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Drug Care vs. Health Care

"If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."
Hippocrates (460-370BC)

"With the scientific medical revolution of the twentieth century, many of the formerly used, age old types of treatment were discarded in the wake of powerful, modern drugs. These drugs however have not fulfilled their promise of magical cures. Their use has been limited by severe life-threatening side effects."

According to a report in the June 17, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs- aspirin, ibuprofen [Motrin, Advil, Nuprin], naprosyn [Aleve], Lodine, Votaren, etc.) caused fatal ulcers and killed about 16,500 people in 1997. If the toxic effects of NSAIDs were given its own category, it would be classified as the 15th most common cause of death in the U.S. Drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin are killing almost as many people each year as AIDS. To make matters worse, these ulcers and other gastrointestinal complications are often not preceded by warning signs. According to a study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology, approximately one-third of all hospitalizations and deaths related to gastrointestinal bleeding can be attributed to the use of aspirin or NSAID painkillers like ibuprofen.
(Lanas A, et al. A nationwide study of mortality associated with hospital admission due to severe gastrointestinal events and those associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use. Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:1685–1693) Do I have your attention?

Abstract from Anti-Inflammatory Treatment of Muscular Injuries in Sport: An Update of Recent Studies, Sports Medicine, Volume 28, Number 6, 1 December 1999, pp. 383-388(6)

Stretch-induced muscle injuries or strains, muscle contusions and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) are common muscle problems in athletes. Anti-inflammatory treatment is often used for the pain and disability associated with these injuries. The most recent studies on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in strains and contusions suggest that the use of NSAIDs can result in a modest inhibition of the initial inflammatory response and its symptoms. However, this may be associated with some small negative effects later in the healing phase. Corticosteroids have generally been shown to adversely affect the healing of these acute injuries. Animal studies have suggested that anabolic steroids may actually aid in the healing process, but clinical studies are not yet available and the exact role of these drugs has yet to be determined. Studies on anti-inflammatory treatment of DOMS have yielded conflicting results. However, the effect of NSAIDs on DOMS appears small at best. Future research may have to focus on different aspects of these injuries as the emphasis on anti-inflammatory treatment has yielded somewhat disappointing results.

Here is the list of side effects for ibuprofen (italicized items are the most common and bold are life threatening): Earache, dizziness, nervousness, aseptic meningitis, peripheral edema, fluid retention, edema, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), epigastric distress, nausea, occult blood loss, peptic ulceration, diarrhea, constipation, dyspepsia, flatulence, heartburn, decreased appetite, acute renal failure, azotemia, cystitis, hematuria (blood in the urine), prolonged bleeding time, anemia, neutropenia (decreased type of white blood cell), pancytopenia (deficiency of all cell elements in the blood), thrombocytopenia (decreased platelets), aplastic anemia, leukopenia (decreased type of white blood cell), agranulocytocysis, bronchospasm, pruritis (itching), rash, urticaria (hives), Stevens-Johnson syndrome (a disorder with rash and constitutional symptoms which can be fatal).

These drugs do not heal people of their ills; instead they only temporarily (but quickly) remove the symptom of pain. Another example is the cortisone shot, which destroys soft tissue (ligaments, tendons, and cartilage) and prevents proper healing from occurring. This symptomatic relief in no way means an alleviation of disease. To the contrary, the disease is pushed further in and quietly but inexorably moved forward destroying more and more of a person's health.

More Information on the Dangers of NSAIDS

Furthermore, it is in this symptomatic relief that the greatest danger of all exists, that of the loss of patient self-responsibility. With the instantaneous relief offered by modern drugs, no longer do people need to worry about what they eat or drink, or how much they abuse their bodies or how much exercise, if any, they need to do. Nor is there any motivation to clean up dangerous lifestyles and change unhealthy habits. There's always a little white or red or yellow pill that will magically make all problems go away." At a lecture I attended, a Bulgarian strength coach said, "You Americans, you have the best food available to you, yet you eat the worst!"

