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Please Don’t Drug Your Babies October 12, 2007


A recent article in the New York Times said that companies making infant cold and cough medicines are recalling some of their products after numerous reports of hallucinations, misuse and deaths in children under the age of six who consumed infant decongestants and antihistamines.

Safety reviewers from the Food and Drug Association urged the agency to make a ban on all infant cough and cold medicines, including Robitussin Infant Cough DM Drops, Triaminic Infant and Tylenol Concentrated Infant Drops Plus Cold and Cough. But companies are still selling the drugs, and pharmacies are buying them.

Chances are, the pharmacies will keep buying them until they are banned – if that ever happens. A group of outside experts are going to meet in the next few weeks to give recommendations to the FDA. I have a feeling the drug companies will have a few recommendations of their own. I guess we’ll have to wait and see who’s voice is louder.

Personally, the FDA’s final say on the matter won’t affect my sentiments on the matter. I think you should try your hardest to keep your kids off these drugs. Sometimes, it’s inevitable – usually that’s when you’ve already had to go the pediatrician, however.

The thing is, I remember taking the exact recommended dosage of Robitussin and similar drugs when I used to catch a lot of colds back in high school.

And man, that stuff gets you high.

Another New York Times article discussed how homeopathic, over-the-counter cough and cold medicine is becoming more popular, but consumers should still be careful – many drug companies are giving themselves the label of ‘natural’ without really having anything natural in them. It’s a similar phenomena to the whole organic food situation in the U.S.A today: looking the other way and stamping the seal of approval.

But there are other alternative options to popular infant drops: before Tylenol ruled the drug stores, people used natural, non-hallucinogenic methods to help alleviate their children’s ailments.

Here are a few leads on alternatives:

An article in Mother Nature describes making elder, yarrow root tea to reduce fevers and peppermint tea for upset stomach in children.

Preventative medicine is important for kids too. Herbs for Kids reports that Echinacea root, Hyssop, Lemon Balm, Lemon Thyme, Lemongrass and Ginger root are all beneficial for a child’s immunity to cold’s and coughs (though a recent study from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine say that there is no evidence that Echinacea is beneficial for children.)

There are more remedies, and I will keep adding them to the list. Feel free to add your own.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that there is no cure for the common cold – whether your child is filled with antihistamines or elder flower. All the the remedies can do is knock the kid out or alleviate the pain (p.s. elder flower will not knock out your child. Chamomile, however, has been known to help relax people and therefore lead to better sleep..).

NOTE: The mother of the cute baby boy in the picture posted a lot of useful information about natural remedies to children’s colds. I recommend you read it.


Over-Medicating October 1, 2007

When I was 21 years old I had a strange stomach problem that made me constantly nauseous. I went to my doctor ecounted my stomach ailments to my physician.

After describing my symptoms for about 10 minutes, he said to me, “You have an ulcer.”

He then prescribed Prilosec to me, telling me to take the pills every day for the rest of my life. I didn’t. Instead, I got more testing and found out that I had acquired a parasite in Morocco and it had been living in my stomach for 6 months. I got the proper medication and got rid of it.

As the saying goes, “There’s a pill for every ill.” Popping pills is the quick fix solution for a nation that prefers tanning salons over the sun and microwaves over stoves.

The formula? If there is a problem, find a quick and easy solution. The fewer steps you take to reach your goal, the better. Does your back hurt? Take a Celebrex. Anxious? Xanax. Can’t sleep? Valium. Depressed? Well, there’s a plethora of pills for that one.

Unfortunately, all of these pills have side affects on the body, as all foreign and unnatural substances do. Which is why people should question what doctors are prescribing to them, particularly if the doctor is new and knows little about your health background.

In September of 2007, an article in the New York Times discussed the negative effects of polypharmacies – the medical term for taking various prescriptions pills at once – on older populations. It also proposed various solutions and preventative tips. The article raised a larger point for me: older individuals just have weaker immune systems, but if something is bad for you, it is bad for you regardless of age. It does not comfort me to know that my body is simply better at ‘fighting off’ the negative effects of the medley of drugs some doctor is giving me.

Logically, I should ask my doctor what is right for me. The problem with that is that my doctor may have no idea what is right for me because he was never properly informed. In a Mother Jones’ interview with Dr. Marcia Angell, the author of “The Truth about Drug Companies,” Angell states that pharmaceutical companies spend 2.5 times more on marketing pills than researching them. The doctors don’t know because the companies selling the drugs don’t know.

One online resource, Beliefnet, is available for individuals to check potentially harmful interactions betweens different medications and supplements.