Tag Archives: Big Pharma

Ibuprofen Kills Thousands Each Year. Here are 10 Natural Alternatives

A recent Reuters’ article opened with the following stunning sentence:

“Long-term high-dose use of painkillers such as ibuprofen or diclofenac is ‘equally hazardous’ in terms of heart attack risk as use of the drug Vioxx, which was withdrawn due to its potential dangers, researchers said.”

The 2004 Vioxx recall, as you may remember, was spurred by the nearly 30,000 excess cases of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths caused by the drug between 1999-2003. Despite the fact that scientific research had accumulated as early as 2000 linking Vioxx to increased heart attacks and strokes, the drug’s manufacturer Merck, and the FDA, remained silent as the death toll steadily increased.

The Reuters report focused on new research published in Lancet indicating the risk of heart attack increases as much as a third and the risk of heart failure doubles among heavier users of NSAID drugs.

INFLAMED: Our Default Bodily State

Why are so many folks taking NSAID drugs like ibuprofen anyway?

Pain and unhealthy levels of inflammation are fast becoming default bodily states in the industrialized world. While in most cases we can adjust the underlying pro-inflammatory conditions by altering our diet, and reducing stress and environmental chemical exposures, these approaches take time, discipline and energy, and sometimes we just want the pain to stop now. In those often compulsive moments we find ourselves popping an over-the-counter pill to kill the pain.

The problem with this approach is that, if we do it often enough, we may kill ourselves along with the pain…

Ibuprofen really is a perfect example of this. As mentioned above, this petrochemical-derivative has been linked to significantly increased risk of heart attack and increased cardiac and all-cause mortality (when combined with aspirin), with over two dozen serious adverse health effects, including:

  • Anemia[1]
  • DNA Damage[2]
  • Hearing Loss[3]
  • Hypertension[4]
  • Influenza Mortality[5]
  • Miscarriage[6]

Ibuprofen is, in fact, not unique in elevating cardiovascular disease risk and/or mortality. The entire category of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) appears to have this under-recognized dark side; cardiovascular disease and cardiac mortality score highest on the list of over 100 unintended adverse health effects associated with their use. See also our analysis of the rarely acknowledged dark side to aspirin: The Evidence Against Aspirin And For Natural Alternatives.

So, what does one do? Pain is pain. Whether it happens to you, or you witness it in another (which can be worse), finding relief is a top priority.

Research on Natural Alternatives To Ibuprofen

Here is some evidence-based research on alternatives to ibuprofen, sourced from the National Library of Medicine:

  1. Ginger – A 2009 study found that ginger capsules (250 mg, four times daily) were as effective as the drugs mefenamic acid and ibuprofen for relieving pain in women associated with their menstrual cycle (primary dysmenorrhea). [7]
  2. Topical Arnica – A 2007 human study found that topical treatment with arnica was as effective as ibuprofen for hand osteoarthritis, but with lower incidence of side effects.[8]
  3. Combination: Astaxanthin, Ginkgo biloba and Vitamin C – A 2011 animal study found this combination to be equal to or better than ibuprofen for reducing asthma-associated respiratory inflammation.[9]
  4. Chinese Skullcap (baicalin) – A 2003 animal study found that a compound in Chinese skullcap known as baicalin was equipotent to ibuprofen in reducing pain.[10]
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids: A 2006 human study found that omega-3 fatty acids (between 1200-2400 mg daily) were as effective as ibuprofen in reducing arthritis pain, but with the added benefit of having less side effects.[11]
  6. Panax Ginseng – A 2008 animal study found that panax ginseng had analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity similar to ibuprofen, indicating its possible anti-rheumatoid arthritis properties.[12]
  7. St. John’s Wort – A 2004 animal study found that St. John’s wort was twice as effective as ibuprofen as a pain-killer.[13]
  8. Anthrocyanins from Sweet Cherries & Raspberries – A 2001 study cell study found that anthrocyanins extracted from raspberries and sweet cherries were as effective as ibuprofen and naproxen at suppressing the inflammation-associated enzyme known as cyclooxygenase-1 and 2.[14]
  9. Holy Basil – A 2000 study found that holy basil contains compounds with anti-inflammatory activity comparable to ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin.[15]
  10. Olive Oil (oleocanthal) – a compound found within olive oil known as oleocanthal has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen.[16]

