Tuesday, August 30, 2005


With the cost of insurance and medical care today, who couldn't use a few more self-help alternatives, so long as they are effective?

A research study, done at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, has shown this cost-effective approach to be just that.......effective! One website, Overcoming Depression on the InterNet (ODIN), based around Cognitive Behavioral techniques (CBT), is purely "self help" and is delivered without any person-to-person contact. The research showed that those participants who used the site showed improvement after just a few weeks. The only catch, you ask? Participants simply needed to be reminded to use the service!!

Monday, August 29, 2005

FDA approves Cymbalta for the treatment of depression

There is a new depression medication that will hit the pharmacy shelves soon. Cymbalta, which is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Company, falls in the SSNRI (serotonin and norepinephrine) class of antidepressants. In clinical studies, the most common side effects were nausea, dry mouth, constipation, decreased appetite, fatigue, sleepiness and increased sweating. However, the FDA warns against all pharmaceutical antidepressants, and requires that all antidepressants carry a "black box warning" to alert patients of the increased risk of suicide while taking antidepressants. There are alternatives to pharmaceutical antidepressants. You might want to look at Deprex, which is highly effective and safe in the treatment of depression.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canada Reinstates Deadly Attention Deficit Drug

Adderall XR, which was forced off the Canadian market last February, is being reinstated. The reversal of the Canadian regulator's decision came after a panel of experts reviewed the drug's safety data.

Health Canada pulled Adderall XR off the market on Feb. 9 after learning of 20 cases of sudden death and 12 of stroke in people using the drug. Fourteen of the sudden deaths and two of the strokes were in children. A number of the cases involved children with structural heart defects.

The drug was put back on the market because "there was not enough evidence of an increased harm from Adderall compared to other therapies available."

Health officials expect to have the product back on pharmacy shelves within the next two to three weeks.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Fish Oil for ADHD - Another Study Proves its Benefits

Add another study to the pile that clearly shows the relationship between diet and ADHD. This one is from Austrailia researchers where they, like their American and European counterparts, found that a diet rich in fatty acids improve attention spans and help children with ADHD.

Researchers at the University of South Australia studied 145 ADHD children, Some of these ADHD children were given capsules containing fish oil high in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Children in the other group were given a placebo capsule.

After 15 weeks, parents of the children taking the fish oil capsules reported improved concentration, better behavior and increased reading skills.

Parents of the children in the placebo group reported no improvement in their children.

Scientists conducting the study surmised that the fish oil "oiled the brain," making for smoother transmission through neural membranes.

Attend contains every fatty acid and amino acid the body requires. Additionally, it contains herbal and homeopathic remedies so you get a broad range of treatment. Try fish oil, try Attend, try both together. Just try this approach before trying Ritalin or other drugs commonly used to treat ADHD.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

30 Minutes of Classical Music or 10 mg of Valium?

If a recent study is correct, Mozart can calm you down as well as Valium. A Baltimore St. Agnes HealthCare cardiologist found that for his cardic patients, listening to classical music produced the same calming effects as a 10 mg dose of Valium. Taking into consideration the cost and potentially dangerous side effects of Valium, wouldn't you first want to give Bach, Beethoven or Chopin a try before heading for the drugs to reduce your stress?

I used to have classical music playing in the background when the kids were younger. I can tell you from personal experience that it truly does calm the wild beast!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

8 Medical Lies and Why I Abandoned Medicine

This great article, written by Shane Ellison, M.Sc. (www.earlytorise.com) came across my desk this morning. I thought I would share...

"8 Medical Lies and Why I Abandoned Medicine"

By education and by trade, I was a drug chemist. My passion for
science motivated a successful career in drug design and synthesis -
in both academia and industry. As a scientist, I witnessed first-
hand the priorities of international pharmaceutical companies (Big
Pharma), which ranked wealth first and health a distant second.

In the pharmaceutical industry, making money supercedes science.
Science no longer prevails in medicine. Instead, modern medicine
has been democratized. Drug approval is a simple matter of 51%
telling the other 49% that a prescription drug is safe and
necessary. The outcome: deadly drugs are approved for use among
misinformed medical doctors and patients. Herein lies a story of
deceit and a chemist's abandonment of modern medicine.

