One of the many negative side effects of our high-stress, fast-food lifestyle is digestive distress in the form of heartburn or acid reflux, often symptoms of gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Very often, as a result of our fast-paced lifestyle, we instinctively look for a quick fix – usually an over-the-counter drug ranging from calcium carbonate (Tums, Rolaids, etc.) to omeprazole, an effective proton pump inhibitor (PPI) now available without a prescription.
You should know several things before considering self-treatment of GERD. As with nearly all minor ailments, your first choice should be to consider diet and lifestyle changes that could eliminate these symptoms with no negative side effects. Try reducing or eliminating alcohol and caffeine (coffee, sodas, and chocolate) and spicy foods. Eating smaller meals can help, as can losing weight.
An article in the July 4 issue of Parade magazine brought to mind a topic that should probably be addressed more often: how to dispose of unused medications. We all have these in our drawers or medicine cabinets. The last few antibiotic tablets you should have taken but didn’t, the cold medication that made you woozy, the pain pills you needed for only for a day or two, or the prescription that upset your stomach. Now these drugs are outdated and you don’t know how to get rid of them. The article by Dr. Ranit Mishori told of a “Dispose My Meds” campaign through which over 800 pharmacies have agreed to cooperate in disposing of these drugs. You can find a location through the website DisposeMyMeds.org.
If you don’t have a participating pharmacy near you, there are easy ways to safely dispose of your drugs. First, do not flush them down the toilet! They pollute lakes and rivers and enter the local water supply. There are no filters that remove the drugs, and chemical treatment often has little effect. Some researchers have theorized that the minute traces of estrogen in municipal water supplies might be partly responsible for the increasingly early onset of puberty in young girls. Others believe the presence of the residue of dozens of antibiotics encourages the growth and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration staff released documents which indicate a risk of hallucination and similar problems in children and older patients. The drug Ditropan, known generically as oxybutynin, already lists a variety of other nervous system risks on its labeling, but more explicit cautions are needed.
Of 202 side effect reports in Ditropan patients, roughly 1/4 of younger than 18 and older than 59 patients reported these unlisted hallucination problems. The manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, had no immediate comment.
Once again, great caution is urged before using any prescription drug that has not been in the marketplace for many years, since tests for side-effect safety of these new drugs are conducted unknowingly by consumers.
In a small study, patients with pre-cancerous polyps in the colon who took a pill containing a combination of curcumin, which is found in the curry spice turmeric, and quercetin, an antioxidant found in onions, experienced a marked reduction in both the size and number of polyps.
The potential of curcumin to prevent and/or treat cancer in the lower intestines surfaced in studies in lab rats fed curry, as well as in observational studies of Asian populations that consume a lot of curry. Quercetin has also been shown to have anti-cancer potential.