In the March 16, 2018, post we discussed medication side effects from common medicine for heartburn/acid reflex, constipation, and anxiety/depression.  I appreciate your questions and comments and pray that this information will be useful. My desire is to spark your interest to learn more and supply you with momentum that will nourish your life and increase your vitality, which will in turn enhance your relationships.  Relationships are what matter!

Today we will explore three more classes of medications:

 

  • Oral Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain Medications

 

As I mentioned last time, “no man is an island,” and no medication is an island either!

 Everything affects everything!

While over-the-counter and prescription medications provide blessed relief for a variety of symptoms, you’ll feel even better if you read the fine print!  

They can help you feel better, ease your pain, squelch infection, and alleviate many features of illness that can make life miserable. Unfortunately, in the process of providing the benefit, they also have the potential to initiate new problems.

Many slowly deplete the production and/or absorption of essential vitamins and minerals or change the way the body makes something favorable.

What is RDI?

It’s key to your health to remember that the listed “Reference Daily Intake” (RDI) of any nutrient is typically just the starting point.  

The suggested amounts are not adequate to provide optimal health or to offset medications and a stress-filled lifestyle.

The RDI is merely the amount to keep you from developing a dangerous deficiency of that nutrient.

For example, the RDI for Vitamin C is designated to keep you from developing, suffering with, and possibly dying of scurvy. Scurvy causes anemia, the opening of previously healed wounds, weakness, skin problems, and swollen gums.  At the end of the 18th century, it particularly affected sailors. Citrus fruits, especially limes, were used by the “limeys” of the Royal Navy to prevent and cure this ailment.

Similarly, the recommended amount of Vitamin D is required to prevent rickets. Rickets are due to an extreme and prolonged deficiency of Vitamin D and cause stunted growth, softening and weakening of bones as well as liver problems, vomiting and diarrhea, among other problems.

Vitamin D is essential to promote the absorption of calcium and phosphorus Hence, the RDI is for people who live under “normal circumstances” (whatever that means) and has nothing to do with optimal health.     

 

While the best sources of any nutrient are always food, sometimes a quality, pharmaceutical-grade supplement is necessary.  

START SOMEWHERE today knowing the risks and benefits of what is going into your body so that you can get the maximum advantage from your medications and minimize the risks.  

Oral Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

All estrogen-containing hormone drugs that are used for contraception and menopause are in this category.  

While highly effective, they generally decrease the beneficial bacteria in the gut, and deplete magnesium, zinc, most minerals, Vitamin C, and many B Vitamins.  

Consequently, these depletions contribute to an increased risk of:

  • Breast and cervical cancers
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Depression and inability to cope
  • Fatigue
  • Candida
  • Irritable bowel
  • Lowered immunity

So how do you defend yourself?   

The first START SOMEWHERE is to start building your environment around whole, fresh food.  This is food that rots or sprouts within a week or two.

While supplements are available, they are not the best first-line defense.

*It should be noted that if you do not have an adequate diet, have intestinal absorption problems, or live an unhealthy lifestyle, it is wise to consider pharmaceutical-grade supplements to fill in the gaps.  

Examples in this class include: Depo-Provera, Estrace, Estrostep, Loestrin, Nordette, Orto-Novu , Ovcon, Premarin, FemHRT, Prempro and NuvaRing.  

Drugs of this type contain a synthetic hormone that is similar to the one that our body naturally produces. Because these chemicals are human-made, our bodies don’t fully recognize them.  They can get accepted into our cells and function somewhat, but our systems have a harder time clearing them compared to the hormones that we produce naturally.

Be sure to read the fine print of your particular medication.

Drug-food interactions can also occur with this class of medications.  Here are some common areas in which to be alert:

  • Hormones increase the effect of caffeine.  Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate can leave you feeling hyper, jittery, irritable and may stimulate nausea or tremors.  It’s good to know that adjusting caffeine intake is the START SOMEWHERE if you experience any of these symptoms.    
  • They can interact with Grapefruit Juice.  Estradiol is the most common form of estrogen found in oral contraceptives and HRT.  Although it carries the American Heart Association’s “healthy heart check” food mark, Grapefruit can inhibit the breakdown of some drugs in the gastrointestinal tract, which means that it can significantly raise the level of this hormone in the body.  This may elevate the harmful side-effect risks such as blood clotting.   
  • Vitamin A can build up.  It has been shown that some oral contraceptives can increase the blood level of Vitamin A supplementation.  Combining it with doses greater than 10,000 units per day gives rise to the potential for a toxic level which can cause temporary skin yellowing, diarrhea, easy bruising, and even arthritis.  Beta carotene, a plant-derived precursor of Vitamin A, doesn’t seem to cause these problems.
  • Some herbs may interact with these medications.  Because Chasteberry, Black Cohosh, Licorice, Motherwort, Saw Palmetto and Wild Yam work on the same hormonal systems, they may interfere with the medicine.  

