Considering the question of side effects of prescription and recreational drugs

More than 10% of hospital beds in UK and Ireland are taken up by patients who are suffering from side effects of prescribed drugs.

This prompts many questions - How well do doctors know the drugs they prescribe? How often do they report cases of side effects?  Do the pharmaceutical companies know the effects of their drugs before they market them? How are drugs tested? How does poly pharmacy (use of several different medicines at the same time) affect a sick person? What exactly are side effects? - In this article I would like to focus mainly on the last question.

Pharmaceutical drug testing is done on a variety of laboratory animals, despite the fact that no two species are likely to metabolize a drug identically. A substance that can poison or kill a human can be harmless to animals and vice versa.  Did you know that at the stage when a new drug is released on the market there is only limited evidence about its safety in human beings? In the past fifty years a huge number of drugs have been withdrawn after causing serious damage to health, and even death. The massive financial cost, the unnecessary cruelty involved in drug testing on animals, and the repeated use of unreliable and unpredictable substances for sick humans, ought to give pause for thought.

So, what are side effects? They are the result of a person’s physiological, mental and emotional response to repeated doses of a drug. The extra, unpleasant and unwanted symptoms are called “iatrogenia”, meaning doctor or drug induced symptoms. This is more evident in the treatment of chronic disease because of long term drug use.

In serious or incurable chronic disease, palliation (temporary improvement of symptoms) is not considered to be a cure in the true sense of the word. The person usually needs progressively greater amounts of the drug to produce the desired effect. The disease remains intact and progresses despite, or because of, treatment. If the drug is stopped the symptoms are worse than before. Homoeopathic vets have seen this effect in their animal patients too. So the sick organism now has drug symptoms as well as the original illness, although its symptoms may have been temporarily suppressed.

How are homeopathic remedies tested? Small amounts of a drug are tested on groups of healthy adult human volunteers. Each drug temporarily changes the healthy person’s state of health for the worse, producing symptoms of sickness, each drug in a different way. In this way we can learn what symptoms a drug is capable of causing. Conversely, when it is prescribed to a sick person suffering with similar symptoms we know what it is capable of curing (like cures like). The advantage of human testing is that the healthy person can clearly note how the drug being tested changes his/her health, including subjective physical sensations and functions, and subtle changes in emotions and mental ability. Therefore, by studying the remedy one comes to know its totality - there no surprise ‘side’ effects. The beauty of prescribing homoeopathically is that the prescription is made with respect to the individual’s symptoms, susceptibility and uniqueness.

Anyone interested in maintaining good health and sidestepping iatrogenia would wisely avoid recreational drugs, the herbal as well as the pharmaceutical variety, and keep prescribed and over the counter drugs to a minimum. Homoeopathically prescribed medicine is a gentle, cost effective method of improving health in acute as well as chronic diseases.