"Slowly, however, people are beginning to understand the problems with our "quick-fix" attitude toward health and disease. They realize that they are not getting better despite the pills and their temporary relief of headaches, stomachaches, gas, and constipation. They still feel tired all the time. They huff and puff after walking up a flight of stairs. They get depressed before their periods. They still have cramps every month. They still get chest pains. They're not standing as tall as in the past. And it's not only small problems either. They have an attack of kidney stones. They get cirrhosis and liver failure. They have a heart attack or a stroke out of the blue. They get cancer."

In order to "get healthy" the cause of the problem must be discovered and addressed. This is what we do in chiropractic. The cause of the problem is treated and exercise rehabilitation and nutritional support is used to enhance the healing process. Staying healthy is a commitment you must make: monthly chiropractic adjustments, regular exercise, and eating properly all the time.

Direct-to-Consumer Prescription Drug Advertising (DTC)
Taken from Worst Pills, Best Pills News, January 2000

In November, 1999, the Journal of General Internal Medicine published a study of consumer awareness and understanding of attitudes toward and susceptibility to Direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug advertising. During 1996, $600 million was spent on this form of advertising and it is forecast that in 2005 $7.5 billion will be spent - a 12 fold increase in 10 years.

Four True or False statements were tested:

  1. Drug companies must submit copies of all prescription drug ads to the federal government for approval before those ads are used.
    FALSE: There is no pre-approval requirement (only 50% answered correctly).
  2. Only prescription drugs that have been found to be completely safe can be advertised in the US.
    FALSE: (Only 43% answered correctly).
    Example: Fen-phen and heart valve problems.
  3. Only prescription drugs that have been found to be extremely effective can be advertised in the US. (22%)
    FALSE: (Only 22% answered correctly).
    Example: Flu drug Relenza (zanamirvir) - only helps decrease symptoms for one day!
  4. The advertising of prescription drugs that have serious side effects has already been banned in the US.
    FALSE: (Only 21% answered correctly).
    Examples: Fosamax (alendronate):for osteoporosis - associated with erosions of the esophagus, 1 in 8 women sought medical attention for this drug's gastrointestinal side effects.

Propulsid (cisapride):

Garrett, a four month old boy, was diagnosed as having reflux - heartburn and backwards flow of the contents of the stomach into the esophagus, i.e. spitting up. He was put on the following medications by his pediatrician: Propulsid (he was taken off this due to side effects- see the following article), Zantac and Regalen.

These did not work. Garrett's mother was familiar with chiropractic (she had care here for low back pain during her pregnancy after being referred by her obstetrician) and, after discussion with Garrett's father, agreed to bring him in. Upon examining Garrett, I found subluxations (areas of misalignment and lessened movement) in his middle back and neck. After I adjusted these areas one time, he was able to sleep through the night and after two weeks of care his symptoms were virtually gone.

This is an excellent example of how safe and effective chiropractic care is for children. Every child should have a pediatrician, but why use potentially harmful drugs when gentle adjustments may fix the problem. (Written with the parents' permission)

Note: The popular nighttime heartburn drug Propulsid (cisapride) was pulled from the market in March, 2000. From the time it was first approved in 1993, the drug has been linked to 80 deaths and 341 reports of life threatening heart rhythm disturbances.
Washington Post, 3/24/00

Conservatively, it is estimated that for each report of a death or adverse drug reaction, 10 cases go unreported.
Worst Pills Best Pills Newsletter, 3/00

Although approved only for reflux problems in adults, Propulsid is also used to treat premature infants and older people with certain types of diabetes. The use of the drug in infants and children has not been approved by the FDA and is referred as an "offlabel" use. Nothing prevents doctors from prescribing drugs in ways that have not been approved by the FDA, but when someone is prescribed a drug "off-label," this can result in disastrous consequences for patients.
Worst Pills Best Pills Newsletter, 8/98