Published On: Mon, Jan 12th, 2015

When Drugs Heal and Harm

There is an old quote by the German-Swiss physician and alchemist Paracelsus which, roughly translated, means “The dose makes the poison.” In medical terms, this means that there are several substances that are dangerous, and even deadly, but when administered at the right dose, can actually be beneficial.

Paracelsus existed long before the days of pharmaceuticals, back when medicine was in its infancy and people still relied heavily on herbal remedies and folk cures, like ergot. When given at the correct dose, ergot would prevent hemorrhaging during labor; given at too large a dose and it could cause hallucinations, convulsions, gangrene, and even death.

Even today, in an age when pharmaceutical companies have dosing down to a science, it’s still possible for certain drugs to be both beneficial and harmful.

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

photo Emuishere Pelicula via Flickr

Drugs with Dangerous Side Effects

Side effects are the biggest reasons that drugs can cross the line from being beneficial to harmful. Take the case of Cipro and Avelox, a class of antibiotics developed to treat serious infections like anthrax, endocarditis, and meningitis.

Both Cipro and Avelox belong to a family of drugs called fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which also includes the drugs Levaquin, Tequin, Ocuflox/Floxin/Floxacin, and Noroxin.

While all of these drugs were originally designed to treat serious infections, and have saved millions of lives, they have also been used to treat minor infections, and as part of as part of the Marshall Protocol, a system used to treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Unfortunately, when used frequently this family of antibiotics has been known to cause serious injuries. Examples of injuries from Avelox and similar drugs include:

·  Tendon ruptures, especially in patients over age 60 and those on steroid therapy; and,

·  Peripheral neuropathy;

Also, because hospitals sometimes use these drugs as a first line of defense in any infection, no matter how minor, there is the risk of the bacteria becoming resistant to these powerful antibiotics, especially if they have been overused.

When used for their intended purpose, and with the proper dosing, Cipro, Avelox and the rest of the fluoroquinolone family are beneficial, and even life-saving. However, with overuse and misuse, they have become harmful to many, with the potential of becoming harmful to many more.

Drugs that Harm to Heal

There are certain types of drugs that are harmful to the body because that’s the only way they can be effective on the diseases that they are designed to treat or heal. Chemotherapy drugs are perhaps the most well-known example.

Chemotherapy drugs are used to kill cancer cells in an effort to shrink tumors, or eliminate the cells that have broken off from the main tumor and spread to other parts of the body.

Although chemotherapy is intended to kill the malignant cancer cells, the actual drugs can’t really tell the difference between the cancer cells and your healthy cells. As a result, the healthy cells are just as likely to die as the cancer, which can cause a lot of nasty side effects including:

·  Fatigue;

·  Nausea;

·  Vomiting;

·  Constipation;

·  Diarrhea;

·  Loss of appetite;

·  Weight loss;

·  Weight gain;

·  Hair loss

·  Bruising and bleeding;

·  Anemia;

·  Increased risk of infection;

·  Mouth, tongue, and throat sores;

·  Peripheral neuropathy;

·  Skin rashes, discoloration, and sores; and,

·  Kidney damage.

In short, the chemotherapy often makes patients feel worse than the actual cancer, at least in the early stages of the disease.

Doctors are aware of the effects that these drugs have on patients, and they continue to prescribe these treatments because these are the best options for treating, and possibly curing the cancer. Also, chemotherapy is only administered for a period of weeks followed by a break.

By doing it in short phases, or rounds, patients can get a reprieve from the debilitating side-effects, and it also gives the doctor the chance to run tests to determine if that round of medication was effective. If the cancer goes into remission, the patient won’t need to have another round and her doctor can monitor her condition to see if anything changes. If the cancer does not go into remission, the doctor might recommend another round using different combination of chemotherapy drugs.

While the effects of chemotherapy are certainly harsh, and it seems counter to the Hippocratic oath for doctors to prescribe a treatment that causes the patient harm, the prevailing wisdom is that the side effects are a small price to pay compared to the alternative – death from cancer.

Guest Author: Adam Lee

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About the Author

- Adam Lee is a financial writer who has insightful knowledge in dealing with different financial issues. He tries to help people to get out of difficult financial situations by contributing financial write ups to websites and blogs such as Moneyforlunch.com and Moneynewsnow.com

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