“Food is thy medicine”…. but can medicine be thy food?
Well yes it can. There are certain hidden ingredients labeled “inactive” in several over-the-counter and prescription based drugs that could be harming you and your family. The fact that they are called “inactive” is a detraction from what they really are…anything you put in your body is active and here’s the information you need to know.
Let me start by telling you a personal story…
A few years ago I had a crazy metallic taste develop in my mouth that I just couldn’t get rid of. It goes without saying, it was annoying and very alarming to be tasting metal in my mouth on a constant basis. As a result, I went to my acupuncturist and my regular doctor looking for answers. They had me eliminate fish from my diet (because of possible mercury poisoning), had my blood checked, and they did everything possible to find out what the heck was happening. No one could figure it out even after all the tests came back.
There was only one pharmaceutical drug I was taking at the time – a little blue birth control pill. To my surprise, my pharmacist made the decision to give me the generic version instead of the brand version that month. Of course my acupuncturist and doctor both asked me if I had been taking any new drugs/vitamins, etc – and my answer was no – but little did I realize at the time I was taking something totally different. Generic versions of pills can contain all sorts of additives, artificial colors and ingredients that make them chemically different from the brand version. It is a routine practice for drug companies to vary the exact combination of “inactive” ingredients to avoid patent infringement on brand name drugs and to make their appearance more appealing and last longer on the shelf .
Shortly, after I switched back to my brand version of birth control pills, the metallic taste in my mouth magically disappeared. (FYI – 2 years ago, I decided to stop taking birth control pills because I did not like what I uncovered about them and regret taking them at all, but that’s a topic for another time).
Finally figuring out that the generic version of the drug was quite different than the original was ground breaking to my understanding what “inactive” ingredients can do to you.
And that’s why I decided to look into the most popular household cold and flu medicines out there and investigate the actual ingredients in them.
Cold medicines like NYQUIL, Robitussin, Alka Seltzer and Triaminic have been around for decades and you, as well as your grandparents have probably used them. I still remember the taste of original orange flavored Triaminic – as my parents gave it to me every time I had a cold.
The main problem with many of these drugs is that back in the day the FDA did not perform rigorous testing on them. Instead they were only required to give them a stamp of GRAS or “Generally Regarded As Safe” and many of the “inactive” ingredients were not sufficiently tested. Although new drugs are tested more thoroughly now, drugs like “pseudoephedrine” were often grandfathered in.
Are these medicines really healing us or just putting a bandaid on symptoms that have no effect on us actually getting better?
According to Dr. Bruce Barrett, a leading cold researcher at the University of Wisconsin, cough and cold drugs have an effectiveness rate of only 20% of reducing symptoms and virtually zero effectiveness in actually removing the bacteria or virus out from your system.
Dr. Michael Carome, Deputy Director of the advocacy group Public Citizen, agrees. He states that these drugs have more debilitating side effects than benefit. For example, decongestants can work in reverse and cause rebound stuffiness and cardiac arrhythmia; cough syrups make you drowsy, fever reducers like acetaminophen can wreak havoc on your liver, while others can irritate your gastrointestinal system.
So why do so many people still take these over-the-counter drugs?
A study published in 2010 by Harvard Medical School found that placebo pills are just as effective as taking drugs when it comes to non-life-threatening chronic conditions. Which basically means our belief that something is working is sometimes all we need! The placebo effect has been documented over centuries and several natural medicine doctors believe our thoughts can be powerful healers.
Additionally, when drug manufacturers create marketing campaigns depicting quick recovery from illness after consuming their products of families going from in-the-bed sick back to school and/or work in commercials and advertisements – our brains get hooked to the message and we believe these drugs are actually working, when all they are doing is producing side effects we could definitely live without as well as all exposing us to potentially toxic and unhealthy inactive ingredients.
Most of the over-the-counter medicines you find at drug stores have several inactive ingredients that could be harming you with substances you didn’t even know you were consuming.
The doctors that belong to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called on “All physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.”
If you are trying to remove GMOs from your diet – you’ve got to make sure to look in your medicine cabinet too. All of these over-the-counter cold and flu remedies here listed have potential ingredients that contain GMOs. Many of the ingredients are hidden sources of GMOs. (See a full list of GMO ingredients here)
For example, notice the partially hydrogenated cottonseed & soy oil a.k.a. transfat in Zicam, high fructose corn syrup in NYQUIL and Robitussin, and soy lecithin in Halls cough drops.
There have been no long term human studies on GMOs and preliminary studies on animals show horrific consequences.
- A study showed GMOs caused toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals.
- Another study revealed that female rats fed GMO soy for 15 months showed significant health issues in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy.
- A 2009 French Study concluded that Glyphosate (used on GMO soy) can kill the cells in the outer layer of the human placenta, the organ that connects the mother to her fetus, providing nutrients and oxygen and emptying waste products.
- A Russian study conducted on hamsters that were fed GMO soy diets for two years over three generations found that by the third generation, most of the hamsters lost the ability to have babies, showed slower growth, and suffered a higher mortality rate.
