It seems to me that medicine is losing its way. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I am VERY concerned about the growing trend of polypharmacy. It’s a problem not just for people, in general, but specifically for children.
How bad is the problem? According to Mike Adams at NaturalNews, the percentage of children on prescription drugs is going up, up, up. Up to 25% of all children are on some kind of chronic prescription drug!
Just look at the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “So Young, and So Many Pills” (12.28.2010) and cited in this article by Dr. David Brownstein.
In 2009, prescriptions for children included:
- 45,388,000 Asthma medications
- 24,357,000 ADHD medications
- 9,614,000 Antidepressant medications
- 6,546,000 Antipsychotic medications
- 5,224,000 Antihypertensive medications
- 307,000 Sleep aids
- 424,00 Non-insulin diabetes medications
- 94,000 Statin (high-cholesterol) medications
These are startling figures that should make any parent shutter. What are the long-term implications? We don’t know.
These drugs being prescribed for children are not just some mild prescription drugs either. According to the Wall Street Journal, These include sleep aids, anti-depressants, ADD/ADHD drugs, anti-cholesterol drugs (statins), and diabetic medications All are very dangerous drugs.
Let’s look at Prozac for example. Prozac has a side effect profile larger than any other prescription available. Over 3,500 deaths have been attributed to Prozac. The approval study of Prozac involved 278 people over 8 weeks. No long-term studies were included. Additionally, Prozac dosing was designed for an average 170-pound individual. Do you know any children that weigh 170 pounds? I’ll answer for you. NO. Any child being dosed with Prozac is likely being overdosed, unless they weigh 170 pounds.
What about anti-depressants? Are there any studies that have looked at the long-term effects of anti-depressants over, let’s say, 40+ years? Again, a big NO is the answer to this question, too!
We are told that these medications are needed. Prozac is supposed to balance out the imbalances. Unfortunately, that’s a statement that has been made before that was eventually determined to be false. Heroin, Cocaine, PCP, Methadone, LSD, and even Xanax were all pharmaceuticals that were supposed to be safe and effective. All but Xanax are now controlled and/or illegal! In their book Break Your Prescribed Addiction, Billy Sahley, Ph.D., and Katherine Birkner, Ph.D., do a great job of pointing this out.
As a physician, the big question I ask is this: whom are we serving? Are we serving our system of medicine? Are we serving big pharmaceutical companies? Are we serving the FDA?
We should be serving our patients. We should be protecting our children.
Want to cut future costs of medicine? Let’s get our children off these medicines that mask their problems. Instead, let’s solve their health problems by finding their true source. Let’s listen to physicians like Dr. Danny Benjamin, a professor of pediatrics at Duke University who noted in the WSJ article that “parents must do more to question the safety of medicines their doctors prescribe.”
I think that’s advice that applies across the spectrum of patients. What are you taking? Why are you taking it? And here’s the big question in my book. Are the pharmaceuticals you are taking REALLY solving the problems that you have? Are they just a mask?
I am amazed at the number of clients that I see who are prescribed anti-depressants these days. I have only been in practice for 6 years, but I have seen these drugs used excessively to treat everything from PMS to stress.
The major problem with these medications is there are no long-term studies on the impact these drugs have on the body. Don’t forget that these medications have side effect profiles that rival the novel “War and Peace.
Aside from the litany of side effects, anti-depressants typically don’t treat the actual problem. And what I’m finding is that it’s not depression…it’s stress.
Sure, there are people out there that undeniably suffer from depression. But most are struggling with overwhelming stress. It is well accepted that 90% of doctor visits today are due to stress or some stress-related condition.
Let’s look at physiology to see how stress affects the body.
Our stress response is a protective mechanism. It is our body’s way to help us run from that tiger or turn and fight that tiger. It is our fight or flight response. Therein lies part of the problem.
We aren’t running from any tigers, at least not on this continent. But our stress level is constant and higher than ever…bills, economy, family. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, we are under stress. The body doesn’t know the differences between types of stress — whether tiger chase or financial pressure — it just responds to the stress.
We cannot discount the impact of stress on the body. The stress response comes from our adrenal glands. Epinephrine, norepinephrine, cortisol, and DHEA are the main components of the stress response. Under intense stress, our body releases norepinephrine and epinephrine. These neurotransmitters stimulate cortisol and DHEA release from the adrenal glands. This results in dilated pupils, fast heart rate, edginess…all physical manifestations of the fight or flight response.
