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Certain facts about dietary supplements are oftentimes inaccurately
depicted by various experts and public health authorities. Specifically,
I'm referring here to the inadequate and frequently misleading
portrayal of dietary supplement interactions with medical drugs.
One of the potentially more problematic side effects of dietary supplements is how they could interact unfavorably with pharmaceutical drugs. Yet, unwanted interactions between various substances (and medical drugs), causing adverse events, are manifold.
Besides drug interactions with nutritional supplements (supplement-drug interactions) there are drug interactions with food (food-drug interactions), drug interactions with essential nutrients of the human body (drug-nutrient interactions), drug interactions with other drugs (drug-drug interactions), drug interactions with “inactive” substances or excipients of a product (drug-excipient interactions), and the myriad types of combined interactions of foods, supplement nutrients, drugs, excipients, and essential bodily elements with all kinds of environmental toxins that enter the body or that are already lodged inside the body.
An example of a food-drug interaction is how grapefruit juice can increase the toxic effects of certain drugs by disabling detoxification enzymes (of the Cytochrome P450 series) in the liver and intestines (Ameer & Weintraub, 1997).
As far as drug interactions with nutritional supplements (supplement-drug interactions) concern, certain ingredients or nutrients of these natural health products can and do interact in harmful ways with some pharmacy drugs. However, relatively few such nutrients, affecting a relatively narrow range of pharmaceutical drugs, contribute to adverse reactions, or negative effects of dietary supplements.
Furthermore, the existing research regarding the facts about dietary supplements and the severity of their interaction with medical drugs suggests that the issue is benign and insignificant.
The facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions are that there are much more serious threats among the various types of interactions with pharmaceutical medications than supplement-drug interactions.
Namely, it is how drugs, both over-the-counter medications as well as pharmaceutical drugs, interact deleteriously with each other (drug-drug interactions), resulting in heightened toxicity and consequent damage to the human body.
It is how medical medications detrimentally interact with essential nutrients of the human body, also referred to as drug-nutrient interactions, thereby inducing systemic harm.
Most people know that practically all drugs have serious side effects.
Why the rampant side effects?
One of the major facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions is that drugs are directly involved in the creation of nutritional deficiencies, by depleting and destroying vital nutrients critical for good health (Conney, et al., 1961), thereby inducing negative side effects and diseases. And... deaths.
As a rule, medical drugs work against the body chemistry leading to damage and disease, while supplement ingredients work with the body chemistry, promoting and sustaining health. (The mere names given to categories of drugs reveal their anti-physiological "allopathic" focus: antibiotics, antiarrhytmics, antihypertensives, antithrombotics, antidepressants, antineoplastics, beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, ACE inhibitors, and on and on.)
Nevertheless, contrary to this fundamental biological reality and contrary to the real-life facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions, supplement-drug interactions tend to get overemphasized and exaggerated (Moyad, 2010). For instance, numerous heavily publicized cases of drug interactions with dietary supplements, could not be verified by scientific studies (Galland, 2004; Wittkowsky, 2008).
On the other side of the spectrum, drug-nutrient interactions tend to get underreported and minimized.
One of the key facts about dietary supplements is that the side effects of nutritional supplements, including those from herbs and botanicals, are minor generally. Consequently and as expected, the facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions reveal that the specific risk of harm from food-based supplement interactions with pharmaceutical medications is similarly small overall.
Because ingredients used in nutritional supplements are substances usually present in food, the common sense principle is that as long as you are allowed to eat food while taking drugs you're likely to be fine. Otherwise you would have to exclude a lot of healthy foods while on prescription drugs.
Ingredients of food supplements can interact with drugs leading to side effects of nutritional supplements by either increasing the drug's toxicity or the presumed beneficial effect, or they decrease the drug's toxicity or therapeutic impact.
For instance, calcium can lower the absorption of the antibiotic tetracycline (Hausman, 1989), reducing the drug's therapeutic potential.
According to information and data retrieved from research, nutritional supplement-drug interactions are most commonly encountered with herbs and botanicals (Sood, et al., 2008).
Certain herbs and botanical ingredients that interact with sedatives can cause excessive bleeding, irregular heartbeat, and slow wound healing (Ciocon, et al., 2004) which, for example, could present a problem during or after surgery.
