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Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Beware Corticosteroid Drugs

This article first appeared on the "Dangerous Big Pharma Drugs" website, and has since been updated on my "Why Homeopathy? website. It shows how a former 'wonder drug', thought to have been a cure for arthritis, and still widely prescribed in a variety of forms, has become a major health hazard - courtesy of the Conventional Medical Establishment, the Big Pharma.

1. Corticosteroid Drugs, or glucocorticoids, are often just called ‘steroid’ drugs. They are produced to mimic  cortisol, a hormone naturally produced within the body by the adrenal gland.

2. Drug Aliases
The term Corticosteroid is a generic name for a whole series of synthetic hormones, which themselves have an even larger number of ‘trade’ names. This information is taken mainly from

    Betamethasone (Celestone): a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation and other symptoms of skin conditions... it is available in aerosol spray, lotion, ointment and cream forms. Possible side effects include acne, burning, itching, dry skin, cracked skin and changes in skin colour.

    Budesonide (Entocort EC): a corticosteroid used to treat asthma.... available in oral capsule, oral inhalation and nasal spray forms. It can also be used in a nebulizer. This drug can cause side affects that interfere with normal function of several body systems. The most common side effects are nausea, headache and respiratory infection.

    Cortisone (Cortone): used to treat inflammation and adrenal insufficiency. This drug can also be used to treat allergic conditions, ulcerative colitis, lupus, arthritis, breathing disorders and psoriasis. Side effects include insomnia, increased sweating, nausea, bloating, stomach pain, slow wound healing, acne, dry skin and changes in the location of fat in the body.

    Dexamethasone (Decadron): used to treat arthritis, asthma, severe allergies, inflammatory intestinal disorders and skin disorders..(and also)... when the adrenal glands do not function properly. Possible side effects include stomach irritation, headache, insomnia, dizziness, restlessness, anxiety, easy bruising, irregular menstrual periods, upset stomach, vomiting, depression, acne and increased hair growth.

    Hydrocortisone (Cortef): is available as a spray, liquid, lotion, gel, cream, ointment and medicated towelette that can be used on the skin. Suppositories, creams, enemas and ointments are available for use in treating anal itching. This drug can relieve skin irritations, rashes and itching. Possible side effects include acne, burning, changes in skin colour, dry skin, itching and cracked skin.

    Methylprednisolone (Medrol): is used to treat inflammation caused by conditions such as arthritis, ulcerative colitis, breathing disorders, psoriasis, allergic conditions and lupus. Its side effects can include sweating, spinning sensation, bloating, nausea, acne, stomach pain, slow wound healing, thinning skin, mood changes, bruising, changes in the location of body fat, headache, dizziness and insomnia.

    Prednisolone (Prelone): is used to treat endocrine disorders, collagen diseases, skin conditions, allergic conditions, respiratory conditions, blood disorders, gastrointestinal diseases and diseases of the eye. (It can cause) .... insomnia, increased appetite, nervousness and indigestion occurred in more than 10% of clinical trial subjects. Other side effects include increased hair growth, diabetes, joint pain, glaucoma, cataracts and nosebleed.

    Prednisone (Deltasone): is used to treat inflammation associated with asthma, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, skin conditions and allergic disorders. The side effects include weight gain, high blood pressure, bone thinning, mood changes, easy bruising, insomnia, stretch marks, acne, cataracts and glucose intolerance.

Corticosteroids can be introduced to the body in a variety of forms - orally; injected into a vein or muscle; applied locally to the skin; injected directly into inflamed joints

And Corticosteroid drugs are often contained within products to treat various eye conditions; inhalers to treat asthma or bronchial disease; nasal drops and sprays to treat various nasal problems; topical creams and ointments to treat various skin problems.

3. Conventional Medical Purpose of Drug
The natural hormone, Cortisol, plays an important part in controlling salt and water balance in the body, as well as regulating carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism. When under stress the body stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, allowing the body to cope not only with stress, but stress-induced infections, traumas, and emotional problems. 

Conventional medicine gives patients corticosteroid drugs when the body does not produce enough of these hormones in order to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin, the immune system, and other organs.

Corticosteroids are now widely used for a variety of inflammatory conditions, including:
        Rheumatoid arthritis
        Ankylosing spondylitis
        ‘Juvenile’ arthritis
        Inflammatory Bowel disease
        Mixed connective tissue disease
        Behcet’s disease
        Polymyalgia Rheumatica
        Giant cell arteritis

4. History of drug
Corticosteroid drugs were initially thought to be a ‘miracle’ drug when first discovered in 1948 at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Arthritis patients were given daily injections, and the outcomes appeared to be so dramatic that it was thought that a ‘cure’ for arthritis had been found! 

Unfortunately, the more corticosteroid drugs were used, serious disease inducing effects (DIEs) emerged, and in a matter of a few years they were being referred to as ‘scare-oid drugs’. 

As usual, as the DIEs of the drug became more widely known, the use of corticosteroids became increasingly more restricted, and many patients, realising how dangerous they could be, began to decline the treatment.

5. How do they block the natural functioning of the body?
Corticosteroids act on the body’s immune system by blocking the production of substances that can trigger allergic and inflammatory actions in the body - such as prostaglandins. They also impede the functioning of white blood cells, whose task is to destroy foreign bodies, and help keep the immune system functioning properly. 

It is probably this interference with white blood cell function that produces the serious DIE of increasing our susceptibility, and ability to cope with all kinds of infection.

6. What are the Disease Inducing Effects (DIEs) that result?
With such a wide variety of corticosteroid drugs, given in such a wide variety of forms, the DIEs they cause vary to a considerable extent. NHS Choices have attempted to summarise these in their website. But, as they admit, 

               “Hormones are powerful chemicals that affect many different processes in the body, from the strength of your bones to your weight. As corticosteroids are hormones, they can have a wide range of side effects”.

Inhaled corticosteroids, taken over a long period, can cause oral thrush, a fungal infection that develops inside the mouth.

Corticosteroids injected into muscle or joints can cause pain at the site of the injection, and over a period, can weaken the joint, or the muscle. When injected into the bloodstream it can cause:
        Stomach irritation, such as indigestion
        Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
        Mood changes, including irritability, depression and restlessness.

Oral corticosteroids, even if taken for a short time, can cause:
        Increased appetite that often leads to weight gain
        Mood changes, such as becoming aggressive, irritable and short tempered; rapid mood swings, such as feeling very happy one minute and very sad and weepy the next
        Thinning skin which can bruise easily
        Muscle weakness
        Cushing’s Syndrome, a combination of fatty deposits that develop in the face (moon face), stretch marks across the body and acne
        Osteoporosis (the weakening of the bones, especially in older people, and an increased risk of bone fractures)
        The onset of diabetes, or worsening of existing diabetes
        High blood pressure
        Glaucoma and Cataracts
        Delayed wound healing
        Reduced growth in children
        Increased risk of infection
        Stomach ulcers
        Mental health problems, affecting 1 in 20 taking drugs such as Prednisolone, including:
                Feeling depressed and suicidal
                Feeling manic (very happy and full of energy and ideas)
                Strange and frightening thoughts

Oral corticosteroids also make you more vulnerable to vital infections such as chickenpox, shingles and measles, with NHS Choices adding that:

“You may become very ill if you develop these viral infections, even if you have been previously infected”.

When Corticosteroid drugs cause these kinds of serious DIEs it often necessitates other conventional medical treatments to deal with them, and patients can end up on a cocktail of drugs to treat their side effects.