Poly Pharmacy

The Dangers of Polypharmacy

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

It turns out that, while we’ve known for years that daily low dose aspirin causes stomach bleeding, the risk is even higher if you’re practicing polypharmacy, that is, taking multiple medications.

Aspirin achieves its beneficial effects by blocking the production of chemicals called prostaglandins. The problem is that prostaglandins (which we can call PGs) are also involved in helping stimulate the production of the stomach lining. This is a perfect example of the abject failure of prescription medicine. You take aspirin to lower PGs, which reduces blood clotting – but you increase your risk of a completely separate and new symptomology.

Dangers of PolypharmacyNow, according to a study from the University of Oxford in England, it turns out that if you’re taking Plavix (another anti-clotting drug) with your aspirin, you’ve now increased your risk of stomach bleeding and of having that bleeding include the first part of the small intestine. It’s bad enough to have bleeding in the digestive tract, but if now that bleeding includes the upper part of the small intestine, now you’ve really got a problem, because most of our nutrients are absorbed in the upper part of the small intestine. Which of course, means now you’ll be malnourished, which will increase digestive symptoms and cardiovascular symptoms and on and on and on in a downwardly spiraling vicious cycle.

According to the scientists who conducted the Oxford study, people taking any daily dose of aspirin were at almost twice the risk of having stomach bleeding than people not taking aspirin. What makes this strategy for taking low-dose aspirin especially bad is that there are much better nutritional strategies for accomplishing exactly what we’re trying to achieve with aspirin… and Plavix… and Coumadin… and other blood thinners. If the goal is to have a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, this isn’t the way to do it.

One important example of cardioprotective essential nutrients are Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These have been shown to dramatically improve mortality from a heart attack. A study published in the Journal Circulation, found that among patients who had recent heart attacks there was a 41% reduced risk of mortality, with no side effects or toxicity.

Now, what would you suppose would happen if some pharmaceutical company came out with a drug that decreased mortality 41% with ZERO side effects? Or even better, a drug that reduced mortality by 41% and the side effects were better skin, better eyesight, and improvement in arthritis? These are all important and well-documented benefits of Omega-3 supplementation and that, in a nutshell, explains the importance of nutrition and the relationship supplementation has to prescription drugs.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health