An official US government agency, the FDA (Food And Drug Administration) warned:
“[...], kava and valerian act as sedatives and can increase the effects of anesthetics and other medications used during surgery.” (Official US Government FDA website, accessed Oct. 2011)
Typical herbal or botanical offenders that have been identified are Ginkgo biloba, St. John's Wort, valerian, kava (a.k.a kava kava), garlic, saw palmetto, ginseng, ginger, willow, and fenugreek (Abebe, 2002, Hu, et al., 2005; Sood, et al., 2008).
St. John's Wort can increase serotonin levels excessively when combined with certain anti-depressants, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (Peng, et al., 2004). It can also adversely interact with blood-thinning medications and other cardiovascular drugs (Gardiner, et al., 2008).
Similar warnings come from the FDA:
“St. John's Wort may also reduce the effectiveness of prescription drugs for heart disease, depression, seizures, certain cancers or oral contraceptives.” (Official US Government FDA website, accessed Oct. 2011)
Apparently the most scientifically documented unfavorable interferences between supplements and drugs is with St. John's Wort (Mills, et al., 2005; Gardiner, et al., 2008). But not all research findings are consistent, some show no harmful interactions (Bell, et al., 2007). In Germany, St. John's Wort is an approved safe drug for depression, as many studies indicated that the herb is remarkably effective for this affliction.
Because Ginkgo biloba has an anticoagulant or blood-thinning effect (decreases platelet aggregation), it could lead to adverse events of increased bleeding when combined with blood-thinning drugs (Peng, et al., 2004). Ginseng, garlic, vitamin E also have slight anticoagulant effects.
According to the US government these types of supplement interactions with medical drugs could lead to internal bleeding, hemorrhagic stroke, and death (Official US Government FDA website, accessed Oct. 2011). Situations where this could pose a significant risk is during and after surgery where the use of those types of nutritional supplements could lead to serious, possibly life-threatening, bleeding or changes in blood pressure.
However, the facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions indicate that in most cases these risks are low. Vitamin E, which has a blood-thinning effect, showed no significant ill effects in any of the patients receiving warfarin, a blood-thinner, even while taking high doses (up to 1,200 IU) of the vitamin (Kim & White, 1996).
The Shute brothers -two conventionally trained medical doctors, Evan and Wilfrid Shute- who pioneered the utilization of vitamin E (large-potency vitamin E therapy) in their practice during the 1930s and 40s, had prescribed high-dose vitamin E supplements to tens of thousands of their patients. Yet, neither of the Shute physicians encountered a serious case of blood thinning with the use of the vitamin, unlike with the use of anti-coagulant drugs (Martin, 1977).
On the other hand, another nutrient commonly found in nutritional supplements, Vitamin K, a coagulant, can decrease the blood-thinning effects of anticoagulant drugs, such as Coumadin (Mason, 2010; Official US Government FDA website, accessed Oct. 2011). Yet, one of the rather unfortunate facts about vitamins is that blood thinners (anti-platelet drugs) in general exhaust vitamin K (Qato, et al., 2016), so the two classes of substances have an antagonistic action to each other.
The US Government advises to talk to your doctor before taking the kind of dietary supplements with coagulant or anticoagulant effects if you take blood thinning medications (Official US Government FDA website, accessed Oct. 2011).
Study data suggests that among dietary supplement interactions with medications anticoagulants, anti-depressants, and sedatives are the classes of drugs most frequently affected and pose the highest risk for adverse events (Peng, et al., 2004; Sood, et al., 2008).
In general, though, the available empirical data and facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions show that...
... supplement-drug interactions are benign and minor (Peng, et al., 2004; Wold, et al., 2005; Bush, et al., 2007; Sood, et al., 2008).
For instance the study by the Peng team evaluated older people with a number of health issues and who all took numerous prescription medications every day, along with supplements (Peng, et al., 2004). This describes the profile of the type of people who have the highest risk of encountering unwelcoming interactions between supplements and drugs (Santos & Boullata, 2005; Bjerrum, et al., 2008).
Nevertheless, supplement-drug interactions caused extremely few serious adverse reactions (Peng, et al., 2004).
How small is the risk for serious drug interactions with nutritional supplements?
At a lowly 2% to 3% (Peterson & Bates, 2001; Peng, et al., 2004).
Furthermore, because one of the most well-established facts about vitamins and supplements is that a substantial number of these natural health products are tainted with contaminants it is conceivable that at least some of the adverse interactions between supplements and drugs can be contributed to impurities.
For instance, one research paper pointed out that in many cases of drug interactions with nutritional supplements other factors than the influence of an active supplement ingredient on a drug, are responsible for the ensuing adverse events (Wittkowsky, 2008).