My suspicion of modern medicine began while I was employed by Eli
Lilly to design a new generation of Hormone Replacement Therapy
(HRT) drugs. Such drugs include tamoxifen and raloxifene.
Initially, these drugs were thought to block estrogen receptors
(excess estrogen can initiate cancer growth) and thereby halt
cancer. As time progressed, though, it was learned that they were
also capable of activating estrogen receptors. The end result was a
biochemical environment favorable to cancer growth among users.[1]
The Journal of the American Medical Association recognized this
trend and stated "our data add to the growing body of evidence that
recent long-term use of HRT is associated with an increased risk of
breast cancer and that such use may be related particularly to
lobular tumors."

The risk of cancer associated with HRT drugs was obscured from
doctors by drug companies. This can be seen by the fact that
tamoxifen is the gold-standard used by medical doctors to fight
cancer among their patients, particularly breast cancer. This
explains why medical doctors might not notice its ability to cause
cancer - the patient already has it.

At any rate, my task was made clear: Design HRT "knock-offs" that
are effective without causing cancer.

My attempt to design safer alternatives was unsuccessful. And after
one year, the project was ended. However, access to HRT drugs like
tamoxifen was not. They remained on the market.

The fuel driving the continued use of HRT drugs was disinformation
via Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) advertising. Since 1962, monitoring DTC
advertising has been the sole responsibility of the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA). But in a ghastly conflict of interests, the
FDA granted the duty of DTC advertising to the pharmaceutical
companies in 1997. Officially, this was done as a means
of "promoting health awareness to ensure health and safety."
Unofficially, it was done to sell more drugs. DTC advertising
dictated that all women over 50 should use HRT to remain healthy.
Women scurried to their doctors to ask if "HRT was right for them."
My suspicion grew into conflict.

The disinformation campaign behind HRT drugs was not an isolated
case. I learned that drug advertising and science are frequently in
direct opposition to each other. For example:

DTC advertising dictates that lowering cholesterol prevents heart
disease. Science proves otherwise.

DTC advertising dictates that an aspirin a day will keep heart
attack away. Science proves otherwise.

DTC advertising dictates that depression is a disease that must be
treated with prescription drugs. Science proves otherwise.

DTC advertising dictates that ADHD is a disease and that our
children must be treated with amphetamines. Science proves

DTC advertising dictates that infants must be vaccinated to prevent
childhood illness. Science proves otherwise.

DTC advertising dictates that blood pressure must be controlled via
a lifetime of servitude to prescription drugs. Science proves

DTC advertising dictates that chemotherapy is your first line of
defense against deadly cancer. Science proves otherwise.

DTC advertising dictates that Type II diabetes must be treated with
daily insulin use. Science proves otherwise.

By spreading the aforementioned health myths, DTC advertising forges
a belief among the general public which asserts that drugs - not
lifestyle habits and nutrition - confer health and longevity. And
although, in reality, medicine is only necessary for sick people in
times of emergency, DTC advertising has been wildly successful in
convincing people that being healthy requires a lifetime of
prescription drug use. While it's true that the advertising usually
mentions the potential side effects of drugs, doctors tend to
discount them. They simply regurgitate the pharmaceutical-company
line that "the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks." Don't believe

Western Medicine's plague of deception is deadlier than any virus,
illicit drugs, and terrorism combined. Well-documented in scientific
journals and reported by media outlets nationwide, FDA approved
drugs are killing an estimated 106,000 people every year.[2] That
equates to one individual dying every five minutes from "approved"
drugs - 300 people dying every day. Which is twice as many deaths
in a single year from "approved drugs" as the total number of U.S.
deaths from the Vietnam War.[3] This does not count death by
hospital medical error, which adds 98,000 deaths to the atrocity.
[4] If not killed, an estimated 2 million people are victims of
drug-induced illnesses.[5] These may include drug-induced obesity,
cancer, kidney disease, autism, depression and heart failure.

