Some Alternatives to Drugs

Some Alternatives to Drugs

At Novus, we are always looking for alternatives to drugs. Many of our patients were originally prescribed the painkillers to which they have become addicted to handle the pain associated with an accident or injury. We know that pain is real and that it can make dealing with life difficult, if not impossible. However, prescribing painkillers is not treating the cause of the injury but is simply masking the symptoms.

This “prescribe a pill” mindset permeates the entire health industry. All of us now know that smoking is bad for our health. We know that failure to exercise leads to many physical problems. We know that the extra weight we are carrying will lead to health problems. However, most of us think that rather than make the necessary lifestyle changes, we will address health problems as they arise with a pill or maybe even an operation.

In this newsletter, I want to share with you some information about some new discoveries that may make our lives better—without taking a pill or undergoing surgery.


Most of us have heard about anthrax. We know that it has been used to kill people and that whole buildings have been evacuated when a mysterious white powder is found.

Anthrax is a naturally occurring, highly lethal disease caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. It is commonly found in animals but generally not in the United States. It can be developed in the lab and, unlike other bacteria, is able to live for long periods of time. Anthrax can be dormant for up to 50 years and then become active. It is colorless, odorless and difficult to detect. It can be spread by aerosols, through the mail, in bombs or missiles.

Anthrax has been developed by many countries for use in biochemical [should you say biological instead?] warfare. The impact of this deadly bacteria was shown when anthrax spores were accidentally released from a Russian military microbiology facility in 1979. The Russians reported that 66 of the 77 people who inhaled the anthrax spores died.

The good news is that anthrax is not known to spread from one person to another person and, even if untreated, 80 percent of people who become infected when anthrax is absorbed through a cut or abrasion on the skin do not die. Inhaling anthrax is more lethal if not promptly treated. About half of these cases end in death.


The traditional treatment for anthrax is a vaccine and/or the use of antibiotics. The problem with these treatments is their availability if somehow anthrax was spread over a large area.

A new study led by Professor Les Baillie from the Welsh School of Pharmacy at Cardiff University and Doctor Theresa Gallagher of the Biodefense Institute, part of the Medical Biotechnology Centre of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute in Baltimore looks at a less expensive and certainly more readily available alternative.

Published in the March 2008 issue of the Society for Applied Microbiology’s journal Microbiologist, the study points out that drinking English Breakfast tea might be an effective antidote to anthrax. They conclude that black tea has the potential to inhibit the activity of anthrax—as long as you don’t dilute the tea with milk. There is still work to be done but the results are promising.

The authors caution that the results of their study do not mean that someone exposed to anthrax should not immediately seek medical help, but it does mean that more readily accessible remedies may be available that do not have the side effects of vaccines and antibiotics.


As many of us age, proteins and other substances accumulate on the surface of the lens of the eye and form a cloudy covering which eventually will spread over the eye and cause a loss of sight—a cataract.

According to the National Institute of Health:

  • By age 80, more than half of all Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery.
  • People with diabetes or who smoke or use alcohol have a higher incidence of cataracts.

As you see on billboards, there are many doctors advertising surgical removal of cataracts. While these surgeries have a 90% success rate, it is still surgery and sometimes produces unwanted side effects—like loss of vision.


Chakshu Research, a start-up company, is in the final stages of clinical testing of eye drops that will dissolve the clouded area and restore the clarity of the lens. This means that, instead of expensive surgery, many people developing cataracts will be able to purchase the drops at a pharmacy and remove the cataracts themselves. There is also some preliminary evidence that the drops will also be helpful in the treatment of glaucoma and macular degeneration.

Dr. Randall Olson, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, was asked by Popular Science what he had seen in the clinical trials of the eye drops on cataract patients. Dr. Olson said, “Nobody, including myself, would have looked at this and thought it would work. But during trials, I’ve seen cataracts disappear.”


Do you like to walk around when on the phone? Do you feel compelled to get up from your desk or chair and just walk around? Well, a recent study says that these activities may be helping your health.
A study entitled Role of Low Energy Expenditure and Sitting in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cardiovascular Disease by Marc T. Hamilton, Deborah G. Hamilton and Theodore W. Zderic was published in the November 2007 issue of Diabetes magazine.

In the study, the authors pointed out:

  • Only five percent of Americans exercise regularly;
  • Sitting too much and exercising too little significantly increase the onset and development of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cholesterol and obesity;
  • People who spend more time standing or walking around are generally healthier than even people who do regularly exercise but spend less time standing and more time sitting;
  • More than 90% of the calories expended in all forms of physical activity were due to this pattern of standing and non-exercise ambulatory movements.

If you sit at a desk all day, try obtaining a standup desk. Get a cordless phone and stroll around while speaking on the phone. With simple adaptations to our daily routines, most of us can increase the amount of time that we are standing or walking around. According to the study, this simple step will help increase your metabolism and improve your health. Also, you will feel less guilty about not exercising.


As Monday was St. Patrick’s Day, there are two Irish sayings from the play Man and Superman written by the great Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw that I think apply to all of us.

The first is, “Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it.”

If we want to be free of disease and illness we need to take more responsibility for our own condition—quit smoking, lose weight, stand more and exercise. Not only will we feel better physically and prevent the onset of many diseases, but studies have demonstrated that exercise is a very effective antidote to depression.

The second is, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

Demanding that our healthcare providers find and treat the cause of problems and not just treat the symptoms is considered unreasonable by many healthcare practitioners. However, the alternative is a life of taking pills and deteriorating health for us and for our loved ones.

In closing, my grandfather had a framed copy of this Irish blessing hanging on his wall:

“May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be ever at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields.
And may you be in Heaven an hour before the Devil knows you are dead.”

How does this apply? Most of us would probably like a head start on the Devil.

This email is provided for general educational purposes only and is not intended to constitute (i) medical advice or counseling, (ii) the practice of medicine including psychiatry, psychology, psychotherapy or the provision of health care diagnosis or treatment, (iii) the creation of a physician patient or clinical relationship, or (iv) an endorsement, recommendation or sponsorship of any third party product or service by the sender or the sender’s affiliates, agents, employees, consultants or service providers. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health
care provider promptly.

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