20 Pills You Should NEVER Take

Continuing with last week’s theme, here’s a group of drugs that not only do you no good but can do you untold harm. And you won’t even know until it bites you in the backside.

This group is called bisphosphonates. Sally Fields makes it sound good but you definitely do not want to take them.

These are osteoporosis drugs like Fosamax and Boniva. These drugs have not been shown to  keep your bones strong or help you avoid osteoporosis. What they actually do is something much, much worse.

If you can actually follow all the disclaimers, most of the commercials will tell you that you must stand or sit up straight for half an hour after swallowing the pill; you can only take it with water on an empty stomach; you must take it first thing in the morning; and you can’t eat until after that first half hour is up.

That makes me just a wee bit suspicious. When instructions for taking a pill are that tight, you know there’s something they’re not telling you and it will probably put you in danger.   In this case, serious danger.

These pills can really harm your esophagus. That’s the tube from your mouth to your stomach. If you have heartburn, acid reflux or GERD as they call it now, it just makes things worse. Taking these drugs more than doubles the risk of a disease called Barretts’ esophagus and when you have Barretts’, you have a greater risk of cancer of the esophagus.   I don’t think a lot of patients, if any, who are taking these pills know this. If it’s printed anywhere, it should be in the multi-page foldout document (that nobody ever reads) that comes with each prepackaged drug or in the pharmacist’s brief paper that comes with the prescription bottle.

So you’re being sucked in with the promise of stronger bones but if you bite, you get virtually no benefit and have a higher risk of cancer.   And if that’s not enough to turn you off, the Mayo Clinic has some more nasty news for you.

The bisphosphonates are Fosamax, Binosto, Boniva, Actonel, Atelvia, Reclast and Zometa.  According to the Clinic, “Side effects include nausea, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, and the risk of an inflamed esophagus or esophageal ulcers. These are less likely to occur if the medicine is taken properly. Injected forms of bisphosphonates don’t cause stomach upset. And it may be easier to schedule a quarterly or yearly injection than to remember to take a weekly or monthly pill but it can be more costly to do so.

“Long-term bisphosphonate therapy has been linked to a rare problem in which the middle of the thighbone cracks and might even break completely. (I thought it was supposed to strengthen bones.) Bisphosphonates also have the potential to affect the jawbone. Osteonecrosis (osteo = bone; necrosis = death) of the jaw is a rare condition mostly occurring after a tooth extraction in which a section of jawbone dies and deteriorates. You should have a recent dental examination before starting bisphosphonates.” (More xrays = more radiation = greater possiblity of cancer.)

The Clinic tells us there are other ways to treat osteoporosis, each with its own dirty little secret.

“Hormone-related therapy

“Estrogen, especially when started soon after menopause, can help maintain bone density. However, estrogen therapy can increase a woman’s risk of blood clots, endometrial cancer, breast cancer and possibly heart disease.”  (Emphasis is mine.)

Oh, nice!

“Raloxifene (Evista) mimics estrogen’s beneficial effects on bone density in postmenopausal women, without some of the risks associated with estrogen. Taking this drug may also reduce the risk of some types of breast cancer. Hot flashes are a common side effect. Raloxifene also may increase your risk of blood clots.”  (Emphasis is mine.)

Jeez, give me a break!

“In men, osteoporosis may be linked with a gradual age-related decline in testosterone levels. Testosterone replacement therapy can help increase bone density, but osteoporosis medications are better studied in men with osteoporosis and are recommended instead of or in addition to testosterone.”

It’s not bad enough men have to lose their manhood, they also have to cope with soft bones. My husband broke both hips in falls five years apart and couldn’t even stand during his last year.

When i looked at osteoporosis treatments on WebMD. They didn’t list any of those drugs, only vitamins, especially C and D, plus weight-bearing exercise. Now, that’s what I like to see. WebMD, as medical mainline as they come, has a whole page dedicated to alternative and complementary medicine. We’re gaining on them!

Today’s Old Tyme Cure

As long as we’re on the subject of broken bones, let’s see what our ancestors did about them. This is from Country Folk Medicine, by Elisabeth Janos.

