The Dangers of Prescription Drugs

Resized image of Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.png; squ...

Image via Wikipedia

Americans have a thing for drugs.  Legal ones.  From asthma medicine to medicine that pumps up the volume in the bedroom, nearly half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.  And 1 in 6 Americans are using three or more medications.

As someone who used to take quite a few medications without any thought to the harm they might be doing to me, I thought this article by Dr. Mercola was important to share.  With permission, I’ve reprinted his website article on the dangers of prescription drugs.  It’s a long one, but I think it’s worth the time to read if you or your loved ones take medication.  It’s an eye-opener.  I don’t think you’ll look at your medicine cabinet the same way again.

How to Solve Nearly Any Illness – Without Drugs

Written by Dr. Mercola

Writing in Counterpunch, Martha Rosenberg lists the drugs which made 2010’s Hall of Shame. Here are just a few of them:

Yaz and Yasmin

Soon after Bayer launched the pill Yaz, 18 year olds started coming down with blood clots, gall bladder disease, heart attacks and even strokes.

Chantix

After cases of possible psychosis, reports of suicidal behaviors and actual suicides, the government banned pilots, air-traffic controllers and interstate truck and bus drivers from taking this antismoking drug.

Ambien

Law enforcement officials say this sleep drug has increased traffic accidents from people who drive in a black out.

Tamoxifen

For every case of breast cancer prevented by Tamoxifen, there is a life-threatening case of blood clots, stroke or endometrial cancer caused by it.

Lipitor and Crestor

All statins can cause muscle breakdown. Crestor is so linked to the side effect, the FDA’s David Graham named it one of the five most dangerous drugs at a Congressional hearing.

Gardasil and Cervarix Vaccines

The Gardasil HPV vaccine doesn’t work for all viral strains, requires a booster and is linked to 56 girls’ deaths as of September in the U.S. alone.

Singulair and Accolate, leukotriene receptor antagonists

These leukotriene receptor antagonists never looked safe. And Singulair, Merck’s top selling drug, is now suspected of producing aggression, hostility, irritability, anxiety, hallucinations and night-terrors in kids.

To see the full list of dangerous drugs, click on the link below.

Sources:

Counterpunch December 24, 2010

Rosenberg does a fine job pinning down some of the most dangerous drugs on the market today. It’s a tough call, simply because there are so many to choose from. For a truly eye-opening list of “defective drugs,” just take a look at drug litigators’ Parker Waichman Alonso’s web site. It’s a sobering lineup!

Even commonly used over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are not as benign as most people assume.

The fact that we’re now faced with such an onslaught of problematic drugs is a testament to the inadequacies, not to mention criminal behavior, of the pharmaceutical industry.

Studies are frequently biased, results are skewed, and drugs are put on a fast-track to be approved long before anyone knows whether they’re safe. And it’s quite clear that a large number of drugs are not at all safe, and many do not even work as advertised, giving you the absolute worst of both worlds.

In essence, any time you resort to taking a drug, you’re taking a gamble because there are NO 100 percent safe drugs. And the more drugs you combine, the greater the risk that you’ll suffer serious and/or potentially lethal side effects.

Are You on Any of these Dangerous Drugs?

In addition to the drugs listed above, here are several more that may jeopardize your health:

