Wednesday, October 21, 2015

80% of medications recalled for side effects are recalled for the side effects they have on women!

             I was shocked and confused when I learned this today.  Why are women experiencing so many more drug side effects than men?  The answer to this question is probably not what you think.  Before I answer this question, lets talk a little bit about what goes into testing a medication before it becomes available for prescription by your doctor.  First, there has to be problem or a disease.  Then, someone has to have an idea for a drug that can cure or treat this disease, along with millions of dollars in funding.  Testing typically starts with cells in a laboratory.  Once favorable results have been achieved at this stage, drugs are tested on animals.  Finally, human trials are conducted and if the outcomes are favorable here, the drug will become available for use by the public.  But what do all of these testing stages have in common?  All of the testing is done almost exclusively on male subjects1.  The cells in the lab are male cells; the animals are males, and the human test subjects are also almost exclusively males as well1. 
            This might not seem like that big a deal at first glance (which is what scientists have also believed up to this point) but we are now finding that certain drugs are metabolized completely differently by women than they are by men.  For example, an extensive study recently found that the recommended daily aspirin for people 45-65 of age to prevent heart disease can actually have very dangerous consequences for women2.  It has been recommended that even healthy individuals in this age group take a daily aspirin to help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.  We have recently learned that for women, the risks involved with this treatment far outweigh the benefits2.  Previously healthy women (no history of cardiovascular disease) who are placed on a daily aspirin regimen are at high risk for gastrointestinal bleeds that can cause severe anemia, and may even lead to a necessity for hospitalization and blood transfusions2.  Why are we just now learning this? Because the aspirin recommendation was made after testing was conducted on men.  It was just assumed that women would have the same benefit. 
            Realizing that women and men have very different physiology, and therefore very different needs when it comes to health care is vital when we consider what is in the best interest of our unique bodies.  For more information on this topic, read the original research below, or listen to the TED talk that I’ve cited below.  I highly recommend watching this video if you’d like more information on the topic.  For further questions or concerns, be sure to contact your health care provider.  Be sure to talk to him or her before altering your medications in any way. 


1.  McGregor, A.  (September 2014).  Alyson McGregor: Why medicine often has dangerous side effects for women [Video File].  Retrieved from:

2.  Kruijsdijk, R., Visseren, F., Ridker, P., Dorresteijn, J., Buring, J., van der Graff, Y., Cook, N. Individualised prediction of alternate-day aspirin treatment effects on the combined risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal bleeding in healthy women.  Heart.  2015; 101:5 333-334. 

3.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Your back pain may be affecting you in ways you’d never even have thought!

It is estimated that approximately 31 million Americans are experiencing low back pain at any given moment1.  Needless to say, that’s a lot of people.  Medical treatments for back pain can range from rest to surgery, but almost always involve some type of pain medication.  A study that reviewed medical records of over 11,000 individuals with back pain, found that the chronic use of pain medications, which is very common in individuals who suffer from chronic back pain, may be associated with erectile dysfunction (ED)2.  Crazy to think about right?  Another study, which compared the presence of erectile dysfunction in patients with low back pain to those without, made some interesting discoveries as well.  Researchers found that as many as 60 percent of patients with low back pain suffered from ED, while only 25 percent of patients without were affected3. 
Although there are varying causes of ED, many are associated with a compromise in blood flow4.  Citrulline and arginine are amino acids that help to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow4.  Although these amino acids have other important functions as well, it is the role that they play in circulatory health that has suggested them as a treatment of ED.  Several studies have been conducted on supplementation of these two compounds that have shown significant improvement in ED symptoms4.  Since there is also a link between low back pain and pain medications and ED, it is also important to seek out other treatment options for you low back pain.  Several studies have found that chiropractic treatment is often the most effective treatment for low back pain, and it does not involve the use of pain medications5.  Erectile dysfunction is a difficult topic to discuss and many people who suffer from it often never seek treatment because of embarrassment or uneasiness about discussing the topic.  Even so, it is important to talk to your doctor before attempting to treat the condition yourself, including taking any supplements or changing your diet.  Ask your doctor what treatment options are right for you. 

1.   Jensen M, Brant-Zawadzki M, Obuchowski N, et al. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People Without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331: 69-116.

2.  Deyo, R., Smith, D., Johnson, E., et. Al. Prescription opioids for back pain and use of medications for erectile dysfunction.  Spine.  2013; 38 (11) 909-15.    

3. Nikoobakht, M.,  Fraidouni, N., Yaghoubidoust, M., Burri, A., Pakpour, A.  Sexual function and associated factors in Iranian patients with chronic low back pain.  Spinal Cord.  2013.

4.  Schuler, C., Appleton, J.  Arginine and citrulline to the rescue:  You have options in addressing problems with erectile dysfunction and blood flow.  Chiropractic Economics.  2014; 21-24.   

5.  Schneider M. et. Al.  Comparison of Spinal Manipulation Methods and Usual Medical Care for Acute and Subacute Low Back Pain.  Spine. 2015.  Vol. 40. No. 4 pp 209-217. 

6. Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.