Dr. Gray's Straight Talk

Honest and blunt healthcare discussion and advice.

Posts Tagged ‘Prescription Medicines’

Cholesterol Meds… Yes or No?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

As a chiropractor, nutritionist, and acupuncturist, I often get questions from my patients that, I think, are designed to pit my answer against that of their medical doctor. Let me start this by stating that I don’t think this is the way we should approach these kinds of questions. Your health care team should all be questioned with an open mind, and their answers considered, before making an informed health decision. Your health care professionals all come from different backgrounds, philosophies, and different specialties. Take advantage of the knowledge you are paying them for, and make the decision that is best for YOU. Don’t forget, the original Latin term for doctor referred to “teacher,” not dictator. Your health, methods of treatment, and all activities and decisions that affect your outcomes are your choice… and responsibility.

I’ve said for years that with prescription rights, statin medications are the one class of pharmaceuticals that I would never consider prescribing for my patients. However, with further research, my position has changed… slightly. First, we must define what is our purpose for considering statin use. Is it to lower cholesterol? No… cholesterol levels are merely one set of numbers used to evaluate how our body is functioning. The theory is that lowering one’s bad cholesterol levels will decrease one’s risk of death, heart disease or stroke. Therefore, the use of statin medications must be determined based on weighing how well it achieves those goals versus the risk of negative effects as a result of taking them.

Ultimately, the decision lies with the patient and I feel it would be my responsibility to clearly define the pros and cons of statin use. For example, I would point out that 1 of every 50 people who use statins develop diabetes. I would also point out that 1 in 10 develop muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis). About 1 of every 100 develop significant liver damage. Those are pretty strong negatives.

Now for the examination of proven benefits… For those with no history of heart disease,

  • 98% saw no benefit
  • 0% were helped by being saved from death
  • 0.96% were helped by preventing a heart attack
  • 0.65% were helped by preventing a stroke

For those with known heart disease,

  • 96% saw no benefit
  • 1.2% were helped by being saved from death
  • 2.6% were helped by preventing a repeat heart attack
  • 0.8% were helped by preventing a stroke

As a public health measure, this suggests that statins may have an identifiable effect, because while the chances of any one individual being affected are small (19 out of 20 people who took the drugs for five years saw no effect), when one million people who already have a history of heart disease take them roughly 45,000 people saw some benefit, while another 6,000 may see a harm.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a senior scientist at MIT, believes statins should never be given to anyone, but being generous one might justify the only two subgroups of people that might benefit from statins as:

  • Those at very high risk of heart attack (based NOT on your cholesterol levels, but on your heart attack risk factors)
  • Those born with a genetic defect called familial hypercholesterolemia, as this makes you resistant to traditional measures of normalizing cholesterol

If you are not in one of those two categories, statin drugs are likely an unnecessary health risk you’re better off avoiding — and you definitely want to avoid the trap of taking them to lower your cholesterol when your cholesterol is actually well within a healthy range.

A better question would be: What are the alternatives to statins that will optimize my cholesterol levels and decrease my risk of heart disease, and stroke?

The most effective way to optimize your cholesterol profile and prevent heart disease is via diet and exercise. It’s actually quite simple too, as 75 percent of your cholesterol is produced by your liver, which is influenced by your insulin levels. Therefore, if you optimize your insulin level, you will automatically optimize your cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease at the same time.

The primary recommendations for safely regulating your cholesterol, without the need for statin drugs that may damage your liver and your heart, include:

  • Reduce, with the plan of eliminating grains and fructose from your diet. This is the number one way to optimize your insulin levels, which will have a positive effect on not just your cholesterol, but also reduces your risk of diabetes and heart disease, and most other chronic diseases. Use a nutrition plan to help you determine the ideal diet for you, and consume a good portion of your food raw.
  • There is also very good evidence that following a “Mediterranean Diet” (interesting because this diet emphasizes whole grains… be sure to choose the particular nutritional plan that fits for your metabolism) is more successful at normalizing cholesterol levels and decreasing heart disease than using statin medications, and achieves it without any negative effects.
  • Get plenty of high quality, animal-based omega 3 fats, such as krill oil, and reduce your consumption of damaged omega-6 fats (trans fats, vegetable oils) to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.
  • Include heart-healthy foods in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut and coconut oil, organic raw dairy products and eggs, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and organic grass-fed meats.
  • Exercise daily. Make sure you incorporate peak fitness exercises, which also optimizes your human growth hormone (HGH) production.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively.
  • Be sure to get plenty of good, restorative sleep.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Most Powerful Documentary You’ll Ever Watch

