Tag Archives: Pharmageddon

Imagine children unable to speak up for themselves

My last post and all of my posts are really about all the children – and adults – who may not be able to speak up for themselves. A magnesium bath or foot soak can be life changing with almost immediate better mood and less muscle cramps and chronic pain.

I’ve only ever had one or two close friends at a time — and I’m okay with that, I like company but I like reading a lot too. My goal in sharing information is not for me or about me but is simply about sharing my experiences in case they might be helpful for others, and actually I do write for me too, future me, so that as I read I can add notes so that I can find the information again at some point in the future. I like the internet, it is a great invention, humans are really great in many ways.

Magnesium deficiency is a widespread problem for people on the autistic spectrum but also for many other people with a variety of common chronic illnesses or who have lifestyle habits that waste magnesium. Obesity can also be a problem of nutrient deficiency which might seem unlikely but being mal-nourished in some nutrients can make weight gain much more likely. Deficiencies in vitamin D, thiamin, folic acid, iron, B12, zinc, phosphorus, B6, and potassium have been found to be more common in obese individuals. [4] And levels of vitamins A, E, and C have also been found to be significantly lower in obese individuals than in non-obese individuals. [5] [information from references 4 and 5 is from a continuing education course: 6]

Magnesium deficiency has to be very severe before it typically shows up on lab tests because it is stored within the bones and within cells more than in the blood. Calcium is more prevalent within the fluid portion of blood while magnesium is more prevalent within the interior of blood cells and other cells. Both nutrients are electrically active and provide energy for cellular functions in addition to other roles. Gastrointestinal problems can make a deficiency in the nutrient more likely however because calcium can be preferentially absorbed and magnesium can become less well absorbed.  However an early symptom of magnesium deficiency is insulin resistance which would lead to increased fat storage and increased appetite. [https://www.sharecare.com/health/diabetes/how-brain-affected-by-insulin]

The DASH diet designed originally to help reduce high blood pressure has also been found helpful for weight management. It includes more beans, nuts and seeds than many other diet plans, foods which provide magnesium, vitamin E, B vitamins and trace minerals such as zinc. [http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/]

The anti-psychotic medication olanzapine affects insulin and appetite [2] and causes significant weight gain in adults but even more so in children. Medicaid guidelines in some areas have it prescribed for children. Many children in foster care are being put on strong medications like olanzapine at great cost to their health and great cost to Medicaid. It is not inexpensive at over $300/month for the patent version Zyprexa.

“Between 1997 and 2004, Texas Medicaid spending on antipsychotics rose from $28 million to $175 million. In the months of July and August 2004, over 19,000 adolescents in Texas were given antipsychotics, even though pharmaceutical companies had not applied for licenses to market these drugs for use in minors. In 2003, Zyprexa pulled in $4.3 billion in sales in the United States, 70 percent of which came from state health insurance and other public health programs. …in 2009, research revealed that children being treated under Medicaid were four times more likely to get antipsychotics than children not covered by Medicaid.” [Pharmageddon, by David Healy, page 141, 1]

Pharmageddon,” by David Healy, (University of California Press, 2012, Berkeley). [1]

I keep mentioning Epsom Salt baths because they are inexpensive and very effective for people who are deficient in magnesium. And for those who are deficient in the essential nutrient, regular use of Epsom Salt baths might also be helping prevent chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes from developing or worsening. While the olanzapine/Zyprexa has been proven to be associated with a greatly increased risk for diabetes and significant weight gain [3] — and an increased risk for suicide and possibly for homicide particularly during withdrawal from the medication. The olanzapine may be causing long term changes in the brain by over-activating receptors involved in suicide. Do our foster children deserve to be experimented on just because they have Medicaid and Medicaid guidelines were set that cause doctors to feel that their job would be in jeopardy if they don’t follow the guideline?

Evidence based medicine can be very helpful and life-saving but it is better used as guidance to suggest a path to treatment rather than be a strict guideline that can be used to increase pharmaceutical company’s profits at the cost of children’s long term and short term health — and possibly that of people in their vicinity.

If our society really wants to stop suicide and mass killings than we need to address the underlying causes rather than worry only about controlling access to guns — guns don’t kill people anymore than knives or Hellfire missiles — people kill people.