It doesn’t stop there. That same long-term elevated cortisol will cause a depletion of the stimulators norepinephrine and an inverse drop in the serotonin levels. And THAT is the cause of depression.
The extended exposure to stress is the problem. And the band-aid solution of treating with anti-depressants is not a good solution.
The alternative? As a metabolic specialist, my approach is to support the the body’s stress response with a customized prescription of vitamins, minerals, bioidentical hormones, amino acids first. Then, we develop a healthy living plan that will help reduce stress and restore the body to normal function so that it is no longer non-functional from extended periods of stress overload.
While exercise and proper nutrition go a long way, the long-term affects of a stress-filled life require customized medical care to reverse their effects. And that’s what we do here at Seasons Wellness Clinic – customized wellness.
Cheers to the pursuit of wellness!
- Cortisol and Stress: How Cortisol Affects Your Body, and How To Stay Healthy in the Face of Stress(stress.about.com)
- Stress (room4truth.com)
- Describing the Function of Adrenal Glands: A Study Guide (brighthub.com)
Seasons has hosted, on several occasions, Dr. Eldred Taylor, an international expert in bioidentical hormones. During his speaking engagements in Ruston, he talked with men and women about lots of exciting ways to help manage their health. Dr. Taylor is a talented teacher, and I want to share the way he taught our patients about stress and hormones.
Stress elicits a hormonal response, he explained. In fact, 75%-90% of all primary care doctor related visits can be directly attributed to stress according to the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. It makes sense. When you are stressed, you are more prone to illness. That’s one effect of hormones, specifically cortisol.
Stress is a doorway to disease if it’s not treated and corrected.
Here’s what I mean by that. In nature, a zebra or horse running from a predator has acute stress response. Does the stress have a negative effect on the animal’s body? Sure. But the animal is running for its life. Either one of two things happen. The animal will get away, and the stress will end. Or the animal will die… and the stress will end. Either way, the animal is not going to suffer from constant stress.
But in contemporary society, many of us suffer from constant stress. When we experience stress, we too have a surge of hormones to help us fight or run away. You’ve heard of fight or flight. When we are running from a predator, everything works fine. The hormones activated by stress pump us full of energy, and we escape the predator. Or kill it.
But in contemporary society, sometimes we can’t kill our predators or run away from them. Sometimes our predators are coworkers or bosses. We don’t get along with these people, or perhaps we are intensely competitive, and it causes stress. Only we can’t escape these predators in the same way that a zebra can escape a lion. We have to fight with that coworker or boss every day. We experience the stress every day. Our bodies weren’t designed to handle this kind of chronic stress.
That’s why it’s so important to relax. Learn to control what you can. Learn to let go of the rest. I highly recommend things like aroma therapy and massages for relaxation. That’s why Seasons has developed a medical spa—because we want to do more than just help people who are not well. We want to help prevent people from getting sick in the first place.
Stress management is a good place to start.
“Maybe I just have the winter blues,” she said. This statement leads the list of commonly heard complaints from patients who come to me seeking answers for their symptoms.
“Sarah” came to our office frustrated that all of her lab work showed normal levels of everything. “My thyroid levels weren’t even low,” she exclaimed hoping that low thyroid would explain her symptom list including fatigue, sleep disturbance, mild anxiety and depression, as well as brain fog. She even had a prescription for an antidepressant but was reluctant to fill it. “I hate the person I have become! Even my family has noticed a change in me. Can you help me?”
Fortunately for Sarah, we are in the business of wellness. Instead of accepting a diagnosis of depression, we sought to identify specific markers showing mitochondrial insufficiency, my suspected cause for her symptoms. Don’t be scared by the term mitochondrial insufficiency. It’s just a fancy name for inefficient cellular energy production!
Without cellular energy, symptoms such as fatigue, exercise intolerance, mood disorders, insomnia, and brain fog can wreak havoc in our bodies. Other symptoms such as generalized muscle aches, skin disorders, and blood sugar imbalance can be affected by specific deficiencies.
Using advanced metabolic testing, we were able to measure “Sarah’s” organic acids, fatty acids, amino acids, as well as vitamin levels and toxins. Her results confirmed that her body wasn’t making the energy she needed.
Sarah is now equipped with her own custom-designed wellness plan to give her body optimal health. Along with specific vitamins, amino acids, and other supplements, she is detoxing her body by using an Infrared Sauna twice a week. Not only has her quality of life been enhanced, but her overall health has improved as well.
And by the way…she never had to fill the antidepressant prescription. And that’s a check in the win column of Sarah’s life! Cheers to wellness!