Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Alternatives to “8 Drugs Your Doctor Wouldn’t Take”

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Some time ago, I read this article in Men’s Health magazine. It’s a well written article, but with a very small amount of research, it could have been so much more. Perhaps I was wanting too much from a brief article, and it was meant as more of an attention grabber than an informative discussion of alternatives. With that in mind, here is some of the info I would have liked to see regarding the eight drugs (and the conditions they are meant to treat) referenced:

Advair – an asthma medication that can increase the severity of an asthma attack. The author’s suggestion was to just take corticosteroids instead. How about this… find out what’s leading to the asthma and fix that!? Mild asthma, for which Advair is intended to treat, is most often associated with a trigger that leads to an abnormal reaction in the respiratory tract. First, avoid the trigger… be it pet dander, food sensitivities, chemical irritants, cigarette smoke, etc. Then, determine why your body responds differently from the guy next to you when you’re both breathing the same air, or performing the same activities. Once the dysfunction is identified, correct that. Although it’s been given little emphasis in the research literature, most natural health providers can relate multiple instances of asthma resolution following homeostasis-based techniques. Asthma is basically an overactive immunologic response to an irritant… in other words, your body is over-reacting to something it perceives as a threat. Bring the body’s functions back into balance (homeostasis), and it won’t over-react.

Avandia – a diabetes medication that increases one’s risk of heart failure or heart attack. I was impressed with the author here. He actually did mention the use of niacin, a natural B vitamin. Although diabetes is a difficult condition to treat, the best treatment is not to get it in the first place! Follow a healthy lifestyle from the start, and you’ll likely never have to worry about this disease of malnutrition. Too many sugars, processed foods, additives, preservatives, and worthless calories and the pancreas eventually runs out of gas. Eat right, exercise, and feed the body the nutrients it needs and it will take care of you.

Celebrex – a pain reliever linked to increased risks of stomach bleeding, kidney trouble, and liver damage… and could double or triple your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. “You may die, but at least your back will feel better.” There are volumes of research on alternatives for pain relief. Obviously, chiropractic works wonders in cases involving structural causes. Acupuncture has proven very effective with pain control. Natural enzymes have been known to aid in the control of the inflammatory process. Studies have shown Omega-3 Fatty Acids to be as effective, if not more, than traditional non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). Given that there are so many alternatives when it comes to pain relief, why would anyone continue to choose a medication so dangerous?

Ketek – if you have to have an antibiotic, don’t pick this one which has a much higher incidence of severe liver damage. Choose instead to boost your immune system and help your body fight the infection off naturally. Simple way to think of it is, Don’t feed the infection. Avoid foods or liquids that bacteria thrive on; sugars, carbohydrates, etc. Eat foods high in antioxidants and water content. Cruciferous veggies (asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc.) are an excellent choice if you’ve been exposed to infectious organisms. Slam your system with whole food source Vitamin C (ascorbic acid is not “Vitamin C”) and get your rest. Garlic is the best and most powerful herb known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antihelminic, anticancerous, and overall just darned good for you.

Prilosec and Nexium – antacids that ruin your digestion, raise your risk of pneumonia, and have a suspected link to heart attacks. Easiest way to control heartburn? Lose weight! Excess belly fat, and overstretching related to overeating, lead to weakness of the sphincter that prevents acid from getting into the esophagus. Abnormal amounts of acid in the stomach can also contribute to reflux. Make sure there is uninterrupted nerve communication between the stomach and brain. This is often affected by chiropractic adjustment at the T6/7 level. Avoid digestive irritants such as NSAIDs, sugars, animal fats, alcohol, and smoking. Probably most important in this era… supplement your diet with natural digestive enzymes.

Visine – “gets the red out.” Unfortunately, continued use can actually lead to even more redness due to the perpetuation of the dilation-contraction cycle. Artificial tears are a safer option for wetting the eyes without chemically affecting the vasculature.

