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Top 5 Medications You Shouldn’t Take Without Trying the Natural Alternative First November 18, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Medication, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, Supplements.
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Natural supplements, or nutraceuticals, have been given a bad rap lately – which, in some cases, has been absolutely warranted. But natural formulas that actually contain what they claim to contain, and that are formulated to have maximal efficacy can be equal to their pharmaceutical counterparts – but without the laundry list of side effects.

1. Statins (the class of drugs prescribed to lower cholesterol) accounted for 3.8% of all money spent on prescription drugs in Canada in 2013. High cholesterol is blamed for heart attacks and strokes via formation of arterial plaques. But the real culprit is inflammation, without which the plaques wouldn’t form in the first place. Bottom line – you can lower cholesterol all you want, but as long as there is inflammation present, plaques can still form.

Some common side effects of statins: muscle pain, cognitive impairment, sexual dysfunction, and increased risk of cancer and diabetes.
Nutraceutricals: Omega-3 fatty acids (best sourced from wild-caught fish oils) and curcumin (the active component in turmeric) are two excellent supplements to lower inflammation. Garlic extracts have been proven to improve cholesterol levels. As well, red rice yeast extract is the natural compound statins were derived from, and works in a similar manner – however, it has been suggested that because of this, some of the same side effects may be seen.

2. Antacids 5 million Canadians suffer from heartburn symptoms weekly. Prescriptions for the acid-blocking drugs PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) accounted for $24 million in BC alone in 2013. Risks of taking these mostly involve nutrient deficiencies from poor absorption DUE TO LOW STOMACH ACID (see the problem here?). Examples include bone fractures from poor calcium absorption or anemia from decreased levels of B12 or iron. B12 deficiency can also cause dementia and neurological damage. There has also been a correlation shown between PPI use and C. difficile infection, which causes life-threatening diarrhea.

Nutraceuticals: long story short, most people don’t have too much stomach acid. The problem is the acid they have is getting into the wrong place (the lower esophagus) where it burns. This can be from the muscle between the esophagus and the stomach not closing properly, either from poor tone or insufficient stomach acid, which is the signal for the sphincter to close. Limonene (an extract from citrus peel) helps strengthen this muscle and promotes movement of food downward to the stomach. DGL (an extract from licorice root) stimulates mucus production in the stomach, which acts to coat and protect the sensitive lining of the esophagus.

3. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are the most common class of anti-depressant drugs. One in twelve Canadians will experience major depression in their lifetime, but it’s still one of the most poorly understood conditions. Standard treatment protocols typically target neurotransmitter activity (most commonly serotonin). However, new research indicates the underlying cause may actually be inflammation. Either way, natural medicine has you covered.

Nutraceuticals – 5-HTP is used to make serotonin, with the help of vitamin B6. The herb St. John’s Wort has been studied extensively and appears to work in the same way as SSRIs. Both 5-HTP and St. John’s Wort have shown similar efficacy to SSRIs when given for mild to moderate depression. And as I mentioned earlier, omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin decrease inflammation throughout the body, including the brain.

Side effects of SSRIs include sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and worsened/chronic depression. St. John’s Wort also has a side effect which should be considered if taking other medications – it affects liver function, which can result in either higher or lower blood medication levels.

4. Anti-hypertensives Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) affects 6 million Canadians, and is responsible for approximately 13% of all deaths. Various classes of anti-hypertensives include diuretics, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs). Diuretics increase urine output, which can negatively affect sodium and potassium levels, which can cause muscle cramps. ACEIs and ARBs may both cause a chronic dry cough. All anti-hypertensives can cause dizziness, headache and low blood pressure.
Nutraceuticals – CoQ10, magnesium, garlic extracts, omega-3 fatty acids, L-arginine and vitamin C have all been shown to lower high blood pressure by various means. Dandelion leaf is an effective diuretic that doesn’t lower potassium levels.

5. Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs most often prescribed for anxiety disorders and insomnia. They work by binding to receptors for GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that calms activity of the nervous system. Interestingly, this is the same mechanism by which alcohol acts in the brain. One obvious effect of benzodiazepines is sedation – great when the treatment target is insomnia. Not so great when you just want to decrease your anxiety but still function. Other side effects include dizziness, loss of balance, and even cognitive impairment at higher doses. They also have a significant risk of developing physical or psychological dependence and rebound anxiety when discontinued.
Nutraceuticals – you can take GABA itself (but there’s mixed evidence on whether or not it actually gets into the brain), or herbs such as passionflower (same mechanism of action as benzodiazepines), valerian, chamomile, kava – the list goes on.

So now you think you’re ready to ditch all your pharmaceuticals and go natural? Not so fast – the examples used above are by no means the only supplements that have been used effectively for these conditions. And equally as important are diet, exercise, sleep habits, relaxation techniques and other lifestyle factors. The next step – sit down with a naturopathic doctor and work together to develop a personalized approach that takes all your health concerns into consideration.
Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore BScH, ND

Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial June 27, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cardiovascular disease, Dreamhealer, exercise, Healing, Health, Healthcare, Heart, Medication, naturopathic.
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Here is a recent randomized clinical trial that clearly demonstrated Naturopathic medicine can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Abstract:

Although cardiovascular disease may be partially preventable through dietary and lifestyle-based interventions, few individuals at risk receive intensive dietary and lifestyle counselling. We performed a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of naturopathic care in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Results:

Of 246 participants randomly assigned to a study group, 207 completed the study. The characteristics of participants in both groups were similar at baseline. Compared with participants in the control group, at 52 weeks those in the naturopathic group had a reduced adjusted 10-year cardiovascular risk (control: 10.81%; naturopathic group: 7.74%; risk reduction −3.07% [95% confidence interval (CI) −4.35% to −1.78%], p < 0.001) and a lower adjusted frequency of metabolic syndrome (control group: 48.48%; naturopathic care: 31.58%; risk reduction −16.90% [95% CI −29.55% to −4.25%], p = 0.002). Our findings support the hypothesis that the addition of naturopathic care to enhanced usual care may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease among those at high risk.

For those of you who wish to read the entire peer reviewed article, here is a direct link to the study:

Naturopathic medicine for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: a randomized clinical trial

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Statin Benefits Questioned for Heart Disease Prevention June 8, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Dreamhealer, exercise, Government, Healing, Health, Healthcare, Heart, Medication.
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adam mcleod, dreamhealer

Cholesterol-lowering statins are heavily promoted for heart patients but research is calling into question their use as a preventive medicine.

Statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor) and simvastatin (Zocor) are among the widely used prescription drugs.

Since the drugs were first marketed 30 years ago in the U.S. for preventing a second heart attack or stroke in those who’ve already had one, there’s been a shift toward prescribing statins for otherwise healthy people in Canada and the U.S.

“These are patients who really haven’t had an event, a cardiovascular event, but they seem to be at high risk,” said pharmacy Prof. Muhammad Mamdani, who works at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

“You also get populations where people seem to be relatively healthy, their cholesterol levels aren’t that high, but for whatever reason, they are placed on a statin. That’s a patient population that is a lot more debatable and some practices may not be warranted.”

The medical community is debating the pros and cons of using statins for prevention as more independent research comes out on side-effects. This week, a study in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested statins may be associated with an increase in musculoskeletal conditions and pain, especially in physically active individuals.

“If you look at all the studies that have ever been done with statins for primary prevention, so for people who have never had a heart attack or a stroke, if you give a statin to a patient for about five years we can reduce the chance of a person having a heart attack or a stroke by about one per cent,” said James McCormack, a professor of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia.

Shifting focus from cholesterol numbers

Other potential side-effects include risk of Type 2 diabetes, reversible muscle damage and short-term kidney damage.

In Canada, as in the U.S., the majority of statin prescriptions go to primary prevention patients, not people with established heart disease, said Dr. Lee Green, a professor and chair of the department of family medicine at the University of Alberta who has surveyed doctors on their prescribing.

“It seems we need to retrain physicians, and the public, to focus on actual risks, not on a convenient number like cholesterol level,” Green said in an email.

In March, epidemiologist Colin Dormuth, an assistant professor in the department of anesthesiology, pharmacology and therapeutics at the University of British Columbia, looked at the use of high potency statins and rates of admission for acute kidney injury.

