Monthly Nutritional Practice Builder: May 2017

“You cannot poison a crucial enzyme, block an important receptor, or interfere with a metabolic function for the long term and expect a good result.”
– David Brownstein, M.D. Drugs that Don’t Work and Natural Therapies that Do

The issue that we need to consider is not whether alternative or complementary therapies work better than prescription medications. Instead, we need to look at how our medications work in our bodies and their effect on various essential pathways. If you look at the mechanism of action for many of our drugs, you will see terms like “inhibitor,” “modifier,” “agonist,” and other similar terms. These descriptions would indicate a change in a metabolic pathway created by the presence of a drug. When inserted into our essential metabolic pathways, drugs can affect nutrient absorption, synthesis, transport, storage, metabolism and excretion. This is the basis of Dr. Brownstein’s statement. What are the ultimate nutritional and metabolic deficiencies that can occur in the body from long-term usage of drugs? Is it possible that drugs, when taken over time, have the potential to create greater problems than the disease state for which they were initially prescribed?

Physicians and pharmacists need to take into consideration the potential nutrient depletions which accompany long-term medication administration. These nutrient depletions can undermine the patient’s health and well-being. Nutrients are critical to normal body function! The various vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients provided in our diet fuel the thousands of metabolic processes that occur in our bodies. They are essential for life as we know it.

We know that drug-induced nutrient depletions can be multifactorial. We can identify the nutrient depletions accompanying a particular drug. But what happens when multiple drugs are inserted into the various metabolic pathways in the body? What is the total cost to our nutrient uptake? We also know that problems from drug-induced nutrient depletions can arise several months after beginning a drug. When these problems arise, they may not be connected to the introduction of a medication months earlier. Instead, the problems may be viewed by the physician as a new complaint, creating the addition of yet another drug to the patient’s regimen.

Drug-induced nutrient depletions are present in most of our popular drugs. Patients should review their medication profile with their pharmacist, and utilize appropriate nutritional supplementation when necessary. Products such as the “statin” drugs, estrogens, H2 blockers, PPIs, antibiotics and a host of other commonly prescribed drugs should be accompanied by coenzyme Q-10, B-vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, vitamin K and probiotics, just to name a few of the protective supplements. Advising you on your potential drug-induced nutrient depletions is your pharmacist’s responsibility. Inform your pharmacist of all of the medications you are taking, both prescription and over-the-counter.