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Many of you may have heard about a recently released documentary called, “Doctored.” I finally got to see this video within the last couple days and I have to say… I was much more impressed than I expected to be. Most often, documentaries are produced with an agenda and/or a message in mind, and this one is no different. However, too often those documentaries fall extremely short in actual data and truth in reporting. I’m happy to announce that this is NOT one of them. Although there is a good deal of anecdotal stories, this documentary had a ton of statistically verifiable evidence in support of the underlying message. Many of you that know me, know that I’m not an “Anti-Med” chiropractor. Yes, I’m natural first, but I recognize that there are times and conditions that warrant concurrent pharmaceutical intervention. That said, this documentary is essential watching to anyone interested in true “health care” as opposed to “sick care.”

I want to thank Dr. Mercola for making this video available for free on his website for a limited time. Watch it now, before it’s taken down. Once it’s taken down… it’s worth the few bucks to order a copy on DVD.  Keep your eyes peeled, because I’m sure it will be available on pay-per-view at some point, too. Here is the link to the free video on Dr. Mercola’s site: Click here to go to Dr. Mercola’s site with the free video.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Chiropractic, General Health, Other Pain Conditions, Political, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Headaches… Research Keeps Proving Chiropractic Right

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cleopatra, Moses, and Hippocrates have all been associated with headaches. In fact, archaeological findings have shown evidence of trepanation (cutting a hole in the skull to relieve pressure) dating back to 7,000BC. Is seems as long as humans have been on this planet, there have been headaches. There are over 200 types of headache, and the causes range from harmless to life-threatening. Of the many types of headache, all can be classified into 13 groups as noted in ICDH-2(2004). Nine out of ten Americans suffer from headaches. Some are occasional, some frequent, some are dull and throbbing, and some cause debilitating pain and nausea.

Research shows that spinal manipulation – the primary form of care provided by doctors of chiropractic – is an effective treatment option for tension headaches and headaches that originate in the neck. A report released by researchers at the Duke University Evidence-Based Practice Center in Durham, NC, found that spinal manipulation resulted in almost immediate improvement for those headaches that originate in the neck, and had significantly fewer side effects and longer-lasting relief of tension-type headache than a commonly prescribed medication. Also, a study in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that spinal manipulative therapy is an effective treatment for tension headaches and that those who ceased chiropractic treatment after four weeks experienced a sustained therapeutic benefit in contrast with those patients who received a commonly prescribed medication.

Every day, chiropractors hear similar stories from hundreds of people who have been suffering for years with pain and are at their wits end because the only thing offered to them by their physicians and specialists are more drugs. Many people think headaches are normal and take over-the-counter or prescription drugs to relieve the pain. But these drugs only dull the pain, they don’t treat the cause, which is why the headache returns.

In addition to chronic headaches, chiropractic care is also effective in treating tension headaches. A recent study released by the Foundation for Chiropractic Education and Research finds that individuals undergoing chiropractic therapy showed sustained reduction in headache frequency and severity compared with patients who took the drug amitriptyline, a commonly prescribed medication for tension headaches. The conclusion of the study shows that chiropractic is not actually a therapy or treatment, but rather gets to the cause of the problem, thus allowing the body to effect a correction that lasts beyond actual care.

While many people associate chiropractic care as a treatment for bad backs, there is growing documentation that chiropractic is also effective in the treatment of cervicogenic headaches, migraines and cluster headaches. In fact, the American Chiropractic Association reports that 14 percent of the public who see chiropractors presently go for headaches. However, much of the general public continues to use the traditional medical practitioner route for headache treatment, with little success. The problem rests in the six misconceptions about headache relief. They are listed below, followed by an explanation:

