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What Is A Drug?
What Is A Drug?
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I often get messages from students -- often high school students -- asking for help on some study assignment, or whatever.
I sometimes get inspired to answer with a lengthy reply -- because I think the question is one that many others might have -- and so it was with Amy. Amy lives in Australia, and wrote to me on April 21, 2001, with the following question:
50 years ago pharmaceuticals were made from natural products but today the majority are synthesized in laboratories. I was just wondering if you knew why this change has occurred and if possible what the advantages and disadvantages of pharmaceutical drug synthesis were. Amy
So, I thought I would answer this at considerable length -- it represents an area of confusion that many people experience when they think about "drugs" and "vitamins" and "food."
is the answer I sent along to her:
It is certainly well known that people get sick when they eat a poor diet -- and that a "good" diet can create health. Does "food" then constitute a "health treatment?"
Would it be fair to call "food" a drug? If "drugs" are defined as substances used to conquer sickness, and foods can do that, are foods drugs?
So, there have to be some usable definitions here. I'd like to accomplish that in this issue of The Wednesday Letter. (In fact, I have not accomplished that, but I think you'll enjoy the journey anyway!)
I would suggest that we start with a human body in a state of health! Even that is not at all defined anywhere that I know of. I took a crack at it with an article called "What Is Wellness?" (Click and read.)
From whatever your concept of a "well body" might be, the next step would be to detect some change from some standard of wellness. In other words, you must be able to detect the change.
That change might well be an improvement! You would have to decide if the change was for the better or for the worse! That is, an ideal state of body health might conceivably become BETTER. Then your standard of "ideal state" would have to be changed. Few if any people even know what are the units of measurement for body health. Certainly "freedom from disease" is much too negative a definition. This definition yet needs to be worked out, but it would, at the least, include the degree of "range of motion" for body parts (arms, legs, etc.), stamina or endurance (how long you can run without slowing down for lack of energy or oxygen), strength (how much weight you can lift, how easily) and probably many other units of measurement.
Would you say a person was healthy who can't smell a rose? What about a person who is color-blind? Those, of course, are the negative measurements. But, how about a person is very active in school, and who has a teacher who can't tolerate motion. The teacher labels the kid "hyperactive" and he gets drugged. The better teacher gives the kid lots of projects to interest him and use up his energy. Is "activity" a disease? Does it need a drug to cure it?
One woman may feel that she is only healthy when she can run 28 miles in a marathon -- and get her body fat down to a dangerously low level by way of some idea of how to "train." She would be very high on her endurance and stamina measurements, but close to disease for lack of body fat. When a woman gets too low with her body fat, she ceases to menstruate and various diseases set in.
Typically some people think of a detoxification activity as a disease while others would regard the same exact condition as an improvement.
Let's say that you have decided that this change is "bad!"
It might not yet be an actual "disease" but let's be sloppy for now and just refer to this as a "disease" -- a deviation from standard wellness. You would have to be aware of that change before you could do anything. Many people have health problems of which they have no awareness.
But, even being aware of the health problem isn't enough! Many people know they have a health problem and don't feel any need to change anything in their lives. They are willing to "live with" the problem.
Many more steps are actually necessary before someone starts looking for help on the health problem, but let's say that some health problem is observed and that you want to handle the problem -- you now have to have some technology to do that.
Today, usually, a drug is that technology. In the past, particularly when drugs were not much around, people wanted to get better (when the plague was devastating Europe), but had no idea of how to do that. Many millions of people have died with well-wishers standing by helplessly.
Even though sassafras Tea has many beneficial characteristics, there is always, it seems, someone to come along and try to scare you away from "natural" things, toward less natural things == that is the history of "drugs." Find some substance, food, or whatever, that is natural, and then invent an artificial alternative, and then denounce the natural as dangerous!
Here is the "dangerous" description of "sassafras" from the web.
SASSAFRAS -- This is the leaf from a sassafras tree. Sassafras trees are wide spread across the United States, but are becoming more scarce. They have a very unique mitten shaped leaf that makes them easy to identify. sassafras trees have been an important part of American Folklore, and have been used in everything from medicines, to teas. There roots have a very strong smell that is often used in potpourris. Unfortunately we have learned in recent years that there is a toxin in the trees that can make them dangerous to people. sassafras trees turn an absolutely beautiful bright red in the fall. [Source]
And click here for a more traditional view of sassafras.
