Are you dependent on pharmaceuticals?

The drug companies are trying to make us dependent on them. Today’s drugs don’t just treat the health conditions we have, but are sold to us just in case we develop illnesses we don’t yet have.

A good example is statins. Statins are claimed to reduce cholesterol in the blood which, they claim, reduces the risk of heart attacks, angina and strokes. These claims are based on the premise that high cholesterol is a major factor in heart attacks, yet 75% of heart attack victims have normal levels of cholesterol! The manufacturers recommend that they be given to people with ‘normal’ levels of cholesterol, as if ‘normal’ has become ‘risky.’ Obviously it is profitable to convince us that we are at risk and that taking their drugs reduces that risk.

Like all drugs, statins hey have side effects, e.g. fatigue, headaches, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, muscle pain and forgetfulness. There is no such thing as a totally safe chemically-based medicine.

Dr Gary Greenberg’s book, ‘Manufacturing depression: The History of a Modern Disease’ argues the same happens with antidepressants – drug companies falsely advertise their benefits and ignore their side effects. They have persuaded us that huge numbers suffer from depression when in fact they probably do not.  For example, before Prozac was launched in 1986, only 100 people per million were diagnosed as depressed; today 100,000 per million, a thousand-fold increase.

Modern medicine

What should we make of reports that pharmaceutical companies are currently working with academics to develop drugs that regulate the body’s circadian clock so they can control jetlag and treat some sleep disorders?

Does the pharmaceutical industry have us under mass hypnosis? It dominates the medical journals and spends huge sums on research.  Its approach to medicine is virtually unquestioned in medical schools where the next generation of doctors are trained. Its products are heavily marketed, it spends a fortune sales promotion, especially with medical professionals, and successfully challenges any approach to healing that does not serve its interests (e.g. most forms of natural medicine).

Pharmaceutical companies are engaged in a search for pills that everyone can take as preventatives, not just those who are ill. They’re talking the general public with them, believing they could have a longer, healthier life. In fact, most welcome it.

But drugs do have their place

But despite all this, drugs do have a place. They can bring quick relief, and sometimes are essential. For instance anti-rejection drugs are essential in organ transplants, and many with serious psychological conditions like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder can have a reasonable quality of life that would be impossible without them. Similarly thyroxin helps patients with under-active thyroids live a normal life.

It’s something of a cliché that doctors are too quick to reach for their prescription pads rather than explore health problems from a more holistic point of view. Personally, I’ve found that doctors vary considerably in this respect. In the practice I attend, one of the doctors is over-hasty to prescribe, but one of the others takes a different approach and often appears reluctant to prescribe until other avenues have been explored.

There is of course a biochemical component to the body. We know how powerful changes in biochemistry can be. E.g. alcohol affects biochemistry, including mechanical stability, mental functioning, speech and behaviour. But we are also mental and energetic beings. 99.999% plus of our bodies are empty space, waves and particles spinning at great speeds to form atoms which form molecules and cells.

Any medical approach that does not take account of the body’s natural rhythms and energy flows and the impact of the environment on the human biofield will one day be as redundant as leeches are today.

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.7.2016

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‘The only difference between most drugs and poisons is the dose’

‘If you push the understanding of the physiological basis of medicine far enough, you’ll come to a point where you can no longer defend it scientifically, that you must take it on faith.’

Dr Mehmet Oz

Few people realise how new drugs are ‘invented’. Many come about by accident by trial and error. Many are discovered by accident. A good example is Viagra. Viagra was invented for angina, a heart condition. In tests, researchers noticed a strange side effect. Marketing people quickly realised they had a saleable product on their hands, completely unrelated to its original purpose!

The effects of drugs are not selective. Often the makers don’t know what a drug will do until they trial it. Side effects often come to notice only when a drug is launched onto the market (e.g. thalidomide).

The truth is, there is no such thing as a totally safe medicine, or one we know everything about. By their very nature they are designed to interrupt and change a biological process. The question is – what risks are we willing to take?

Drugs are mass produced. They take little account of individual differences. No-one knows precisely what a drug will do to an individual until they take it. Sometimes (e.g. Viagra) the effects are completely unexpected.