“There are a lot of patients out there taking the drugs right now who don’t have a history of heart disease who are hoping to prevent heart disease and in all likelihood will derive absolutely no benefit,” Dormuth said.

In medical circles, discussions continue. A review published in January by British researchers who combed through trials sponsored by drug companies concluded that “statins are likely to be cost-effective in primary prevention.”

People like Jim Matheson, 62, of Toronto, are left to decide with their doctor.

“Within five years he told me that I had a 20 per cent chance of either having a stroke or a heart attack,” Matheson recalled. “He offered me the pill but I didn’t want to take it.”

Instead, Matheson opted to eat healthier foods and exercise more. His brother on the other hand decided to go on statins.

“I have sent him, probably for every article he has sent me on how good they are I have sent him 20 that says how bad they are. We’re still having the dialogue,” Matheson said.

“We’ll see who lasts longer,” he quipped.

Article retrieved from: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2013/06/05/statins-cholesterol-heart-prevention.html

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Self-Prescribing Natural Supplements February 17, 2013

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Healing, Health, Healthcare, Integrative Medicine, Medication, Misdiagnose, vitamins.
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10 comments

adam dreamhealer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article written by: Adam McLeod

Our society has rapidly changed over the last decade due to the internet by allowing everyone to easily access information. This freedom of information has led to many positive changes around the world. The internet has changed the doctor patient relationship significantly because the patient often comes to the appointment informed about their health. This is a very positive change that has empowered people to take responsibility for their own health. It encourages patients to do the research and take the initiative to understand what is happening in their body. It is very important that everyone becomes actively engaged in their own healing by making positive changes with lifestyle and with focused intentions. Your intentions are a powerful tool that can complement any healing modality. The bottom line is that a patient who is focused and engaged with their own healing is much more likely to heal.

Although this is a positive step in the right direction, patients doing their own research brings up new challenges which can sometimes be harmful. It is now a common occurrence to have a patient come in very distressed because they read on a blog that a random symptom they are experiencing means that they have a serious health condition. The doctor must then spend time reassuring the patient that the information which they came across is simply not relevant to their case.

More commonly and, in my opinion, more concerning is when patients start taking supplements based on their own research, especially when they are taking these supplements to fight a serious illness. Patients often come into the clinic with a big bag of supplements that they are taking and very often they don’t even know why they are taking each supplement. They will cite a news story or a website that says zinc is good for you so the patient buys zinc thinking it is helping. Before you know it the patient is taking a mish mash of low quality supplements that are simply not helpful. In some cases zinc might be helpful but in reality it is not specific to that health concern.

The media often simplifies a study and writes a story with a headline that gives the reader the wrong impression. People will read that article and think that the supplement is proven to help every health condition and that everyone should take it. The reality is that the study is not saying that at all! The story gets so distorted in the brief summary that it makes it very difficult to sift through all the health information presented in the media.

This is where Naturopathic doctors can be of great assistance to patients. They are extremely knowledgeable about supplements and they know how to design a treatment plan that is specific to your health condition. Medical doctors simply do not get the training with these different supplements whereas Naturopathic doctors receive extensive training in this area. A Naturopathic physician can also make sure that you are getting quality supplements that will help to optimize your healing. The quality of a supplement makes a huge difference and only a trained professional will be able to help you pick quality supplements that are specific to your healing. Take the initiative and get engaged with your own healing but do so with the proper guidance. A Naturopathic doctor can give you guidance on your healing and provide you with all the tools necessary to promote the healing process.

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Why does medicine’s lack of integrity kill 750,000 people a year? April 11, 2009

Posted by Dreamhealer in Big Pharma, Medication.
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Times are changing, and nowadays I am reading more and more doctors publically question medicine’s lack of integrity, and science’s limits. 
Medicine, science, and your health – what you should know.

Doctors work hard, medical school is a slog, and their jobs are getting increasingly harder because of the constrictions imposed by the insurance companies. The latter do as much as they can to wriggle out of paying doctors for their time, and your healthcare. Read More….

Please investigate before you medicate your children March 26, 2009

Posted by Dreamhealer in ADHD, Medication.
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Well the kids are in school and the new year is upon us. I’d like to share my experience with all who will listen. Last year a teacher told us she believed our son was ADHD and thought he would do better if put on medication. Read More….  

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