have been created, but the long-term safety of prolonged COX-2 inhibition is uncertain (R).
NSAID inhibitors of COX-2 decrease the ability of the blood to clot, and are a risk for those with bleeding disorders (R). Increased susceptibility to bleeding caused by NSAIDs can also worsen stomach ulcers (R).
Decreasing or Inhibiting COX-2 Naturally
COX-2 is only produced by the body as part of an inflammatory response (R). Rather than suppressing the inflammatory response, removal of the underlying inflammation can thus decrease the expression of COX-2 in most cases.
COX-2 and Disease
Because it activates inflammatory pathways, COX-2 is linked to inflammation.
Factors that Increase COX-2
- Arachidonic acid – Arachidonic acid (AA) is a precursor for COX2. Supplementation with AA increases COX2 activity (R)
- Diet could affect responses to inhibitor-COX drugs. Diets high in omega-6 would cause more arachidonic acid and have an improve response with COX-2 inhibitors (R)
Factors that Decrease COX-2
Researchers have suggested that several natural alternatives to COX-2 inhibitors have a preferable safety profile compared with NSAID drugs (R).
- Progesterone may inhibit NF-kappaB activation of COX-2 gene production and uterine contractility (R)
- Olive Oil: Foods high in polyphenol content are good anti-inflammatory sources. They suppress the production of the protein for COX-2 (R)
- Grape – Grape polyphenols were also shown to inhibit the increase in COX-2 due to alcohol treatment in a test done on rats (R)
- Mangtosteen/Gamma-mangostin (R)
- Berries/Anthocyanins (R)
- Avocado/Persenone A (R)
- Banana (R)
- Citrus Fruits (R)
- Mushroom: Food high in Vitamin D like mushroom are good inhibitors of COX-2 and are anti-inflammatory (R)
- Tumeric: Dietary curcumin (found in tumeric) stopped protein production of COX-2, preventing transcription (R)
- Ginger (strong) (R).
- Nutmeg: Myristinins isolated from nutmeg selectively inhibited the enzyme COX-2 (R)
- Aloe vera: Aloesin derivatives in Aloe vera were found to inhibit COX-2 (R)
- Fish oil (R)
- Pterostilbene (R, R)
- Caffeic acid (R)
- Butyrate (R)
- Resveratrol (R, R, R)
- PQQ (R)
- Retinoic acid or carnosol (R)
- Quercetin (R)
- Pomegranate extract (R)
- Pycnogenol (R)
- Rosmarinic acid (strong) (R)
- Ketosis (R)
- Glucosamine (R, R)
- Chinese skullcap (R)
- Oroxylin A, a component of skullcap, also prevents COX-2 gene production (R)
- Spirulina (R)
- Astaxanthin (R)
- Bromelain (R)
- Chrysin (R)
- Pomegranate (R)
- Curcumin (R)
- Cinnamon (R)
- Ginger (R)
- Boswellia (R)
- Honokiol (R)
- White willow (R)
- Black Cumin (R)
- Rooibos (R)
- Nettle (R)
- Hydroxytyrosol (R),
- Anthocyanins (from red raspberries) (R)
- Bitter melon (R)
- Cardomonin (R)
- Olive leaf (R)
- Tulsi (R)
- Fennel (R)
- Amla (R)
- NAC (R)
- Danshen (R)
- Lipoic acid (R)
- Astragalus (R)
- Rehmannia (R)
- Berberine (R)
- Reishi (R)
- Sulforaphane (R)
- Milk Thistle (R)
- Flaxseed (R)
- Zinc (R)
- Honey (R)
- Soy (R)
- Theanine (R)
- Garlic (R)
- Grape seed extract (R)
- Lycopene (R),
- Epimedium (R)
- Emodin (R)
- Bilberry (R)
- Ursolic acid (R)
- Sodium benzoate (R)
- Capsicum (R)
- Perilla (R)
- Black cohosh (R)
- Echinacea purpurea (R)
- Cichoric acid (from Echinacea) (R)
- St. Johns wort (R)
- Emodin (R)
- Wormwood extract (R)
- Thunder god vine/Triptolide (R)
- Andrographis/Andrographolide (R)
- Ginseng (R).
- Tea/EGCG (R).
- Chamomile (R).
- Selenium (R)
- NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin and Bromfenac (R)
- COX-2 specific inhibitors such as Celecoxib and Lumiracoxib (R, R)
SelfDecode has the COX2/PTGS2 Gene:
PTGS2 (recommended name) or COX-2 (common name) is a gene that codes for the enzyme Prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 also called cyclooxygenase-2. It is mainly associated with responses to physiological stresses such as infection and inflammation (R,R2).
Several studies indicate that PGTS2 is associated with an increasing in colorectal (R,R2,R3), prostate (R) and breast cancer risk (R). In particular, PTGS2 is probably involved in tumor proliferation and growth, in the formation of metastases and in the resistance of cancer cells to programmed death (R1,R2,R3).
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
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