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Side Effects

The Ritalin Effect (ADHD)

The Ritalin Effect (ADHD)

This week is ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) awareness week. Ritalin (methylphenidate) has become a regular treatment for hyperactivity across America and the U.K.  Ritalin’s popularity amongst doctors has increased to such an extent that one in seven American children under the age of 18 is regularly taking a medication like Ritalin to treat their ADHD. But what do we know about the effects of Ritalin for ADHD? In the UK, sales of Ritalin are on the increase year on year. Recent figures show that prescriptions for Ritalin have increased from 158,000 in 1999, to 661,463 in 2010. Children as young as 3 years are taking this powerful stimulant. These statistics are worrying, considering that many long side effects have yet to be discovered. General and common side effects that are associated with this type of medicines are sleep disturbances, nervousness, night terrors, skin problems, anxiety, irritability and dependence. These medicines can also cause growth retardation in children. Lethal side effects such as suicidal thoughts and psychosis become more common when children take prolonged and high doses of these medications. Tragically, there have been a number of deaths related to children, especially boys, taking Ritalin. The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) has seen a worrying trend as its members are noting Ritalin dosages continue to increase. A statement from the AEP said, “The benefits of psycho-stimulant medication are not sustainable over the long term, necessitating stronger and stronger dosages,’ it said, adding that it was becoming, “common practice for children to be prescribed stronger dosages than recommended in the morning as a “kick-start” so medication lasts the school day”. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that Ritalin should not be prescribed to pre-school children. However, health experts are seeing this ruling being widely ignored across the country. The British Psychological Society (BPS), through Peter Kinderman issued a statement saying that children are being prescribed medication as a quick fix rather than being given a full assessment. “These assessments and psychological therapies may take longer and cost more but ultimately are better in the long run”, said Peter Kinderman. There have been many studies that question the effectiveness of Ritalin and similar drugs. Studies show that placebo treatments...

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Avoid Painkiller Addiction

Painkiller addiction is becoming more common. Infact GP’s have been advised to cut down on prescribing sleeping pills and painkillers due to concerns that many patients are becoming addicted to these medicines. Prescribes have now been urged to recommend complementary therapies such as physiotherapy and counselling to treat these conditions. This is a positive step forward as these medicines are very addictive and patients very often take them long term. Many patients find it very difficult to come off these drugs and they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they do try come stop treatment. Latest NHS figures show that approximately 62 million prescriptions are written for painkillers and another 50 million for sleeping pills every year. This may seem like a staggering figure, but these drugs are usually given out to the same patients every month. The official guidelines state that these medicines should only be given for a short duration. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam, nitrazepam and temazepam which usually prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety have been linked with causing dementia in pensioners. Painkillers that contain codeine are also very addictive. Codeine is an opiate from the same family as heroin and morphine. This medicine is a component of a range of over the counter painkillers such as Nurofen Plus, Solpadeine Max, Syndol and Panadol Ultra. Recent guidelines state that these painkillers should not be taken for more than three days. Medical experts are becoming increasingly concerned about the over prescribing and consumption of these medicines and have advised doctors to prescribe other therapies. Muscular and nerve pain can be treated effectively with therapies such as physiotherapy, osteopathy, acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. These therapies work with the body and do not just suppress pain receptors as codeine does. There is also the added benefit of avoiding side effects. Chronic insomnia can be treated with counselling, as there is very often an underlying cause for the condition. Other complementary therapies that have successfully treated insomnia are homeopathy, herbal medicine and hypnotherapy. These therapies work with the body to find a cure, and not just a temporary solution. If you found our article “avoid painkiller addiction” useful, please rate it...

