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Inappropriate Medicine

by Bill Sardi by Bill Sardi

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It would be obvious, if a person with insomnia went to the doctor and requested a prescription for sleeping pills when they drank caffeinated coffee all day long, that the prescription would be inappropriate. The sleeping pills would only attempt to mask the effect of the caffeine.

If treatment of disease does not address its true cause, and treatment only relieves symptoms, then it follows that treatment will likely produce marginal results. Such is the case in the treatment of blood pressure, glaucoma pressure, blood cholesterol or heart problems as recorded by an electrocardiogram. Inappropriate treatments for these diseases would not necessarily prevent unwanted adverse events such as strokes, vision loss or heart attacks.

Upon examination, it becomes clear that a great deal of the treatment prescribed by modern medicine may help to control symptoms and numbers, but is inappropriate, that is, it does not address the cause of disease. For example:

High blood pressure

Many cases of high blood pressure are caused by elevated blood sugar levels. In one study, 68.5% of consecutive patients diagnosed with hypertension had high blood sugar levels. [American Journal of Medicine 119: 318, 2006] But medications to treat hypertension do not address blood sugar. Instead, they reduce blood pressure by slowing the heart rate (beta blockers), decrease certain chemicals that tighten blood vessels so blood flows more smoothly (ACE inhibitors), or induce excretion of water (diuretics). Many times all of these drugs must be given to control blood pressure numbers. High blood pressure increases the risk for strokes. The age-adjusted rate for deaths from stroke has not been significantly reduced over the past 15 years despite all the medications commonly prescribed. Of interest, the most profound effect on lowering elevated blood pressure is not produced by medications, but by a water fast (average reduction —37/—13 mm Hg systolic/diastolic). [Journal Manipulative Physiological Therapies 24: 335—39, 2001]

Glaucoma

The common form of glaucoma, which is abnormally high fluid pressure in the eyes that eventually may result in damage to the optic nerve and narrowing of the visual field, is caused by a collapse and/or clogging of the fluid drain (trabecular meshwork). This collapse is a result of the loss of hyaluronic acid, a gel-like molecule within the collagen matrix of the eye’s fluid drain. [Experimental Eye Research 76: 639, 2004] But the most commonly prescribed anti-glaucoma drug (beta blocker eye drops) does not address this problem, but rather slows the production of aqueous fluid to reduce fluid pressure. Recent studies show this eventually results in the further reduction of fluid outflow from the eye and total dependence upon the drug with slow and inevitable loss of side vision. Researchers are asking for medications that open the fluid drain rather than slow fluid flow. [Investigation Ophthalmology Visual Science 37:1360—7, 1996]

Cholesterol rise in middle age

Cholesterol rise in middle age is a natural response to declining sex hormone levels. The body responds to this change by up-regulating the production of cholesterol in the liver in order to maintain sex hormone levels and male and female sex drive. [Medical Hypotheses 59: 751—56, 2002]

Modern medicine treats this problem by prescribing drugs that are toxic to the liver and reduce synthesis of cholesterol. Cholesterol is required to produce estrogen and testosterone. It would be more appropriate to restore sex hormones. In a startling study, the provision of individually prescribed (non-standard dose) replacement hormones (hormone precursors oral pregnenolone and DHEA, and topical estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) to 20 middle-aged patients remarkably reduced circulating cholesterol in 100% of subjects, from a mean of 263 to 187 total cholesterol. [Medical Hypotheses 59: 751—56, 2002]

Even with low circulating levels of cholesterol, fats can be deposited within artery walls and eventually narrow inner artery diameter. Cholesterol deposition within artery walls is a result of a genetic defect peculiar to humans and a few other animal species (guinea pigs). Most animals do not develop cholesterol plaque and do not need cholesterol-reducing drugs because they naturally produce vitamin C in their liver whereas humans have a universal genetic mutation and cannot synthesize vitamin C.

