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What Prescription Meds and Over the Counter Meds Do to Your Body

I remember sitting in my doctor’s office and being told I had arthritis. The diagnosis wasn’t a surprise. I was pretty sure I knew the source of the pain in my knee, hip and hands. Of course, I wanted a solution. I figured that modern medicine had just the answer.

After all, don’t we all see the many ads on TV touting marvelous medicines for just about any ailment, including a few invented ones?

There are drugs for arthritis, but I won’t take them, at least not after reading all the side effects. On TV, that’s the small print. In real life, they are much bigger.

The side effects vary. Everyone’s body is different. Some people have wonderful results from arthritis medicine; others found their pain multiplied by additional medical problems caused by the treatment.

For example, lots of patients are prescribed corticosteroids, a steroid naturally produced by the adrenal gland. It can reduce swelling, but, at the same time, can enhance the development of cataracts, increase blood fats and blood sugar levels, and pump up appetites while causing bone loss (osteoporosis).

Other popular drugs, called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDS), have been linked to upset stomachs and leave patients more susceptible to infections.

Scientists have also manufactured biological agents that can mimic natural proteins. There are bunches of them, including a few advertised extensively like Humira (adalimumab), Remicade (infliximab) and Rituxan (rituximab).

Typically, they are injected into the patient. That can cause swelling and redness. Additional side effects can include breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, and rapid or weak pulse along with the increased risk of serious infections. They also are linked to increases in skin cancer.

One of the most popular anti-arthritis drugs is methotrexate, a class of antimetabolites originally developed to stop cancer cells from spreading. The drug blocks folate, a form of vitamin B needed by cancer cells to thrive. In return, methotrexate users may develop fibrosis and inflammation in the lungs, as well as a drop in white blood cells, which normally guard against infections, along with a dip in production of blood platelets, which could cause abnormal bleeding.

There’s more. Methotrexate induces cells to release a molecule called adenosine, which blocks other chemicals that promote inflammation. That can lead to hair loss, mouth ulcers, headaches, and fatigue. Worse, adenosine is directly linked to the buildup of scar tissue in the liver that could result in liver disease.

Not exactly an alluring smorgasbord. The medically approved solution: stop using the drug, which defeats the whole purpose.

I was under the illusion that drugs I can buy without a prescription were safer. No such luck.

For example, acetaminophen is used as a pain reliever to reduce fevers and pain. We all know it as Tylenol.  Too much of the stuff can lead to liver damage. You can’t drink and dose. When taking Tylenol, men aren’t allowed more than two drinks; women, more than one. Worse, for arthritic patients, the pill doesn’t treat inflammation.

I never considered opioids for pain management, even though some are available over the counter. Look to this laundry list of side effects: mild stimulation to intoxication with a small dose. Increase the dosage, a patient may suffer hallucinations as well as feelings of physical distortion, extreme panic, paranoia, anxiety, and aggression.

That’s not all. Opioids can lead to lack of energy, stomach pain, poor motor control, slurred speech, distorted vision, and increased blood pressure. If the opioid includes acetaminophen, you can add liver damage.

Take an opioid long enough, you can become addicted.

After doing some research on medicine, I went with a treatment plan based on diet and exercise and natural supplements. They are a lot safer and can be just as effective. Take a look at The Arthritis Health System's 4 core products that will help treat your arthritis naturally.