Sodium Benzoate and/or Benzoic Acid are cautionary preservatives found in cough syrups like Robitussin. The Mayo Clinic reported that this preservative increases hyperactivity in children. Also, when sodium benzoate combines with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it can form benzene, carcinogen that damages DNA in cells and accelerates aging.
Dimethylpolysiloxane is an anti-foaming agent and type of silicone used in caulks and sealants and as a filler for breast implants. It’s commonly used in fried fast food items – even McDonald’s new Fish McNuggets have this ingredient added to it. It’s also the key ingredient in silly putty. This agent might not kill you – but do we really need to be consuming a chemical cocktail of synthetic ingredients when we are sick or at all?
Saccarin (a.k.a Sweet n’ Low), Aspartame, Sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda), Acesulfame Potassium, etc. are all chemically derived sugars with absolutely no nutritional value at all and can be dangerous.
Saccarin which is found in Robitussin and NYQUIL is one to avoid at ALL costs. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has reported the studies showing saccharin causes cancer in the urinary bladder, lungs, ovaries, uterus, and other organs in animals and also increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals.
Over 10,000 complaints have been filed with the FDA on Aspartame since 1980 and has actually never been proven to be safe before it was approved for use in our food supply. It has been linked to diabetes, auto-immune disorders, depression (which can cause you to eat more – once again), birth defects, and several forms of cancer.
CSPI also states Acesulfame-K or Acesulfame Potassium is anything but safe. Two rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer, but these studies were never addressed by the FDA before they approved the substance to also be used by in 1970. In addition, it is mentioned that large doses of acetoacetamide (a breakdown product of this sugar) have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. This toxic sugar substitute can be found in Alka Seltzer, Triaminic and NYQUIL.
Can they really call artificial dye “inactive” when it has been proven to cause hyperactivity in children? All of these drugs – NYQUIL, Mucinex, Robitussin, Halls, Alka Seltzer, Triaminic, and Zicam have artifical colors. These artificial colors are made in a lab with same chemicals used in petroleum production and are considered known carcinogens by many consumer watch agencies. How is taking petroleum which is used in gasoline going to help your immune system long term? Why are these substances even in medicines to begin with? Aren’t medicines suppose to heal you?
So What Do You Do The Next Time You Get A Cold?
There are a LOT of natural remedies out there that work…. so I want to share the top 5 that have worked for me. Please note these remedies are just on top of my regular habits of exercise, taking probiotics, eating a plant-based diet and drinking warm water with lemon and cayenne first thing every morning that all improve my immune system and help me ward off colds as much as possible.
- Use A Neti Pot - neti pot is a ceramic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp and used to irrigate the nasal cavities and has been used for centuries! Almost immediately at the sign of a cold, I grab my netty pot, filtered water (very important that it is filtered), some salt and a little bit of baking soda and go straight into my bathroom to clean out my nasal passages. This practice usually reduces the amount of time I have a cold or immediately stops it from becoming full blown. Also, I love using it in allergy season or when I’ve been around allergens in an old house with mold or around animals I am allergic to.
- Avoid Sugar Like the Plague – Sugar absolutely wreaks havoc on the body when you aren’t sick, but when you are sick and you eat sugar – you are multiplying the harmful effects further weakening the immune system and creating even more inflammation in your body. Sugar is one the key ingredients that bacteria and viruses feed off in your body, that’s why if you get a cold it’s important to stay away from candy, cakes, ice-cream, all those types of items that are extraordinary high in sugar if you want to get better fast.
- Juice with Ginger and Garlic - If you can stand it, add garlic and ginger root to your green juice. They both have amazing anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can get you better in no time! I haven’t had a cold last more than 2 days as a result of drinking green juice like this on a regular basis, especially when I have symptoms of a cold.
- Stay Hydrated – I avoid caffeine and drink an extraordinary amount of water based substances like hot soups, hot teas and just plain water. I don’t recommend gatorade – but these alternatives instead. Also – if you have kids, try this homemade version of Pedialyte – you don’t want to go anywhere near that branded hoax of a product either.
- Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs - When I get sick I rarely go to a conventional medical doctor now – I almost always first see my Acupuncturist. A treatment is sometimes all I need to help move a virus or bacteria infection out of my system. Also – I take combination of medicinal Chinese herbs as soon as I get a sign of a cold (usually the first sign for me is a scratchy throat) and/or to lessen the severity or duration of colds. One time when I had a crazy astronomical fever, I was able to reduce it just by taking these herbs. (Please note – I am not a doctor or Chinese medicine practioner, use this advice at your own risk.)
My goal in sharing this information with you is not to scare you into believing this stuff will kill you (although, it likely will slowly over time), but to inspire you to look at all the chemicals that being pushed at us by the pharmaceutical and food industries. We don’t need to consume these chemicals – our bodies were not made to consume them and we certaintly don’t need them to “feel better.”
If you think this post could benefit someone in your life – please share it – you could be a life saver.
Wishing You The Best Health Always,