Chiropractors Fighting Drug Abuse

:dropcap_open:O:dropcap_close:ne of our jobs, as doctors of chiropractic, is to fight the wildly excessive use of prescription and recreational drugs.  Do you realize that The National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that one in nine youths abused drugs in the past year?  In addition, in 2011, seven percent of 8th graders, 18 percent of 10th graders, and 23 percent of 12th graders used marijuana¹.
drugabuse78After marijuana, prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most commonly abused drugs among teenagers. These include Vicodin, Adderall, tranquilizers, cough medicine, MDMA, hallucinogens, oxycontin, and sedatives.² 
There is no question that America is a drug-addicted nation. The U.S. has the highest level of illegal drug use in the world. Americans are four times more likely to report using cocaine in their lifetime than the next country with the next closest level of cocaine use. 
But that is not all. Americans also lead the world in using doctor-prescribed drugs as well! A recent study, based on the consumption of prescription drugs for 14 different diseases in 14 different countries, showed the same result. Please note that this study was not looking at prescription drug abuse, but rather studying how much medicine was prescribed by doctors for diseases like cancer, neurological diseases, hepatitis, etc.
Americans took more medically-prescribed drugs per person than the inhabitants of any other country in the world! After the U.S., Spain ranked second and France was third. This means that the U.S. ranks number one in both drug abuse and use of medically-prescribed drugs!³  We have a big job on our hands to try to change this horrible situation.
As doctors of chiropractic we must view these statistics with alarm. The fact that American adults and young people use legal and illegal drugs at such an alarming rate means that we are in the midst of a serious problem. Yet, the laws that have been passed have not changed the situation. In fact, if you look at countries like the Netherlands where it is legal to use drugs, the abuse of prescription medication and recreational drugs is significantly lower than in the United States!4   
To stem the tide of rising drug abuse we must promote natural healthcare and healthy living. Succeeding at this goal requires us to educate patients about the safety and efficacy of natural health care. Part of this natural health focus is to convince patients to use natural substances to replace prescription drugs, with their well-known and toxic side effects. Our first step is to understand the most popular prescription medications and the natural alternatives.
One of the main areas of concern for doctors of chiropractic is the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications for pain and inflammation. The most popular medications include ibuprofen, which is sold as Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin.5  Acetaminophen, which includes Excedrin, Aspirin and Tylenol, Aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve) are also extremely popular.6  It is common for patients to be prescribed muscle relaxants, prednisone, a corticosteroid, Celebrex, a cox-2 inhibitor,7 codeine, and Vicodin. What are the alternatives?
There are many proven remedies that can help pain and inflammation. The popular natural supplement turmeric is probably the most studied and possibly the most affective anti-inflammatory available. A component in turmeric, curcumin, which is an ingredient in Indian curry, reduces inflammation in many painful conditions such as arthritis and psoriasis. Like Celebrex and Vioxx, turmeric is a cox-2 inhibitor.  There are a number of combination supplements that contain turmeric; it is commonly combined with ginger, holy basil, boswelia, bromelain, and white willow. Common dosages are 1,000 to 5,000 mg or more per day.
Fish oil, including a number of different types of omega 3 fatty acid supplements, also has powerful anti-inflammatory affects. It breaks down into chemicals called prostaglandins, which reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that by taking fish oil, many patients are able to reduce their anti-inflammatory medication significantly or stop entirely. Common dosages are 1,000 to 5,000 mg or more per day for the reduction of inflammation.
:dropcap_open:It is common for patients to be prescribed muscle relaxants, prednisone, a corticosteroid, Celebrex, a cox-2 inhibitor,7 codeine, and Vicodin.:quoteleft_close:
For pain it is not uncommon for a patient to take 2,000 to 8,000 milligrams daily of Glucosamine Sulfate. Glucosamine Sulfate helps to restore synovial fluid and helps to regenerate cartilage. It is often combined with Chondroitin Sulfate and Methylsulfoneal Methane (MSM). This combination of three ingredients is a common remedy for inflammation and pain.    There is a significant amount of research that has documented that individually or in combination these supplements can not only reduce pain but also improve the health and quality of cartilage. 
Arnica is another popular remedy, although it is less well understood and does not have as much research behind it as turmeric and glucosamine sulfate. As a topical lotion or ointment, the arnica herb has been shown to be anti-inflammatory.
It is also used as a homeopathic remedy. However, because the mechanisms for homeopathy are so poorly understood, it is hard to find much quality research.
Doctors of chiropractic must also be aware of the fact that many of their patients could have pain from the side effects of statin drugs. Statins, the most widely prescribed medication for high cholesterol, can cause many types of joint and muscle pain. Most of us do not realize that approximately half of the men ages 65 and over and almost 40 percent of the women take statins!  That is a startling statistic. In addition, 25 percent of the reported statin adverse side effects include muscle pain! Diagnosing pain from statins is difficult because the onset can be anywhere between four weeks and four years after starting statins. 
There are alternatives to statins. Red rice yeast is probably the most popular and well-studied supplement to lower cholesterol levels. One to two grams of red rice yeast has been shown to significantly reduce cholesterol levels. In addition, four to thirteen grams of glucomannan, 3000 to 15000 milligrams of beta-glucan or 200 to 500 micrograms of chromium have all been shown to lower total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol. 
For those doctors who are interested in laser therapy, there is also a growing body of research that indicates that laser therapy can potentiate the effect of drugs and supplements when the laser is focused on the area that requires regeneration.
In summary, there are many common problems where over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be replaced with natural, healthier nutriceuticals. By continuing to focus on alternatives to medication, doctors of chiropractic will be helping to thwart America’s addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  1. National Institute of Drug Abuse, July 2012.
  2. WHO World Mental Health Surveys, 31 Mar 2009 
  3. Extent and causes of international variations in drug usage: a report for the Secretary of State for Health, July 27, 2010.
  4. Extent and causes of international variations in drug usage: a report for the Secretary of State for Health, July 27, 2010.
  5. The Physician and Sports Medicine 38 (1): 132–138.
  6. WebMD Health News, April 20, 2011
  7. Food Funct. 2012 Jul 26. 
  8. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2012 Jul 6
  9. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis. 2012 Jun;4(3):167-80.
  10. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Jun 27;11:50
  11. Int J Rheumatol. 2011;2011:969012.
  12. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008 Jul-Aug;22(4):237-9.
  13. Med Health Care Philos. 2012 Apr 27
  14. Harvard Health Publications, Statin use is up, cholesterol levels are down: Are Americans’ hearts benefiting?, April 15, 2011.
  15. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther 2006; 11: 105-12. 
  16. Ann Intern Med 2002; 137: 581-5. 
  17. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012
Curtis Turchin, M.A., D.C. is an expert in the field of laser treatment, low force adjusting and therapeutic exercise. He has published 4 books and more than 20 journal articles on chiropractic and laser therapy. Dr. Turchin is the author of the best-selling book, Light and Laser Therapy: Clinical Procedures, the authoritative text on clinical laser treatment, as well as Veterinary Laser Therapy, and Treating Addictions with Laser Therapy. He has lectured at many chiropractic colleges and state associations. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact him. Contact him at: [email protected] or 650-224-8789. His teaching website is:

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