The Art of the Curb Side Consult
In our neighborhood, we take the garbage cans out to the curb twice a week for the garbage pickup. Although we grumble about the extra work, it’s a good opportunity to get outside the house and say hello to our neighbors. On one such occasion last week, I had a curb-side consult with my neighbor, Bill Jones.
While wheeling the garbage can around, I said “How ya doing, Bill?” Bill said “not too good”, and then proceeded to show me the Ace Wrap on his arm and the two bottles of pills his doctor prescribed for his peripheral neuropathy. Bill was having burning pain, tingling and numbness in the arm and hand constant, all day and night, preventing him from sleeping. The pills were generic Neurontin (gabapentin) a drug marketed for treatment of peripheral neuropathy, and Tramadol, a synthetic opiate pain pill.
Knowing that a cocktail of B vitamins and alpha lipoic acid will frequently clear up and heal a peripheral neuropathy, I asked Bill if he was taking any vitamins. Bill’s face lit up. He became excited and invited me into his house. We sat in the kitchen and Bill brought out a sheet of paper listing his medications and vitamins.
At the top of the list was Pravastatin a drug to reduce cholesterol. When I saw this, I immediately knew what was causing Bill’s excruciating burning pain in the arm and hand. This is an obvious case of statin induced neuropathy.(1) My job had been simplified.
I told Bill the statin drug was causing his peripheral neuropathy, so he should stop the drug immediately. I also gave him a list of vitamins to take: Benfotiamine 150 mg three times a day. B12 methylcobalamin 5000 mcg sublingual tabs twice a day, P-5-P form of B6 50 mg. daily, Alpha Lipoic Acid 50 mg three times a day, Ubiquinone form of CoQ-10 100 mg twice a day.
Adverse Side Effects of Statin Drugs
The drug companies have cleverly planted deceptive articles in the media, such as the headline above, proclaiming statin drugs have no side effects. In reality statin drugs have horrendous adverse side effects which have been documented in the medical literature for over thirty years. This is the ugly side to statins, including adverse side effects such as peripheral neuropathy, muscle pain, muscle damage, myopathy, cognitive dysfunction and dementia, autoimmune disease, drug induced lupus, disturbance of immune function, etc.
Bill had no evidence of heart disease, his cholesterol levels were perfectly normal, and he should never taken a statin drug in the first place. Amazingly, his doctors failed to recognize he had a statin induced neuropathy, and instead gave Bill a worthless ineffective drug, gabapentin, as treatment for peripheral neuropathy, no more effective than placebo. They also gave him an opiate pain pill Tramadol which is effective for pain relief, however, the price is narcotics addiction. Prescribing an opiate pain pill for a statin induced neuropathy is misdiagnosis and mistreatment, a medical error of monumental proportions.
Who Benefits From a Statin Drug?
Medical science is clear that statin drugs reduce cholesterol quite well in men and women of all ages. However, there no health benefit obtained from lowering cholesterol in women, the elderly or men with no underlying history of heart disease. According to Rita Redberg MD, in an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, healthy men should not take a statin drug. On the other hand, thirty years of statin medical studies have shown a benefit greater than placebo for middle aged men with known underlying heart disease. Although this benefit is not impressive, this is enough to justify prescribing a statin drug to men with known heart disease.
Statin drugs are the most lucrative drugs ever, making more than 100 billion dollars for Pfizer. How did Pfizer make so much money? They put on the African Witch Doctor mask and created fear. The fear is: if you don’t take my drug, you die. Of course, this is nonsense, but people are willing to believe nonsense if they are frightened enough. Remember the scary witch doctor masks on display at the museum intended to induce fear in villagers and motivate them to follow the witch doctor’s advice ? I often laughed and marveled at how primitive these people were. A modern doctor would never stoop so low as to don a scary mask to induce fear in the patient. How can that be part of any effective medical treatment? Our modern medical system is above that. We are not savages living in mud huts. We are civilized, we have nuclear weapons, and the New York Times.
Fifty years ago when I laughed at the witch doctor mask at the museum, I never could have imagined my job would be to expose the ruse of the witch doctor mask, and try to convince healthy people not to become lemmings jumping off the cliff, clamoring for bad drugs they don’t need. Of course, this task would be immensely easier if Congress banned DTC consumer drug advertising, as most other countries have already done.
Two weeks after stopping the statin drug and starting a new vitamin program as listed above, Bill reports his arm and hand pain are considerably improved, and he is very grateful to the good doctor.
Why women need to be extra vigilant at menopause
At menopause, heart disease is a much bigger threat than most women realise. We associate heart disease more with men, but statistically it is the major cause of death, more than breast cancer which is perceived as a bigger risk. The good news is that overall the figures are declining because of greater awareness of the part that staying at a healthy weight, diet and exercise can play. Unfortunately heart attacks tend to be more severe in women than men and we are twice as likely to die within 12 months of a heart attack as they are. Even after recovery we are still twice as likely to have another heart attack within 6 years.
The excess oestrogen that women on HRT are exposed to does make them more vulnerable and is one of the reasons for advocating short term use only. However bioidentical natural progesterone helps support heart health acting as a diuretic, which reduces weight and so lowers blood pressure, both of these are major risk factors for heart disease. Added to the fact that there are no associated side effects or withdrawal symptoms it makes sense to ensure that at menopause you have the best possible hormone balance and good lifestyle choices.