Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD, ND
September 19, 2009
If you’ve ever heard the word polypharmacy, that’s the definition of the polypill. It’s a combination of six drugs: a statin, three blood-pressure-lowering drugs, folic acid and aspirin. According to Wikipedia polypharmacy means “too many forms of medication are used by a patient, when more drugs are prescribed than is clinically warranted.” It states the obvious that “The most common results of polypharmacy are increased adverse drug reactions and higher costs. Polypharmacy is most common in the elderly but is also widespread in the general population.”
Polypharmacy for All
Polypharmacy soon won’t just be prevalent in the elderly, the polypill is slated to be prescribed to the entire adult population over 55 years as a preventive measure against stroke and heart disease regardless of blood pressure. The first warning alarm in this Orwellian effort is that the main researchers and promoters of the polypill, Drs. Law and Wald hold patents on the polypill.
With the polypill, medicine will officially give up on lifestyle approaches to heart disease. It’s all in line with the new health care reform where the government, not you, and not your doctor, will decide what medical treatment you will be given. It’s obvious to me that the focus of health care is on drugs and surgery and does not emphasize diet, lifestyle, or nutritional supplementation. So, the polypill makes it easier for all involved and even the patient – in the beginning. Until the excitement of taking one pill instead of six wears off and the side effects kick in.
Kiss your Health Freedom Goodbye
We’re more tuned in to our health freedoms of late because of the health care reform debates but we lost our health freedom long ago when we accepted the drug companies as our only source of medical treatment and relegated doctors to HMO assembly-line medicine. Any doctor practicing outside the “standard practice of care” is marginalized or stripped of his license.
The polypill studies show some shifting of cholesterol and blood pressure numbers but they don’t show that the pill extends life. And the polypill hasn’t even been measured against a placebo yet. In fact, placebos probably work better than the polypill. An August 24, 2009 Wired Magazine article titled “Placebos Are Getting More Effective. Drugmakers Are Desperate to Know Why” forms an interesting backdrop to the polypill saga. Drug companies avoid trials that compare their drugs to placebos like the plague because placebos can work 80% of the time. By comparison most antidepressants work only 40% of the time.
The polypill as with any new drug on the market will enjoy the honeymoon phase (which is the placebo effect) of being the brightest star on the block spurred on by incessant TV marketing. Then when the honeymoon is over and the side effects start adding up, doctors move on to the next rising star. Of course, some people need medications but not every still-living, still-breathing human alive! What are these drug marketers thinking that everyone should take a 6-drug combo? Certainly they’re not thinking about the long-term side effects that will inevitably occur; they’re probably thinking about all the money that will come from patents and prescriptions.
You'll Never Medicate Your Way Out of Diseases You Behave Yourself Into
Drs Malcolm Law and Nicholas Wald from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, Barts and the London School of Medicine, Queen Mary University of London, UK) are pretty clear about what they want to do with the polypill. Law says "Everyone benefits from taking blood-pressure-lowering drugs. There is no one who does not benefit because their blood pressure is so-called normal." These doctors actually say you don’t even need to take blood pressure readings, just give out the polypill.
In my medical training, I learned that prevention meant to avoid the risk factors that would get you into a disease. You don’t wait until you have the disease to take a pill and you don’t take a pill instead of avoiding the risk factors. Even the much-prescribed aspirin with its blood thinning properties does not save lives. According to recent studies there is no net gain in taking aspirin because of the increased risk of death from internal bleeding.
A doctor friend, Roby Mitchell says it best "You'll never medicate your way out of diseases you behave yourself into." When I talk about risk factors, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before and know in your heart is true. It’s pushing back from the table before your stomach is bursting; it’s walking around the block a few times a day; it’s cutting back on sugar and wheat. And one you may not have heard of - it’s adding some magnesium as your first supplement.
My advice to the polypill pushers is that they should market magnesium. Of course they won’t because they can’t get a patent on magnesium. Here are some of the reasons why magnesium is better than the polypill so you can make an informed decision about your own preventive medicine program.
*Magnesium lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol and thins the blood naturally, so it’s the ultimate stroke and heart disease prevention.
*Magnesium also lowers blood sugar, which is not addressed by the polypill.
*Muscle pain is a side effect of the statin drug in the polypill. Magnesium treats muscle cramps (Charlie horses), nerve tingling, twitches and muscle pain.
*Draining magnesium from the body is a common side effect of blood pressure medications. Magnesium treats the major underlying cause of high blood pressure - tightening of the smooth muscles of blood vessels.
*A calcium channel blocker is one of the polypill’s antihypertensive drugs but magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker, so why not use that instead. See the 2-minute video “Balancing Calcium and Magnesium” at www.nutritionalmagnesium.org to understand minerals at the cellular level.
There’s much more to the magnesium story. At www.nutritionalmagnesium.org you can view the following videos interviews I did about the importance of magnesium in our health.
Calcium Magnesium Balance
Symptoms/Causes of Magnesium Deficiency
Children and ADHD
Future Health Now!
If you would like more detailed information on how to change your lifestyle and improve your health visit my website and sign up for my free newsletter that has tips and techniques for getting healthy and staying healthy. Even better, join my Future Health Now! wellness program*.
*Future Health Now! is an inexpensive series of 48 weekly "consulting sessions in print." Every seven days, I guide you step-by-step on how to add natural practices to your daily routine. Daily consistency will undoubtedly give you the best chance at lasting physical and mental health.
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Meet The Doctor of the Future: Dr. Dean is a medical doctor, naturopath, herbalist and acupuncturist. She’s authored 18 books including The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, IBS for Dummies and the Magnesium Miracle. Radio, TV and magazines interview her regularly. She's also the medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association. You’re invited to join Dr. Dean’s online wellness program Future Health Now! http://drcarolyndean.com/futurehealthnow plus receive a free subscription to her Doctor of the Future newsletter.
© 2009 Dr. Carolyn Dean MD - All Rights Reserved
Meet The Doctor of the Future: Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Dr. Dean is The Doctor of The Future. She’s a medical doctor, naturopath, herbalist and acupuncturist. She’s authored 18 books including The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health, IBS for Dummies and the Magnesium Miracle. Radio, TV and magazines interview her regularly — including ABC, NBC and CBS. She's also the medical advisor for the Nutritional Magnesium Association. You’re invited to join her online wellness program Future Health Now! plus receive a free subscription to her Doctor of the Future blog.
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