Search This Blog

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.

Monday 3 March 2014

Fibromyalgia. Why Homeopathy is better than conventional medical treatment

Fibromyalgia is pain and inflammation in the muscles and soft tissues of the body, and was once called Fibrositis. The pain can be widespread, and NHS Choices provides these symptoms:
  •     increased sensitivity to pain
  •     fatigue (extreme tiredness)
  •     muscle stiffness
  •     difficulty sleeping   
  •     problems with mental processes (known as "fibro-fog") - such as problems with memory and concentration
  •     headaches
  •     irritable bowel syndrome - a digestive condition that causes stomach pain and bloating
Conventional Medical Treatment

Fibromyalgia can be a very painful condition, and NHS Choices confirms that:

“There is no (conventional) cure for fibromyalgia, but treatment can ease some of your symptoms and improve quality of life”.

It says that your GP may refer patients to a variety of specialists, including rheumatologists (a specialist in conditions that affect muscles and joints), neurologists (a specialist in conditions of the central nervous system), or psychologists (a specialist in mental health and psychological treatments). Conventional drugs used for this condition include:

NHS Choices recommends ‘simple painkillers that are available over-the-counter from a pharmacy’, such as paracetamol. When these fail to relieve the pain associated with fibromyalgia, your GP can prescribe a stronger painkiller, such as codeine or tramadol (another narcotic painkiller). It warns that these drugs can be addictive, and their effect weakens over time, so as they do not cure the condition the dose will be increased over time, and ultimately, serious withdrawal symptoms are likely. They also have side effects, such as diarrhoea and fatique.

If this sounds depressing, antidepressant drugs are the next treatment suggested by NHS Choices. This can be used “to help relieve pain in some people with fibromyalgia”, and goes on to say that the choice of drug will depend on the severity of your symptoms, “and any side effects the medicine may cause”. The side effects given by NHS Choices include:
  •   nausea (feeling sick)
  •     dry mouth
  •     drowsiness
  •     feeling agitated, shaky or anxious
  •     dizziness
  •     weight gain
  •     constipation

Sleeping Drugs
As fibromyalgia can stop you sleeping, and as there is no conventional cure for it, NHS Choices next mentioned drugs to help sleeping.

Muscle relaxant drugs
These drugs, not specified by NHS Choices, are supposed to reduce tension in muscles, and so ease the symptoms. They are also supposed to have sedative, or sleep-inducing effects too.

They also cause anaesthesia, anxiety, muscle pain and spasm (?), cerebral spasticity, cervical dystonia, chronic myofascial pain, cluster headaches, dystonia, Fibromyalgia (?), Huntington’s disease, hyperthermia, migraine, neuralgia, leg cramps, sciatica. spasticity, tetanus, and urinary incontinence (see this website for more side effects of these drugs).

Anticonvulsant drugs
NHS Choices say that you may also be prescribed anticonvulsant, or anti-seizure drugs such as Pregabalin and Gabapentin, normally used to treat epilepsy, with the ‘common’ side effects given as dizziness, drowsiness and oedema (swelling of hands and feet). But the drugs mentioned above cause many more side effects than this, so click on the links above to see a more comprehensive list).

Antipsychotic drugs
NHS Choices say that antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to help relieve long-term pain, and mentions that the possible side effects include drowsiness, tremors (shaking) and restlessness. Again, this is a serious mis-statement of the dangers of these drugs, click here to read more about the dangers of these drugs  .

Other treatment options
NHS Choices offers little else, other than cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy, physiotherapy, counselling - all in recognition that patients will have to continue coping with the pain, or ‘self-help’ methods of dealing with the pain, such as swimming, sitting or exercising in a heated pool, relaxation techniques, and getting in touch with supportive patient groups. 

However, NHS Choices do suggest that “some people with fibromyalgia try complementary or alternative treatments such as acupuncture, osteopathy and aromatherapy” but go on to say that “there is little scientific evidence that such treatments help in the long term”. And then it suggests that before using these treatments patients should consult with their GP, although gives no reason for doing so. It is a strange recommendation, as most GPs know little, if anything at all, about these therapies!

To this list of alternative medical therapies you should now add homeopathy - and consult with a homeopath about homeopathic treatment.

Homeopathic Treatment

The Homeopathic Materia Medica has many remedies,each of which has to be selected on the basis of the patient’s individual symptoms. To match remedy with patient for this painful condition it is always best to consult with a qualified homeopath. But the following remedies are often used, and the descriptions have been taken from the “True Star Health” website.

This remedy is indicated when any body area feels bruised and sore, after exertion, overuse of muscles, or injury. Sometimes Arnica is enough to soothe a chronic condition; often, other remedies follow Arnica.

A person who needs this remedy tries to stay as still as possible, since even the slightest motion aggravates the pain. People who need this remedy often feel extremely irritable and grumpy, not wanting to be touched or interfered with. Warmth often makes things worse and cool applications may be soothing. Pressure on the painful parts (or lying on them) often helps, because it minimizes movement.