This seems like a plausible and reasonable proposition because a large number of nutritional supplements are tainted with contaminants such as pesticides, prescription drugs, bacteria, fungi, heavy metals, and so on (discussed in Health Risks From Dietary Supplements -Contaminated Supplements). At least some of those contaminants could interact with certain drugs, most likely by augmenting or even enhancing the toxic impact on the human organism.
Another probable influential factor are drug interactions with environmental toxins. Particularly since hundreds of such poisons have been found in the human body of both newborns and adults (Environmental Working Group, 2005).
Some facts about dietary supplements and their negative interactions with drugs expose yet another source of culpability: excipients. Excipients are “inert” substances or additives such as fillers, preservatives, lubricants, binders, and coating agents to assure product uniformity and quality. Additives are used commonly in both pharmaceutical drugs and vitamins and health supplements.
Pollutants have been discovered in the types of excipients routinely used in nutritional supplements (Crowley & Martini, 2001). A number of deaths were even attributed to contaminated excipients (Gebhart, 1997; Pifferi & Restani, 2003).
Excipients have also been found to negatively interact with the active substances of many pharmaceutical drugs, frequently degrading their therapeutic potential (Crowley & Martini, 2001). It is not uncommon that the effect is mediated by contaminants in excipients (Pifferi & Restani, 2003; Wu, et al., 2011).
What's the bottom line on the facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions?
The actual potential for harm is low for most such interactions (Piscitelli, 2000). A tangible risk rests almost entirely with the interactions of certain herbs and botanicals and a few specific types of drugs, such as anticoagulants (blood-thinners), anti-depressants, sedatives, and anti-diabetic medications (Sood, et al., 2008; Gardiner, et al., 2008).
Why is the harm induced by supplement interactions with pharmaceutical drugs usually minor?
Because the majority of supplement ingredients are essential substances for human health and life itself, which makes them inherently safe and beneficial even at high doses, and in interactions with other compounds.
“The U.S. has the most medicated citizens in the world, but our ratings on general health in comparison with many other nations are quite poor.” (Stephen Holt, MD, PhD)
The availability and the use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs is widespread (Kaufman, et al., 2002; De Bolle, et al., 2008), corresponding to the situation with nutritional supplements.
Many types of OTC medications, such as antacids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-histamines, interact unfavorably with pharmaceutical medications causing adverse effects like bleeding, ulceration, high blood pressure, low blood sugar levels, and kidney damage (Turner, 1972; Lamy, 1982; Honig & Gillespie, 1995; Yoon & Schaffer, 2006; Fendrick, et al., 2008).
The volume of information and the quality of data on the facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions are limited (Mills, et al., 2005). However, if you review any annual report by the US Poison Control Centers you can see that OTC drugs damage many times more people than herbs, botanicals, vitamins and health supplements combined (American Association of Poison Control Centers, 1983-2008).
Active substances contained in OTCs can sometimes also interact negatively with certain excipients, which for a long time were thought of as “inactive” substances (which newer research invalidated), that are added to the active elements of a drug (Pifferi & Restani, 2003). In certain cases, the unfavorable drug-excipient interaction can be traced back to contaminants of excipients (Gebhart, 1997; Pifferi & Restani, 2003; Wu, et al., 2011).
The truth or the facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions is this:
● The majority of health supplement-drug interactions are of low relevance.
If you compare this to the facts about drug-drug interactions you can clearly see the obvious truth about dietary supplements and drug interactions (rather than the misleading anti-supplement propaganda):
● Interactions between different drugs (drug-drug interactions) are very frequent and oftentimes lead to severe side effects, according to numerous studies (Stanaszek & Franklin, 1978; Köhler, et al., 2000; Blix, et al., 2004; Doubova Dubova, et al., 2007; Gagne, et al., 2008; Moura, et al., 2009; Lopez-Picazo, et al., 2010; Erdeljic, et al., 2010; Dhabali, et al., 2011).
Generally, the more drugs are taken the higher the risk for side effects. These research studies indicate that the drug combination of blood-thinners (especially warfarin) and anti-inflammatory agents appear to bear one of the greatest potential for adverse events.
The damage caused by pharmaceutical medications is monumental. (For further research evidence confirming that notion review the article Health Risks Of Dietary Supplements -The Proper Perspective)
“Many drug side effects are the result of nutritional deficiencies caused by the medications themselves.” (Bill Sardi, Health Journalist, in 2002)
In developed and developing nations, conventional allopathic medicine (modern medicine) enjoys an authoritative sacred position. With supreme, sanctified status comes a tendency of modern medicine to ignore, deny, and suppress information that questions and threatens its projected favorable public image and its profits.