Modern medicine

Shortcomings of drugs

The Hippocratic Oath compels doctors to do no harm. If this were taken seriously, how many pharmaceutical medicines could be prescribed? A few? Ore the majority? Many drugs are unpredictable and highly toxic. What if every doctor knew of alternatives which work just as well or better?

Actually, most doctors are aware of their shortcomings. One said that the only difference between most drugs and poisons is the dose. Their shortcomings include:

  • Affordability – many people in the world’s richest countries can’t afford them; many poorer countries can’t afford them either. Some, like Hungary, are funding research into alternatives because they cannot afford them and don’t want to be held hostage by the multinational drug companies.
  • Tolerance – with any drug, you build up tolerance. The more you take, the more you need to get the same effect.
  • Side effects – read the information leaflet that comes with any prescribed drug, and you will see a long (and sometime shocking) list of its possible side effects. E.g. Paroxetine, a SSRI, has been blamed for causing chronic hepatitis, seizures, suicidal tendencies and abnormal bleeding. Thalidomide (its dramatic effects when first prescribed half a century ago are well-known). Seroxat is estimated to raise the suicide rate by a factor of eight among those who take it, and for this reason is no longer prescribed in several countries including the UK. Indeed, between 2002 and 2010, eight drugs were withdrawn in the UK due to harmful side effects, including Seroxat, Vioxx, Ribonaband and Celebrex. Sometimes the authorities show a marked reluctance to take a product off the market even after it has been suspected of being dangerous. For example, a drug claimed to relieve diabetes, Avandia, was still on the market three years after it was shown to kill 19% of those who took it![1]
  • Addiction – there is no difference in effect between addiction to illegal drugs like heroin or cocaine and addiction to prescribed drugs such as painkillers. The only difference is that the latter are easily available from any pharmacist over the counter. One – codeine – is an opiate, coming from the same family as heroin!
  • Suppressing ST symptoms using drugs can cause LT illness. Symptoms have a purpose – to bring our attention to a deeper problem.
  • Drugs can distort diagnoses. When a drug comes out to address a particular condition, suddenly many more people come forward claiming to have that condition.

Pharmacological drugs do have a role to play. Sometimes they are all we have, and sometimes they offer a quality of life that would be impossible to some without them (e.g. many sufferers of serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder).

BUT RATHER THAN CONSIDERING THEM THE NORM, SHOULDN’T WE BE LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES AS A FIRST RESPONSE?

©David Lawrence Preston, 18.5.2016

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[1] Source: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, e-bulletin, 2nd March 2010, www.wddty.com

Traditionally, healing substances have come from nature

Humans have always ingested substances for healing and good health. Some of these improve the digestion process, such as prunes and high fibre products. But there are others too. Many foods have healing properties, e.g. honey and lemon for colds, garlic as an antiseptic, an apple a day…. Then there are herbs, valued for their healing properties in almost every society around the world. In some cultures, they even eat soil for healing!

What do these all have in common? They all change the body’s chemistry. And we all know how powerful changes in our biochemistry can be.

Medical biochemists (including most Western doctors) see illness primarily as an unhealthy change in our biochemistry. For them, healing is about finding where the body chemistry is out of kilter and correcting it by introducing some substance whose chemical properties bring about the healing.

Nowadays its usually drugs, but traditionally, healing substances have come from nature. Herbs, for instance, can be taken in their natural state, made into tinctures, tablets etc or smoked.

Natural healing substances

Salad

Water’s healing properties too have long been recognised. One should drink sufficient to maintain the body’s healthy functioning. A useful guide is 1/30 of ones body weight in kg expressed in litres. For instance, a 60 kg person 2 litres of water a day and a 75 kg person 2½ litres. Fruit juices and herb teas count, but not animal milk, carbonated drinks or beer.

Diet too is vital. Diet has a huge impact on health; a change of diet can restore health. The Greek philosopher Hippocrates wisely advised us to let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food, advice that should never be ignored. That’s why many people take supplements to ensure they get the right amount of vitamins and minerals.

Food with high water content, grown outdoors in sunlight, is healthiest. Our system is designed to bring light to the organs. When observed under the microscope, light, natural wholefoods are seen to emit more light than processed foods.