Calcarea carb: 
Muscle soreness and weakness that are worse from exertion, and worse from getting cold and damp, may be relieved by this remedy. The person often is chilly with clammy hands and feet, easily fatigued, and has a tendency to feel overwhelmed and anxious. Cravings for sweets and eggs often confirm the choice of this remedy.

Soreness, weakness, and stiffness in the muscles—worse from being cold and worse from overuse—suggests a need for this remedy. The forearms often feel stiff, unsteady, and very weak. The muscles of the legs can feel contracted and sore, and the person may have restless legs at night. Problems tend to be worse when the weather is dry, and better in rainy weather (although getting wet aggravates the pain and stiffness). Warm applications and warming up in bed often relieve discomfort.

Cimicifuga (also called Actae racemosa): 
People who need this remedy are often energetic and talkative, becoming depressed or fearful when physical problems trouble them. Soreness and stiffness of muscles may be accompanied by shooting pains and are usually aggravated by getting cold. The neck and spinal muscles can be very tight, and the person may have headaches and other problems during menstrual periods.

Kalmia latifolia: 
Severe pain in the muscles, extending from higher areas to lower ones, often responds to this remedy. Shooting pains may occur, along with stiffness, neuralgia, and numbness or a cold sensation. Pains can come on suddenly, and often shift around, being worse from motion and worse at night.

Ranunculus bulbosus: 
This remedy is often helpful with fibrositis and muscle stiffness, especially when the neck and back muscles are involved. Stabbing pains and soreness may be felt near the spine and shoulder-blades, especially on the left. Problems may be aggravated by cold damp weather, walking, and alcoholic beverages.

Rhus Tox: 
If a person feels very restless, with stiffness and soreness that find relief in warmth and motion, this remedy should be considered. Problems are aggravated in cold, damp weather. Stiffness and pain are worse on waking in the morning, and after periods of rest.

Ruta Grav: 
Tremendous stiffness of the muscles, with lameness, pain, and weakness (especially after overuse) may be soothed with this remedy. The legs and hips are sore and weak, and the person may find it difficult to stand after sitting in a chair. Muscles in the back and neck feel bruised, the tendons may be sore, and the wrists and hands feel painful and contracted.

Randomised Clinical Trials

The results were analysed by non-parametric statistical methods, showing that homœopathy produced a statistically significant improvement, but only when the prescribed remedy was well indicated.

We showed that the homoeopathic medicine Rhus toxicodendron 6c was effective for a selected
subgroup of patients with fibrositis. The improvement in tenderness, which is the best discriminator of fibrositis,5 was particularly distinct. The improvement experienced by our patients while receiving active treatment was at least as great as that reported for any other treatment that has been assessed double blind.

This is the second study in which homeopathy performed better than placebo in treating patients with fibromyalgia. Given the lack of definitive conventional treatments for fibromyalgia, the lack of improvement in pain over the natural history of the condition, and the high rates of utilisation of complementary medicine by fibromyalgia patients, homeopathy emerges as a potentially low-risk, evidence based option in an integrated package of care.

Given the acceptability of the treatment and the clinically relevant effect on function, there is a need for a definitive study to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of adjunctive healthcare by a homeopath for patients with FMS.

These studies, and one other, were discussed in this interesting article written by Dana Ullman in Natural News. The additional study was undertaken by Iris Bell, and her colleagues at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, funded by National Institutes of Health. Four articles were published in peer-review medical journals (Bell et al, 2004a; Bell et al, 2004b; Bell et al, 2004c; Bell et al, 2004d). The primary clinical results from this study were published in the journal, Rheumatology (published by the British Society for Rheumatology), and it found statistically significant results from homeopathic treatment.

Vertigo? Why Homeopathy? It is safer and more effective.

“It's the sensation that you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning. This feeling may be slight and barely noticeable, or it may be so severe that you find it difficult to keep your balance and do everyday tasks. Attacks of vertigo can develop suddenly and last for a few seconds or they may last much longer. If you have severe vertigo, your symptoms may be constant and last for several days, making normal life very difficult”.

The main symptoms of vertigo are loss of balance, which can make it difficult to stand or walk, it can also cause nausea and vomiting, and dizziness or lightheadedness

Conventional Treatment of Vertigo

NHS Choices says that the treatment for vertigo will depend on the cause, and severity of the symptoms. It recommends avoiding stress, and lying still in a quite, dark room, all good advice, but then adds that this is the best time to take the drugs. The following causes of vertigo are given, alongside the drugs used:

Labyrinthitis (an inner ear infection). 
Although NHS Choices say this has a viral cause, and is treated with drugs like:

        Benzodiazepines, which NHS Choices admits can be “highly addictive” if used for long periods, but in fact have been described as “a 40-year horror story” by people who have taken them.

        Antiemetics, used for nausea and vomiting symptoms, such as Prochiorperazine, the side-effects mentioned by NHS Choices being tremors, abnormal or involuntary body and facial movements, and sleepiness. But they are also known to cause fever, hearing loss, extreme nausea, constipation, ringing ears, severe stomach pain, severe vomiting, heartburn and unusual weight gain

        Corticosteroids, such as Prednisolone, are used when symptoms are severe, but these drugs are known to cause an increase in appetite, weight gain, insomnia, fluid retention, mood changes, such as feeling irritable or anxious. Indeed, click on the links above to find the serious adverse reactions to these drugs.