On the other hand, to safeguard the public's positive perception of the medical establishment, the benefits attributed to traditional medicine are commonly overreported and exaggerated, while the risks are underreported and minimized.
In an investigative report health journalist Bill Sardi noted:
“It's not likely that patients will be fully informed of the drawbacks of modern medicine.” (Sardi, 2002)
It is why relatively few people are aware of the true scope of harm and destruction caused by the medical orthodoxy. For instance, how many people know that the treatments and remedies of conventional medicine are one of the top frequent causes of death in the United States (Lazarou, et al., 1998; Starfield, 2000; Kohn et al., 2000; Dean, et al., 2003; Leape, 2000 & 2009)?
Among the risks routinely ignored and downplayed by allopathic medicine is how extensively pharmaceutical drugs inactivate, deplete, and destroy many vital nutrients inside the human body, thereby creating nutritional deficiencies, side effects, diseases, and higher mortality.
In an excellent review report Stephen J. Genuis, MD, confirmed this point:
“Contemporary conventional medicine generally operates within a genetic predestination paradigm, attributing most chronic and degenerative illness to genomic factors, while incorporating pathogens and psychological disorder in specific situations. Toxicity and deficiency states often receive insufficient attention as common source causes of chronic disease in the developed world.” (Genuis, 2011) [emphasis added]
“Recent scientific evidence in health disciplines including molecular medicine, epigenetics, and environmental health sciences, however, reveal ineluctable evidence that deficiency and toxicity states feature prominently as common etiological determinants of contemporary ill-health.” (Genuis, 2011) [emphasis added]
Extensively and systemically medical drugs cause both nutritional deficiencies as well as toxic interferences among vital physiological processes.
As Stephen J. Genuis, MD, explained:
“In other words, if we are missing essential components that our human body requires in order to function, illness results; if there are adverse factors obstructing or interfering with normal biological function, illness results.” (Genuis, 2011)
Another physician, Matthias Rath, MD, made similar observations:
“The balance is truly frightening: Today four out of five patients die from health conditions that are not diseases at all, but are the direct consequence of vitamin deficiency and therefore preventable.”
Among the facts about dietary supplements and food ingredients is that because drugs are foreign elements, or poisons, to the body they have an inherently greater risk of creating widespread damage than essential supplement nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, that are innate to your body.
A long time ago, nutritionist Patricia Hausman, PhD, commented on one of the most basic concepts and facts about dietary supplements and medical drug interactions:
“[...] far more drugs interfere with calcium than vice versa.” (Hausman, 1989)
“[...] with most nutrients […] nutrition is more likely to be reduced than enhanced by drugs.” (Hausman, 1989)
Several decades ago, experiments on animals showed that the administration of many types of drugs use up valuable essential nutrients, such as ascorbic acid (vitamin C), at an increased rate. The animals' organism defend against the toxicity of drugs with “adaptive responses” by strongly increasing the manufacturing of ascorbic acid from glucose, and by elevating the liver enzymes responsible for the detoxification of those drugs (Conney, et al., 1961; Okey, et al., 1986).
Among the facts about dietary supplements is that many drugs affect essential nutrients, supplied by food and supplement intake, in deleterious ways. For instance, they can interfere with the absorption and metabolism of nutrients (Mason, 2010).
To cite a specific example, common cholesterol-lowering drugs (“statins”) decrease co-enzyme Q10 (ubiquinone) levels (Hargreaves, et al., 2005; Nawarskas, 2005; Littarru & Langsjoen, 2007; Mabuchi et al., 2007; Pacanowski, et al., 2008) which can lead to decreased immune function, heart failure, suicides, violence, dementia, fatigue, depression, and a destructive but rare muscle disorder (rhabdomyolysis).
Statin therapy also strangles vitamin K2 synthesis and the production of proteins that contain the trace mineral selenium (e.g., glutathione peroxidase) because the biosynthesis of vitamin K2 and selenium-containing proteins require adequate cholesterol values (Okuyama, et al., 2015). The depletion of vitamin K2 and selenoproteins (akin to a selenium deficiency) are linked to known physiological mechanisms involved in the development of clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) and congestive heart failure (Okuyama, et al., 2015). Glutathione peroxidase, for instance, quenches oxidative stress ("free radicals") generated by lipid peroxidation, the biological degradation of lipids (Okuyama, et al., 2015).