  1. Over-The-Counter Medications Treat The Cause Of Your Headache. – Drugs primarily numb the pain. If these drugs treated the real cause, your headaches would go away permanently. None of us were born with too few Advil in our blood. A lack of drugs is not the cause.
  2. Headache Medication Can’t Harm You. – On the contrary, drugs can cause side effects that can be far worse than the headache pain you’re trying to relieve.
  3. Stress Causes Headaches. – Although stress is a part of life, it is not the cause of headaches. Rather, it’s how your body adapts to stress that affects your health. Chiropractic care can provide ways to help you increase your body’s ability to adapt to stress of any kind.
  4. Headaches Go Away On Their Own. – Without treating the cause, or root of the problem, they won’t.
  5. All Doctors Know How To Treat Headaches. – If this were true, no one would suffer from headaches. Chiropractors offer natural alternatives that do not involve drugs or invasive treatments.
  6. Your Problem Is Always Where Your Pain Is. – In fact, not all headaches originate in the head. For instance, a person who suffered a neck injury at some point in their life, whether from a car accident, playing sports, or a fall as a child, could suffer head pain later on. These are called cervicogenic headaches because they result from tension of the neck and head muscles.

Although headaches come in many shapes, forms, and causes, wouldn’t you prefer to address the underlying cause instead of masking the symptoms? Chiropractic care has proven a valuable and safe alternative to traditional medicine that should be a part of any treatment plan as one of the first lines of defense when addressing these conditions. Those of you who have read my blog and/or know me, understand that I’m NOT an anti-med guy. I readily admit and embrace my medical counterparts as we attempt to help our patients achieve better outcomes from their health care. All I’m asking is that you determine your priorities and goals… weigh your pros and cons. If there is a treatment option that has fewer side effects and risks, less overall cost, and better outcomes… why would you not explore that option?

If you or someone you know suffers with headaches, please tell them to choose chiropractic as one of their first options rather than their last.

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Chiropractic, Headaches, Neck Pain | Tagged: , , , , | 14 Comments »

Pregnancy Causes Sex!!!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yes. Announced recently by Trojan Research are new findings that, in fact, pregnancy causes sex. A sample of 3,000 pregnant women were interviewed and examined recently, and it was found that 97% admitted that, “Yes… by gosh, I have recently had sex!” The researchers have determined that with this new information, they can definitively say that pregnancy does indeed put individuals at more risk of experiencing sexual activity. ….

Sound ridiculous? Well apparently not if you’re a writer for BusinessWeek, the Telegraph (UK), or a commentator for MSNBC:

A new study out of the University of California – San Diego revealed that obese children were far more likely to have been infected with adenovirus 36 (AD36) than fit children. The immediate conclusion was made that the virus must be causing the obesity. BusinessWeek ran with a big headline, “Childhood Obesity Might Be Linked to Strain of Cold Virus.” Next, the Telegraph in the UK jumped in with: “Childhood cold virus could lead to development of obesity.” Not wanting to be left out, MSNBC rolled out this whopper: “Nothing to sneeze at: Common cold virus may make kids fat.”

I think it’s more likely the sex led to the pregnancy, don’t you? Obesity led to the insufficient immune response that allowed the virus to cause the symptoms of a cold. Think about it… With very few exceptions, obesity is almost entirely determined by food and exercise choices. Obese children are more likely to be living on junk food, which adds to the obesity and poor immune function. They are less likely to participate in outside play resulting in less sun exposure which, in turn, leads to Vitamin D deficiency and a weakened immune system. They are less likely to participate in regular, sustained physical activity which would help decrease their weight and increase the efficiency of their immune defenses. Any way you look at it, the lifestyle choices that have led to obesity are the same choices that have weakened the immune system to the point at which these kids are susceptible to the cold virus.

But, “Why?” you ask… “would the jump be made in the opposite direction?” What do we do when we’ve got a question around here, folks? Say it with me!… FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!!

If the virus causes obesity, we must all need a vaccine, right? If we can all be convinced that a virus causes obesity, they can roll out a new Anti-Obesity Vaccine that is so important for the kids. If you’re against it, you don’t care about the children. If you can’t afford it, the taxpayers should be responsible to make sure the children get what they need. However you look at it, Big Pharma is positioning themselves for an all-out blitz to make sure we all know about this crucial “need.” A guaranteed and mandated revenue stream… kinda sounds like the flu shots and the HPV vaccine, huh?

