Ask The Pharmacist: Side effect solutions for bone building meds, diuretics

Question: I take a water pill (diuretic) for blood pressure. Now, I have to take Boniva for osteopenia. Is there a connection? What’s next for me? I’ve read you for years so please pick my question for the paper. H.J., Ocala, Florida

Answer: Oh yes, definitely connected! I don’t mean to be crass but your diuretic makes you lose water volume (the point). But with every bathroom trip, you pee out minerals! Many people are saying “Aha” now, because you started out taking a blood pressure med, then at some point, you were prescribed a bone building drug for osteoporosis. I’ll share my side effect solutions because I realize you have to, need to (or want to) take your prescription medications.

You’ve asked, “What’s next for me?” Depending on the specific diuretic you take, you may eventually need an antidepressant, something for leg cramps and tinnitus (ear ringing) ... you may need a drug for heart arrhythmias, all that to counter the mineral and electrolyte deficiencies that result from the drug mugging effect of drug number 1, your blood pressure drug!

Shocked? When side effects due to the drug nutrient depletion (drug mugging) are not recognized you’re get a new ‘disease’ and a new medication for it.

This year, an estimated 163,000 people will suffer memory loss (perhaps Alzheimer’s) due to various prescription drugs that mug brain nutrients. About 61,000 people will hear the words “Parkinson’s disease,” but you won’t realize it was drug-induced! Another 32,000 of you will suffer a hip fracture from a drug-induced fall, and almost 8,000 people will die from internal bleeding caused by over the counter “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” or NSAIDs.

This gets me fired up! It’s why I wrote “Drug Muggers” (Rodale 2011) for you, because 75 percent of doctor’s office visits end with the physician giving you a prescription for a medication and you need me to protect you!

I’ll email you a longer version of this article with more side effect solutions if you sign up for my free newsletter at my website. In the meantime, here are several side effect solutions to ask your practitioner(s) about. Don’t make changes without your physician’s approval:

Parsley or Dandelion: These are gentler diuretics, less likely to cause the harsh depletion of minerals; also less likely to cause dehydration in low doses.

Marshmallow root: Bisphosphonate drugs for bones can irritate the esophagus in sensitive folks. Marshmallow root or slippery elm tea soothe and protect your esophageal tract.

Green foods and supplements: Think of spinach, kale, spirulina or chlorophyll supplements or wheatgrass shots. These are full of minerals to restore what the drug mugger (diuretic blood pressure pill) is mugging from you. Take me seriously, mineral deficiency leads to heart beat irregularities, faintness, dizziness and depression.

Coconut water: Unsweetened, unheated coconut water will restore electrolytes if you have to take diuretics or lisinopril, a popular blood pressure drug.

Suzy Cohen is a registered pharmacist. The information presented here is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any condition. Always consult your physician. Visit

© 2013 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

Northerner writes:

HJ, Please do not stop any medication used to control your BP. Your medical doctor, not your pharmacist prescribed a diuretic to control your blood pressure. Suzy here failed to mention that there are different types of diuretics that are beneficial in many ways. For example, thiazide diuretics reduce calcium excretion and have beneficial effects in preventing bone loss and fractures. Potassium-sparing diuretics may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 70%, a study suggests.

BP control is of the utmost importance! High blood pressure damages the cells of your arteries' inner lining. That launches a cascade of events that make artery walls thick and stiff, a disease called arteriosclerosis.

Complications from poorly controlled BP include Coronary artery disease, heart attacks, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, brain damage such as strokes and dementia,aneurysms and kidney failure. Might I add that the number one cause of kidney failure is in fact high blood pressure. I don't know about you but I would certainly rather take medication for osteoporosis than suffer a debilitating stroke or be on kidney dialysis.
HJ, always consult your physician first before taking advice from people like "Suzy the pharmacist"

Suzy please stop, just stop!

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