Cholesterol-lowering drugs (CLDs), such as statins and others, also increase overall mortality, mostly by increasing cancer deaths (Report of the Committee of Principal Investigators, 1980 & 1984; Kaplan, et al., 1992; Shepherd, et al., 2002; LaRosa, et al., 2005). Studies in animals have documented this connection as well (e.g. Asano, et al., 1975), in some cases, statin drugs caused cancer in rodents when administered at around the dosages prescribed to humans (Newman & Hulley, 1996).
Other serious statins' side effects are a significant increased risk of developing diabetes (for more information on the diabetogenic and carcinogenic effects of cholesterol-lowering statins see my article "Do Garcinia Cambogia Side Effects Boost Diabetes?" -direct link to it at the end of this article under Recommended next pages).
This is probably due to, in part, a decrease of the synthesis of the protective steroid hormones such as pregnenolone, progesterone, and DHEA (Peat, 2007), and vitamin D, as research has shown that statin drugs lower LDL cholesterol levels (Alsheikh-Ali, et al., 2007) which is exactly the base substance the steroids and vitamin D are made from.
This is a good opportunity to raise awareness about some interesting facts about dietary supplements, specifically some health benefits of niacin, also known as vitamin B3. The longterm use of high dose niacin therapy, while also lowering cholesterol, akin to statin therapy, resulted in a significant increase in longevity and a decrease in both cancer and all-cause mortality (Canner, et al., 1986; Hoffer, 1995). You'd expect that the cholesterol-lowering niacin side effects mirror the devastating cholesterol-lowering statin side effects! (Different biological mechanisms account for this "paradox", explained in my "Garcinia & Diabetes" article.)
Here are some more references and facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions...
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, such as antacids, can inactivate vitamin B1 (Hausman, 1989). Certain antibiotics destroy vitamin B2 (Hausman, 1989). Some statin drugs deplete vitamin B12 (Hausman, 1989).
In an article David L. Watts, PhD, commented that...
“[...] antacids, laxatives, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids and antibacterial agents are known to produce a deficiency of calcium and vitamin D.” (Watts, 1990)
Cortisone, for instance, depletes vitamin A, and, on top of it, increases the demand for the essential nutrient (Gerras, et al., 1977). Cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, can also lower the absorption of vitamin A (Weeks, 2003). Chronic statin therapy, therefore, may evoke symptoms of vitamin A deficiency (e.g., dry eyes, coarse hair, impaired night vision, diarrhea, lack of muscular stamina). The concurrent use of vitamin A supplements probably should be considered with longterm statin treatment.
The authors of a health book noted:
“[...] the absorption of vitamin C is greatly reduced by antibiotic drugs, so a person taking antibiotics requires a higher than normal intake of this vitamin.” (Balch & Balch, 1997)
Aspirin too decreases vitamin C levels (Pohle, et al., 2001; Gaby, 2011; Qato, et al., 2016), so that vitamin C supplementation seems advisable for people on prolonged aspirin therapy [Gaby, 2011].
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) depletes glutathione (Pelton, et al., 2001), an essential substance, causing many serious liver injuries and somewhere around a hundred deaths every year (American Association of Poison Control Centers, 1983-2008; Bronstein, et al., 2009-2011).
Here are some tragic magnesium facts as a result of conventional drug therapy...
Some diuretic drugs (“water pills”) –frequently used in treating hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease– drain the mineral magnesium (Qato, et al., 2016), and can lead to low magnesium status (Mason, 2010). Ironically, one of the significant magnesium benefits is... lowering high blood pressure (Seelig & Rosanoff, 2003).
“Science-based” diuretic hypertension drugs, therefore, reduce an essential natural nutrient that's extremely beneficial in both the prevention and treatment of hypertension (Seelig & Rosanoff, 2003)! Hence, orthodox “science-based” toxic medicine basically assures that high blood pressure never gets cured, just “managed” over the long run with the use of these lucrative hypertension medications.
Moreover, the medical “business with disease” as Dr. Rath referred to it (Rath, 1997 & 2003) –that is, the allopathic medical monopoly– sells several other widely used medications that diminish the body's amount of the indispensable magnesium nutrient...
A magnesium deficit (hypomagnesemia) can also result from antibiotics, antacids, proton pump inhibitors (gastric acid blockers), which are drugs to reduce stomach acidity, or the birth control pill (Blum, et al., 1991; Costello, et al., 2016), and other types of medications.