  • Advair– This asthma medicine contains the long-acting beta-agonist (LABA) salmeterol, which can make your asthma deadly by increasing the severity of asthma attacks. It is estimated that salmeterol-containing drugs cause about 5,000 asthma-related deaths each year in the US alone.
  • Avandia (rosiglitazone)– This diabetes drug has been linked to increased risk of heart attack. Confidential government reports claim about 6,000 heart attacks and 3,600 cases of heart failure would be averted each year if patients switched away from Avandia. The drug was recently banned in Europe, but the US FDA has chosen only to monitor the drug, rather than ask for a recall.
  • Celebrex This painkiller has been linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage. Additionally, one 2005 study found that people taking 200 mg of Celebrex twice a day more than doubled their risk of dying of cardiovascular disease. Those on 400 mg twice a day more than tripled their risk.
  • Ritalin This drug is commonly prescribed to children diagnosed with ADHD, despite the fact it has the same pharmacological profile as cocaine. By definition, Ritalin stimulates your central nervous system, leading to side effects such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.
    When taken over a period of years, as Ritalin often is, the drug can cause severe health problems, including cancer. Short-term, it can still lead to chromosomal damage.
  • Lyrica, Topomax and Lamictal — These epilepsy seizure drugs increase your risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and all three drugs can cause both hair- and memory loss.
  • TNF Blockers Biologics like Humira and Prolia are made from genetically engineered hamster cells, and suppress your immune system. Other side effects include tuberculosis, lethal infections, melanoma, lymphoma and “unusual cancers in children and teenagers”. Humira also carries a warning that it may cause or worsen psoriasis — a condition it is supposed to treat.
  • Bisphosphonate drugs – This dangerous class of drugs include Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva, prescribed to prevent osteoporosis. Fosamax in particular has been linked to thigh bone fractures, jaw bone rot, serious eye problems, liver damage and renal failure, just to name a few potential side effects.
    Fosamax users are also nearly twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation (quivering of your heart’s upper chambers), which is the most common kind of chronically irregular heartbeat.
  • Statin drugs—This class of drugs, used to lower your cholesterol, have been linked to an array of devastating side effects, including muscle pain and weakness, muscle atrophy, rhabdomyolysis, increased plaque deposits, increased cancer risk, immune system suppression, decreased liver function, CoQ10 depletion, and death.
  • Proton pump inhibitors—Drugs like Prevacid, Prilosec, and Nexium are commonly used for heartburn. However, their side effects may be far more problematic and dangerous than your original problem.
    Side effects include increased risk of fractures of your hip, wrist and spine (the risk of a bone fracture has been estimated to be over 40 percent higher in patients who use these drugs long-term), increased risk of food poisoning, pneumonia and infection with Clostridium difficile, a harmful intestinal bacteria.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Clearly, there are many others. However, many of these drugs are used for ailments that respond favorably to lifestyle changes alone!

Health Problems that are Better Treated Without Drugs

In more recent years, a growing body of studies shows that simple lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise are effective remedies for many common health problems. At the same time, we’re seeing more and more evidence of the lethal harm being brought by poorly tested drugs.

To me, the choice is clear.

But many people still do not realize just how effective lifestyle changes can be in treating their disease. Many diabetics, for example, are convinced they need drugs, and resist the idea that treating or even curing their disease is entirely within their own control.

The truth is, type 2 diabetes is virtually 100 percent avoidable and treatable entirely without drugs. If you’re still in the dark about how to accomplish this, please see this link.

Other common conditions that can be managed without medication include:

  1. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)
  2. High cholesterol
  3. Depression
  4. High blood pressure
  5. Osteoporosis
  6. Heart disease
  7. Insomnia

Do Your Research Before Taking ANY Drug

For all the problems modern society has caused, it also brings benefits that were previously unimaginable. One of them is the ease with which you can conduct your own research. And I urge you to thoroughly investigate each drug before taking it.

The truth is that doctors are no longer the sole authority on all matters relating to health. And don’t believe for one minute that your physician will have all the answers and all the latest research findings at his or her fingertips. They won’t.

Most of their recent knowledge about drug treatments comes directly from the lips of drug reps, and if you believe drug reps will put your health and safety before profits, think again.

So, as a general rule, always make sure to read up on the potential side effects of the drug. Read the package insert, and remember that even if it lists a side effect as rare, it can happen to you.

Then decide whether the potential benefits truly outweigh the potential risks.

Drugs are Band-Aids. They Do NOT Address the Cause of Disease

If you want to take a step in the right direction, make drugs your last option.

This sounds easy enough, but actually requires a massive thought shift for some people. Many still have a very hard time accepting the idea that your body can heal itself, and that drugs oftentimes will only hinder the process.