[1] Direct cytotoxicity of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in acidic media: model study on human erythrocytes with DIDS-inhibited anion exchanger. Pharmazie. 2002 Dec;57(12):848-51. PMID: 12561250

[2] Genotoxicity of ibuprofen in mouse bone marrow cells in vivo. Drug Chem Toxicol. 2012 Jan 27. Epub 2012 Jan 27. PMID: 22283434

[3] Analgesic use and the risk of hearing loss in men. Am J Med. 2010 Mar;123(3):231-7. PMID: 20193831

[4] Effect on blood pressure of lumiracoxib versus ibuprofen in patients with osteoarthritis and controlled hypertension: a randomized trial. J Hypertens. 2008 Aug;26(8):1695-702. PMID: 18622250

[5] The effect on mortality of antipyretics in the treatment of influenza infection: systematic review and meta-analysis. J R Soc Med. 2010 Oct;103(10):403-11. PMID: 20929891

[6]  Taking non-aspirin NSAIDs in early pregnancy doubles risk of miscarriage, study shows. BMJ. 2011 ;343:d5769. Epub 2011 Sep 9. PMID: 21908536

[7] Comparison of effects of ginger, mefenamic acid, and ibuprofen on pain in women with primary dysmenorrhea. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb 13. PMID: 19216660

[8] Choosing between NSAID and arnica for topical treatment of hand osteoarthritis in a randomised, double-blind study. Rheumatol Int. 2007 Apr;27(6):585-91. Epub 2007 Feb 22. PMID: 17318618

[9] Summative interaction between astaxanthin, Ginkgo biloba extract (EGb761) and vitamin C in suppression of respiratory inflammation: a comparison with ibuprofen. Phytother Res. 2011 Jan;25(1):128-36. PMID: 20632299

[10] The antiinflammatory and analgesic effects of baicalin in carrageenan-evoked thermal hyperalgesia. Anesth Analg. 2003 Dec;97(6):1724-9. PMID: 14633550

[11] Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surg Neurol. 2006 Apr;65(4):326-31. PMID: 16531187

[12] Potential analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities of Panax ginseng head butanolic fraction in animals. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Dec;46(12):3749-52. Epub 2008 Oct 1. PMID: 18930781

[13] Antinociceptive activity of methanolic extracts of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) preparation. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2004 Jul;17(2):13-9. PMID: 16414593

[14] Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine. 2001 Sep;8(5):362-9. PMID: 11695879

[15] Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine. 2000 Mar;7(1):7-13. PMID: 10782484

[16] Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Curr Pharm Des. 2011 ;17(8):754-68. PMID: 21443487.

via Ibuprofen Kills Thousands Each Year, So What Is The Alternative?.

Dr. Court’s Comments:

When approaching pain, it’s best to always address the source of the pain. If it’s structural, a chiropractor is a good option. If it’s metabolic, such as an autoimmune disease, then a doctor trained in functional medicine will be best. They will likely use some of the things listed above to provide relief in addition to functional testing designed to treat the cause of your symptoms, not simply cover them up with medication. Dietary changes are almost always needed. The American diet is pro-inflammatory with high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. These omega-6s feed the inflammatory pathways, allowing people to over produce the pain causing molecules. Once this is addressed, people often feel much better. Remember, just about every chemical we make in our bodies, good or bad, is heavily dependent on dietary factors. If you correct those dietary factors, you correct the dysfunction.

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3 Common Prescriptions That Don’t Work!

The overuse of medication is getting out of control. Want proof? The 3 drugs listed below are among the most widely used drugs in the world, yet they don’t work! Don’t believe me? Check it out below!

Common prescriptions that don't work JPG

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Your 4 year old needs Ritalin

Picture taken by myself of my Adderall prescri...

Unfortunately, your child’s pediatrician might agree.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recently changed the age at which children could be diagnosed with ADHD.  Now children as young as 4 and as old as 18 can be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.  This diagnosis now also includes the old diagnosis of ADD, a term that is no longer used.