4. Mechanick JI, Kushner RF, Sugerman HJ, et al. American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. The Obesity Society, and American Society for Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Medical Guidelines for Clinical Practice for the perioperative nutritional, metabolic, and nonsurgical support of the bariatric surgery patient. Surg Obes Rel Dis. 2008;(5 Suppl):S109-S184.

5. Kaider-Person O, Person B, Szomstein S, Rosenthal RJ. Nutritional deficiencies in morbidly obese patients: a new form of malnutrition? Part B: minerals. Obes Surg. 2008;18(8):1028-1034.

6. Lillian Craggs, Obesity: Beyond Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes – Learn about Obesity’s Far Reach and Ill Effects in Lesser Described Conditions, ce.todaysdietitian.com.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

And If You Feel that Your Physician, Nation, or Planet has been in a Bad Relationship with Pharmaceutical Companies, Then There’s a Book for You Too

This is a continuation of the last post and an earlier series of posts on bad relationships — something I seem to have experience in going back to my childhood. Before I get to the book though, a discussion of my disclosure statement seems pertinent — that statement in italics at the bottom of the page:

  • /Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

The part that is pertinent to the book regarding a possible bad relationship with pharmaceutical companies is the last line:  “Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.” The problem that I’ve experienced in my own health care and that of loved ones is that “individual health care” no longer seems to be very available in the medical system that is currently in mainstream use within the United States. We have switched to a medical system based on “evidence-based medicine” rather than focusing on individualized care of each patient.

To quote myself — The evidence is in, “evidence-based medicine” isn’t working. It is based on clinical trials that group large numbers of people into experimental and control groups and then present the averages as evidence that an experimental treatment worked better than placebo – which might be an actual benign treatment given to the control group to make them and the  research team “blind” to which people are in an experimental group and which people are in the control group. A “double blind” study is considered the gold standard of clinical trials because feasibly the people within the groups and the researchers are blind/unaware of which people are receiving a treatment and which people are receiving a placebo. So feasibly there would be no bias among the researchers regarding whether the experimental treatment had helped or harmed. In reality though, it is extremely difficult to make a truly “blind” study because usually there are differences in negative side effects or treatment benefits among the people in the various different experimental or control groups.

My university training was a bit unusual from the usual curriculum followed by registered dietitians because I switched majors and universities at a midpoint.

As a dietitian I was trained in college and during my one year internship regarding how and where to look things up fro unusual diagnoses or symptoms, because dietitians are expected to understand all of the body’s systems and all of the body’s nutrient needs and all of the diagnoses that might affect them. While some dietitians specialize many are expected to provide nutrition assessment and counseling for all patients no matter how unusual their diagnosis or symptoms may be and we are frequently expected to do that with minimal lab tests. We are trained to do a thorough assessment of visual and other symptoms in addition to an in depth interview regarding the patient’s understanding or their symptoms and  to inquire about their usual lifestyle and dietary habits.

Recently I learned that that is no longer the standard approach for physicians, as 80% of a diagnosis is frequently based on lab tests within the current medical system.

The number of years of university or medical training that a dietitian, family doctor, or medical specialist had received in the past has little to do with my concerns over evidence-based medicine or my own care as a patient however. While I can only directly speak for my own two years of training which focused on genetics or my five years of training focused on dietetics (I switched majors), in all likelihood none of us received any training on the cannabinoid receptor system or its role in nutrition, general health or in specialized fields of health care as it is illegal in the United States to research the medical aspects of the cannabinoid system.

I do not feel very safe as a patient personally or for the safety of others seeking healthcare within the current medical system, not just due to evidence-based medicine but also due to the lack of knowledge about basic physiology that has been forced on the medical industry due to the inappropriate listing of marijuana as having no medical benefits. It makes it illegal for researchers in the U.S. to study the cannabinoid system except regarding how the cannabinoid system might relate to addiction or substance abuse and what isn’t researched isn’t taught in medical schools or other university health programs.

However the cannabinoid receptor system has medical benefits throughout all areas of the body whether cared for by medical specialists or by general practitioners or by dietetics professionals. Cannabinoids are in breast milk. They help stimulate the infant to suck and helps prevent low weight gain and failure to thrive. The cannabinoid receptor system helps the fetus implant within the uterus and they are some of the earliest receptors to develop in the fetal brain. There are increased numbers of the receptors in the uterus and increased levels of vitamin D receptors in the placenta. The two systems work closely together and both cannabinoids and hormone D can affect levels of most of the main neurotransmitters in the brain. I’ve been doing independent reading in academic texts and online journal articles since 2010 regarding the cannabinoid receptor system and it has greatly helped advance my understanding of my own health issues and specialized needs related to genetic anomalies. I’ve been slightly unhealthy  with skin eczema and allergies since birth which always suggested to me that I was born with something different than average, but I didn’t know what and my symptoms were never severe enough to rate as “sick” on lab tests. – “annoying hypochondriac” seemed to have scored some points though (more on genetics a little later in this post).