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Antibiotic Resistance – A Real Threat

Antibiotics are becoming dangerously over prescribed, say the Health Protection Agency (HPA). This and the concern for antibiotic resistance is a view that is shared by most health care professionals. Patients have been urged not to request prescriptions for antibiotics from their GP’s. There are plenty of natural remedies that can help to treat everyday colds and coughs. Natural remedies such as Vitamin C, Echinacea, Ginger and Manuka Honey can help to speed up recovery. “A lot of people with coughs, colds and flu still visit the doctor expecting to be given antibiotics for their treatment and it can be difficult for the doctor to refuse,” said Dr Cliodna McNult from the HPA’. “This expectation puts a lot of pressure on the doctor to prescribe antibiotics which is often not necessary and causes increased antimicrobial resistance in the long run. Bacteria will always adapt to try and survive the effects of the antibiotic and we have seen that the problem of resistance is growing.” Dr McNult said that patients who had antibiotics in the last six months are twice as likely to have an infection with resistant bacteria. She continued to say that is is vitally imprtant to preserve the effectiveness of the existing antibiotics so that they are effective when they are really needed. The majority of seasonal coughs and colds can be treated with many natural remedies that are both effective and safe. The use of antibiotics should be reserved for infections that spectially require the use of drugs. The over use of antibtiocs actruallu makes them less effective, as the bacteria become resistant to drug therapy. Adopting or maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, regular exercise and minimal stress will help to prevent and minimise colds and coughs. Professor Dame Sally Davies, The Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer said that antibiotic resistance is one of the greatest threats to modern health. She likened the overuse of antibiotics to the threat of global warming. The articles “Antibiotic Alternatives”, recommends several natural remedies that can help to reduce infections and stimulate the body’s natural defences. We hope you found this health article “Antibiotic resistance, a real threat” useful. PLease let us know by...

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Do painkillers cause headaches?

Do painkillers cause headaches?

The national health watchdog, NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) has warned that taking too many pain killers such as paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen can make the brain more sensitive to pain. This results in the sufferer being more prone to headaches! So the tablets that are supposed to be treating your headache can actually cause further headaches. So do painkillers cause headaches? The news gets worse: People often get into a vicious cycle…as the headaches get worse, they take more painkillers and the pain becomes even more debilitating. The good news is that there are complementary treatments for headaches that don’t have these side effects. The NHS spends over £470million on painkiller prescriptions that contain paracetamol, aspirin, codeine or ibuprofen. Not all of these prescriptions are for headaches, as these drugs are used to treat general pain too. These painkillers are also sold over the counter, and heavily marketed for treating headaches and migraines. Apart from causing “rebound” headaches, painkillers that contain codeine can be addictive, and should only be taken for a maximum of three days. Professor Martin Underwood who helped draw up the guidelines, said “We have effective treatments for common headache types. However, taking these medicines for more than ten or 15 days a month can cause medication overuse headache, which is a disabling and preventable disorder.” He continued to explain the side effects, “Patients with frequent tension-type headaches or migraines can get themselves into a vicious cycle, where their headaches are getting increasingly worse, so they take more medication which makes their pain even worse as they take more medication.” Dr Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive of NICE said that too many people were not being given a correct diagnosis by their doctors. Headaches can be treated with various complementary therapies, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, aromatherapy and relaxation techniques. Nutritional supplements can also help to treat headaches and migraines. Chronic headaches or headaches lasting a few days with no improvement need further investigation by a doctor. We hope you found our article “do painkillers cause headaches” useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Can Antidepressants Cause Depression?

New research published in the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Psychology has stated that serotonin has many effects in the body, not just helping to elevate mood levels in depression. Antidepressant medication such as Fluoxetine, Paroxetine and Citalopram, also known as SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) work by increasing levels of serotonin in the body. Many have wondered “can antidepressants cause depression?”. This artificial increase of serotonin in the body can causemany adverse effects.  The lead researcher,Paul Andrews, said that the increase of the neurotransmitter can cause digestive complaints, sexual problems and cardiac problems. Other recent studies have also questioned the effectiveness of SSRI’s in the treatment of depression. There have also been a few studies that have reported serious and fatal side effects with antidepressants. The Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that women who took antidepressants had a 68 per cent increase in the risk of miscarriage. Danish research found that an increase in the risk of heart problems in women who had taken SSRI’s in early pregnancy. Paul Andrews, an assistant professor of evolutionary psychology at McMaster University in Ontario, states that the side effects associated of SSRI’s such as bleeding in the gut and the increased risk of stroke are due to the increase in serotonin levels. The gut has extremely high levels of serotonin, so drugs such as SSRI’s will increase levels throughout the body, not just in the brain. This explains some of the digestive side-effects associated with SSRI’s. Andrews also points out that SSRI antidepressants interfere with the brain, leaving a risk of “rebound” depression. He said that after apatient stops taking SSRI medication, the brain compensates by lowering its levels of serotonin production. This has the effect of making the brain less sensitive to serotonin. These effects are thought to contribute to an even greater degree of depression than before. The continual high prescribing of antidepressant medications should be reviewed. Depression is not simply cured by these readily prescribed medications, but they can actually cause a range of side effects not usually associated with depression. We hope you found this article “can antidepressants cause depression” useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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How safe are my medicines for me?

