It was 1986, I remember it well: Nancy Reagan was standing at a podium in front of the White House wearing a white suit. Within camera shot was as many poor, inner-city, underprivileged kids as they could fit on a bus. They were all chanting, "Just Say No! Just Say No!" What a sight. There they were taking a stand against illicit drugs and their pushers…making a statement that ‘just saying no’ was truly the only option if you wanted to live a healthy, happy, law-abiding life. And I believed them, in fact, we all believed them. Then came the cold, hard, unadulterated truth: recreational drugs are far less likely to kill you than prescribed drugs! Now, I’m no proponent of recreational drug use, but WTH!
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that while around 10,000 people die per year from the effects of illegal drugs, over 106,000 hospitalized patients die yearly from drugs, which, by medical standards, are properly prescribed and administered. Over two million suffer serious side effects. Believe me, this is no dissertation on the legalization of drugs. I firmly believe in just saying no to all drugs whether legal or not. What this data does show, however, is that we need to take a much closer look at what we willingly put in our bodies as remedies for our ailments. In an article entitled "Why Drugs Get Pulled Off the Market", the FDA states, "Every drug comes with risks, and our tolerance for risk is higher for drugs that treat serious and life-threatening illnesses. There is no question that cancer drugs can be highly toxic. But they also save lives."
So while watching TV, an ad comes on for a pharmaceutical drug that prevents blood clotting after a recent heart attack or stroke. This immediately catches my attention because I was thinking about the FDA’s statement on the toxicity of cancer drugs and wanted to compare the degree of side effects. This particular drug, used to prevent blood clotting lists side effects including: coughing up blood (yikes!), vomit resembling coffee grounds (coffee grounds???), black, bloody, or tarry stools (talk about needing an enema??), and swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat (yeah, think I’ll pass).
After enduring that ‘oh, so enlightening’ ad, I became curious about the OTC drugs and the known side effects attributed to them. I decided to check out our little harmless friend in the blue and yellow box, Advil…you’re gonna love this one. Side effects include: increased risk of life-threatening heart or circulation problems-including heart attack or stroke; increased risk of serious effects on the stomach or intestines, including bleeding or perforation (ladies & gentlemen, that’s a hole in your intestines, which by the way can be fatal); we’ve also got a couple of familiar side effects, guess which ones….black, bloody, or tarry stools (where the heck is that enema?), coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds, and swelling. What is Advil used for? Reducing fever, treating pain or inflammation, headaches, toothache, back pain, menstrual cramps and arthritis. Yeah, I think I’ll push on through this headache cause I like my intestines all in tact.
Recently the FDA reissued a public health advisory warning about OTC cold and cough medications for infants under age two. This came on the heels of several infant deaths and some pretty scandalous admissions from both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA itself. In a meeting on the safety and efficacy of OTC cold & cough products marketed for pediatric use, the FDA boldly stated, "OTC cough and cold products have not been shown to be safe and effective for the treatment of cough and cold in children under 6 years of age." In fact, the administration has known for years that most infant cold medications could cause major complications, including severe hallucinations and agitation, seizures, high blood pressure, and heart and breathing problems that can be fatal in rare cases. So why were these medications on the shelves at the local CVS and being generously recommended by the well-meaning pediatrician if they were not proven to work? IDK
The goal here is not to put the fear of LA-DEE-DA in you, ladies and gentlemen…it’s to prompt you to research what it is your doctors are prescribing or recommending for you and your children. There must be questions asked with honest answers given. When Dr. "X" prescribes an antibiotic, he should readily offer up the side effects…which by the way are: diarrhea; fungal infections of the mouth, digestive tract & vagina (this is because the antibiotic has killed bad as well as good bacteria); kidney stones, blood clotting, deafness; colitis (inflamed bowels); difficulty breathing; and (where have we heard this one before) swelling of the face and tongue.
This information is also to induce thought with regard to eradicating the need for such medications. I’m sure many of the drugs (OTC & prescription) on the market are effective when used properly. However, if we employ an attitude geared toward a more healthy and active lifestyle, we may find that we don’t need as many OTC or prescription drugs. Instead of popping pills or bending over for shots that simply treat symptoms, we could be addressing root causes by implementing a healthy diet and an exercise regimen, for example. Always remember, every time you medicate yourself, you’re compromising your health in one way or another. Whether pushed or prescribed, all drugs are dangerous.