So now, we have a new excuse to play the victim card. It’s not your responsibility. It’s the virus that made you fat. If only you’ll just trust in Big Pharma, we’ll take good care of you. Research leader Dr Jeffrey Schwimmer said, “It is time that we moved away from assigning blame in favor of developing a level of understanding that will better support efforts at both prevention and treatment.” Translated, this statement from the study author essentially says, “Stop blaming people for their own behavior because food choice and exercise has nothing to do with obesity, and instead we need to be vaccinating children against obesity while calling it ‘treatment.'”

So… the next time your teenager comes home pregnant, make sure you rush to the doctor and get your Anti-Sex Vaccine,  because they are now at great risk of being exposed to sexual activity. If you don’t, you don’t care about your kids!

– Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Symptoms… Or Structure? Are You The Leaning Tower?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Take your shirt off… Relax… and stand in front of a large mirror. Are your ears level? Does your head stand straight up and down? Are your shoulders level? Do your ribs stick out further on one side? Are your hips level? Now, do the same thing on your children, spouse, or significant other. If you can answer “No” to any of these questions, you may be looking at a clear sign of problems to come… or the underlying cause of some of your current problems.

Biomechanically, our bodies are built like a skyscraper. We are a very tall, narrow structure that depends on a stable foundation with balance and support throughout from the bottom up. Anytime the pieces aren’t working together, or individual parts are weaker than they need to be, dysfunction shows up. The Leaning Tower of Pisa was built upon a sandy foundation. As they built it taller, they began to notice that it was leaning to one side. Instead of correcting the foundation, they treated the symptom… they built the next level taller on one side to shift the weight back the other way. As expected, the building first righted itself, but then began to fall the other way. Again, they just built the next level out of balance to shift the weight back in the other direction. This continued for nearly 200 years until they arrived at the structure you see today. What many of us don’t know is that the only reason the tower still stands is because of the internal and external “surgery” they eventually had to perform to hold the building up. There are metal bands, support beams, lead weights, and traction devices that have been installed and are constantly monitored and adjusted in order to keep the building upright.

In the same fashion, structural dysfunction in our body will lead to imbalances that force it to adapt and lean this way or that in order to continue to support us. The changes or adaptations our bodies make may allow us to remain upright, but they will also lead to other symptoms. Symptoms are nothing more than our body’s attempt to warn us that something is wrong. In our example, the symptom of the leaning tower was an indication that the foundation wasn’t strong enough to hold the weight of the building. In our body, the symptom could be achy, muscle spasms. How many of us decide to take a muscle relaxer or anti-inflammatory instead of asking ourselves why the pain and spasm developed in the first place? If your symptoms involve interference in the nervous system… which then leads to symptoms wherever those nerves travel… what will happen if you choose to treat the symptoms only?

Go back to our analogy: As the builders continued to treat the symptom of the leaning tower, this only led to other symptoms and perpetuated the instability and dysfunction of the structure. Ultimately, this has led to permanent structural imbalance (the lean), surgical repair (the banding and beams), and constant monitoring of balance (the lead weights and soil removal). Following this logic, if you choose to treat the symptoms only, you will develop permanent structural imbalance (have you seen how some older people stand?), increasing aggressiveness of treatment (how many knee and hip replacements have you heard of lately?), and constant monitoring and treatment (know anyone taking meds for one thing… then meds for the side effects… then meds for another… OR… needs continual or repetitive treatment just to maintain their current state?). Sounds pretty familiar, huh?

Chiropractic is uniquely situated and qualified to deal with the underlying structure of how our bodies work. Most people think of low back pain when they hear “chiropractic.” However, chiropractors don’t treat low back pain. We don’t treat headaches… neck pain… indigestion or heartburn… carpal tunnel syndrome… intervertebral disks, herniated disks, bulging disks… We treat the underlying CAUSE that leads to those SYMPTOMS. We seek to optimize the body’s function, therefore the symptoms resolve themselves. If a “symptom” is just a warning sign given by our body to warn us of dysfunction, then correcting the underlying dysfunction will cause the symptom to stop.

Is chiropractic a cure-all? No. Of course not. There are conditions or diseases that are related to external forces (such as infection, trauma, or chemical poisoning) that need external assistance. Your medical doctor plays an integral role in helping to address these issues, and to help point you in the right direction. However, your chiropractor should play an equal role in helping you manage the function of your body. Ultimately, you are responsible to create and build your own foundation upon which you build your structure. When we are young, we rely on the foundation begun by our parents, but as an adult, will you continue to treat the symptoms? Will you treat only the symptoms, or will you correct the underlying structure?