I can’t stress enough the importance of the most basic principle for resolving an illness: Find the underlying cause of the problem, and address THAT!

Masking it with a drug that lessens your symptoms does not fix anything. Disease can only be resolved by addressing its root cause.

What many people fail to realize is that it is entirely possible to maintain optimal health simply by:

  1. Avoiding unnecessary drugs, and
  2. Understanding the fundamentals of proper nutrition and exercise

What DOES Make You Healthy?

There are certain basic tenets of optimal health that have always remained permanent truths, and by consistently adhering to them, you give yourself the best chance at a long and healthy life.

These 10 strategies promote overall health, as opposed to chasing and watering down various symptoms:

  1. Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down) — This aspect is so important for optimal health; I now offer my entire online nutritional typing program for free.
  2. Drink plenty of clean water
  3. Manage your stress
  4. Exercise regularly — I actually view exercise as a drug with regard to being properly prescribed and having proper dosage,  And it’s one that you can readily substitute for some of the most common drugs used today for things like diabetes, heart disease and depression.High-intensity, burst-type exercises like Peak 8 are particularly beneficial for optimal health, as it effectively boosts fat loss, improves muscle strength, tone and endurance, and causes your body to produce human growth hormone (HGH).
  5. Optimize your vitamin D levels by getting appropriate amounts of sun exposure, or by taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement
  6. Limit exposure to toxins
  7. Consume healthy fats such as omega-3 fat, coconut oil and pure butter
  8. Eat plenty of raw food
  9. Optimize your insulin and leptin levels
  10. Get plenty of sleep

Remember, leading a common sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to produce a healthy body and mind, and increase your longevity.

Unfortunately, both the pharmaceutical industry and the food industry won’t make it easy for you to avoid the garbage that ruins your health.

The drug industry spends about $15 billion a year manipulating and distorting your perceptions about the proper solutions for your health challenges. The answer is to take self-responsibility and educate yourself so that you can make better, healthier choices.

By adhering to the basic tenets of optimal health provided above, you will build a healthy mind and body, thereby safeguarding yourself against a multitude of health problems and serious diseases.

Dr. Mercola is the founder of the world’s most visited natural health web site, Mercola.com. You can learn the hazardous side effects of OTC Remedies by getting a FREE copy of his latest special report The Dangers of Over the Counter Remedies by going to his Report Page.

My Quest for a Natural Allergy Solution, Part 3

[tweetmeme]

April 22, 2010

This is the day of reckoning.  I am to find out if my body responded to the Sublingual Immunotherapy and whether I can be declared free of my cat allergies.  A couple of hours before my appointment, I get a phone call from the allergist at the ear, nose, and throat doctor’s office.  It’s disappointing news: There will be no allergy test, my doctor wants to keep me on a maintenance plan for a while longer. I’ll just be going in to get my new vial and worksheet.  Oh well.  I’ll do whatever I’m supposed to in order to lead an allergy-free life.

I arrive at the ENT office and, as usual, find it amusing and slightly sad that everyone knows who I am by name and/or face.  If this was a different place of business, I’d feel honored.  But in my case it means I’ve had way too many health issues.  I love the ladies who work here, but I’d rather not have to see them so frequently.  When the doctor comes into my room, I tell her I haven’t experienced any allergy attacks (except one day) or sinus infections.  She is pleased but explains that my therapy is not over, and I need to continue with a maintenance plan.  I actually wasn’t supposed to have a break in the therapy–I guess there was a little misunderstanding on that point. I share that I’ve blogged about my experience in searching for a natural allergy solution, and that I had told my readers I was getting a skin allergy test today.  Being the lovely, supportive woman she is, the doctor offered to let me take the test.  Yes!!

This time around, I took a picture of all the allergens that comprise the skin allergy test.  It’s always nice to know what you’re being poked with, and I thought you folks might be interested in the multitudes of things that create allergy misery for so many people.  In section A, histamine is the control, and will create a welt on everyone.  So obviously, a raised welt appeared on my arm almost immediately following a burning/itching sensation.  No other welts appeared. May I just point out the implications of that last statement?  No other welts appeared apart from the control, meaning no reaction to the cat hair allergen, meaning no more allergies to cats! Heck yeah!  I was so excited, I gave my fabulous allergist Tina a high-five.