Healthy diets also eliminate or at least minimise hidden toxins (chemical preservatives, colourings, refined starches and sugars, heavy metals, flavourings, etc.). Toxins, especially heavy metals, block biochemical functions. They are stored mainly in fat cells and can be tackled through detox regimes.

Also many people have to watch their diet due to food allergies (a modern ailment?).

Pharmaceutical Drugs

Today we take our healing doses in concentrated form – i.e. drugs. Drugs are the conventional healing method in the West. Indeed, they are synonymous with modern medicine. They come to us thanks to the same industrial chemical conglomerates and the same type of thinking that brings us pesticides, chemical fertilisers, weedkillers and genetically modified tomatoes.

Originally most drugs were simply highly concentrated forms of plant essences and other natural substances. Only recently have synthetic drugs been developed in laboratories and unleashed on the world. Biochemists try to isolate the active chemical ingredients in substances known to have healing properties and turn them into pills, liquids etc. to be ingested, rubbed on or injected. These include hormones. So pervasive has this approach become that drugs have become synonymous with mainstream western medicine.

And they work! Sometimes and for some people. With or without side effects. Some of the time.

Modern medicine

But isn’t it better to stick to natural methods wherever possible?

©David Lawrence Preston, 16.5.2016

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The Only Difference is the Dose

Humans have always ingested substances they believe to bring health. E.g. many foods are believed to heal, such as prunes for constipation, honey and lemon for colds, garlic as an antiseptic, and so on. Then there are herbs, valued for their efficacious effects everywhere. In some cultures, they even eat soil for its healing properties.

What do all these substances have in common?  They all change the body’s chemistry, and we know how powerful changes in our biochemistry can be. Even procedures that appear as mechanical as an organ transplant have biochemical components, hence the need for transplant recipients to take anti-rejection drugs.

Is illness primarily a change in our biochemistry? Is there nothing more to healing than of finding where the body’s chemistry is out of kilter and correcting it? That’s what many people believe.

Salad

 

Healing substances traditionally came from nature

Take herbs for example – they can be taken in their natural state, or made into tinctures and tablets, or smoked. Water’s healing properties have also long been recognised, and dietary therapy is a major plank of traditional Chinese medicine.  The Greek physician Hippocrates advised two thousand years ago to let our food be our medicine and our medicine be our food.

However, we now take our healing doses in stronger form. Originally most drugs were simply highly concentrated forms of plant and other natural essences, but nowadays most drugs are developed from chemical concoctions in laboratories. Biochemists try to isolate the active chemical ingredients in substances known to have healing properties and turn them into pills, powders and liquids etc. So pervasive is this approach that drugs have become synonymous with mainstream medicine.  And they do work – to some degree, at least!

How drugs are developed

But few people realise how new drugs are ‘invented’. Mostly it’s a trial and error process, and some, like Viagra, are discovered by accident. Viagra was intended as a treatment for angina, but researchers noticed a strange side effect (!!). Marketing people quickly realised they had a profitable product on their hands. It’s not unusual for manufacturers to discover what a drug will do only when they trial it, and side effects may not come to notice until the drug is launched onto the market.

The truth is, there is no such thing as a totally safe drug. By their very nature they are designed to alter a biological process. The question is – what risks are we willing to take in our pursuit of a ‘cure’?

Shortcomings of drugs

If the Hippocratic Oath – to do no harm – were taken seriously, many pharmaceutical medicines would never be prescribed, because they are unpredictable and often highly toxic. Most doctors are aware of their shortcomings. One told me that the only difference between most drugs and poisons is the dose!