Pseudoephedrine – constricts blood vessels, then raises the blood pressure and heart rate… can you say “stroke” boys and girls? It’s a decongestant for God’s sake. Are you really willing to risk a stroke to get rid of a stuffy nose? Use a neti pot… acupuncture… cayenne pepper… gargle salt water… eat garlic and/or horseradish… use menthol/camphor… there are so many natural ways to loosen up a stuffy nose, it’s ridiculous to settle for these dangerous medications simply because the TV ad made it look good.

These are just the eight meds this author chose to report on. The list of medications most doctors won’t consider taking is long and distinguished. The main problem I see is the constant reliance on this pill or that pill to “fix” whatever condition one has, when instead, the emphasis should be on, “What aspect of my lifestyle is allowing this condition to get started?” I would venture to guess that a very high percentage of the diseases that are prevalent in society, are completely avoidable if only we would alter our lifestyle choices. Go back to the quote on the “About This Blog” page:

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas Edison

Now ask yourself, are we moving closer to or further away from this mentality?

Dr. Gray

Gray Chiropractic is a full-service natural health care office in Independence, east of Kansas City. For further information check our website www.graychiropractic.com.

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3 Responses to “Alternatives to “8 Drugs Your Doctor Wouldn’t Take””

  1. Amy Hengst said

    That’s strange. Actually Advair was the best asthma medication I was ever on. And I had to get off it because of insurance issues. Flovent’s okay (the substitute) but not as powerful.

    You can’t avoid all triggers…like pollens in the air, dust mites, and so on, so that is always the “common wisdom” response that’s useless for someone like me whose asthma seems mostly allergen based. (The funny part: I once had a flyer accompanying my medicines that suggested vacuuming the house regularly to reduce dust, but that the person with asthma shouldn’t do the vaccuuming. I live alone, so: okay I will *vacuum with my mind* Omm?)

    The inhalers that used to give me more problems than they were worth are Albuterol — commonly prescribed for fast relief, and instead gives me panic attacks — and Azmacort, an inhaler that made me anxious and stressed all the time. Several doctors I saw wouldn’t believe me when I explained this…tsk tsk.

  2. Dr. Gray said

    Amy, thanks for commenting. I don’t think the author was claiming that Advair doesn’t “work.” However, it’s how it works, and the subsequent risks with repetitive use that leads physicians to choose other alternatives. Although it may relieve the symptoms of asthma, it also promotes bronchial inflammation and sensitivity without warning. This, in turn, can lead to worsening asthma symptoms and sometimes death. Flovent may not be as “powerful,” but it’s also not as deadly. I guess it all comes down to where every individual is comfortable between risk and reward.

    Want a good natural remedy for an acute asthma attack? Try a pinch of baking soda under the tongue. It’s been shown to relax bronchial spasm and restore the response to bronchodilators.

    As for your allergen response, I understand you can’t always avoid your triggers. You do what you can to avoid them, while you’re trying to discover why it’s a trigger in the first place. A recent case of mine was a juvenile with asthma that was preventing any physical activity outside. Ultimately, we discovered that his system was sensitive to wheat products, and he no longer suffers the same triggers after removing them from his diet.

    Again, asthma and allergies are largely an over-reaction to an external stimulus. Why can I vacuum the house, but you can’t? Are the things that get stirred up any different when I do it? The answer is no. The only difference is your body’s reaction to the irritants in the air. Find out why your body reacts that way, and your problem is solved… sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, it rarely is. Sometimes it’s deficient mucous production in the nasal cavity. Sometimes it’s chemical toxicity. Sometimes it’s stress and a depressed immune system. Sometimes it’s abnormal thyroid activity.

    Asthma and allergies are symptoms… not causes. Although we sometimes resort to controlling symptoms, we must never forget to pursue the underlying cause.

  3. Amy Hengst said

    Thanks for your comments, Dr. Gray! I wish all docs were interested in finding the root causes. Unfortunately I think many are more concerned with the patches that cover up the symptoms instead.

    I never heard before about problems with Advair, so thanks for the warning. I will try that trick with baking soda sometime! Not something I’ve heard before. Maybe I should get food-allergy tests too. (Another trick I have found is hot coffee–it works quick and effectively to help me breathe deeply and relieve wheezing/spasm. There is also scientific research that backs up the findings, according to several articles I’ve read!)

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