Hypnotized by DTC advertising, people are oblivious to the ill
effects of prescription drug use. This is evidenced by their
willingness to swallow whatever "the doctor ordered." They drug
their children, hop the borders to smuggle inexpensive prescription
drugs back into the U.S., beg their congressman for discounts and
pay a lifetime of insurance fees in order to snatch up these silent
killers. The avalanche of DTC advertising has smothered common

For the general public and medical doctors to fully grasp the effect
of Modern Medicine's Deceit, they have to judge the situation by
what a drug is actually accomplishing, rather than what the drug
company ads and pharmaceutically-compliant politicians insist. The
health benefits of prescription drugs are illusory. Step away from
the hypnotic drug ads, close the ghost-written medical journals,
discard research studies dominated by statistical contortionists and
give yourself a prescription-drug reality check: Very few
prescription drugs have any value outside of emergency medicine and
those that do can usually be replaced with safer and less expensive
natural medicine. This was a troublesome lesson for me, as an
aspiring drug chemist, to learn. Unfortunately, it was not the only

Humanitarianism among Big Pharma has been abandoned. The technical
skills of chemists are not being used for humanitarian purposes.
They are being used in a deadly game of profiteering. Those at risk
are not the misinformed, high-paid medical doctors but rather their
patients. Becoming aware of this ripple effect of DTC advertising
led to my abandonment of modern medicine.

I had to face the cold, hard facts: Western Medicine has become a
billion dollar empire not out of keen science, but rather deceit.
The end result has been one nation under drugs. This subjugation
has set a standard of health in America that, by definition, is sick
care disguised as health care.

Forward thinking chemists recognize the deadly trend. But few have
the luxury of speaking out or resigning. The majority of chemists in
the U.S. are foreigners. Their career secures them the right to live
and work in the U.S. This demands allegiance to their employer,
regardless of the end result of their labors. Admittedly, that this
is an intentional act of Big Pharma is speculative.

Individuals outside of the drug industry often question my conflict
with Big Pharma. How can a single person denounce a philosophy
adhered to by millions of medical doctors? That is simple: I ignore
the majority thinking that is steeped in disinformation. I stand
firm in science. Truth in science requires only one scientist to
verify reproducible results in the face of pharmaceutical tyranny.

Science proves that habits, not drugs, create and eradicate disease.
The current devastation of prescription drugs is a warning that
healthy lifestyle and nutrition habits must replace blind worship of
prescription drugs in the pursuit of life-extension. As people
obtain better health intelligence and heed this warning, drug use
will recede. A new model of health care based on common sense, not
profiteering, will emerge.

About the Author

Shane Ellison is dedicated to stopping prescription drug hype in its
tracks. To this end, he has made it his mission to introduce
healthy lifestyle habits as well as safe and effective nutritional
supplements to the public. With his keen ability to sift through
scientific literature and weed out fact from fiction, Shane has
empowered thousands to assert their health freedom by saying "no" to
prescription drugs. Learn more at www.healthmyths.net


[1] Sally, A. et al. Estrogen Plus Progestin and the Incidence of
Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Postmenopausal Women.
Journal of the American Medical Association. 2003;289:2651-2662.
Chen CL, Weiss NS, Newcomb P, Barlow W, White E. Hormone replacement
therapy in relation to breast cancer. Journal of the American
Medical Association. 2002 Feb 13;287(6):734-41.
Spurgeon, D. Long Term use of HRT Doubles Cancer Risk. British
Medical Journal. 2003 Jul 5;327(7405):9

Yoneva T. Taniguchi K. Tsunenari T. Saito H. Kanbe Y, Morikaw K,
Yamada-Okabe H. Identification of a novel, orally bioavailable
estrogen receptor downregulator. Anticancer Drugs. 2005 Aug;16

Labrie, F. et al. EM-652 (SCH 57068), a third generation SERM acting
as pure antiestrogen in the mammary gland and endometrium. The
Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 1999 Apr-

[2] Starfield, Barbara. Is US Health Really the Best in the World?
Journal of the American Chemical Society, July 26, 2000-Vol 284,


[3] There were an estimated 58,000 U.S casualties in the Vietnam War

[4] Moride Y, Haramburu F, Requejo AA, Begaud B. Under-reporting of
adverse drug reactions in general practice. British Journal of
Clinical Pharmacology, 1997 43: 177-181.

[5] Tejal K. Gandhi. et al. Adverse Drug Events in Ambulatory Care.
The New England Journal of Medicine. Volume 348:1556-1564. April 17,
2003. Number 16.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

College Life: The Ritalin Advantage?

This is an excellent article compliments of the New York Times News Service, Aug. 1, 2005.