Anxiety is one of the primary side effects that I see among my patients who are taking Oral Contraceptives or HRT.

That’s because these medications deplete magnesium, a key mineral that fights anxiety.  

Adding more Magnesium is a key START SOMEWHERE if you are on any type of hormone-related therapy.  A key mineral to fight anxiety, Magnesium is a “cofactor” in the activation of over 300 enzymes which means that has to be present for good things to happen.  It is an excellent mood enhancer! It’s a long benefit list and enhances nerve function, sleep, memory, wound healing, heart rhythm, cholesterol balance, and muscle relaxation, just to name a few of its roles.  Irritability, depression, memory loss and confusion are all symptoms of Magnesium deficiency.

You can get a Red Blood Cell Magnesium (a blood draw) to know where your levels are.  

Alcohol, coffee, high cortisol, a high-sugar diet, estrogen dominance, excessive calcium supplementation, and crash dieting all deplete Magnesium as well.

Delicious sources of Magnesium include almonds, spinach, cashews, black beans, peanut butter and avocado.

Antibiotics

This is probably old news to most of you but is certainly worth mentioning.  

Appropriate and clinically justified in many situations, antibiotics are too often given “just in case” without a true indication of infection.  Many people have bottles from leftover prescriptions and easily self medicate, relying on antibiotics as a “magic bullet” when they are feeling poorly.  

While they are designed to kill harmful bacteria, they also kill the beneficial bacteria at the same time. These good bacteria are essential for vibrant immunity, sharp cognition, and a myriad of other advantages related to wellbeing.  

Commonly prescribed antibiotics include: Augmentin, Keflex, Cipro, Bactrim, Penicillin, and Doxycycline.  

Each have their specific range of action but generally this class depletes Calcium, Iron, Biotin, Inositol and ALL major vitamins – both water and fat soluble. Our bodies make many of the nutrients that we need for energy and repair when our digestive systems are healthy.  

START SOMEWHERE with a good digestive probiotic and incorporate fermented foods into your world including drinks like kefir and kombucha.  Although antibiotics can’t distinguish friend from foe, they save lives.  When antibiotics are necessary, take your entire prescription and remember to replenish the good bacteria to enhance your recovery.  

Talk to your healthcare provider about the specific interval between taking a probiotic and antibiotic; they cannot be taken at the exact same time.  

Pain Medications

The airways have been brimming recently with information regarding the current epidemic regarding narcotic painkillers.  

While this is totally relevant, it is easy to overlook the possible long-term problems associated with over-the-counter “harmless” pain relievers.  

Today I want to highlight what you need to know related to acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol. While it is effective to reduce pain, there are significant risks involved:

Common side effects include: nausea, stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, rash, headache, clay-colored stools, headache, dark urine, and jaundice.

  • Some of the above are signs of liver distress associated with this medication.  Jaundice is the term used to describe the yellowish tinge of the whites of the eyes and the skin and is due to a buildup of bilirubin.  While this is often seen in newborns, it should not be ignored. Old red blood cells travel to the liver for breakdown. When the liver can’t adequately metabolize this bilirubin the way that it is supposed to, jaundice results.  Jaundice can also have other causes, including an obstructed bile duct.  

Acetaminophen, even at “normal” levels, can decrease glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant.  Glutathione is a substance found in every cell of the body where it neutralizes free radicals and helps prevent cell damage.  

The use of Tylenol may be especially significant when associated with vaccines, as some researchers have found a connection with autism and asthma. It is worth researching if you have babies or young children. Glutathione depletion is also emerging as a factor in Alzheimer’s Disease and memory problems.     

Many people have liver diseases that can thwart the detoxifying capacity of this vital organ.  Harvard estimates that as many 30 percent of adult Americans suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.  Unheard of before 1980, this is a spectrum of metabolic changes driven by insulin resistance. Fat accumulates within the liver cells and can cause inflammation and scar tissue.    

When used in correct doses, acetaminophen is typically safe.  However, it is often used in combination with other medications such as with ibuprofen, codeine, allergy medications, or melatonin, just to name a few.  Again, be sure to read the fine print!

Thank you for joining me today!  

These miraculously designed bodies are our earthly vehicles and their future is in our care.

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

START SOMEWHERE today with one small change to enhance your vitality and increase your healthspan. You can do it. I will help you!

Side effects of common medicines