– Dr. James C. Gray

Posted in General Back Pain, General Chiropractic, General Health, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Other Pain Conditions, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A New Way of Thinking about Acid Reflux

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

heartburn-meme[1]Heartburn? Reflux? “Acid indigestion?” GERD? … at the first sign of symptoms, most of us immediately dive for the antacids. The common wisdom leads us to neutralize the acid that is causing the pain. In fact, if you search the net, almost all articles about heartburn, indigestion, or reflux conditions end up recommending antacids as the primary treatment method. I’ll admit, the use of antacids often temporarily relieves the symptoms associated with these conditions. Stronger heartburn medications, such as Prilosec, Zantac, Tagamet, or Prevacid, work by inhibiting the actual production of acid by the acid-producing cells in your stomach.

However, as with most medications, you are still only treating the SYMPTOM! Heartburn is merely a sign of stomach or esophageal irritation. Shouldn’t our first question be, “Why are normal acid processes causing irritation?” Let’s face it, there are acids in the stomach. In fact, it’s supposed to be an acidic environment. So here is the shocker… the “new way” of thinking about heartburn and indigestion…

What if your heartburn or acid indigestion is because your stomach is not acidic enough?!

Wha…??? Now how does that make any sense?! Well, if you remember from high school chemistry, acidity or alkalinity is based on the “pH” scale. On a scale of zero to 14, lower numbers mean more acidic and higher numbers mean more alkaline with the median 7 being neutral. Pepsin, one of the most important enzymes in the stomach, is most active at a pH level between 2 and 3, and is nearly inactive above a pH of 5. Pepsin is essential in breaking down proteins and collagen. In our American diet, the pH level of the stomach is often raised to levels above the optimum 2-3. Parietal cells in the stomach produce hydrochloric acid at a pH of about 0.8 that is normally mixed with stomach contents to arrive at the optimal pH range. However, due to the intake of alkaline and processed foods, and because we eat so much, our pH is often much higher. Antacids can easily raise that level to 6 or higher! Now… they may relieve the pain because there’s low acidity, but it also means the acid and enzymes designed to break down your food can’t work.

What happens to undigested food? Well, some of it is passed on prematurely into the intestines which causes irritation because it’s not broken down enough to allow for absorption of the nutrients your body needs. Some of it remains in the stomach longer than designed so it can be broken down more completely. As your stomach senses undigested food it continues to produce more and more acid and enzymes in an attempt to facilitate digestion. However, as mentioned above, because the acidity is not low enough, the process is slow and begins to build up more and more irritating fluids. As the undigested food begins to rot, the bacteria that would have been handled in the intestinal tract begins to give off gas… hence, you start burping. Noxious gas and stomach acids then get kicked up into the esophagus which is not designed to withstand these acids (this is why it burns when your puke).

Eventually, if you don’t vomit, the crud in your stomach makes its way into the intestines where the out-of-control bacteria now creates flatulence, bloating, and an irritable bowel. Throughout this process your body is giving you signs and symptoms that something is wrong. What are these signs and symptoms? Heartburn, indigestion, bloating, stomachache, flatulence, diarrhea/constipation, etc. And what’s the most common solution for these symptoms? Antacids which, although it may temporarily relieve the pain, perpetuates the problem by raising the level of pH even more!

The best solution I have found for this condition (myself and tons of my patients swear by it) is a product known as Zypan. This is an all-natural, whole food supplement from Standard Process that is only available through physicians. It contains pancreatin, pepsin, betaine hydrochloride, and ammonium chloride. In addition to providing essential digestive enzymes, this product also acidifies the digestive tract so that they can function optimally.

There are other factors that can be involved, such as ulcers or mycobacterial infection, so work with your natural physician to determine the proper course of action. But… stop concentrating on symptoms and start getting to the cause!

Dr. Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Olive Oil To Fight Bacterial Infections?

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Olives have been part of the Mediterranean diet for years. They are concentrated in monounsaturated fats, are a good source of vitamin E and contain multiple phytonutrient compounds including polyphenols and flavonoids, which have beneficial anti-inflammatory properties.

