I recently had a text message exchange with a couple of my like-minded friends in which I had to write something to the effect of “Sorry to be all Doomsday again, but..” regarding a pharmaceutical product of some kind that one of them had mentioned. A theme has also emerged on my personal Facebook page and this blog’s page: frequent PSAs about the potential dangers of various pharmaceutical products and medical procedures. I actually have to limit myself from sharing all of the information of this type that I come across on a daily basis to avoid emitting a constant stream of posts that fill up everyone’s newsfeeds.
So, I have basically become the Debbie Downer of modern medicine.
Birth control pills? “Great, unless you want a libido or to avoid depression.”
PPI acid-reducers? “Work well except for the kidney disease and dementia.”
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics? “Very effective at killing bacteria! And mitochondria.”
Vaccines? “Super, except for the fact that we can’t trust the studies that support their safety.”
Tylenol? “Reduces fever. And your body’s ability to detoxify. And the ability to experience empathy.”
This could go on for quite a while.
How did I get to this point? Through experience. My experience, and the experiences of friends, family, patients, colleagues and complete strangers. I went to a conference last year where one of the architects of Obamacare was the keynote speaker. He actually said at one point (paraphrasing): “Our goal is to set up standardized protocols and procedures so that we never have to hear doctors say ‘In my experience..’ when making clinical decisions anymore.” I looked around the room in disbelief after he said it to see if I was the only one who was incredibly disturbed by that statement. Sadly, all I saw was a sea of nodding heads.
Over the last year, “appropriately prescribed” and OTC pharmaceuticals have caused serious health problems for two of my loved ones. One of them went into acute kidney failure due to a medication prescribed by his cardiologist. His kidney doctor (nephrologist) told him that this medication could not be the problem based off of the available safety data. Another family member decided to go online and do some research, and found out that at least in a few other people’s experiences, it COULD be the problem. He stopped taking the medication and within two days his kidney values improved to the point that he did not need need to start the scheduled dialysis.
The second person woke up one morning unable to walk or write in a straight line. When I talked to her a week later, I had to ask her if she had been drinking due to her obvious cognitive impairment, but she had not consumed any alcohol. She was evaluated and worked up by her doctor which resulted in a diagnosis of a probable inner ear infection. Her own mother had Alzheimers, and in the following weeks I talked to several other family members who gently encouraged me to accept the fact that she was just following in her footsteps at the age of 67. We arranged for her to see a functional medicine doctor, who discovered that she had been put on three rounds of antibiotics several months earlier for a dental procedure, then proceeded to take ibuprofen and Benedryl on an almost daily basis thereafter. Thinking she had likely damaged her gut and therefore her brain health, he had her remove gluten from her diet, stop the OTC meds, started her on probiotics, vitamins D and B12 and instructed her to read two books by Dr. Perlmutter. Two weeks later, she was back to normal.
“These are personal experiences, not randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial results!”
“I base my health decisions off of scientific evidence found in peer-reviewed journals!”
I hear things like this a lot. I used to fancy myself as a professional who strictly practiced “evidence-based” nursing. I’ve worked at a couple of different teaching hospitals, and that mindset is drilled into us there. The problem is that “evidence-based medicine” is only as good as the evidence you use. Medical science has some serious issues at this point, one of them being that many of the claims made in the peer-reviewed medical journals are false. In this excellent summary of the issues with safety pertaining to pharmaceutical products, JMR says this:
“…Pharmaceutical companies of course want to minimize, downplay, and outright deny ADR’s [Adverse Drug Reactions] because they don’t want to open themselves up to culpability and liability issues and lose profits. From the limited “safety studies” that Pharma does on a drug pre-market, to “publishing bias” of only publishing research studies with data in their favor, to minimizing and hiding the adverse effects as they sell their products to the medical profession and us, Pharma does all they can to get a drug to market and profit from it. Once the drug gets to market, the big experiment occurs, as the drug is unleashed en masse on the general population. For those taking the drug, it’s essentially a game of Russian Roulette, no matter how “informed” you are.”
I have become Debbie Downer when it comes to pharmaceutical products because I have seen too many people become victims of this “big experiment.” I have discovered first-hand that it is important for people to share their negative experiences with others, because that is the only way they will be getting information about the “dark side” of pharmaceutical products. If we don’t do this, people and their healthcare providers are limited to the information they get from TV commercials and pharma-sponsored safety data about drugs, which heavily play up the benefits and downplay the known and unknown risks. I have said this many times about vaccines, but it actually pertains to all pharmaceutical products: there is little-to-no individualized screening done when someone is prescribed these products alone or in combination, so there is really no way to know if you will be the person who experiences the “rare” adverse reaction.
Pharmaceuticals certainly have their place and I am not suggesting that we completely abandon their use. If one of my family members needs urgent medical care, we get it. However, I have personally switched my family over to mainly relying on measures that support our bodies in functioning properly on their own, such as nutrition/herbs, reduction in exposure to environmental toxins, essential oils, homeopathy, epsom salts baths, chiropractic care and a few supplements. I have also learned to listen to my intuition about my own health and that of my children more, and to seek out the wisdom and support of others who have gained knowledge from similar experiences (which still includes some doctors and other mainstream medical professionals). I also see it as my duty as a nurse, Christian, and fellow human being to be one of the people who shares the knowledge I gain from my personal experiences.
Therefore, I will be carrying on as Debbie Downer for the foreseeable future.
(Image of Rachel Dratch taken from the internet: https://img1.etsystatic.com/133/1/5805234/il_340x270.863995025_zn4b.jpg)