Why almost half of us are on prescription drugs and another ‘benefit‘ for statins

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health, Medical Research & Studies

As it is often said that what America does today Britain will do tomorrow I worry when the latest statistics show that nearly half of all Americans now use prescription drugs on a regular basis and that one in five children are being regularly given prescription drugs. If you are over 50 then it is even more worrying as nine out of ten adults in the age group are on drugs. What concerns me more however is the fact that nearly a third use two or more drugs, and more than one in ten use five or more prescription drugs regularly.

That last statistic shows what can happen when you treat a condition on a symptom by symptom basis with the original need overlaying the subsequent responses and side-effects to each consequent drug. For example, if you need anti-migraine medication but it gives you severe stomach upsets then the second drug will help with that but unfortunately it may also have side-effects of its own for which you could easily be given yet a further drug.

The most commonly-used drugs were:

• Statin drugs for older people
• Asthma drugs for children
• Antidepressants for middle-aged people
• Amphetamine stimulants for children

I have said my piece, probably all too often, on the widespread use of statins for what appears to be little perceived benefits and some serious side-effects but — as often happens when a drug is under attack — a perceived benefit has come to light. It appears that regular statin use is associated with a reduced risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. It reminds me of that other great drug HRT that always comes up with a new use for a specific condition when negative press appears linking it to a serious drawback for health.

I have no problem with people being given drugs that they need and will cure or alleviate their condition, but unfortunately this is just not always the case. Many of the drugs people take actually cause the very things they claim to prevent: osteoporosis drugs are linked to hip fractures, cancer drugs can cause cancer and antidepressants bizarrely enough have suicidal thoughts listed as a side-effect.

Now that the pharmaceutical industry is global, we are just as much at the mercy of the drug companies without any direct influence on them. We know that the drug companies have falsified research, distorted facts in studies and deliberately suppressed negative information about new drugs. You can’t blame your doctor, as they often as much in the dark as we are, but what you can do is get yourself the very best health insurance — by which I mean taking the very best pro active care of yourself through diet, exercise and stress management together with the all-important enthusiastic positive approach to life which will enhance your chances of an active and healthy life.

So before you rush off to the doctor for a prescription, ask yourself first whether you really need that drug or whether it is something that you can handle with the use of time and some sensible home treatment. In the winter most people get colds, some get flu, and many others are not affected at all so let’s try and make this the winter where your body is so healthy those infections just cannot take hold.

One way to do this is to increase the amount of “super foods” such as chlorella, spirulina and wheat grass in your diet and although I have to confess that none of these have a great taste I have found that adding chlorella and spirulina to a fruit or vegetable juice drink (though turning it an unattractive shade of green) does mean you get the benefit without the taste.

Wheat grass is now making a comeback as years ago (certainly here in Brighton) there were several wheatgrass juice bars with trays of the green stuff growing live and ready to be juiced. Happily — as again it is not top of the pops for taste — you can now buy it in supplement form from Natural Greens as capsules and you will also be helping the charity YES TO LIFE, which helps support people with cancer in the UK in accessing Complementary & Alternative Medicine as they are giving a percentage of the company’s profits to them.

One ‘prescription’ that could help treat emotional and physical pain – with no side-effects
Music is not only the food of love and the healer of the soul but now it seems from new research that it could benefit the treatment of depression and the management of physical pain.

Natural options for childhood eczema

Eczema is a distressing condition, for the child and for the parents as it is a constant, visible, reminder of something that’s wrong in the body. Eczema is one of the first signs of allergy during the early days of life and is said to be due to delayed development of the immune system. It can affect 10-20% of all infants, and steroid treatment is often suggested. However, there are many harmful side effects, both short and long-term, associated with steroids and these are just a few of them:

** Corticosteroids mimic hormones produced by the adrenal glands and they interfere with the metabolic balance. This results in knock-on effects throughout the body and the damage is cumulative.

** They are anti-inflammatory and can suppress many symptoms, including pain and eczema. However, they also affect our fight-or-flight response and thus alter our blood flow. This can be positive in the right circumstances, but on a long term basis redirecting blood away from digestion towards the heart, lungs, and limbs means blood is less available to absorb nutrients. A lack of nutrition leads to conditions like osteoporosis developing.

** Nearly all the diseases and conditions on the list of steroid side effects can be explained by the disruption of the body’s hormone system.

** Others, such as liver damage, are the result of the excess stress placed on the organ as it attempts to detoxify the harmful substance from the body.

It is no wonder that so many parents turn to alternative medicine. But how effective is it?

Complementary Therapies in Medicine is a peer-reviewed journal that recently reported a German study showing that homeopathy has better results than steroids for eczema. The study’s focus was on patients’ and doctors’ perceptions of improvement, both in terms of the eczema itself and quality of life over a one year period. The participants were patients aged 1-16 year-olds with eczema, and those that were treated with homeopathy had equal or better results than those treated with corticosteroids. Further, that those children whose conditions were worse at the beginning of the study had greater degrees of improvement with the homeopathic treatment.

Questionnaires were filled out by doctors and their patients, or when necessary, by their parents at the beginning of the study, at six months, and again at 12 months. The study focused on subjective results, not clinical tests, because although clinical tests may show differences in children with eczema and asthma in a biomarker like immunoglobulin E, it doesn’t have any bearing on the patient’s well-being.

Homoeopathy is a standard practice among doctors in both Germany and France, and often included in their medical training. Two groups of patients were studied, one who only had homeopathic treatment and the other who only received conventional medical treatment. The children treated with homeopathy started with worse symptoms than the control group and both groups showed significant improvements over 12 months. Here are the percentages of improvement reported by patients and their doctors after 12 months, and interesting the patients rated their improvement at lower levels than their doctors did.

Self Assessment Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 27% * Conventional, 38%

Doctor’s Assessment of Improvement:

* Homeopathy, 91% * Conventional, 75%

The study also bore out previous research which indicated that people with a higher educational level are more likely to opt for alternative treatments such as homeopathy. 64% of the homeopathic parents’ had almost double to the level of education than the parents who opted for the conventional medical option.