NEW YORK - It was finals week at Columbia University and Angela needed a miracle. Like many of her classmates, Angela, a bleary-eyed junior, had already pulled a pair of all-nighters to get through a paper on "Finnegans Wake," a French test and an exam for her music humanities class. All that remained was a Latin American literature final, but as midnight approached, her stamina was beginning to fade. "This week is killing me," she said, taking a cigarette break in front of the school library. "At this point, I could use a little help."

Thanks to a friend, the tiny orange pill in her purse would provide the needed miracle. Angela, who asked that her last name not be published for fear of alarming her family and angering university officials, popped a 30-milligram tablet of Adderall into her mouth, washed it down with coffee and headed back to the library for another night of cramming. The next morning, she sailed through the exam confidently and scored an A. "I don't think I could keep a 3.9 average without this stuff," she said afterward.

At many colleges across the country, the ingredients for academic success now include a steady flow of analeptics, the class of prescription amphetamines that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. advertisement

Since Ritalin abuse first hit the radar screen several years ago, the reliance on prescription stimulants to enhance performance has risen, becoming almost as commonplace as No-Doz, Red Bull and maybe even caffeine. As many as 20 percent of college students have used Ritalin or Adderall to study, write papers and take exams, according to recent surveys focused on individual campuses. A study released this month by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia found that the number of teenagers who admit to abusing prescription medications tripled from 1992 to 2003, while in the general population such abuse had doubled.

Dr. Robert A. Winfield, director of University Health Service at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, sees a growing number of students who falsely claim to be ADHD sufferers so they can get a prescription. At least once a week, a jittery, frightened, sleep-deprived student who has taken too many tablets for too many days shows up at his office. "Things have really gotten out of hand in the last four to five years," he said. "Students have become convinced that this will help them achieve academic success."

On campus, the drugs are either sold or given away by people with prescriptions, or they are procured by students who have learned to navigate the psychiatric exams offered by campus health centers, which usually provide the drugs at a discount. Unlike Ritalin, two newer members of the family of analeptics - Adderall and Concerta - come in time-release forms and can keep a patient medicated an entire day.

Much like performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports, the spread of analeptics among college students is raising issues of competitiveness and fairness. But interviews and e-mail exchanges with two dozen Columbia students suggest that the prevailing ethos is that Adderall, the drug of choice these days, is a legitimate and even hip way to get through the rigors of a hectic academic and social life. "The culture here actually encourages people to use stimulants," said Barak Ben-Ezer, a computer science and economics major who prefers Red Bull, a caffeinated beverage and cigarettes over prescription drugs. But pure recreational use of the drugs, which sometimes includes crushing and snorting a tablet, is generally frowned on, he and others said.

Libby, a writing major at Columbia who received a diagnosis of ADHD in first grade, is a typical drug dealer. She often sells her 10-milligram tablets to strangers for $5 or barters them with friends for meals. The demand during exam week can get intense, said Libby, who, like most people interviewed for this article, asked that her last name be withheld. "I'm constantly being bombarded with requests," she said. "People can get desperate."

She said that the attitude toward stimulants has changed drastically since her days in elementary school, when she was forced by her parents to down a daily regimen of Ritalin. "As a kid, I was made to feel different for taking these drugs," she said. "Now it's almost cool to take them."

Many mental health counselors point out that the proliferation of analeptics on college campuses is partly a matter of demographics. The hundreds of thousands of children who were diagnosed with ADHD and attention deficit disorder in the early 1990s are now entering college, and bringing their drugs with them. Libby, for one, takes them only to pull through the occasional paper. "It really messes with my head," she said, adding that in the past the medication has intensified underlying obsessive-compulsive habits.

Some experts, while fretting about the use of analeptics without a prescription, see the advent and acceptance of the drugs as a great revolution that has helped a generation of children with learning disabilities achieve academic success. Dr. Robert Herman, a staff psychiatrist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he regularly sees students whose grade point averages rise markedly after taking the medication. "Students tell me it's really changed their lives for the better, that they are so much more focused and organized," he said.

Sorting out those with legitimate diagnoses from the deceivers can be nearly impossible, he said, because "in psychiatry, there is no blood test." He said he always tells patients that it's illegal to share their medicine, but added, "I can't exactly go into their dorm room and count their pills."

