The Health Coach, Contributing Writer
Pharmaceutical drug interactions have not been studied closely by the Medical-Pharmaceutical Complex for two reasons.
First, there are simply so many pharmaceutical medications on the market that the cost to do so would be prohibitive. Prohibitive to their profit-taking, certainly not prohibitive relative to the enormous revenues that they take in each and every year.
Second, these same companies have a vested interest not to conduct such revelatory clinical trials since they would expose startling realities.
There are other reasons why you will find only so many high integrity research studies performed with the explicit purpose of informing the buying public about this serious health matter. Yes, there is a catalogue of anecdotal evidence which is maintained and updated, but only so far does it really disclose the true state of affairs in the realm of drug interactions. In fact, the extremely dangerous side effects from mixing various drugs (including alcohol) are responsible for all types of mental illness, emotional imbalance, psychological maladies and psychiatric conditions.
We are encroaching on an area of health and wellness that affects us all. Especially those of us who have grandparents or parents who are older and are currently taking regimes of pharmaceutical medications three times a day for the rest of their lives. Many of us have witnessed first hand the various forms of bizarre behavior, anti-social performances and aberrant conduct which the older folks sometimes exhibit as they age. Mind you, this radical change in their psychological profile is often completely out of character.
How often do you hear from the doctor that this is nothing but the onset of dementia? It’s as though the entire Greatest Generation has been plagued with an epidemic of dementia. Now we do not dispute the existence of dementia, and certainly would not deny that it does occur with the aging process for some. However, we now hear about it all the time, everywhere, as though this is the new normal.
Well, it is the new normal. Because the various classes of drugs which MDs routinely prescribe to their elderly patients are both powerful and interact in ways that are not entirely understood. We know that each pharmaceutical drug individually can produce quite adverse side effects, some of which can be very harmful and even fatal. We also know that when you mix two or more of these medications, they interact in ways that can greatly increase these side effects, as well as cause new toxic side effects.
The real unknowns within this whole scenario, which is experienced by nursing home patients, assisted living residents, and the homebound elderly all over society, is just that. They (we) – the doctors, the hospitals, the families, the patients – do not know what they (we) do not know. For example, there are no peer-reviewed research papers on the adverse side effects of taking the following daily cocktail of pharmaceutical medications:
• Prozac, etc.
• Premarin & Other Estrous Cycle Hormonal Treatments
• OTC Sleeping Pills
• OTC Pain Relievers
• Asthma Inhaler
This list of drugs is not too different from the many that some of our clients are currently addicted to. Yes — addicted — because some of these pharmaceutical chemicals possess highly addictive qualities. Even for those who would like to be liberated from some of these physician-mandated protocols, it will be very difficult to do so. In every case, special precaution ought to be taken to ensure that the parent or patient doesn’t “go off the rails” as they discontinue their prescriptions. This will, and often does, occur.
Especially for those who have delicate constitutions, numerous hypersensitivities and allergic responses to meds in general, do we see a need to very closely monitor the loved one or friend who is in our care. A daily potpourri of drugs can deliver a very unique combination toxic chemicals which must be detoxified by the liver. When that organ has been compromised, as is often the case with the elderly, the task of detoxification falls to the kidneys, GI tract, skin, etc., which can also become overloaded. This is where many of the symptoms may be found indicating that the person is slowly getting toxic.
Another telltale sign of liver overload is the quality or deterioration of the vision. Eye health is directly linked to the quality of the liver blood. When the liver blood is suffering, the eyes will experience all sorts of symptoms. Redness, pink eye, itching, dry eyes, floaters, tearing, discharges, pressure, light sensitivity, eye fatigue, loss of acuity, difficult to focus, blurred vision, burning, spasms or twitching or tics. Any one of these, or in combination, may indicate TOO MUCH MEDICATION.
This is where we really need to pay attention to the subtle changes in behavior. Usually these changes will slowly evolve into new patterns of behavior which scream at us for their resolution. Unfortunately, the medical establishment is in such denial about the mental and emotional effects of many of these powerful drugs that patients and caretakers alike are lulled into a state of acceptance and powerlessness.
When the behavior of an aging parent becomes so extreme, as it frequently does these days, one is compelled to first evaluate the necessity of each medication they are taking. We highly recommend that the caretaker do an internet search for each prescription and make a copy of the published scientific data outlining all the documented adverse side effects. Then, these can be delivered to the attending physician so that the patient can be evaluated for any presenting symptoms. In virtually every case, symptoms will be found if only the physician looks hard enough.
At the end of this process, the matter of any recent demonstrations of mental illness, emotional imbalance or psychological disturbances can be clearly delineated. Particularly regarding those new behavioral patterns, which the patient never previously exhibited, do you have a very good possibility for a causal relationship to the medication intake. Next, the challenge is to determine exactly which medication. At which point we advise the patient discontinue all drugs which are not necessary. Sometimes the problem can be fixed by the slow weaning away from those discretionary drug protocols which are not treating life-threatening medical conditions.