“When a bone broke and snapped out of place, the first consideration was to get the bone together and back in place.

“I was alone in the woods hunting. I was on a cliff when I slipped on ice. My leg broke; it was dislocated. I put my leg in the crotch of a tree and pulled on it until it went back into place. The pain was unbearable — I thought I’d pass out but after I did it I was able to make it back home.”

“The second consideration was to protect the injured limb. For self-treated people, this usually meant a splint. When preparing the splint, the limb was usually well padded, and then two or three pieces of board or sticks were wrapped on with rags. Some people recalled rolling newspapers tightly to serve as a splint.”

And then there were casts, usually made of plaster of paris, a fine white powder consisting mostly of calcium sulphate, which comes from gypsum. Mixed with water it forms a paste that dries like cement.One man told a funny story about his broken shoulder.

“When I was 10, I fell…and broke my shoulder. I had a cast on the shoulder and all around it. When it came time to take it off, the doctor marked it with a wheel and said, “Your father can cut this tonight when you get home.” He said to use vinegar in the cracks to dissolve the plaster.

Father couldn’t get it off — used screwdrivers and everything else. The doctor finally got it off the next day. It was made of Portland cement; the nurse had got the wrong stuff.”

Some folks used starch for the cast. You mixed it very thick, soaked rags in it and bound them on the broken limb.

One person had a broken elbow and her husband cast it with a length of stove pipe cut and bent to shape.

In another case, a farmer’s fingers were crushed and he was about to cut them off but his wife bandaged the hand then shellacked the bandage and his fingers were saved.

More than a few of Ms. Janos’ interviewees reported using skunk oil to limber up the recovered limbs. Strangely, bear oil didn’t work for this purpose. Some also reported that a salve made from a pint of night crawlers and a half pint of heavy cream, simmered for ten minutes, restored flexibility to broken limbs; likewise an ointment made of ground worms simmered in lard was reported to have worked.

One last cure for broken bones in this book: drink comfrey tea. If you read Jean Auel’s Valley of Horses, second book in her Earth’s Children series, you’ll remember Ayla using comfrey to heal.

Thanks again for coming today. Hope you’ll come again next week. Please spread the good word to your family and friends: There are better ways to treat what ails you than Big Pharma’s. If you need an alternative treatment, drop me a line at jean@jeannewbold.com naming and/or describing the ailment and I’ll look up what the doctors have to say about it. Let me remind you that I’m not a doctor; I can’t diagnose or prescribe but I am allowed to pass along information from doctors.

See you all next week.

2 thoughts on “20 Pills You Should NEVER Take

  1. Rosemary

    I avoid taking pharmaceuticals as much as possible, although I will confess to a little bit of hormone therapy. The side effects of many drugs can be worse than whatever it is they are trying to cure. I think that in many cases the so-called “side effect” is actually the main thing the drug does, and whatever benefits it may have are actually just the side effect. My doctor did not recommend any kind of medication to prevent osteoporosis. She instructed me to take Vitamin D and get more exercise. So many of us live in a high-tech world where our jobs requires us to sit still for long periods of time and our busy lives seem to leave us no time for exercise. My husband and I started getting up and walking 2 miles before breakfast. It doesn’t take much time and it is good for the relationship as well. It’s that weight-bearing exercise that is a challenge for me. My legs get a bit of it because I climb stairs a lot. But I need to find a way to work on the upper body.

    1. Jean Newbold Post author

      Hi Rosemary,
      You hit the nail on the head. Have you read the book, “Bad Pharma”, by Dr. Ben Goldacre?
      For upper body exercise, nothing beats weight lifting done slowly. i have a wall clock that clicks each second and I use it as a metronome to keep me moving slowly. I just graduated to the 10 lb. dumbbells. They were pure murder at first but I’m getting better (read stronger) all the time.
      Walking is excellent. If you decide to move up to running, the latest word is don’t just run the whole time; it decreases heart and lung size. Instead, try Scout pace — 50 steps walking, 50 steps running. Or run a block, walk a block. In other words, break it up. That will increase heart and lung capacity.
      keep up the great work.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>