Zinc depletion materializes with the consumption of stomach acid blockers (proton pump inhibitors), and angiotensin antagonists and ACE inhibitors, medications commonly used for high blood pressure treatment (Qato, et al., 2016).
Proton pump inhibitors also decrease blood vitamin C levels in healthy individuals [Gaby, 2011]. And gastric acid blockers sap vitamin B12 (Qato, et al., 2016), enhancing the risks of a vitamin B12 deficiency.
Supplemental estrogen, including birth control pills, lower many of the B vitamins (Pelton, et al., 2001). Some steroid drugs, such as prednisone, can lower numerous minerals and vitamins (Pelton, et al., 2001).
Long-term use of a common diabetes drug, Metformin, depletes vitamin B12 levels, which could lead to a deficiency of the vitamin, and an increase in homocysteine (de Jager, et al., 2010), a substance involved in inflammatory conditions and cardiovascular disease.
The list goes on and on...
Among the most fundamental of facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions is that there are hundreds of drugs that destroy vital compounds within the human body (Pelton, et al., 2001). As a health journalist phrased it:
“[...] many prescription drugs deplete the body of essential nutrients making it virtually impossible for the patient to ever get well.” (Sardi, 2002)
Many studies revealed that the nutrient-destroying property of many medical drugs leads to higher morbidity and mortality (e.g., Dhabali, et al., 2011).
Some health care professionals seem to have come to understand this:
“I think it's scary... doctors and patients have come to believe that prescription drugs are more effective and safer than they probably are.” (Marcia Angell, MD)
“No drug has side effects, they are all effects. Side effects is just a way that doctors explain away the effects that they don't like, or you don't like, but they are effects." (William Glasser, MD)
I had pointed this out at other occasions but because it is so pivotal in the truthful understanding of the “big picture” on disease, health, nutritional supplements, and nutrition I think it is worth repeating...
Fundamentally, the great extent of destruction from drug-nutrient interactions is due to the fact that medical drugs are not essential, or non-orthomolecular, substances of your body.
A researcher gave this explanation:
“Many drugs are “new-to-nature molecules,” meaning that they are not found in nature, and they never existed in the history of the world until a pharmaceutical company created them.” (Harlan C. Bieley, MD)
Rather than being essential particles for human health, pharmaceutical drugs are substances foreign to your body. Ultimately, they are toxins to the human body. THAT is why the body increases the production of enzymes of detoxification (Conney, et al., 1961; Okey, et al., 1986), representing an adaptive-defensive reaction.
More blatantly obvious evidence of the fundamental toxicity of pharmaceutical medications is that many of these drugs are known human carcinogens, that is, they cause cancer (U.S. National Toxicology Program, 2011), unlike what the safety data reveals on the facts about dietary supplements.
One of the principal facts about dietary supplements and their interactions with medications is that once these unfamiliar pharmaceutical constituents are inside the organism the body will need to detoxify them. The process requires energy and that uses up or depletes oftentimes essential orthomolecular nutritional substances, such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes resulting in adverse events.
Drugs also interfere with other important physiological processes, such as enzymatic reactions.
Author Sherry A. Rogers, MD, explained in one of her books:
“Unfortunately, the modus operandi in medicine is to find a drug to turn off the damaged part that is producing symptoms. A simple example is the prescription of calcium channel blockers, the number one drug used by cardiologists for angina, hypertension, congestive heart failure, or arrhythmia. But as with any drug, this does not fix anything that is broken. It merely poisons normal physiological pathways, thereby forcing the chemistry in a direction that attenuates symptoms.” (Rogers, 2002) [emphasis added]
Pharmaceutical drugs most often lead to side effects because they interfere with the body's detoxification systems (such as the cytochrome P450 enzymes in the liver/intestines [Cupp & Tracy, 1998; Kalra, 2007]), primarily by inhibiting or blocking them, resulting in an accumulation of the administered “foreign”, toxic substances.
Apart from metabolizing many xenobiotics, such as environmental pollutants (Kirchmair, et al., 2012), the cytochrome P450 system is a principal detoxification route in the elimination of many pharmacological medications (Lin & Lu, 1998).
As a consequence...
“In reality, drug interaction by mutual inhibition between drugs is almost inevitable […].” (Lin & Lu, 1998) [emphasis added]
Drugs add to your total toxic burden, along with environmental toxins, probably synergistically increasing each other's injurious effects.
All of these ramifications of harmful drug-nutrient and drug-drug interactions induce side effects, diseases, and higher mortality.
Most shockingly, many dangerous pharma drugs get unleashed on the public with the consent of the US government (Lehman & Loder, 2012; also see my discussion in Tougher Supplement Regulation: A Necessity Or Politics?).