This change has led to fears that with more diagnoses there will be more drug therapies applied and perhaps some of these will be diagnosed incorrectly.  To me, these sound like legitimate fears.

The first problem I have is that the drugs approved for treating ADHD are dangerous and pose serious risks.  On top of that, they have only been approved to be used in children 6 and over.  No one has studied these medications on children younger.  This is a major problem. We cannot possibly know what these powerful stimulants can do to a developing brain.  These stimulants are, after all, a derivative of methamphetamine (basically speed!).

The guidelines are quick to point out that while Ritalin is an effective option, it should only be used once behavior modification has been tried unsuccessfully. The problem with that is I find many pediatricians are already too quick to write a prescription and move on to the next patient.  In a health care environment where most physicians are strapped for time as it is, they are unlikely to take the time to describe how to implement a program of behavioral modification and are much more likely to recommend something quick and easy like Ritalin.

A child that is just 4 years old is still developing.  Their brain is malleable and easily changed.  On one hand this is a good thing.  It means changes in their home life, behavioral modifications and therapeutic exercises have a great chance of working.  On the other hand it means the potential for negative change associated with medications is greater as well.

I see many children in my office for neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD.  I find I can recognize the hard signs in a 4 year of ADHD like breakdown in gait patterns, breakdown in eye movements or the persistence of primitive reflexes.  These are easily corrected with a program of brain rehabilitation and does not require dangerous stimulants.

These guidelines seem to be a way to open a new market for pharmaceutical sales.  As a matter of fact, the chairman of the committee who recommended the new guidelines, physician Mark Wolraich, is a periodic consultant to Eli Lilly,  Shire Plc, and other pharmaceutical companies. Eli Lilly and Shire hold exclusive U.S. patents for atomoxetine (brand name Strattera) and guanfacine (brand name INTUNIV), respectively, both of which the report recommends for treating ADHD in adolescents.

Parents should not be fooled by these recent recommendations.  Parents should seek drug-free alternatives for their children if they believe that they have ADHD. We just don’t know what these medications can do to a young brain.

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Prescription Drug Deaths Outnumber Traffic Accident Deaths

Resized image of Ritalin-SR-20mg-full.png; squ...

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For anyone that considers prescription drugs safe and harmless, this is sobering news.  For the first time, deaths from prescription drugs now outnumber deaths from traffic accidents.

Deaths from prescription medication has been on the rise for years.  As a matter of fact, deaths in the last decade have doubled from drugs.  This is in contrast to deaths from motor vehicle accidents which have continued to decline as advancements in automobile safety mount.

In 2009 37,485 people died from prescription medication overdoses.  The primary culprits are anxiety medications and pain killers.  To put this astronomical number into perspective 37,485 deaths would be equivalent to a commercial jet carrying just over 100 people crashing everyday!  Can you imagine if the airline industry had this kind of record? Not only would no one fly but the government would shut them down permanently until the problem could be fixed.

The problem is not that these drugs exist, it’s the way we view health care.  We are too ready to accept the quick fix which, in reality, is not a fix at all.  It is simply a pill that covers up the symptoms we don’t want to experience.

I think we must also blame how easily these drugs are available.  It is all too easy to walk into a doctor’s office these days and walk out with a very powerful prescription.  These drugs are often very addictive and when combined with other drugs that are easily available, like alcohol, they become exceptionally dangerous.

Because these drugs are readily available, people tend to view them as safe.  They feel they can take high doses and not be at risk of any serious adverse event. Traditional medicine has done a very poor job informing the public of these dangers.  And the pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want people to know the dangers either.  That might reduce their bottom line!

What if we changed our health care paradigm?  What if instead of getting a pill for every ache, pain or uncomfortable feeling we changed the way we lived, ate well and exercised and sought more conservative but effective methods to our health issues?  Wouldn’t we be significantly less dependent on these drugs?  Of course we would!