When you click on the photos for a larger view, make sure to use the “back arrow” button on your browser to return to this post.  I can’t make a new window appear for photo galleries.

I will continue to take the maintenance drops for 3 weeks, using the same protocol as the previous times, and then continue using 3 drops/day for 6 weeks after that.  I suppose the purpose is to further strengthen my tolerance.

I am so pleased to share this awesome news with all of you.  Not just because I seem to be cured, but that my journey might help some of you who are suffering for many months out of the year from severe allergies and sinus infections.  I’m ecstatic to find a natural solution to allergies.  I loathed the idea of dependence on over-the-counter allergy meds, which have side effects like drowsiness, excitability, dryness of throat and sinuses, and who knows what else–not to mention weird ingredients and dyes.  There’s no guarantee that this therapy will work for you, but I’m thinking that if it helped me–who was a serious case with a troublesome health history–there’s a good chance you’ll benefit as well.

While my drop therapy was for cat allergies, it can be prepared to combat allergies to grasses, trees, pollens, and animals.  It does not treat food allergies.  Contact an allergist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor to discuss how sublingual immunotherapy can work for you.

Share

My Quest for a Natural Allergy Solution, Part 2

[tweetmeme]

December 29, 2009

I am once again back at the doctor’s office because of my crummy sinuses.  I have an infection again, and I’m truly at my wit’s end.  I feel sick all the time; my eyes are watering, my nose is running, my throat is sore.  I’m convinced there are remnants of Rice Krispies cereal I ate as a kid in my sinuses–there’s a lovely snap, crackle, and pop sound every time my head changes elevation.  It’s almost impossible to work or exercise or to do anything really.  The doctor asks me how I’m doing and I begin to cry.  It’s embarrassing, but I might as well show her how I really feel.

As she tries to relieve my congestion with some saline inserts in each nostril–they’re about 1½ inches long, I think I’ll leave it at that–I tell her I’m ready to try allergy shots, which I’ve been avoiding.  I’ve read that allergy shots must be administered several times a week for a minimum of 6 months, and maintenance can take 3-5 years.  The doctor surprises me with information that there is an easier and less invasive option available…Sublingual Immunotherapy.

Sublingual Immunotherapy is the same idea as allergy shots but is administered in very diluted quantities, and is more effective, natural, and convenient.  The only ingredients are the allergen (for me, it’s straight-up cat hair) and glycerin, and you take this under the tongue.  Dosing yourself with the very thing that makes you sick may sound a little crazy, but it’s the basis of homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is based on the theory that substances causing symptoms of illness in healthy people will act as a cure when given in very dilute amounts to sick people who show those same symptoms.

How they made my allergy therapy:

  1. One measure of pure allergen (cat hair) is added to a small vial of glycerin (called Vial A–most concentrated)
  2. One drop is taken from Vial A and added to Vial B
  3. One drop is taken from Vial B and added to Vial C
  4. One drop is taken from Vial C and added to Vial D (most diluted)

“Fun” fact:  With dog allergies, they have to determine to which breed(s) the patient is sensitive.  Cat hair is apparently all the same.  Interesting.

Method:  I will start with Vial D, taking 1 drop under my tongue each day for a week, then 2 drops/day for one week, then 3 drops/day for one week.  I need to keep notes of any reactions I have on the worksheet they give me.  After my worksheet is complete, I go to the doctor to get Vial C and a new worksheet and repeat the same process, and continue with this regimen for Vial B and A.  After 12 weeks, my body should have built up an immunity to cat dander and I will hopefully be cured.  I’ll need to get another skin allergy test at that time to determine if it worked.  There’s no guarantee, but I’ll take that chance.  The doctor gives me a prescription for an EpiPen in case I have a severe allergic reaction.  Fun.

