Q: I’m 31, and the only medication I take is Camilla (birth control pills) and occasional ibuprofen for menstrual cramps. Today, the doctor prescribed Synthroid (for my fatigue and low thyroid ) and Paxil, because I cried when I told him how badly I felt.
H.W. Miami, Florida
A: Welcome to the medication merry-go-round; grab a prescription and hold on for your life. I’m going to let you in on a little secret – many physicians today are still unaware that estrogen-containing drugs like birth control pills actually mug your body’s natural stash of B vitamins and minerals, and the depletion can cause fatigue, hypothyroidism, heart disease and mood instability. It occurs because certain medications are drug muggers of nutrients that are essential in the body to manufacture healthy thyroid hormone and brain neurotransmitters.
As a pharmacist who dispenses these drugs, I have almost come to expect that women who routinely use oral contraceptives will eventually become fatigued, overweight, depressed and uninterested in sex. When you replenish what the drug mugger steals, you might avoid getting ‘diagnosed’ with some new illness, and subsequently medicated.
Here’s what I would take if I was prescribed a synthetic hormone like birth control or menopausal medication: B-complex, be cause it contains some B6 and folic acid to help produce happy brain chemicals; iodine, to help you build thyroid hormone; probiotics, to replenish intestinal flora which protects your immune system; minerals, because they are rich in magnesium to help you make brain chemicals and hormones; and I3C, or DIM, which is a broccoli extract which appears to protect against breast cancer
There are thousands of drug muggers. Statin cholesterol meds mug coenzyme Q10, which is needed to prevent weakness, fatigue, leg cramps, memory problems and heart trouble. Some diabetic drugs mug your stash of B vitamins, particularly B12; a deficiency of this vitamin can cause nerve pain confusion, mouth/tongue sores and depression.
Antibiotics wipe out your beneficial intestinal flora, leading to diarrhea, cramps, fatigue and lowered immunity. It’s imperative that your healthcare team understand the simple principle that drugs can deplete vital nutrients from the human body. This unique perspective is the basis for my second book, “Drug Muggers: How To Keep Your Medicine from Stealing the Life Out of You,” which is sold at my Web site and on Amazon.
The nice people at the Corn Refiners Association asked me to clarify a possible misperception in my Oct. 3 post about why you should cut way back on high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in your diet. I did not intend to imply that because too much HFCS can cause high insulin blood levels, and because there is a link between high insulin blood levels as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, that therefore, consumption of HFCS is itself a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. There is absolutely no data in the scientific literature that makes that connection. I do stand by my statement that you should cut out as much HFCS from your diet as possible, because just like sucrose, it promotes obesity, but not because it is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer.
Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Always consult your physician. Have a question for Suzy Cohen? Visit dearpharmacist.com.