A primary goal in dietetics is to preserve skin integrity – preventing pressure sores from becoming necrotic for example or to prevent intestinal symptoms from worsening in a way that might allow increased permeability of proteins large enough to cause allergies if allowed into the more sterile environment of the body. The gastrointestinal tract is lined with skin that is slightly different than our outer skin but both areas have similar functions to prevent foreign proteins or bacteria or other parasites from entering the interior of the body — our bodies are shaped more like a doughnut with an open center rather than like a solid substance.

Supporting evidence-based medicine has also become a primary goal of dietetics though as the phrase and techniques are now used throughout the insurance payment system and even dietitians need to eat (pun intended). My university training was in 1984-86 and 1988-93, I not only switched majors and universities, I also got married and had a baby in between. My interest in dietetics grew with my appetite and my expanding belly while I was learning firsthand what being a pregnant person was like — uncomfortable is a key word. But I had a midwife who was very experienced and helped me work through the discomforts of pregnancy and guided me towards foods that were both nutritious and easy to digest.

Healthy food and cooking from scratch had also been part of my childhood upbringing so dietetics was a natural fit and genetics had lost some of its interest for me when I learned in my work study job within a genetics research lab (1984-86) that most projects in the field of genetics took twenty years to complete — my attention span at the time did not seem to be twenty years long, however it turns out that my interest in genetics has been lifelong and personally beneficial: see older post. Nutrigenomics [2] is a newer field of study that works with individualized dietary support based on an individual’s genetic structure, metabolic defects that affect nutrient needs are not uncommon and can increase risks for physical and mental health symptoms.

Back to the point, evidence-based medicine in the modern era is largely based on clinical trials that are funded by pharmaceutical companies. Data is often not used if it produces negative results. Research articles are frequently written by ghost-writers who may further manipulate the statistics to produce “statistically-significant” results that favor the experimental pharmaceutical being tested. Negative side effects may be dropped from the results or manipulated in a variety of ways. New drugs only require two statistically significant clinical trials to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. [1]

Physicians are directly marketed to by pharmaceutical companies and indirectly marketed to within academic journal articles that were actually written by the pharmaceutical teams of ghostwriters whose focus includes marketing diseases that are managed by the company’s patent-protected medication. Instead of individualized care we are now more likely to be treated by physicians that have to follow guidelines that are set based on whatever was officially published about the evidence-based clinical trials  — rather than on the unknown amount of hidden data regarding negative side effects of the experimental drugs. Physicians who go against guidelines can face reprimands from their workplace or open themselves up to increased malpractice risks because they weren’t following the evidence-based guidelines. However the newer drugs may not be more effective or safer than older drugs or very different chemically but the value to the pharmaceutical company is that the newer drugs are patent protected and may have a price mark up that might be 50-80 times higher than the older drugs available as generics. Patent protected pharmaceuticals may have a 2500 percent markup above the company’s production costs. Since the end of World War II when health care expenditures totaled about 1% of the U.S. budget we are now spending over 17% of the budget (GDP, Gross Domestic Product) on health care costs (page 157 and 185).  [1]

Following evidence-based guidelines was supposed to increase health and reduce costs but the evidence suggests that it hasn’t.

These “evidence-based” guidelines can then become incorporated into private insurance or Medicaid standards of care which then are forced on children and their parents and other patients who may have went to a physician with a minor complaint relating to our stressful modern lives but who may then be placed on anti-depressants or anti-psychotics that have been associated with increased risk for suicide and even homicide as well as significant weight gain, elevated cholesterol or diabetes. Asthma drugs and other pharmaceuticals may also be initiated before lifestyle changes are discussed or the patient is given time to try. Pharmaceutical risk management of lab test numbers has replaced individualized health care. [1]

The book for more information about evidence-based medicine’s takeover of individualized health care is “Pharmageddon,” by David Healy, (University of California Press, 2012, Berkeley). [1]

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./