I diligently took my drops every day, I didn’t want to screw this up.  One day in March as the weather started to change, I had an all-day allergy attack, which for me (99% of the time) precedes a sinus infection.  Fortunately that never happened.  Other than that, I really had no sinus problems.  I continued to use my neti pot, which I will probably always use since it keeps the sinuses healthy.  But as the weeks went on, I had to use the neti pot less and less.  In Part 3, I will reveal the results of my post-therapy skin allergy test.  I’m getting it done tomorrow…wish me luck!

Share

My Quest for a Natural Allergy Solution, Part 1

[tweetmeme]

This is a three-part series.  I’ll post Part 2 on Wednesday and Part 3 on Friday.  If you or loved ones are suffering from allergies, make sure you don’t miss out on any pieces of the puzzle!

November 9, 2009

This is the third time I’ve been to the ear, nose, and throat doctor this year.  All for the same ailment…sinus problems, which I’ve been getting every couple of months for about 2 ½ years.  In case you’ve never experienced one–lucky you–these are the lovely symptoms:  inflamed nasal cavities, intense sinus pressure and soreness, migraines, incessant sneezing, and mucus flow akin to Niagara Falls.  Not cute…or fun.  I try to visit the doctor ASAP because my life-long history of ear problems make them susceptible to infection.  I’ve been searching for an answer to my sinus woes.  I’ve found holistic methods to keep infections at bay (or short-lived when I get them) by using a neti pot, therapeutic oil 1, oil 2, homeopathic nasal spray, Vitamin C, and olive leaf supplements.  Nonetheless, I am experiencing way too many to be acceptable.  On this visit, I’m happy to hear that my ears are unaffected.  She is actually surprised and says whatever I had done, worked (yay holistic remedies!).  But there was still that nagging question of how to eliminate my sinus infections altogether.  I ask the doctor if allergies could be instigating my sinus flare-ups.  She replies absolutely and that I should have a skin allergy test.  I feel hopeful that perhaps the mystery will be solved.

The technician comes in and swabs both undersides of my forearms with alcohol, then marks on my right arm “A” (top) and “B” (bottom), and labels my left forearm “C” (top) and “D” (bottom).  She then brings out a six-pronged apparatus tinged with brown liquid and sticks in into my skin in the “A” section.  It feels like one of those round, prickly brushes being pressed into my skin.  The same method is used for the other sections, using three more apparatuses, each one containing different allergens.  I don’t ask which one is which, just in case my mind has the power to mess with the results (you never know!).  She warns me that if I have a reaction, I will get welts on my skin and intense itching, but I’m not allowed to scratch.  The technician sets the timer for 15 minutes and leaves me to await my fate.

Photo #1

Within five minutes, welts appear (photo #1) in the section marked “A”…

Photo #2

and only get slightly bigger (photo #2) over the next 10 minutes.

Photo #3

Nothing happens in the other sections (photo #3).

I have a sneaking suspicion of what allergen “A” is because I had recently been seeing the same kind of welts appear on my eyelids on more than a few occasions.  So what am I allergic to?  I was tested for pollen, dust mites, and mold, but I react to the…

Hutch (R) laying on Starsky (L) who is not amused

cat hair, crap, I was right!  We have two big, beautiful 3 ½ year old cats named Starsky and Hutch, and my husband and I consider them to be our children.  I had never experienced sinus infections before adopting them.  They are “domestic shorthairs,” which only means their hair is short in length, not in quantity.

Hutch giving us some Bette Davis eyes

Don't be fooled...Starsky is a BIG boy!

