The prescription prison

The following article is a classic reprint that originally appeared in Nutrition Health Review, issue no. 6.

We are dangerously enmeshed by a drug culture-that extends beyond the addictions of heroin and barbiturates.

Legitimate drugs, fostered and intensely promoted by huge pharmaceutical manufacturers, have been crippling and debilitating millions of unsuspecting people.

Drugs are freely prescribed for almost every complaint. A large part of the adult population is now involved with at least one prescription medicine. Many follow a regimen that includes several drugs, each for an ailment that could very well be the result of the other's effect.

Because children are rapidly becoming victims of an age that stimulates appetites for lifeless foods, digestive diseases and their consequences are seen more frequently among the young! A further expansion of drug treatment, therefore, is the tragic consequence.

It is a starting fact that more youngsters are showing up in the ranks of hypertensives, ulcer-sufferers, insomniacs, rheumatics and diabetics.

Instead of seeking out contributing causes, which probably could be found in the areas of poor nutrition (additives, preservatives, sugar-laden products), the "quick-fix" is to place children on a Merry-Go-Round of "symptom-free" therapy.

Symptom-free, treatment is a key phrase now used in medical practice that really describes an impatience or indifference to the processes of natural healing. Any signs of "abnormality" in bodily function usually call for the administration of a choice drug that will being that individual around to normal.

The use and abuse of tranquilizers for the slightest complaint is now fairly well known. What will come as a revelation is the realization that needless prescribing actually makes chronic invalids of many people who are either passing through a transitory stage of illness or who might be cured by a radical change of diet.

Doctors are also innocent victims of the drug propaganda barrage. Their knowledge of developmental in pharmacology is usually taken from the advertising and sales material with which drug makers bombard them.

A busy physician often depends upon information that reaches him through professional journals. Large and influential medical publications all carry many pages of slick, cleverly programmed ads that seem to propose a pat solution for almost every ailment the doctor encounters.

Few Vitamin manufacturers advertise in medical journals, and health-food proponents do not appear there under any auspices. The medical profession, therefore, has little exposure to news and information of nutritional therapy. Drugs loom large as the great panacea.

Fads In Doctoring Not New
Our era is not unique because Medicine is being swept along the conviction that drugs and surgery are the answers to human ailments.

A century ago, physicians practiced bleeding, purging, starving and cupping patients. Less than 50 years ago, any respiratory disorder in children called for the removal of tonsils and adenoids. Today that concept is considered dangerous.

Only recently have some doctors become disenchanted with the x-ray machine and the use of it for therapy. The principles of herbal healing are little known. Once in a while we hear faint voices raised that admit the Body Is The Hero and often capable of healing itself.

Too frequently there is the tendency to prescribe sedatives, hormones, and diuretics when advice to abstain from sugared foods, animal fats, alcohol and tobacco would be enough.

This is not to say that every condition the physician sees can be alleviated by a proper diet. Many cases are congenital or too far deteriorated so that the need for drug therapy must be indicated. There is, however, a moderation called for in drug prescribing that does not prevail among most professionals.

Many Drugs Are Toxic Or Deadly
Drugs can have serious side-effects. There are equally effective, less poisonous agents available. These, however, may not be getting the impetus of advertising that gives a particular brand popularity. Physician's judgements are too often formed by the power of publicity.

Federal law now compels pharmaceutical manufacturers to list all of the possible side effects that a particular drug can engender. The warnings, printed in ads and as an accompaniment to the package, are microscopic in size and often do not reach the user. Doctors make a Herculean effort to keep abreast of the mountains of information available, but are they in a position to evaluate so many of the high-pitched claims?

Sometimes the propensity for prescribing the "latest" can lead to serious trouble. Chloromycetin was one such popular drug. It had been frequently ordered for acne, sore throat, colds, and urinary infections. About 4 million people yearly were taking the drug. And then the bomb dropped. It was discovered that the drug may cause deadly aplastic anemia.

The calamity that could have struck women in this country when Thalidomide sought entry into the U.S.A. market was narrowly avoided only because the courageous Dr. Helen Taussig, of John Hopkins, sounded the alarm.

Parnate, prescribed for mental depression, was eventually proven to cause brain damage. It caused users to be intolerant of some cheeses rich in Tyramine, a potentially lethal substance. Ordinarily the body can destroy Tyramine, but the mechanism for accomplishing this is paralyzed by the drug and ingestion of the substance caused sudden and severe rises in blood pressure.

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News continues to originate in Washington that one drug for diabetes is to be banned and another placed on the suspicion list. Safety of drugs before and after pregnancy has not been established. Neither physicians nor their sources of information really knows. Prescribing goes on.

Some Problems Are Psychosomatic
How often is the ulcer patient given a psychological test to determine an emotional profile? Yet illness can be a personality problem. Many ulcer sufferers have increased levels of Pepsinogen in the blood. It is secreted by the stomach lining and over-secretion has been linked with peptic ulcers.

Asthma is another disease that has been often associated with emotional disturbances. So are headaches, some cases of arthritis, high blood pressure and digestive disorders.

Not enough practitioners stop to consider these possibilities before resorting to high-powered drugs.

It now generally acknowledged that almost two million people a year are admitted to hospitals because of the side effects of drugs.Many conscientious doctors are becoming alarmed at the rise of drug-related illnesses. They are also properly skeptical. Patients can help by adopting a respectful questioning attitude. "Perhaps there is another way?" -- should become a ringing phrase in every doctor's office.

Dietary Regimen Can Help
Evidence abounds that many people have been able to alleviate their ailments without the use of drugs. A change of diet from foods heavy in animal fats, sugars, salt, caffeine, and alcohol, for example, has been known to reduce high blood pressure.

Sufferers of digestive diseases have found relief by switching to diets consisting of vegetables, grains and fruits.

Many have controlled heart conditions by searching for the remedies of the past: herbal healing and traditional home methods of reliving distress. Vitamin E also holds great promise.

The need certainly exists for medicines, hospitals, x-rays, and surgery under some conditions. The avalanche of prescription drugs that has descended in recent years, however, continues to make us prisoners. More Natural Healing is necessary, and the medical profession would be prudent to add those talents to its armory.

Natural Healing does not mean off-beat, esoteric voodoo-like remedies. It is the kind of treatment that our grandparents experienced at the hands of physicians who considered themselves healers and worked with all of the materials at their command, including concerned personal attention, intuition, the memorable "bedside manner," encouragement and some medication.

The atmosphere in many professional offices is too much like a prescription-mill. Between the impersonal treatment and the gauntlet of powerful drugs, being ill is a tragic passageway.

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By William Renaurd

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