The side effects of medicines


Medicines, together with their curative action, can produce more or less serious side effects. Nature has made available to us molecules capable of restoring some of the normal physiological body functions.

Since ancient times, man has sought remedies against diseases, first empirically through the random finding of the beneficial properties of an herb and then in an increasingly scientific way. In the eighteenth century began the first attempts to extract from the plant the fraction deemed pharmacologically effective from a therapeutic point of view. But it was only in the nineteenth century that a turning point took place: active ingredients began to no longer be extracted from plant or mineral substances but to be obtained by chemical synthesis in laboratories. In 1874, for example, starting from willow, scientists synthesized salicylic acid from which they obtained, in 1897, acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin. This approach to pharmacology has catapulted us into a new era in which drugs act on specific mechanisms of our body in a selective and fast way, activating or de-activating them, without a mid-way (modulation). That causes negative effects (commonly known as “side effects”) on other organs that instead depend on them. The benefits that are found from the drug, however, make its use advantageous at the expense of the side effects that will occur in the individual who uses it.

We can restore some of the normal physiological functions by using natural remedies such as those contained in food or food supplements. For example, the continuous development of antibiotics has allowed us to cure many diseases that were lethal in the past, even if this does not justify the excessive use that is made of them today. In fact, these medicines can trigger multiple adverse effects that are related to the alteration of the bacterial flora that populates our digestive system. They raid “good” and “bad” bacteria indiscriminately in the oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and urogenital tract, causing nausea, diarrhea, gastritis, ulcers, vomiting, bacterial and fungal infections. It is therefore advisable to prevent these side effects with the concurrent intake of what are commonly called “Probiotics” which replenish the “good” bacteria.

Another group of widely used drugs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). They have the advantage of being very effective and fast but often create gastric and duodenal ulcers due to the mechanism of action of NSAIDs, which involves the inhibition of the production of prostaglandins which leads to an increase in acid secretion and a decrease in the secretion of mucus and bicarbonates (agents that buffer acidity). Therefore, with the intake of these drugs, we recommend the combination of minerals such as Zinc (which contributes to normal acid-base metabolism, and macronutrients and fatty acids as well as to the normal function of the immune system).

Cortisone, thanks to its numerous therapeutic indications (arthritis, joint pain and inflammation, allergic reactions, asthma, rhinitis, dermatological problems) is abundantly prescribed. Cortisone drugs cause multiple side effects including an increase in water retention and lipid catabolism, which in turn causes redistribution of body fat and weight gain. Furthermore, following chronic use, cortisone treatments can cause alterations in the emotional sphere. For this reason, it is useful to combine purifying and draining ingredients that help keep the organs where the main metabolic reactions take place (liver, intestines, kidneys) healthy and efficient and to dispose of excess liquids and toxins.

In the case of ulcers and gastritis, the most commonly-used antacids are proton pump inhibitors, the so-called “prazoles”. They totally inhibit the secretion of hydrochloric acid at the gastric level, affecting the absorption of vitamin B12 (essential for our body), since gastric acidity allows its release from the transport proteins to which it is linked, thus making it available for absorption. For this reason, in conjunction with them, it is good to take vitamin B supplements. In addition, proton pump inhibitors negatively affect the intake of iron and calcium, the absorption of which increases significantly in an acidic environment. In case of predisposition to the absorption deficit of one of these minerals or in the presence of anemia or hypocalcaemia (frequent in mature women) it is better to integrate with specific supplements formulated in order to guarantee a high bioavailability.

In conclusion, drugs, together with their healing action, can produce serious side effects that can be alleviated or eliminated. In addition to a varied and balanced diet and the practice of constant physical activity, nature is able to help us considerably, providing us with many molecules that, if wisely used, help restore normal physiological functions.