In their research paper (Lehman & Loder, 2012) the authors documented that even federally-sponsored clinical trials, showing evidence of ineffectiveness and harm about a particular drug, frequently never get published in the scientific literature, while those studies that find positive data about the same drug do. The outcome, of course, is the widespread clinical availability of high-risk (very toxic) drugs, unbeknownst to the public and most doctors (Lehman & Loder, 2012).
Thus, it shouldn't really be a surprise that...
Taking pharmaceutical drugs causes hundreds of thousands of major side effects every year (Budnitz, et al., 2006). The damage due to harmful drug-nutrient interactions is large. It is the type of unwelcoming evidence advocates of modern medicine usually are dubiously quiet about when they skew the facts about dietary supplements in regards to their interactions with drugs.
Aggravating the inherent non-orthomolecular problem of medical drugs, and the corruption of scientific research, is that much of the US population is taking prescription medications, oftentimes several at a time, thereby raising their health risks remarkably. The US government mentioned that:
“Close to 40 percent of the U.S. population receive prescriptions for four or more medications. And the rate of adverse drug reactions increases dramatically after a patient is on four or more medications.” (Official US Government FDA website, accessed Dec. 2011)
It is a matter of common sense...
The more drugs (poisons) you take the higher the toxic load. Resulting in more damage to the human body, including death.
Yet, much of the public has been led to believe that the answer to their health issues are pharmaceutical drugs.
In a scientific paper Stephen J. Genuis, MD, made the observation that:
“Many consider health and illness to be entirely independent of behaviour and, regardless of unhealthy practices, perceive that health can be purchased in a medicine bottle.” (Genuis, 2007)
The authors of a scientific report noted that:
“Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) cause considerable morbidity and mortality worldwide and may lead to hospital admission.” (Dhabali, et al., 2011)
Unlike in very many cases of dietary supplement interactions with pharmaceutical drugs where hypothetically adverse reactions could occur but in reality few events happen, with drug-drug interactions it is not a matter of whether pharmacy drugs “may” cause diseases and kill you. No, they do. It is an irrefutable fact.
To cite an example (out of many) of the type of drugs that result in a higher death rate are diuretics which deplete magnesium, potassium, and other nutrients (Warram, et al., 1991; Testani, et al., 2011).
Properly prescribed drugs kill over a hundred thousand people every single year (just in the United States alone), apparently due to destructive effects on the body, above and beyond the alleged therapeutic impact (Lazarou, et al., 1998; Kohn et al., 2000; Leape, 2000 & 2009).
Moreover, other mainstay medical treatments and procedures of allopathic medicine, such as surgery, can also deplete nutrients (Antila, et al., 1990; Stoppe, et al., 2011). Having cardiac surgery increases mortality (Loef, et al., 2005) but nowhere did the study authors address the well-known depletion of essential nutrients, that is attributed to this medical procedure, as a culprit for the higher death rate.
In addition, surgery is well known to trigger metastatic cancer, the type of cancer which is most often fatal (discussed in my (e)book "The Mammogram Myth" -see Mammograms: Dangerous! Mammography Risks, Myths & Breast Cancer Facts).
Sure enough, the health risks are worse if you happen to be in a hospital setting...
In a Time magazine article of 1974 Charles E. Butterworth, Jr., MD, was the first who addressed hospital malnutrition. He reported that many people were malnourished when brought under hospital care, and that their nutritional status even deteriorated while being hospitalized.
In spite that the devastating effects of drugs and other medical procedures on the human physiology have been known for decades to the medical profession the health risks of hospital malnutrition remain very significant after the first decade of the 21st century -even in industrialized nations (Gallagher-Allred, et al., 1996; Harrington, 2008; Keith, 2008; Barker, et al., 2011; Waitzberg, et al., 2011; Álvarez Hernández, et al., 2012).
And, again, the threat to health is not only a matter of many patients arriving at a hospital already malnourished but also getting worse while being there.
As one investigative report stated:
“[...] nutritional status is known to worsen during hospital stay […]. […] clinical malnutrition [...] is generally associated with increased morbidity and mortality both in acute and chronic diseases.” (Norman, et al., 2008) [emphasis added]
You would think, as common sense dictates, that optimizing the diets served in hospitals should and would be a priority of modern medicine in view of the well-known, severely detrimental interactions of the various medical treatments with vital bodily resources and biological processes. But obviously, modern medicine's ignorance and foolishness is simply staggering.
