I am uneasy about the way our stress-ridden society now depends on a ‘magic fix’ for everything, which is catered for by a conservative and orthodox medical system.
Increasingly over the years, I have swung around to an holistic, instinctive approach for treating human ailments, and a preference for preventative medicine, rather than therapeutic.
As the avalanche of potent, ready-prepared drugs took over in my pharmacy, I gained a minor reputation for preserving many of the old stocks of galenicals, which encouraged some doctors and other pharmacists to send people to me for the old formulas.
I carried this through right up to the time I retired two years ago, but with increasing difficulty as old customers died (not my fault!) and stocks of the old substances gradually dwindled.
My growing unease with modern drug treatment is based on a consideration of the human body’s complexity.
We are not just a collection of cells, organs and systems that modern treatment targets and alters (sometimes for the worse).
The body consists of finely balanced cells all working to maintain a healthy equilibrium in all our major systems.
It also consists of countless micro-organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, mites, and annelids (worms, don’t shudder).
And it may surprise you to know there are more bacteria than human cells in a body.
State of harmony
All these organisms live in a state of harmony and usefulness unless disturbed.
Disturbances can arise from anatomical or physiological defects — some inherited or congenital.
Body disturbances also occur with allergies, infections from external pathogenic micro-organisms, poisoning, excesses in eating and drinking or any of our present-day temptations, accidents or just bad luck.
The disturbances produce imbalances in the finely-tuned and complex bodily systems.
Drug treatment seeks to correct these imbalances, and has some degree of success. Modern medical practice, however, has neither the time, the money or (sadly) the interest, to consider each person as an individual, with perhaps idiosyncratic and individual body systems, functions, personalities and responses to potent drugs.
Here are some examples of how drug treatment affects bodily systems and functions:
Antibiotics are obviously useful and vital at times, yet their use will always alter natural (and beneficial) micro-organism levels, particularly bacteria and fungi.
There has always been disquiet about this wiping out of ‘friendly’ organisms, with thrush (candida — mostly in women) becoming wide-spread. There are now theories that the imbalances created by antibiotic therapy could even lead to autism in susceptible children.
Blood pressure (BP) drug treatment is widely encouraged, but again these potent drugs are tailored to alter natural heart and kidney functions.
Blood pressure rises with age, but with good reason. All our systems deteriorate with age (shocking though that is) and start to falter.
Our hearts and kidneys compensate for this by using enzyme systems to slowly increase BP so that the faltering organs can get more oxygen.
The drugs are designed to either block this enzyme action, block calcium flow or act through the central nervous system, which achieves a drop in BP at the expense of drastic changes elsewhere.
The heart itself can be (and is) treated with all sorts of stimulants, again at the expense of naturally occurring changes.
Interfering with brain chemistry has become a ready fix.
Anti-depressants, anti-psychotics and anxiolytics are now routinely prescribed for all ages.
The dancing magic of these brain chemicals is really wondrous, ideally forming a balance with split-second timing by enzymes and enzyme destroyers.
Chemicals such as serotonin, nor-adrenalin, dopamine, GABA and others flit in and out of existence amid the infinite complexities of the neurons in the brain.
I consider drug treatment here to be crude, damaging and based on hope because no-one knows or understands why or how these drugs appear to sometimes work.
Robert Gosstray is a retired pharmacist and the chief health writer for Midlifexpress. He is author of the controversial Pharmacy’s Dirty Secrets.