Sometimes the authorities are reluctant to take a product off the market even after it has been suspected of being dangerous. For example, a drug claimed to relieve diabetes, Avandia, was still on the market three years after it was shown to kill 19% of those who took it![1]

Shortcomings include:

  1. Cost. Most of the world’s population can’t afford them; some countries, like Hungary and Cuba, fund research into alternatives simply because they don’t want to be held hostage by the multinational drug companies.
  2. Tolerance – with any drug, you build up tolerance. The more you take, the more you need to get the same effect/‘benefits’.
  3. Side effects. Read the information leaflet that comes with any prescribed drug, and you will find a long (and sometime shocking) list of its possible side effects. For example, Seroxat (Paroxetine) has been blamed for causing chronic hepatitis, seizures, suicidal tendencies and abnormal bleeding and is also believed to raise the suicide rate by a factor of eight!!!
  4. Modern medicine assumes that we all function the same, hence individual differences are not taken into account. No-one knows for sure what a drug will do to an individual until they take it.
  5. Addiction. There is no difference in effect between addiction to street drugs like heroin and addiction to, say, painkillers, the only difference is that the latter are easily available.
  6. Suppressing short-term symptoms using drugs can cause long-term illness.
  7. Drugs also distort diagnoses. When a new drug is announced to address a particular condition, suddenly more people seek treatment claiming to have that condition.

Antidepressants

Over 80% of prescriptions for anti-depressants are for SSRI’s – Serotonin Selective Reuptake Inhibitors, the best known of which are Paroxetine and Fluoxetine (Prozac).

They are based on a theory first proposed in 1967, that people become depressed because they are low in serotonin, a neurotransmitter which acts on the peripheral and central nervous system. However, this theory has never been proved. One expert, Dr Jeffrey Lacasse from Florida State University[2], states ‘There is not a single peer-reviewed article that can be accurately cited to support claims of serotonin deficiency in any mental disorder.’

Until the 1990s, research (mostly financed by the pharmaceutical companies) showed that antidepressants helped about three quarters of people with depression, which reinforced the belief that they were safe and effective. But then a seminal study in 1998[3] showed that, yes, they lift depression in most patients, but are no more than effective than placebos.

There are alternatives. Psychotherapy works well for moderate and severe depression, and  a combination of psychotherapy and a short course of antidepressants works even better. But except in cases of very severe chronic depression, the largest part of the drugs’ effect comes from the fact that patients expect to be helped by them, and not from any direct chemical action on the brain.

The debate continues, and sadly in the public consciousness, the pharmaceutical companies with their huge advertising and public relations budgets are probably winning.

Modern medicine

Preventative drugs

It is in the drug companies’ interests to make us dependent on them, which is why a new generation of drugs don’t just treat the problems we have, but are marketed as preventatives for illnesses we may have one day. Statins, for example, reduce cholesterol in the blood, thus – it is claimed – reducing the risk of heart attacks, angina and strokes. These claims are based on the premise that high cholesterol is a major factor in heart attacks – yet 75% of heart attack victims have been shown to have normal levels of cholesterol!

The pharmaceutical companies recommend that statins be given to people with ‘normal’ levels of cholesterol as a preventative – hence ‘normal’ is now perceived as ‘risky.’  They want us all to take drugs as preventatives, not just those who are ill. The public increasingly accept this, believing they can have a longer, healthier life the easy way.

It seems the pharmaceutical industry has us under mass hypnosis. It dominates the medical journals and reigns unchallenged in medical schools. It spends a fortune on sales promotion and successfully challenges any approach to healing that does not serve its interests (including most forms of natural medicine).

Do drugs have their place?

Despite all this, drugs do have their place. They can bring quick relief; sometimes they are essential because they are all we have, such as anti-rejection drugs which can bring transplant patients a reasonable quality of life, and drugs for mental health conditions such as bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia which enable sufferers to live a relatively normal life.

I believe that one day most pharmaceuticals will be as redundant as leeches are today. As a society we are still to tap the full potential of the mind’s capacity to heal or take energy and informational medicine seriously. The new AcuPearl range, for instance, has shown remarkable effects for pain relief, insomnia, anxiety and depression. Can you imagine Dr Crusher using pharmaceuticals on the Starship Enterprise? I think not!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 8.5.2016

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[1] Source: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, e-bulletin, 2nd March 2010, www.wddty.com

[2] Co author of the essay, ‘Serotonin and Depression: A Disconnect Between the Advertisements and the Scientific Literature,’ PLoS Med, 2005; 12: 1211-6

[3] Whose findings were reinforced by landmark research in The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted by Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein of the University of Connecticut.