In addition to all of the well-established benefits of olives, olive oils and olive products, recent studies indicate olives may be the future in protecting against superbugs. The spread of two major offenders, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and the HIV virus, can be slowed by a compound from olive oil and leaves.

Olive leaves are particularly helpful because they contain a broad range of antimicrobial substances. At least seven compounds, all of which possess “unusual” combined antibacterial and antifungal properties when tested in a lab against several common human pathogens have been found in olive leaves. One of these compounds is called “oleuropein,” which is found in concentrated form in many over-the-counter olive-leaf products. However, these products deny the other six compounds (caffeic acid, verbascoside, luteolin 7-O-glucoside, rutin, apigenin 7-O-glucoside and luteolin 4′-O-glucoside) an equal opportunity to do their job. A whole olive-leaf product would be superior to a customized, concentrated form that emphasizes or touts a particular, standardized concentration of a single agent.

The goal is to alleviate the fear that there is nowhere to turn but to drugs when dealing with such bad bugs as MRSA and HIV. Obviously, these germs still kill people – lots of them, unfortunately, and lots of children. Yet many of these deaths are in spite of drug therapy. Perhaps a more balanced approach with broad-spectrum antimicrobials, when used early or in less severe cases, will lead to fewer rampant infections and less spread of the germ to other contacts. Consider turning to olive-leaf extract as a natural alternative. Talk to your doctor for more information.

Posted in General Health, Nutrition | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s Cold and Flu Season!!!

Posted by Dr. Gray on Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

When the scratchy throat, sinus headache and sniffles get to be too much to handle this season, resist the urge to reach for the easy answer. Talk to your doctor about natural alternatives for treating your cold or flu.

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part Two

Posted by Dr. Gray on Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bacterial or viral? What’s the difference?

First the basics: Bacteria are live cellular organisms that can reproduce and survive on their own. They reproduce by cellular division similar to the process our cells go through. There are millions of species of bacteria. Some are harmful, and some are not. In fact, tons of bacteria are already in, on, and around us. Our body regulates their growth and population through the normal operation of the immune system. Most are harmless, and can actually play a vital role in a few bodily functions. However, some bacteria can be very dangerous if left untreated. Often, bacterial infection and illness is caused by normal bacteria located in abnormal places, or growing out of control due to a weakened immune system.

On the other hand, viruses are non-living organisms that are basically little packets of genetic material. Viruses must have a host organism to invade and attack. Once inside the host cell, the virus takes over the internal function of the cell and uses it to produce thousands more genetic copies of itself. This is how viruses reproduce. Most often, the host cell is destroyed and the thousands of new viruses go out in search of new host cells.

In Part One of this series, we discussed the fact that antibiotics don’t kill viruses. We briefly talked about the negatives of using antibiotics when the underlying infection is viral. Now, how about a few generalizations about how to tell the difference between the two? These are not concrete, but are the “usual” expectations, findings, or warning signs. That said, here are a few starting points:

  • In general, viral infections tend to be more broad (multiple areas affected), while bacterial infections tend to be more localized (single area affected).
  • Viral infections are most often associated with low-grade fever, but can cause a higher fever (up to about 102 F) for a couple days at onset. Bacterial infections are more often associated with high-grade fevers, especially those that rise above 102 F or last longer than two days.
  • Mucous in viral infections tend to be yellow-colored, while bacterial infections are generally associated with green-colored mucous.
  • A sore, red throat is probably viral. However, if there are white patches on the areas of the tonsils, it’s probably bacterial (or fungal).
  • Rashes associated with viral infection tend to cover large areas or the whole body, while those associated with bacterial infection may look more like an isolated spot or group of spots (like diaper rash).