If severe mental and/or emotional symptoms persist after being away from these discretionary drugs for some time, then a closer look at the absolutely necessary meds ought to be taken. Often the doses can be lowered to a level which is still sufficiently therapeutic, but not so high that they translate to highly negative mental and emotional states. Also, many older patients who are being medicated without their consent may attain the presence of mind to express their personal feelings. You will be surprised at how many just want to be DRUG-FREE. Regardless of the consequences, they would rather live their final days with lucidity and serenity, than in a drugged stupor given to fits of delirium or outbursts of dementia.
Undeniably, this process of closely watching and gauging those in our care can be time-consuming and tedious. However, when undertaken toward the beginning of their many drug regimens, it will be easier to recognize exactly what mental and emotional symptoms are being triggered. Even when you don’t perceive any obvious personality aberrations creeping into their outward expression, there can be profound issues percolating below the surface. Sometimes the aged who are chronically ill can go into a shell and become quite indrawn or withdrawn. Because they don’t express a problem and the problems don’t manifest out in the open, doesn’t mean they’re not there.
Just what do we mean by the serious side effects associated with drug interactions?
If you happen to be taking Xanax (a psychoactive drug used to treat anxiety and/or panic disorders) and Ambien (used to treat insomnia) at the same time, here is what you ought to be aware of:
If you are taking Xanax and Prozac, then here are the possibilities of the resulting drug interactions:
As you can imagine, the real problem which is presented by the most common situation that we see throughout the pharmaceutical marketplace, is the aforementioned scenario portrayed by the list 10 medications being taken regularly. What happens when the patient, whether elderly and ill or young and addicted to meds, is regularly taking Xanax, Prozac, Ambien, Valium, Hydrocortisone, Premarin, Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy, along with daily OTC painkillers? What really happens?!
Your guess is as good as ours! And we’ve been at this for a long time. We don’t even know any one or any lab or any hospital who would even want to hazard a guess. Just too many unknowns … too many variables, too many co-factors, too many different people reacting in their own unique ways. One individual’s biochemistry might produce extreme paranoia where someone else might slip into mild schizophrenia. One person may have a predisposition toward suicidal depression where another might go totally unipolar manic.
There is no question that all of us contain the seeds of certain innate tendencies and assume specific psychological profiles when under toxic stress. We call these our signature patterns. Just look at the folks who are lifelong drinkers of aspartame-laced soft drinks. Or 3-pack a day smokers. Or coke addicts. Or caffeine addicts. They have already gone in a direction of expression which is fairly predictable. Their psych pathology will usually be easier to identify, just as all smokers have a very similar set of physical diseases and behavioral patterns.
However, it is the strong and sturdy parent who never took prescriptions and stuck to a healthy lifestyle that must be carefully looked after once they take a turn toward the pharmaceutical meds. So many stories have emerged over the years where the parent just went crazy during their twilight years. Or went mad after they went to the hospital for a hip replacement. Or went bonkers after a trip to the oncologist for radiation and chemo.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Most of these mental health crises are completely avoidable. Especially for those who are younger and who picked up the meds as a crutch. When you take one medication it makes you vulnerable to being prescribed another. And then another, and another. Until one day you have five to ten stacked up in your medicine cabinet.
Not a pretty picture at all! Especially when your loved ones are following you around cleaning up the mess or fixing all the damage to yourself, your relationships, your home and business, your life.
This health coaching session could go on to a Part II, III, IV and V, we’re sorry to say. There is so much more to discuss and explore. For the uninitiated – who are on intensive medication regimes – we would highly recommend that you start investigating the safety of your prescriptions. Research what might be happening to your body, and mind, below the radar. Check out what may be occurring with your mental health and emotional state. And, remember, that much of what does happen with long term drug interactions is subclinical in nature. Which means even your doctor won’t pick it up.
Many only see the tip of this iceberg for years or decades, until one day the rest of the iceberg emerges in a way that you wished it hadn’t.
There is a societal phenomenon these days which is breaking out into the open more and more every day. We here at The Health Coach call it End-time Madness. The preceding link takes you to an essay which describes only a few manifestations of this New Millennium Malady; however, we highly recommend the read. Because of our deeply ingrained and firmly entrenched pharmaceutical culture, drug medications represent a major co-factor in the etiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment of this very easily controlled mental/emotional condition.
Therefore, we conclude by encouraging you to take back your power from these artificial palliatives, which only address superficial symptoms and rarely the underlying causes for what ails us. A great spiritual master once said too much of any medication will only rip off your shakti (spiritual energy). It also diminishes in its capacity to treat the same symptoms over time, the longer it is taken and the more doses taken per day. Which is precisely why we are always challenged to address the underlying causes of our illness. So that we may be permanently rid of them.
May you enjoy great health,
The Health Coach
US Food and Drug Administration — Drug Interactions: What You Should Know
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