The care that conventional physicians offer is often valuable, but powerful drugs are dispensed far too frequently by too many doctors without an effort to try safer, more natural therapies. It seems prudent to save the bigger guns for the more serious conditions that warrant their use.
Dr. Joe Graedon, pharmacologist and author of The People's Pharmacy, warns parents and doctors about prescribing drugs to infants and children: "Their immature organ systems often deal with drugs much differently than their grown-up version will a few years later, and the differences can lead to anything from uncomfortable reactions to deadly ones."
The short-term effects of most drugs on infants and children are often unknown, and the long-term effects are not simply unknown but can be frightening. A 1990 study by the U.S. Government's General Accounting Office reviewed the 198 new drugs which were approved by the F.D.A. between 1976 and 1985. The study discovered that more than half of these drugs caused serious reactions that had gone undetected until several years after widespread use. The report also showed that the drugs reviewed by the F.D.A. for use by children were twice as likely to lead to serious reactions as those approved for use by adults. Some of the most severe reactions included heart failure, anaphylactic shock, convulsions, kidney and liver failure, severe blood disorders, birth defects, blindness, and even death. The seriousness of these side effects is enough to send chills up any parent's spine; hopefully, parents and physicians will soon understand the importance of using conventional drugs more conservatively.
Most people do not realize that many conventional drugs are not tested on children. The safety and effectiveness of giving drugs to children have not been established. When it comes to calculating doses or anticipating side effects, children are not little adults.
Additional risks arise when a physician prescribes more than one drug at a time. Surveys have shown that over 20% of all visits to a doctor by children under 15 years of age include a prescription for two or more drugs per visit. Many types of drugs, which may be relatively safe when given alone, can become dangerous when prescribed along with another drug. The long-term effect of giving certain drugs to infants, especially two or more drugs at a time, remains unknown. One day in the future we might consider frequent prescription of such drugs on infants and children to be a form of medical child abuse.
This kind of overprescribing is sometimes the result of inadequate knowledge of recent research. It also sometimes occurs because a doctor feels compelled to prescribe something for a sick child. Doctors often assume that the medicine, even if not certain to be effective, will at least have a beneficial placebo effect. However, considering the potential side effects from nearly every drug, it seems more prudent to consider more mild placebos or safer medicines, such as homeopathic remedies.
It is somehow ironic that some people consider homeopathic and other natural medicines to be "radical." It seems more appropraite to consider the use of powerful drugs and invasive surgerical treatment as radical, while natural therapies to be "conservative." Ultimately, this is part of the revolution that must take place, not only a change in the medicines we use to heal ourselves and our children, but also in the way that we think about the art of healing.
1Joe Graedon, The People's Pharmacy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985, 372.
2FDA Drug Review: Postapproval Risks 1976-85, GAO/PEMD-90-15, Gaithersburg, MD.
3Irene Wielawski, "Drug Advances Leave Children Out in the Cold," L.A. Times, January 18, 1990, E1+.4Ibid.
5"Highlights of Drug Utilization in Office Practice, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, 1985 NCHS Advance Data, May 19, 1987, 134.
HOW DO I LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMEOPATHY?
The best source of homeopathic books, tapes, home medicine kits, and software is:
Homeopathic Educational Services
2124B Kittredge St.
Berkeley, CA 94704
(510) 649-1955 (fax)
Various homeopathic organizations provide training programs and general information:
National Center for Homoeopathy
801 N. Fairfax #306
Alexandria, VA. 22314
International Foundation for Homeopathy
2366 Eastlake Ave. E. #301
Seattle, WA. 98102