There are blood tests, cultures, and other tests your doctor can perform to more accurately diagnose infections, but most of the time, these are unnecessary. More often than not, your body will fight off the infection on its own just like it is designed to do. Your actions, diet, lifestyle, environment, and history all play a role in how efficiently your immune system can react to viral or bacterial invaders. You can do things that will help fight them off and get you through the symptom phase quickly… or you can do things that will feed the infection, make it worse, and cause it to last longer and do more damage. More on that in our next post…

Until then, keep this in mind: Most infections can be treated naturally and don’t need antibiotics, vaccines, over-the-counter medications, or other poisonous pharmaceutical intervention. We’ll talk about how to treat them next time, but let me be clear… there are also times when medical intervention is absolutely necessary, and sooner rather than later. Get to the hospital, emergency room, or doctor’s office immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms/signs: sudden onset of fever above 104 F; persistent fever above 102 F for more than three days; persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea causing dehydration; delirium or confusion; severe headache and vomiting; sudden unexplained stiffness in the neck; or seizures.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

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Fight Colds and Flu Naturally, Part One

Posted by Dr. Gray on Monday, September 28, 2009

I am continually amazed at the number of medics who prescribe antibiotic medications for viral illness. Let’s just state this again so that we’re clear:

ANTIBIOTICS DON’T KILL VIRUSES!!!

Okay? You got it? If you are fighting a viral infection, taking antibiotics is like airing up the tires when your car is overheating. Think about it… airing up the tires has nothing to do with an overheating engine. However, when you stop and turn off the engine to air up the tires, it can take long enough that the temperature comes down. Therefore, some would argue that airing up the tires cooled off the engine. What a crock, right?

When you take antibiotics for a viral infection, you consciously admit that you are sick and are fighting an infection. In response, you drink more water, get more rest, limit intake of sugars and dairy, and eat a more bland or subdued diet with fiber and liquids. Within three to seven days, you start to feel better and… claim the antibiotics got you well??? Know what the average natural lifespan of a viral infection is?… Three to seven days. So, your body did what it was supposed to do. It produced more white blood cells, pulled the viruses into the lymphatic system (swollen lymph nodes?), killed them off, and is washing them out. The antibiotics had nothing to do with it.

Know what the antibiotics did do? They killed almost all of the normal, natural bacterial flora in your digestive tract. With fewer bacteria in the digestive tract, there is nothing to keep the fungus/yeast in check, therefore you are apt to develop a yeast infection. (Sound familiar, ladies?) With abnormal balance between bacteria and fungus in your intestines, you don’t digest and process your food optimally. (Diarrhea or constipation, anyone?) Now that you’re not getting nutrients from your food, you’re fatigued and your immune system is depressed. With a depressed immune system, it takes your body longer to fight off the viral infection for which you originally took the antibiotics.

Then what? Now you’re so down, your body succumbs to a true infection from bacteria that is present in your body all the time… but is usually kept under control naturally. Enough of the strongest little buggers survive the first round of antibiotics, therefore, only the strongest and most antibiotic resistant bacteria live on to cause new illness. How do we treat this? With more antibiotics, of course!

It’s no wonder we have growing fear about antibiotic resistant infections. We’re now stuck with a massive scare tactic where the vaccine is more dangerous than the illness… and people are fighting for the shot! Can you believe it? The doctors won’t give this vaccine to themselves or their family, but the media is set on convincing you it’s necessary. Why? As I’ve always told you… follow the money. Who are the biggest purchasers of advertising on TV and news programs? … That’s right… the pharmaceutical industry.

Enough ranting. I saw the preceding article originally posted in a 2007 To Your Health magazine and thought it was quite fitting for today’s article:

It’s cold and flu season, and the sounds of coughing, sneezing and runny noses can be heard in nearly every home, office and shopping mall across the country. But don’t run to the doctor and stock up on prescriptions just yet.

Colds, flus, most sore throats and acute bronchitis are caused by viruses, and antibiotics do not help fight viruses. Your prescription medication won’t fight the virus, make you feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick. In fact, because of the potentially serious side effects, taking antibiotics to treat a virus can do more harm than good.

In addition to failing to solve your problem, taking unnecessary antibiotics can result in an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in some way that reduces or eliminates the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. This means the next time you really need an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, it may not work.

What Not To Do

  • Don’t demand antibiotics from your doctor. They won’t help treat your infection.
  • Don’t take an antibiotic for a viral infection like a cold, cough or the flu.
  • Never take antibiotics prescribed for someone else.

More on how to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial infection in the next article. Also, how to decide that you’ve tried natural remedies long enough and it’s time for some pharmaceutical help. Until next time, take care.

Article by: Dr. James Gray

Posted in General Health, Nutrition, Prescription Medicines | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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