• Drugs Versus Supplements: The Unproven Versus The Disproven

    Posted April 17, 2012: by Bill Sardi

    According to a recent survey, 1 in 10 drugs were prescribed for off-label (unproven) uses, most which were not substantiated by existing science. (Archives Internal Medicine April 16, 2012). Physicians frequently respond to patient inquiries about dietary supplements by saying they are “unproven.” However, that doesn’t seem to bother physicians if it is a drug.

    Furthermore, there is no drug that cures cancer (chemotherapy drugs only need to temporarily shrink a tumor by 50% before drug/tumor resistance sets in to gain FDA approval).

    There is no single drug (diuretics, beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium blockers) that adequately controls high blood pressure, and then none address the most common cause of hypertension (inability of blood vessels to dilate upon mental or physical exertion).

    For example, there is no evidence that diuretics prescribed in their usual dose reduce risk for heart attack, stroke or death. (American Journal Medicine 2011 Oct;124:896-9)

    Patients receiving diuretics (water pills) need an accompanying drug 79% of the time. (Journal Hypertension April 11, 2012) The most frequently prescribed beta blockers (atenolol and metoprolol) simply do not dilate blood vessels via nitric oxide as do more modern drugs. (Postgraduate Medicine 2012 Mar; 124(2):7-15)

    Statin drugs do measurably lower circulating cholesterol numbers, but do not prevent mortal heart attacks (The Lancet 369: 168-69, 2007). Yet if patients inquire about their herbal equivalent (red yeast rice) they are informed it is unproven.

    Aspirin prevents blood clots but at the risk of over-thinning the blood and creating bleeding gastric ulcers and brain hemorrhages, which represents disease substitution, not disease prevention. (The American Journal of Medicine, Vol 123, No 2, 101-102, February 2010)

    Acetycholinesterase inhibitors Donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Nivalin, Razadyne, Razadyne ER, Reminyl, Lycoremine), and rivastigmine (Exelon) prescribed for Alzheimer’s disease work no better than placebo (PLos ONE April 2006), but if patients inquire about their herbal equivalent (huperzine), they are told it is unproven.

    Alternative medicine is guilty of its own misdirection, attempting to copy ineffective prescription drugs with their herbal equivalents. The point here is that cholesterol may not be the primary culprit in arterial plaque and the lack of acetycholine may not be the primary problem in Alzheimer’s disease.

    There are some herbal products however that modern medicine appears to be so fearful of that it simply refuses to put them to the test. One such herbal molecule is resveratrol (rez-vair-ah-troll), known as a red wine molecule, which has been shown in animal studies to prevent mortal heart attacks, block cancer at all three stages of development (something no anti-cancer drug has demonstrated), potentially restore vision to otherwise hopeless patients, properly addresses the primary cause of hypertension, and is the most promising anti-Alzheimer’s agent tested so far.

    But modern medicine isn’t ready to adopt an unproven nutriceutical like resveratrol until it finds a way to cut itself into the equation financially. It is attempting to introduce re-arranged resveratrol-like molecules called analogs that will gain patents and become a blockbuster drug. The foot-dragging regarding resveratrol is appalling. In eight years since resveratrol dietary supplements have become widely available, not a single human clinical study has been launched for heart disease even though that is its primary calling.

    The lack of medical ethics aside, physicians could begin to prescribe resveratrol as a dietary supplement for good health without making any claim as to its effectiveness to cure, treat or prevent disease. Dietary supplements are restricted to making claims they promote a healthy heart, eyes, arteries, brain, etc. But surprisingly health promotion is not a doctor’s primary objective. Doctors are in the “disease care” business, not the “health care” business. Doctors are not living up to their calling as the guardians of public health.

    In fact, the Food & Drug Administration says if a molecule like resveratrol is proven to cure, treat or prevent disease by independent researchers even though manufacturers of resveratrol pills make no such claims, regardless of that fact, it is a drug. Which means the private enterprise system of medicine forces the most costly and problematic synthetic remedies upon the public. If a molecule like resveratrol comes along that would eliminate many of the blockbuster drugs now on the market, do you think modern medicine is going to put itself out of business?

    The public, being oblivious to all these behind the scenes manipulations, continues to demand so-called miracle drugs that are paid for by health insurance plans. Patients don’t mind being bilked into taking ineffective and problematic drugs as long as insurance pays.

    So the status quo reigns, patients suffer, insurance pools are drained of funds, and America nears insolvency. Maybe only a complete collapse of the health care system, forcing patients to care for themselves, would force Americans to search for alternatives like resveratrol.

    Unfortunately, there are 350 brands of resveratrol pills to choose from ranging in dosage from 50 to 1000 milligrams per pill. Resveratrol works safely and effectively at a comparatively low dose (100-350 mg). Higher doses are potentially problematic. Only a few brands have been successfully tested in humans so far. Copyright 2012 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com Not for posting on other websites.

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