I am not naive enough to think that this would eliminate the entire problem.  There will always be people who choose the abuse these drugs despite our best efforts.  But what about the people who die from these drugs who were taking them as prescribed?  Or the people who became addicted to the drugs even though they were taking them as prescribed originally?  Had those people sought alternatives to their conditions earlier, their fate may have been much different.

The answers to our health problems do not lie with the pharmaceutical industry.  Currently, drugs are our primary source of “health care.” Unfortunately, there is nothing healthy about it.  Drugs can serve a purpose.  They can help when used appropriately.  We find ourselves in trouble when we rely on them for everythingas we do now.

Our goal should be to take less drugs, not more.  The pharmaceutical industry is constantly investigating new ways to get us to take more and more drugs. As evidence, Pfizer would like nothing more than for Lipitor to be available over-the-counter. It would significantly increase sales.  Is it a coincidence that their patent is running out and it will now be available in generic form from it’s competitors? I think not. This is not health care.

The most effective way to stay healthy is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.  Should a health issue arise, seek conservative care first.  Try things like chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage, talk therapy or a change in your lifestyle before you resort to a prescription.  It might just save your life.

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NSAIDs raise miscarriage risk

Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman

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A recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has concluded that women who take NSAIDs in the first trimester of pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage than women who do not.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a very popular class of pain killers that many people use every day.  They are also used to reduce fever.  The new study investigated use of non-aspirin NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and other drugs.

It is estimated that about 17% of women use non-aspirin NSAIDs during pregnancy despite the already existing knowledge they can cause malformations.

The problem with this is NSAIDs are seen by many patients as basically harmless medications because their use is so incredibly common.  NSAIDs are also available over-the-counter and do not require a prescription to buy.  There is nothing stopping a pregnant woman from going to her local CVS and buying a bottle of Motrin to alleviate that pesky headache or continuing to medicate her chronic back pain.

The Canadian study compared the medical records of 4,705 women who had a miscarriage during the first 20 weeks of gestation with records of 47,050 women who became pregnant and delivered a child. The women in the study were aged 15 to 45 when they became pregnant.

Among women who had miscarriages, 352 had taken NSAIDs, compared with 1,213 of the women who did not experience pregnancy loss.

When calculating the risk associated with NSAID use, the researchers accounted for other factors that might increase the likelihood of miscarriage, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety.

Taking into account all of that information, the risk for miscarriage was 35% for women taking NSAIDs as compared to the usual rate of 15%.  That jump is quite significant.  Imagine if the average miscarriage rate was actually 35% and not 15%.  That would mean more than one out of every three women who became pregnant would have miscarriages.  That would truly be a worrisome number.

To me, this signifies that we need to stress to pregnant women that they should seek more conservative ways to manage their pain.  Head aches, neck pain, back pain, cramping and many other forms of pain are things that chiropractors deal with on a daily basis with success.  There is very little side effect, if any, to manipulation.  And there certainly isn’t an increased risk of miscarriage!

In traditional medical care NSAIDs are thought of as conservative care.  I doubt there are many responsible medical physicians who would recommend a pregnant woman take an NSAID because of the risk already associated with them, but the problem is they don’t have to.  These drugs are so readily available and people have been taught this is an acceptable form of conservative care.  They are not.  Additionally, they provide only temporary relief. Chiropractic care actually addresses the issues at hand and is corrective.  This is something an NSAID can never claim to be.

Most people, pregnant or not, deal with some form of pain from time to time.  Still others deal with it frequently. Unfortunately, most of those people reach for the bottle of pills to relieve the pain but not actually correct the problem that’s causing it.  Next time that happens, consider trying chiropractic as an option.  Not only will it relieve your pain, it will fix the problem too!

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Bribes from Big Insurance

I had to comment on this.  The scanned in document below comes from a post that I saw from a friend of a friend on Facebook.  To me it illustrates everything that is wrong with the way health care is implemented in this country.  Take a look at the picture below and read it carefully.  I can’t believe this is even legal.

This letter comes from United Healthcare, which is a major U.S. health insurance company.  They are “encouraging” people to get their children vaccinated by bribing them with $20 gift cards, one of which is to McDonald’s!

