Before You Pop That Pill

By Judy Andreas
Remember the commercial in which an elderly couple were dancing to the strains of "Celebrex....Celebrex" ? Without being unnecessarily grave.....I wonder....where is that couple now?
This has been a tough year for painkillers. One by one, they are being accused of crimes more heinous than the pain they promised to alleviate. One by one they are being dishonorably discharged from their proud positions on pharmacy shelves. What a disgrace for pills that once so proudly claimed to cure our ills. Vioxx, applauded in the past, has been kicked out of the medicine cabinet. Soon afterwards, Celebrex followed.
Whose next?
Anyone who has watched a pill commercial has had to have been scared painless. The commercial usually opens with a person or persons having a peak experience. Sometimes they are dancing ecstatically. Other times they are playing ball with their children, their previously incapacitating arthritis no longer interfering with their joie de vivre. After witnessing the miracle of the miracle drug at work .......the voice on the television, as a sort of afterthought, mentions some side effects. "Do not use if you are pregnant or suffering from diabetes. Tell your doctor if you are experiencing cramping, shortness of breath, palpitations or sudden death."
Recently, I read about small intestine damage in more than 70% of patients who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug painkillers for more than three months. I am not certain what small intestine damage translates into but it doesn't sound pretty.
I grew up having a doctor for a father. Now don't go thinking that I am some wealthy doctor's daughter and start looking up JUDE10901 in the phonebook. My father never made much money. He did, however, warn me about the evils of certain common drugs. Dad put the image of a bleeding stomach on the aspirin bottle. I was never a candidate for aspirin since I was one of the people who, upon ingesting it, merely "traded a headache for an upset stomach." .......a trade agreement as undesirable as NAFTA.
Recently I read that Ralph Nader's Public Citizen organization is calling for 181 drugs to be removed from the marketplace because of lack of safety or ineffectiveness. The article went on to say that "an estimated 30,000 - 40,000 lives were lost before the FDA begrudgingly took action to recall Vioxx. These are astounding numbers. We all shake our heads in sadness and grief over losing 3,000 Americans in the World Trade Center tragedy, but far too few people talk about how pharmaceuticals are killing huge numbers of people.
In 1997, Britain recalled Rezulin, an anti-diabetic drug, when it was shown to be toxic to the liver. Why did it take another three years before it was removed from the marketplace in the "colonies?" Aren't our livers equally as vital?
When I started working for Social Services, I was placed in The Employment Unit. It was my job to help clients find work. I recall one man who came to me shortly out of prison. He told me that before he was released, he had tested positive for HIV. They put him on AZT. Prior to receiving the drug he had felt fine, but afterwards he had chronic diarrhea and lost 40 pounds. He took himself off the medication, started gaining weight and was feeling great when he came to my office. I don't know what ultimately became of him.....but I do know that AZT was not the answer to the question his life was asking. Remember that AZT was first tested at The National Cancer Institute, where it proved too toxic for further trials. AZT was said to "cause' or "exacerbate" immune deficiencies in humans.
" So...why give it to a person with a compromised immune system?" you ask. I ask too.
My mother, on her deathbed, told me that the cure for her cancer was worse than the disease. How often is this the case? After being cut, burned and poisoned for three years, my mother passed away. I can only wonder how much needless suffering she experienced. I also wonder how many more effective and less toxic treatments were available.
We are in the clutches of the medical / pharmaceutical establishment as we crawl into the doctor's office begging for relief from our maladies. We put our faith and trust in the man or woman with the white coat. Most often, I believe, the physician is doing his best to help. He wants to see an end to the suffering as much as the patient does. Too often, however, he has taken Brainwashing 1.1 in Medical School and is unaware that the treatment being prescribed is deadly. Too often, he has been conditioned to laugh at alternative medicine and call it quackery. ( I will resist a nonsensical duck pun, and not make any comments about the "bill")
As more information becomes available.....more doctors are becoming aware of how they have been misled.
Doctors were told by NIH researchers that high-dose vitamin C (beyond 200 milligrams per day) is excreted and produces "expensive urine." A newly published report reveals earlier studies were flawed if not intentionally designed to fail, and oral-dose vitamin C can achieve blood concentrations three times greater than previously thought possible. [Annals Internal Medicine 140:533-7, 2004]
Two years ago, Bill Sardi authored an e-book called The Collapse of Conventional Medicine after reports that estrogen replacement therapy, arthroscopic knee surgery, prostate cancer surgery, bone marrow transplantation and radical mastectomy for breast cancer were "worthless and possibly problematic" treatments.
More and more Americans are considering alternative treatments for their medical problems.
An article in the Washington Post called "Alternative Remedies Gaining Popularity" by Rob Stein (Friday, May 28, 2204) stated that:
"A new government survey of more than 31,000 U.S. adults nationwide, the most comprehensive assessment of the use of alternative medicine in the United States, found that 36 percent are using some kind of "complementary and alternative" therapy. "
Obviously, there are extremes on both sides. I have seen my share of snake oil salesmen claiming that their potions cured everything from erectile dysfunction to cancer. I am not suggesting gullibility as a substitute for good medical treatment. Maybe it is time for the alternative and the conventional to draw up a peace plan. Perhaps the most efficacious treatments lie somewhere between the two.
Copyright 2004 Judy Andreas



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