Requests for comment by Columbia administrators were referred to Dr. Laurence Greenhill, a clinical psychiatrist at the university, who said that the idea that Adderall is a performance enhancer is a myth. "It won't increase your intelligence, it just increases your diligence," he said. "Essentially, the drugs delay the onset of sleep so you can stay up all night and cram."

Designer stimulants like Adderall are far less dangerous than cocaine or methamphetamines. According to the Shire Pharmaceuticals Group, which makes Adderall, medical research has found it has no potential for addiction. But Adderall, like many other medications, can interact with other drugs and create problems, particularly when taken in other-than-prescribed dosages, a spokesman said.

The main side effects of analeptics are increased heart rate, agitation and the kind of paranoia and disorientation that results from amphetamine-induced insomnia. In February, the Canadian government suspended sales of Adderall XR, the time-release version of the medication, noting "20 international reports" of sudden deaths, heart-related deaths and strokes in children and adults. (The standard Adderall is not sold in Canada.) In Washington, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration took note of the Canadian ban but said it would take no action.

"These are very safe medications," said Timothy E. Wilens, author of "Straight Talk About Psychiatric Medications for Kids" and a child psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. "They have been used for 70 years, and we haven't had terrible catastrophes."

For many college students, the issue about Adderall is not so much health as it is fairness. Among those who refuse to dabble in performance-enhancing substances, the disapproval and bitterness can be fierce. Angelica Gonzales, a civil engineering major at Columbia, said she resented that nearly all her friends have taken Adderall at some point in their academic careers. "It's cheating, and it really bothers me," she said, a bundle of notes in her lap. "I mean, everyone here is smart. They should be able to get by without the extra help."

The more popular sentiment about Adderall's role in academic success was explained by John, an economics major who was raised in a conservative Midwestern culture. He said he always believed that if you had trouble in school, you should just study harder. But since coming to Columbia three years ago, his opinion has changed. "The environment here is incredibly competitive," he said. "If you don't take them, you'll be at a disadvantage to everyone else." With that, he swallowed a 20-milligram tablet of Adderall and headed back into the library.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Ritalin May Be Linked to Cancer

Last year almost 30 million prescriptions were written for Ritalin and similar drugs used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Out of those 30 million prescriptions, 23 million of them were for children. While they are the most prescribed medicines in the world, they are also the most controversial. The Food and Drug Administration is currently looking closely at a small study that linked the use of Ritalin to an increased risk of cancer. The FDA says that even though the data was flawed, for example the size of the study and a lack of a comparison group of children not taking Ritalin, the initial results could not be dismissed. The initial study included 12 children that were on just one form of Ritalin. Out of those 12 children all of them experienced noticeable chromosome abnormalities that are associated with an increased risk of cancer and other serious health effects in just three months time. Everyone has chromosome abnormalities at a level of 1%. The children in this study had their levels rise to 2% to 3%. The FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institutes of Health(NIH) suggest that the results of this study merit public concern and further study. This was the first study that looked at the chromosome-damaging effects associated Ritalin (methylphenidate - generic name). Ritalin is the most widely prescribed drug that treats Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. By far the doctors in the United States are the biggest distributers of this drug. Sales rose 500 % between 1991 and 1999. Dr. Randa El-Zein, a M.D. Anderson epidemiologist, said that the FDA, NIH and EPA are taking an interest because it is a sensitive matter and we do not want to alarm people but we do need answers on whether this is a safe drug or not. The FDA has called for a second study to be conducted by the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. This study will include roughly 400 children over 5 years. El-Zein also said that the new study would include children on Ritalin or its variants; children on Adderall, an ADHD drug that was recently pull from shelves in Canada because of possible adverse health effects; and a control group of children in behavior therapy. If the data from this second study is the same as the information from the initial study, it will suggest patients taking methylphenidate may be at increased risk of cancer. Which would also call for a study on the adverse reactions children taking Concerta, a long-acting form of Ritalin. The documented cases against Concerta include the child becoming psychotic and children who develop heart problems. Methylphenidates a class of drugs that is used to treat ADHD, which Ritalin belongs to also has other health issues that need to be addressed. The FDA is think about changing the labels on all methylphenidates because of potential cardiovascular side effects and psychiatric events.