Drs. Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath demonstrated over 15 years ago that the absence of sufficient vitamin C permits a circulating blood fat called lipoprotein(a) to incorporate into artery walls in place of vitamin C, resulting in loss of collagen strength of the artery, which can result in arterial collapse and instability of the developing fibrous cap that forms on cholesterol plaque, both which can result in a blood clot that blocks circulation to the heart (heart attack) or brain (stroke). [Proceedings National Academy Sciences 87:6204—7, 1990; 87: 9388, 1990]

Supplemental vitamin C, taken periodically throughout the day to maintain blood concentrations, would solve this inherent problem. Guinea pigs, who are in the same predicament as humans and don’t synthesize vitamin C, are supplied with chow that is fortified with the human equivalent of 800 milligrams of vitamin C to prevent arterial disease. On the other hand, humans consume only about 110 milligrams of vitamin C per day from the diet. Supplemental vitamin C is another example of a more appropriate approach to preventing cardiovascular disease than drugs.

Atrial fibrillation

Another example of inappropriate medicine is the use of blood thinners for atrial fibrillation (flutter in the top chambers of the heart). More than 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation which can cause blood clots in the heart to be released into the brain and cause a stroke (interruption of oxygen supply to the brain). The risk for severe stroke is increased by 500% when atrial fibrillation occurs. The standard therapy is to prescribe blood thinners to prevent blood clots from forming and reaching the brain or lungs.

Oftentimes an electrical shock is applied to the heart to convert back to a normal rhythm (called cardioversion). After cardioversion doctors are unsure whether to keep patients on blood thinners or not. Facing disappointing results from treatment, doctors are calling for more reliable drugs. [Thrombosis Research, online Jan 26, 2006] Blood-thinning drugs are often prescribed prior to cardioversion, yet in a recent finding, cardioversion that restores normal heart rhythm has not been shown to reduce heart failure, stroke or death. [New England Journal Medicine 347: 1825, 2002] These disturbing problems may emanate from the fact that the treatment may not be addressing the cause of atrial fibrillation.

The origin of atrial fibrillation may rest with heavy alcohol intake. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk for atrial fibrillation (the top chambers in the heart spasm). [Circulation 112: 1736—42, 2005] Alcohol depletes magnesium from the body [Magnesium Trace Elements 10:136—41, 1991—92] But instead of replacing magnesium, Warfarin (coumadin), a blood thinner, is often prescribed to prevent the blood clots. Magnesium does not induce brain hemorrhage as does Warfarin, and addresses the primary cause of the heart muscle spasm, but goes overlooked. When magnesium is injected in the emergency room for new cases of atrial fibrillation, it often resolves the problem. [Annals Emergency Medicine 24:61—4, 1994]

Atrial fibrillation patients are often placed on digoxin as well, a heart rhythm regulating drug. Higher doses of digoxin are needed when magnesium levels are low. But physicians rarely prescribe magnesium with digoxin. To make matters worse, digoxin depletes the body of magnesium. [American Journal Cardiology 57:956—9, 1986]

This means a patient who consumes too much alcohol is subject to experience a shortage of magnesium, experience atrial fibrillation, and then subsequently will be placed on a drug that further induces magnesium depletion! In fact, magnesium is as effective as digoxin in calming rapid heart beat as digoxin. [Annals Emergency Medicine 24:61—4, 1994]

Another cause of atrial fibrillation is linked to Chlamydia pneumonia respiratory infection. (Not to be confused with Chlamydia trachomatis, which causes ocular and genital infections.) [Medical Hypotheses 67: 462, 2006]

An interesting study of coronary arteries examined during autopsy found DNA evidence for Chlamydia pneumoniae in 31.7% of diseased coronary arteries and 0% (zero) percent in healthy coronary arteries. [International Journal Immunopathology Pharmacology 17: 301, 2004]

Antibiotics may be an appropriate treatment for atrial fibrillation. Recently researchers at the Drug Discovery and Development Technology Center in Helsinki, Finland, note that while antibiotics are effective against this infection, eradication of Chlamydia pneumoniae is "extremely difficult." High doses of antibiotics for extended periods of time are needed to achieve a cure.

However, while prescription antibiotics may generate drug-resistant forms of bacteria like Chlamydia pneumoniae [Antimicrobial Agents Chemotherapy 49:903—7, 2005], there are molecules found in nature that are quite active against this germ that do not induce germ resistance. Myricetin, naturally found in berries, is 100% active in inhibiting Chlamydia pneumoniae, does not induce drug-resistance, and is available as a dietary supplement (Source Naturals).

It is apparent that a great deal of inappropriate medicine is prescribed for common diseases.

Bill Sardi [send him mail] is a consumer advocate and health journalist, writing from San Dimas, California. He offers a free downloadable book, The Collapse of Conventional Medicine, at his website.

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