Starsky’s coat is so thick, a brushing session requires me to clean his brush twice and still be able to pick up more hair!  It doesn’t help that I like to bury my face in their soft coats…hence the eyelid welts.  But I didn’t have these reactions to them all the time, so I wasn’t sure if my symptoms were due to the critters.  Anyway, getting rid of them is not an option, but neither is having to suffer for the next 12 or so years of their lives.  “What am I supposed to do?” I ask the doctor.  She says I can take the OTC drugs X or Y to control my allergies.  I really don’t like the idea of depending on drugs, especially for such a long time, so I ask her if she knows of any possible natural remedies.  She immediately recommends I try quercetin, which is a flavonoid found in certain fruits and vegetables.  Encouraged by her suggestion, I set out in search of the supplement.  There are many options, some with various added supplements.  Not sure which kind is best, I choose a liquid form with nothing added.  Since I’ve started taking quercetin, I am happy to report that I have had no allergic episodes (I continue to use the neti pot a couple of times a week–I’ve read that chronic sinus sufferers may have cilia in the nasal and sinus cavities that don’t perform well).  Let me repeat that last statement:  I have had no allergic episodes…none!  Recently, I had had some sort of episode every other day! This is HUGE!  Maybe I can live a normal, happy life in my home with my big, furry bundles of cuteness!

There are two lessons I have learned from this whole experience:

  1. Ask your doctor specific questions.  First do your own “scientific research”/detective work on what’s ailing you, and bring your findings or possible theories to your doctor.  Perhaps there is something you never thought to tell them before or the doctor never thought to ask.
  2. Ask for what you want.  If you want a more natural solution to your ailments, ask your doctor if he or she could recommend a holistic option.  My doctor happens to have an interest in homeopathy and is the one who suggested I use a neti pot in the first place, but she wouldn’t have told me about quercetin if I hadn’t asked.  If more patients request natural remedies, perhaps more doctors will seek holistic options to satisfy our demands.  No one is going to look out for you better than you!

Update ~ Since you might recall this is an allergy series, you may have already guessed that this is not the end of my story.  While the quercetin did work for a couple of weeks, I noticed that its power started to diminish and began experiencing allergic symptoms once again.  I take quercetin supplements–along with Bromelain and extra Vitamin C–when I feel I need some extra support for my sinuses, but it’s not the final solution for my allergy problems.  In Part 2, I will share what happened next.

Share

To Take Drugs Or Not To Take Drugs? That Is The Question

I reach for the over-the-counter sinus medicine my husband bought for me and then hesitate.  I find myself in this dilemma every time I’m sick.  Do I keep using only homeopathic remedies or do I turn to conventional drugs?  When I use holistic practices at the first sign of sickness, they usually work, or at least keep the sickness at a tamer level.  So if asked this question when I’m healthy, I would quickly choose the natural approach for its safety and benefits.  However, there are times when I’m going to get sick no matter how well I care for myself (due to a naturally sub-par immune system), and when I’m suffering to the extent that I’m in survival mode, I just want the misery to stop.  And the quickest fix is usually the drugs.  Maybe I’m at fault because I don’t know enough about holistic medicine, I’m unprepared, or not waiting long enough for the remedies to take effect.

Treating myself with natural remedies and nature’s nourishing food sits better with me.  It makes more sense and gives me peace of mind that I’m doing right by my body.  It also puts me in the driver’s seat in my recovery.  I’m taking responsibility for my health and taking action. I’m not trashing conventional medicine…it has a very valid and important place in healthcare.  But I think we Americans have become too comfortable popping any old pill that promises to get rid of our pesky symptoms.  It is easier and works well in the short-term.  In the long-run, however, holistic medicine is preferable because it is not only about treating the sickness, but the person as well.  It also encourages us to find the source of the problem, not just cover up the symptoms.  The downside is letting the sickness take it’s course once it has started…gross/annoying symptoms and all.  On the upside, there are no harmful side affects because the treatment is whole foods, not man-made, manufactured drugs that our bodies may not know how to use.

I suppose the answer to my quandary is 1) to use nature’s medicine as much as I can, and 2) to be patient with myself–that as I learn more about holistic practices, I can exclude another conventional over-the-counter drug and replace it with a gentler, safer, more effective natural remedy.  But for now, I take the pill…I’m leaving for work and I’m sure my customers would appreciate me more without the sneezing/snot fest.

Share