The number of drugs being prescribed by doctors is on an ever increasing upward slope. Latest figures show that the NHS is spending nearly £12 billion on drugs. These drugs are given to patients who believe that as they have been prescribed by a doctor, the drugs must be safe.  The public have been made to believe that all drugs available on the NHS have been properly tested in stringent clinical trials. But people are often left asking “how safe are my medicines for me?” Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are many examples of where medicines have been withdrawn due to side effects and even due to causing death. I recently read an article in the journal, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, which alarmingly stated that in the US drugs kill one person every 14 minutes. Professor David Healy says that the failure to correctly test drugs, means that very often drugs are either no better than placebo, or a real danger to our health. A pharmaceutical company will usually spend billions of pounds to get a drug to the market. This cost involves research and development, marketing and conducting thorough clinical trials. The results of these trials are not always as accurate as you might think. Professor Healy says that drug companies can manipulate results to either conceal or play down side effects. A recent well publicised example is the case against the manufacturer’s of the anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx. The giant drug company, Merck, paid out millions of pounds in compensation to patients in the US. This was in addition to the pay-out received by relatives of thousands of people that were killed by the drug. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) estimates that this drug was responsible for 27,785 deaths. Vioxx was found to cause heart attacks, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke in people. These side effects were for some reason not published in the clinical trials. The anti-diabetic drug, Avandia, was also found to cause heart attacks, after going through clinical trials. Both Vioxx and Avandia have subsequently been taken off the market in the U.S, but they should they have been on the market in the first place? The...

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What are side effects of medicines?

All orthodox drugs produce side effects, though their severity can vary enormously from person to person. The side effects occur because a drug does not act only on the particular symptoms for which the person is being treated, but also on other aspects of the body’s function. The existence and magnitude of side effects are a consequence of the individuality of people’s symptoms and responses, and the fact that this individuality is not taken into account in trials. In these trials: Disease definitions are generalised, not individual; Definitions of effectiveness are generalised, not individual; Selection criteria for test subjects are not only generalised but have to compromise between homogeneity and generalisability. The side effects themselves may be caused either by the toxicity of the drug overwhelming cellular reactivity or by the homeostatic reaction of the body to the drug. The difference between ‘beneficial’ effects and side effects is entirely arbitrary, and depends on which effects are considered desirable by researchers or practitioners. Thus, Viagra, one of the most successful drug discoveries in recent years, was originally developed to treat angina, but a pilot study showed that it did little to alleviate this condition. However, when researchers decided to stop the trial early and recall any unused pills, they were perplexed by the reluctance of the trial volunteers to return them. Subsequent interviews revealed that Viagra had an unexpected and desirable side-effect. Further trials and safety tests have resulted in Viagra’s current widespread availability for the treatment of impotence. [1] It should be noted that homeopathic remedies do not produce side effects, because: The remedies are selected for their precise correspondence with the symptoms; The remedies generally do not act chemically, and can only act in those areas already sensitised by the nature of the illness. References 1.  Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst, Trick or Treatment? Alternative medicine on trial (London: Bantam Press, 2008), p....

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Is homeopathy an alternative to traditional sleeping tablets?

Is homeopathy an alternative to traditional sleeping tablets?

