Potential Changes to Your Painkillers
finds its way into most home medicine cabinets in the form of its brand name
products Tylenol and Excedrin and many cold medicine and painkiller
combinations. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used drugs with 28 billion
doses bought in the U.S. in 2005.
You should know, however, that
an advisory committee for the FDA
has recently recommended that the FDA set more rigorous limits on acetaminophen,
including lowering the maximum daily and single dosages; eliminating some
prescription drugs that combine acetaminophen with other drugs; and requiring a
“black box” label (the FDA’s strictest warning) to be put on prescription
combination drugs that include acetaminophen.
The reason for all of this is the risk
of liver damage that can occur from taking too much. The FDA cites research on
its website stating that from 1998 to 2003 acetaminophen was the leading cause
of acute liver failure in the U.S. Acetaminophen has also been associated with
56,000 emergency room visits and 458 deaths from overdoses from 1990 to 1998.
So, are you at risk?
Do you take painkillers regularly?
Acetaminophen has been linked to liver problems; NSAIDs (non-steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen to stomach and intestinal problems.
Regular or excessive usage of painkillers has its risks. Does that mean that you
must suffer? No, certainly not.
has been used for thousands of years to relieve pain. We do not yet thoroughly
understand just how this happens, but there are some tested theories.
Acupuncture has been shown to cause a release of endorphins and serotonin (your
body’s own “feel good” hormones) and morphine
(your body’s own painkiller); change the way the brain signals; trigger a
different set of nerves to block pain; and cause an increase in local blood
Chinese Medicine (TCM), we say that acupuncture improves the flow of Qi (or
energy). Where there is blocked Qi there is pain; where there is pain there is
matter how you look at it, acupuncture has been an effective way to relieve pain
for billions of people over thousands of years. It is also very safe,
non-intrusive, can work on the cause as well as the symptom of pain, can address
other coexisting symptoms, does not interfere with other treatments including
medications, and it can even offer a chance for patients to de-stress. Most of
my patients fall asleep on the table and are surprised by how relaxing a
treatment can be. I call acupuncture “ahhhhcupuncture” with the “ahhhh” read
like a sigh.
TCM herbal remedies
are another route to pain relief as our herbal pharmacopeia is filled with
painkilling and anti-inflammatory herbs.
neither of these options works for you, check out this article about swearing
helping to relieve the perception of pain. Of course, it’s not TCM, it won’t
speed your healing and you may want to reconsider if young ears are nearby, but
this is a fun article to read nonetheless.
Learn more about
For more info about
the FDA Advisory Committee recommendations: http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20090701/fda-may-restrict-acetaminophen
A Shark's Sad Tale
month I went to see the movie “Sharkwater”. It was screened for free at the
Ridge Theatre on behalf of the Vancouver Aquarium. My husband was excited
because he loves sharks, but he thought the movie would be an action movie
showing sharks as dangerous man-eaters, like the movie “Jaws”.
Instead, the movie starts off in an
underwater sequence with a diver, Toronto-born filmmaker Rob Stewart, quietly
sitting on the bottom of an ocean floor hugging a shark! No blood-thirsty
man-hunting creatures from the deep dark here.
I have to admit that whenever I
have entered the water (as a kid, even a swimming pool) I have had a small
thought that sits with me, “What if a shark attacks me?” This is one of the
reasons why saving sharks is not as popular as saving seals, whales, or pandas.
Sharks are not cute and do not appear to be gentle; they seem instead to be
menacing, even mean. That’s just human nature to attribute character to other
living beings based on appearance. Rob Stewart, however, has seen through all
that and has a real passion for saving sharks.
Even when he risks losing a
leg—not from a shark bite, but from an infection—his thoughts are still on how
quickly he can return to the ocean to continue his work for sharks.
you like sharks or not, the fact of the matter is that our world needs them.
Sharks are top predators in the water. They keep the oceans healthy by helping
balance populations of their prey. We have seen time and time again the
ecological problems that result from taking out a key player in an environment.
About 100 million (yes, THAT many!) sharks are killed annually by humans.
the last 15 years we’ve depleted some shark populations by 80 to 90 percent,
leaving great whites, hammerheads, and many others on the brink of extinction.
are being hunted because one pound of dried shark fin can be sold for as much as
$300 US as it is considered a delicacy by some Asian populations; because some
believe that shark cartilage can cure cancer and treat arthritis; because some
feel sharks are dangerous and should be killed; because some like the “sport” of
catching sharks; and because they are accidentally caught by longline fishing
which also catches dolphins, swordfish, and many other marine animals.
There is no conclusive evidence
that shark cartilage can treat cancer. Despite the
belief, sharks do indeed get cancer. The jury is out with regards to shark
cartilage and its benefits in treating arthritis. To me, no matter what, the
first rule is “do no harm.” I take this to pertain not only to not harming my
patients, but also to doing as much as possible so as not to harm other
creatures and our environment. Traditional Chinese Medicine believes rhinoceros
horn, tiger bone, and bear gallbladder to have health benefits. These “herbs”
are banned for use in North America because the first 2 animals are endangered.
Bear gallbladder is also banned because the method of extraction is cruel.
Watch the movie
and you will see live sharks being caught, have their fins cut off, and then
tossed back into the water to sink helplessly to the bottom. It’s barbaric. It’s
an industry. It’s even political.
Rob Stewart has dedicated his life
to changing all of that. My focus remains in my clinic, but I want to contribute
in my own way, so I took a look at all of my products and found shark cartilage
in my Bell’s Pepper cream. Though the company is doing the best they can to
attain the shark cartilage in a way as sustainable as possible, the fiscal
rewards for suppliers are still very high thus making it more likely that people
will sidestep proper guidelines and regulations. If you are using shark
products, consider that there are many other options that are better proven for
effectiveness, cruelty-free, and easier on our environment. I can recommend a
number of alternatives.
If you want to read the specifics
from my email correspondence with both Bell’s and Rob Stewart, feel free to
And, if you want to buy the movie, which my husband
loved better than any action movie—with a shark fin mafia, pirate boat
collision, charges of attempted murder, Coast Guard chase, amazing scenery, and
education about a desperately important cause—go to www.sharkwater.com/
Note: All these shark images are from
the sharkwater.com site.