Deficient and Overmedicated
By Joseph Perez
Living through a pandemic situation is something I never thought or expected would happen in my lifetime. When I was making plans for the future, making my way through college, there’s one thing that smacked the lunch tray out of my hand and pulled the underwear over the back of my head, atomic style. An unexpected spectre of hardship and uncertainty: illness.
During the global pandemic I was suffering through Topical Steroid Withdrawal, often referred to as RSS (Red Skin Syndrome.) I was itchy and scab covered for almost 7 months straight. My skin was raw and seeping, and still is, almost 15 months later. No breaks, just itch and repeat. My girlfriend had just been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, so she was suffering through cancer treatment. All the while it seemed the world was crumbling and everyone was dying of Covid-19.
I’m becoming increasingly skeptical of our ‘modern’ medicines. I was prescribed topical steroids by doctors for over 14 years. These creams are very powerful cortisol steroids, which I didn't understand as a kid nor did I care. They were doing their job, which was to keep my eczema at bay. I was able to be a relatively normal teenager, without having huge blotches of bloody scaled skin while I was trying to get my mack on. This is a long story I hope to get into soon, but for the sake of time, I’ll pare things down.
My lotions stopped being effective, and Googled why. It was very difficult to find information, (because I believe it’s actively suppressed for one reason or another) but I did stumble on some UK urls selling skin balm.
I started reading the few British articles I could find, watched a couple American youtubers on the topic, and a wave of panic and relief ran through me. All of the information I found was published within this decade. It had come to the point that my body was dependent on steroids, and would react with a rash when my skin wanted more.
My body was addicted to the cortisol steroid and the best remedy was to quit cold turkey, and monitor the symptoms with my doctor. I just want to be clear, the lotion I was using to treat my rash, was actually causing the rash. I knew this is what I needed to do to fix my skin. I felt it deep down inside of myself. Which was not a suggestion from the handful of dermatologists and allergists I had seen over the years. I stopped using the lotion and went through a withdrawal process comparably agonizing to heroin withdrawal (most people say it's significantly worse). If i hadn't found this information, I would have been on the hook, monthly, to this company, for the rest of my life.
From what I can tell, the Mayo Clinic has found that somewhere close to 7 out of 10 Americans have at least one prescription medication daily, 50% are taking at least two, and 20% are taking 5 or more. This seems absolutely bonkers to me. 70% or more Americans bodies cannot function properly without a daily pill? It makes me wonder what’s different about our physiology that humans, who just a few hundred years ago survived, lived healthy lives without needing to start the day with a handful of manufactured chemicals. You might argue that we have a longer lifespan and die of less trivial diseases, but from what I can tell our modern solutions are taking us farther away from the incredible self healing powers of our bodies.
Our lifestyles are literally killing us faster on a scale greater than you can imagine. But we can’t focus on that because it would mean we are admitting that our consumerism on overdrive model and sitting inside staring at a screen all day is counter-productive to having a healthy, fulfilling life.
There are so many health issues caused by overmedication, but it isn't examined because a lot of people stand to lose a lot of money to admit their wonder drugs are causing problems long term. Also it takes some serious effort to adjust lifestyle habits. I will not go without mentioning that. It’s nearly impossible with how our culture is currently constructed.
When you start to peel back the layers you notice that a lot of medications people are taking are just to counteract the ill effects of the other medications. If I was selling someone a product, and they needed to buy a second product to make the first product work, I’d be a very good business man for convincing people to buy 2 products.
There’s an epidemic of all sorts of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, oftentimes this is caused by prescription medications. Again, each of these topics will be expanded on, but Prilosec, a popular Proton Pump Inhibitor (PPI), causes iron deficiencies because it interrupts the process of iron absorption, among other harmful side effects. If you’re very low iron they won’t take you off of the PPI, and tell you the problems can be solved with lifestyle change (diet exercise and natural supplements). They will likely prescribe more medications, or more extreme and costly intervention like iron infusions. But don't worry, you’re already paying for insurance.
You might say, people are sick! These pharmaceutical companies are saving lives and helping people that would otherwise be suffering. Sure, this is true in many cases. But when you stand to make so much money on people being sick, it’s a difficult situation of moral choice, I’m sure. Just the large Pharmaceutical companies (top 35 earners) cleared over $1.9 trillion NET PROFIT in 2020...That’s after costs like salary and production.
My main concern is the general lack of interest in how our bodies work and the wealth of natural solutions to many over medicated problems. For instance, I didn't need to flood my hormone system with a stress hormone. If I wasn't mentally strong, and did not have a great support system, I never would have come off of topical steroids. Had I known I had food allergies and teenage eczema, I could have saved myself years of discomfort, and thousands of dollars in co-pays and increased insurance cost because of pre-existing conditions.
In the context of Covid-19 this is a very important conversation. The people that are dying of Covid have what we’ve all heard referred to as comorbidities. These are conditions that contribute to the sickness or death of someone who has contracted Covid-19. Obesity seems to be a very prominent one, along with heart disease. Both of these conditions can be solved in most people with diet and exercise change.
Another prominent cause for illness in most people in the United States today is Vitamin D deficiency. Recent studies show that upwards of 40% or more are Vitamin D deficient. The best way to increase your Vitamin D levels is through nonenzymatic dermal synthesis (through the skin) through exposure to ultraviolet rays. Vitamin D deficiency can cause problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and fractures. All of which we are convinced to treat with hundreds of thousands of dollars of Chemo, or a daily synthetic drug, which robs our bodies of autonomy and stunts natural processes we need to be healthy, causing more medically treated issues down the line.
I could go on and on about how making sure our diets work with our bodies, and how important daily exercise is. I could talk about how birth control causes massive side effects on a woman's endocrine system, or how using formula prevents a baby from assuming immunities from the mother, an essential feature for our immune system to stay ahead of viruses and bacteria.
All of this has been turned into cliche, each of these examples people nod and dismiss because their specific situation is unique. Or certain solutions have been politicized, so we cannot have honest conversations about health and wellness. But that's no excuse to avoid doing everything within our power to fight sickness before we get another prescription.
Before long, I fear we may lose the evolutionary advantage our immune system has on disease. We will have sterilized and used antibiotics to fix problems in the short term, while stunting our incredible defense mechanism, for years to come. I'm not suggesting tearing down our medical system as it stands, I’m calling for us to come together, and learn as much about our bodies' amazing self healing system as we can.