Vestibular Neuronitis (inflammation of the vestibular nerve in the ear).
NHS Choices says that this condition can be treated with medication - but does not mention what that medication is. They say that it is a condition that can “clear up without treatment”.

Benign Parxysmal Positional Vertigo (small fragments of debris in the ear canal).
This can also ‘clear up on its own’, and describes to ‘Epley Manoeuvre’, designed to move the fragments, and the Brandt-Daroff exercises.

Meniere’s Disease (described as a rare condition that affects the inner ear)
NHS Choices says that “there is not yet an absolute cure” for Meniere’s disease, but that it can be treated with dietary advice, or drugs like:

        Prochiorperazine (see above), and
        Antihistamines, such as cinnarizine and cyclizine, which it admitted can cause drowsiness (lack of co-ordination, slow reaction times, etc), insomnia, nightmares, hallucinations, and upset stomach, impaired thinking, dizziness (?), constipation, blurred vision, urinary retention, itchy skin, rapid heartbeat and chest tightness.

Central Vertigo
NHS Choices says that this is caused by problems within the brain, or brainstem, and can be caused by migraine headaches, or brain tumours, in which case patients are referred to a hospital specialist.

Vertigo with an unknown cause
NHS Choices says that if the cause of the vertigo remains unknown the patient will be admitted to hospital, where ‘Vestibular rehabilitation’ will be used for “brain retraining”.

The Homeopathic Treatment of Vertigo

Homeopathy can prevent the need to resort to these drugs, and has a variety of remedies known to treat vertigo, regardless of its cause, and a well-selected remedy will often cure the condition safely and effectively. These remedies seek to address the underlying causes of vertigo, and to rid of patient of the condition. The following remedy descriptions are have been taken from the Hpathy website.

Conium – this remedy suits especially the vertigo of the aged and that arising from excess and over use of tobacco. Also that from due to cerebral anaemia. There is sensation when the person looks steadily at an object as if turning in a circle. Vertigo on rising up or going down stairs, with great debility and inclination to sleep.

Iodine – well marked remedy for old people who suffer from chronic congestive vertigo.

Ferrum met – this remedy suits anaemic vertigo, which is worse when suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position. It comes when suddenly rising from a sitting or lying position. It comes on when down hill or on crossing water, even though the water be smooth.

Cocculus – vertigo which is connected with digestive troubles suits this remedy, and it develops into the neurasthenic type with occipital headache and lumbosacral irritation. There is a flushed face and hot head, worse sitting up and riding in a carriage; worse after eating.

Rhus Tox – this remedy suits vertigo, especially in old people, which comes on as soon as the patient rises from a sitting position. It is associated with heavy limbs and is probably caused by senile changes in the brain.

Aesculus – severe vertigo, with reeling, like drunken men; vertigo, with nausea and dimness of sight; confused stupor; thickness of speech; great weakness, with trembling.

Lachesis – stupefaction with loss of consciousness, with blue face and convulsive movements, or tremor of the extremities; or paralysis, especially of the left side; the paroxysms are preceded by frequent absence of mind, or vertigo with rush of blood to the head; blowing expiration; after the use of liquors or mental emotions.

Cyclamen – sudden vanishing of sight; profuse and dark menses; blindness accompanied by semi lateral headache of the temple, with pale face, vertigo; nausea referred to throat and weak digestion.

Hpathy also lists other remedies for vertigo, including: Aconite, Argentum Met, Apis Mel, Baptesia, Belladonna, Bryonia, Calcaria Carb, Calcaria Sulph, Cannabis Indica, Cheledonium, Digitalis, Dulcamara, Gelsemium, lycopodium, Natrum Mur, Pulsatilla, Sulphur, Petroleum, Silicea, Tabacum, Secale Cor, Sabina, Thuja, Kali Iod, Graphites, and Natrum Carb.

Randomised Controlled Tests (RCT’s)

        A Double Blind Randomised Controlled trial that showed statistical significant results with homeopathy as well as betahistine.

        In this study, a homeopathic combination remedy was found to be equally effective as Ginkgo Biloba

        The effects of the homeopathic preparation Vertigoheel on variables related to microcirculation were investigated.....and that...the data support a pharmacological effect on microcirculation from the treatment.

        In this study, 88% patient improved compared to 87 % in the conventional treatment group. “The study confirms that Vertigoheel is a safe and effective treatment option for vertigo of varying etiology and is therapeutically equivalent to medications containing dimenhydrinate”.

        “.... Vertigoheel not only improves the signalling pathways of smooth muscle cells but also is an effective medication for the therapy of vertigo of varying genesis. Various clinical investigations and cohort studies have shown an equivalent effect to dimenhydrinate, betahistine and ginkgo biloba. In each case the frequency, duration and intensity of the vertigo attacks were determined, as well as the tolerability of the medication. A meta-analysis of four studies also underlined the efficacy of Vertigoheel in cases of vertigo of varying genesis.