Sleeping tablets that are commonly prescribed for thousands of people in the UK have been linked with a higher risk of death. An American study in the BMJ Open analysed more than 10,000 patients taking sleeping tablets such as temazepam. These patients were compared to 23,000 similar patients not taking these drugs. The death rate among the group taking sleeping tablets was about four times higher. Experts say that these findings point to a potential risk, although the absolute risk was still relatively low. Experts say that patients should not be alarmed and not to stop their medication, but they should discuss any concerns with their doctor or pharmacist. Guidelines actually recommend that sleeping tablets such as temazepam should only be taken for a short period. This is because of the risk of dependency that these drugs cause. Through my work as a pharmacist, I have seen many repeat prescriptions of sleeping tablets such as temazepam and zopiclone. These drugs are very often prescribed every month on an ongoing basis. This is obviously not ideal, and patients do become dependent on these drugs. These figures give an idea of the amount of sleeping tablets that are taken in England. In 2010, there were 2.8 million prescriptions of temazepam, 5.3 million for zopiclone, and 725,000 for zolpidem. These stats may sound alarming, but they highlight the growing problem of anxiety and insomnia. There are plenty of natural remedies to help with sleep, which do not cause dependence and have not been linked to a higher risk of death. VALERIAN This is a traditional herbal medicine that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety and sleep problems. Research has shown that Valerian can increase levels of the neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). This is associated with a decrease in CNS (central nervous system) activity, which results in better quality sleep. Valerian is frequently combined with other herbs such as Avena Sativa, Humulus Lupulus, Passiflora and Lemon Balm. PASSIFLORA This herb is traditionally used as a sedative and relaxant. Passiflora is non-addictive and will not cause drowsiness the following morning. This herbal medicine helps to relive both the emotional and physical symptoms of stress and anxiety by relaxing...

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Statins Increase Risk of Diabetes

A recent US study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine has found that statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) may be responsible for an increased risk of diabetes in post menopausal women. The report found that women who took statins of any kind, were on average 48% more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. Statins are commonly prescribed medications in the UK. Examples are simvastatin, atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, pravastatin and fluvastatin. Yunsheng Ma of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester said, “statin medication use in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk fordiabetes mellitus”. The group used data from the Women’s Health Initiative,which included more than 150,000 diabetes-free women in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Some of these women were prescribed vitamins, dietary changes, hormone therapies, while others were not told to change their diet or lifestyle. At the start of the study which began in the mid 1990’s, the women had to fill out questionnaires about their health and current medication they were on, including statins. These women were then followed for up to 6 to 7 years. The results found that around 10,200 women developed diabetes with 48% more likely to be diagnosed inthose taking any kind of statin than those who did not take these medications. Many other studies have suggested a link between statins and diabetes. These studies have suggested an increase of 10 to 12% increase in diabetes among statin users. Naveed Sattar, ametabolism and diabetes researcher at the University of Glasgow  said that the reasons why statins have shown to increase the risk of diabetes remain unclear, but the effect of statins on the muscles and liver may lead the body to make slightly more sugar than it normally would, or cause users to exercise a bit less.  He continued to state that the benefits of statins outweigh the potential risks for people with heart disease. Cholesterol levels can be reduced by adjusts in diet and by taking nutritional supplements such as fish oils and omega 3 essential fatty acids. Regular exercise is also essential at reducing cholesterol levels, as well as reducing the risk of type 2...

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Reduce the Side Effects of Antibiotics Naturally

Antibiotics can cause a range of side effects that affect the digestive system. This arises because the natural balance of the flora in the body is disturbed by the intake of antibiotics. The antibiotics kill the good bacteria, which play an important part in balancing the flora, as well as the bad bacteria that are responsible for the infection. Common symptoms and side effects of antibiotics are diarrhoea, feeling sick and vomiting. Another side effect that can occur with broad-spectrum antibiotics is a fungal infection such as thrush. There are a number of natural remedies that can be taken safely alongside the antibiotics to reduce the incidence of these side effects. The main supplement is a good quality probiotic that contain a high level of lactobacillus acidophillus and lactobacillus bifidus. These supplements are best taken during and after the course of antibiotics. The company, Optibac, have a preparation that is a probiotic supplement that helps to prevent the side effects such as thrush and diarrhoea, which can occur to people who are taking antibiotics. If you develop thrush whilst taking the antibiotics, the homeopathic remedy Borax 30C can be taken three times a day to reduce the symptoms. The natural homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica 30C can help with nausea and vomiting relating to antibiotics use. The remedy should be taken three times a day as soon as the symptoms start. If diarrhoea has been caused by antibiotic use the remedies Arsen Alb 30C and Arg Nit 30C should be considered. These remedies should be taken three to four times a day. We hope you found this article on how you can reduce the side effects of antibiotics naturally useful. Please let us know by rating it using the stars...

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