In one breath they are asking you to do something they say is healthy for your child which is get vaccinated.  Whether vaccines are healthy or even safe is a topic for another blog but let’s forget that point and take the view of the health insurance company.

United Healthcare actually believe vaccines are a good thing.  They believe it so much that they are offering $20 to their clients whose children are not up to date on their vaccines.  One of their offers includes $20 to McDonald’s!  This company is supposed to be getting people healthier, not encouraging behavior that will make you exceptionally unhealthy!

More and more, people are exercising their right not to vaccinate their children.  This blog is not about whether that is right or wrong but suffice it to say, I support parents who make that decision if they feel it is right for them.

This type of letter, sent to thousands of parents, is a way for Big Insurance and Big Pharma to get people to use their products and services more frequently to make more money.  The facts in the letter aren’t even true.  No child “needs” certain vaccines before a certain age.  The current vaccine time line is in place only to provide pediatricians with a template to vaccinate their patients and make it easier to keep track of.  The letter implies that these vaccines are necessary before the age of two or they won’t work.  Do you really think a vaccine given to a 2 year old works any better than one given to a 4 year old?  Of course not.

I also cannot figure out how this is legal.  I was under the impression that medical service companies, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc. were not allowed to offer gifts in exchange for any kind of service or product.  Of course, with major insurance and big pharma involved the laws always seem to bend just enough to allow them to walk that fine line between lawful and unlawful.

I hope those of you reading this can see through this type of deceptive marketing because that’s all it is.  The insurance companies do not truly care about your health or else they wouldn’t offer $20 to McDonald’s to go get vaccinated.  This is just another way for you to use their services and for them to make more money.

 

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Common Pain Killers Increase Stroke Risk

Medicine Drug Pills on Plate

The news on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs just keeps getting worse and worse.  Just a month ago I posted about how this class of drugs was associated with an increased risk of heart problems.  Now a Danish study has found that these drugs are associated with an increased risk of stroke.

This class of drugs known as NSAIDs are used mainly as pain killers.  They are also used to effectively reduce fevers.  They are available over the counter and are used by millions upon millions of Americans every day.  This new

study finds that even short-term use of these drugs leads to an increased risk of having a stroke in the future.  What’s even scarier is that they studied a healthy population.

In many instances these types of studies are done on people with already existing conditions that make it difficult to assess whether the increased risk is associated with a person’s previously existing condition or the medication.  Not this time.

Over 500,000 healthy Danish people were included in this study.  The authors used a prescription registry to track which of these people were prescribed an NSAID.  About 45% of them took an NSAID from 1997-2005.  They then used stroke data from further hospitalization and death registries and estimated the risk of fatal and nonfatal stroke associated with the use of NSAIDs.

Results showed that NSAID use was associated with an increased risk of stroke. This increased risk ranged from about 30% with ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) to 86% with diclofenac (Voltaren). The data were controlled for age, gender, and socioeconomic status.

They noted that there was a dose dependent relationship as well.  With doses over 200mg of ibuprofen the risk increased by a staggering 90%!  This is quite problematic as the base dose for over the counter ibuprofen is 200mg.  Millions of Americans take much more than that on a daily basis.

The authors of the study were not terribly surprised by the data considering the recent studies that have surfaced regarding the negative effects these medications seem to have on the cardiovascular system.  They did say it is hard to make absolute conclusions because no randomized controlled studies exist to date.  In light of this most recent evidence I doubt you will ever get an institutional review board to approve such a study because the risk seems to be too high.

The author also stated that in Denmark the availability of NSAIDs over the counter is relatively low compared to the United States. He stressed the need for closer monitoring of these drugs.

He also said, “If half the population takes these drugs, even on an occasional basis, then this could be responsible for a 50% to 100% increase in stroke risk. It is an enormous effect.”

In my opinion, we need to regulate these drugs as closely as possible.  If one were to watch the evening news you would see these drugs being advertised as health food practically.  It is studies like these that make it abundantly clear  they are not without risk.

Options abound for people who take these on a regular basis for mild to moderate pain.  Exercise and diet are a great start.  Reducing the use of NSAIDs would likely have a very positive effect on the cost of health care in the U.S. We need all the help we can get in that department.

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