“No doctor can cure you. No medicine can cure you. But you can cure you. The evidence will astound you that medicine has had the answers for health all along. The secret is in getting your body so chemically unloaded and nutrient primed, that it heals itself.” (Sherry A. Rogers, MD, in 2002)
If drug interactions with nutritional supplements (supplement-drug interactions), were a significant general risk (which they are not) then a lot of very healthy foods would similarly cause significant adverse interactions with drugs (food-drug interactions).
For instance, wouldn't dairy products such as milk and cheese, because of their high calcium content, interfere with the antibiotic tetracycline? Wouldn't dairy products also diminish the therapeutic effects of Prozac, and an extensive range of other pharma preparations (Sonali, et al., 2010), because an “inactive” excipient of many medications, lactose, has shown to degrade their beneficial potential (Wirth, et al., 1998)? (Although with this particular comparison, the effect may have been the result of adulterations of the drug excipient rather than from the impact of the active milk enzyme.)
Wouldn't beets, asparagus, blueberries, plums, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, okra, onions, lettuce or liver cause significant food-drug interactions with blood-thinning drugs because these health foods contain high amounts of vitamin K, a coagulant?
If nutritional supplement interactions with pharmaceutics were the exaggerated health risk the propaganda by the medical allopathy and their proponents make it out to be, these nutrient-dense health foods would pose a similar threat and would need to be eliminated from the diet while taking a number of drugs.
If supplement-drug interactions were the significant danger many medical authorities emphasize they are, wouldn't that mean you should eat a junk diet, rather than a nutritious diet, while taking certain pharmaceutical drugs?
What do we really need according to traditional medicine, junk food and drugs, rather than vital nutrients from nutritious food and supplementation to address diseases and health issues?
If health supplement interactions with medications were the overemphasised risk the media and the medical establishment claim it is, where are the corresponding number of injured or dead people? After all, the facts about dietary supplements are that over half the US population consumes them regularly.
Both objective reality and scientific studies invalidate the hype. Trust facts, not authorities.
The magnitude of harm caused by drugs that interact unfavorably with the human body, drug-nutrient interactions, is truly mind-blowing.
In actuality, among the indisputable facts about dietary supplements and the propaganda on their danger of harmful drug interactions is that the real threat among the various kinds of substance interactions is the systemic damage drugs cause in the human body. That is, drug-nutrient interactions.
You just have to look at the scientific data. You just need to look at the destruction caused by pharmaceutical drugs. The noxious impact of food supplement interactions with medical drugs pales compared to it.
The rather common toxic effects of prescription drugs on necessary nutrients for health supports the idea to add, apart from rare exceptions, nutritional supplements daily (especially vitamins and mineral supplements), rather than not taking them if you take pharmaceutical medications or if you are hospitalized. In particular since the risk of drug interactions with nutritional supplements (supplement-drug interactions) is minimal in most instances. And because, in addition to the calamity of nutrient squandering by pharmaceutical preparations, patients on medications frequently don't supplement with the specific nutrient(s) their medication(s) "devour" (Qato, et al., 2016) as they tend to be unaware of the real toxicity of the drugs they're taking because their doctors fail to inform them about the serious drug-nutrient hazard or because their doctors render a downplayed version of this risk to them.
The research data on nutritional supplements and side effects suggest that taking vitamins and supplements, overall, is more likely to prevent adverse events, due to harmful drug-nutrient interactions, than to induce them, due to injurious supplement-drug interactions.
A review report mentioned that the beneficial impact of supplements on drugs, increasing their therapeutic effect and preventing drug side effects, is at least equal to their negative impact, the side effects induced from negative supplement-drug interactions (Galland, 2004).
The side effects from drug-drug interactions, or drug-nutrient interactions, are a very serious health risk but it is routinely ignored or downplayed by mainstream medicine and the FDA. The facts about dietary supplements and drug interactions clearly demonstrate that they are fairly benign overall but that the FDA and orthodox medicine tend to overemphasize the issue.
This unreasonable and untenable stance by the medical and regulatory authorities has some scientists conclude that drug side effects are not an unwelcoming event, especially in view of the fact that the FDA is protecting the interest of modern medicine...
“The “epidemic of side effects” caused by pharmaceutical drugs is not undesired, because they generate new diseases and therefore further expand the drug markets.” (Matthias Rath, MD)
Trust the facts about dietary supplements concerning their interactions with pharmaceutical drugs, not the spin of authorities.
(Originally published: ca. July-2012 | This is a revised version)
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