Here is another view of sassafras:
It All Happened This Way…
About 1512, Ponce de Leon and a bunch of fellows were looking up and down Florida coast searching for the "Fountain of Youth." Of Course they didn't find it, but they sure discovered something a whole lot better, Ponce and his followers discovered Sassafras.
Sassafras soon became a sort of sulfanilamide-penicillin-streptomycin to the folks in Europe. Now we sure don't make these claims, but we do say that Sassafras makes a very delicious drink, Hot or Iced!
When the news of Sassafras got around, you can well imagine why it became number one in everybody's hit parade. In the 16th century, the government did not have cost restrictions, so the price of Sassafras sky rocketed to $4.00 per pound!
Soon the whole ocean was swarming with Sassafras seekers. Sir Walter Raleigh, Champlain, Captain Smith, Winthrop, Martin Pring and William Penn just to name a few who brought home a winner. Lucky thing for us too, because these fellows did a heap of exploring and discovering in the process. So we can really say that Sassafras Tea is a beverage that helped shape the history of the world. From P. De Leon in 1512 to American Indians to the early pioneers to today's modern people Sassafras tea is still Americas Original Tea. [Source]
Now, you tell me! Is sassafras tea a drug? Is it a "natural substance?"
There are no simple answers to these questions!
Let's look further into this. It is often true that today's "drugs" started off with some herbal ancestry. We know about "aspirin," but few know the relationship between "willow bark" and aspirin.
White Willow Bark (Salix alba)
The white willow was introduced into the United States from Europe and can be found next to rivers and streams throughout the country. The bark is the part of the willow used, and is easily removed in the spring when the sap begins to flow.
Willows have been used for centuries for pain relief and reduction of fever. The leaves can be chewed, and contain salicylic acid. This compound has been synthesized into acetylsalicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin.
Natural salicylic acid is nearly as potent as aspirin, however, the compound salicin from willow does not cause gastric or intestinal upset or bleeding as aspirin can, This is because willow does not block prostaglandins in the stomach or intestines. [Source]
Here is one of the dirty secrets of the drug industry. Many drugs have their origin in some natural substance -- some herb or even some food. But, drug companies cannot possibly succeed financially by just buying willow bark, putting a label on some form of it (powder, or whatever) and selling it -- because every other Tom, Dick and Harry could do the same.
The secret of the drug companies is PATENTS. They need and want patents so that they can have a monopoly on whatever they sell. You cannot get a patent on a "natural substance." So, the drug companies then have to take some natural substance, like willow bark and make it different enough so that they CAN get a patent. In the case of willow bark they do their thing and instead of having "natural salicylic acid" (as you would get chewing the leaves) you get "acetylsalicylic acid." I won't try to get into the chemistry of this difference, but this "acetyl" added to the front of "salicylic" changes this stuff enough to be able to get a patent.
Now, patents are not quite enough. In order to protect the ignorant consumers in America (the ones who might otherwise chew willow bark) the Government decided to invent the Food and Drug Administration to "protect" society from harmful foods and drugs. How can the FDA protect you unless they get proof that some substance is not harmful. So, they put the burden of proof on the drug company to prove that the substance is not only safe, but also effective.
The drug company takes the willow bark, creates an artificial form of it -- called acetylsalicylic acid" and then has to spend millions of dollars to prove it is safe and effective. They got the patent just be changing the natural form of the bark, and they got the Government's permission to make claims and sell it (at extremely high profit margins) by spending millions of dollars on "scientific studies" that are ultimately accepted by the FDA.
You now have a drug -- aspirin. Click here to read a study showing that 18.7% of the people who take aspirin experience some adverse "side" effect!
You can also buy willow bark! You probably don't know where to buy it. And, because aspirin can now be made so efficiently, from cheap raw materials (NOT willow bark), it is probably even cheaper to buy aspirin than to find and buy willow bark.
Is aspirin a drug? It is very similar to willow bark!
Is willow bark a drug? It is used for relief of pain!
Do you want to buy willow bark? You can!
Here is a web page that
offers a combination of "natural herbs," including willow bark, for your
Herb Almanac | :
Pain, Nervousness, Inflammation, Fever, Headaches, Menstrual
Cramps APS II® with White Willow Bark (Nervous)
is formulated to provide nutrients that must be present for proper nervous
system function. A healthy nervous
system is a key to wellness and vitality. APS II with White Willow
Bark is a source of calcium and magnesium. APS-II ingredients include the following herbs: Take 2 capsules a with meal three times daily.
with White Willow Bark (Aspirin & Pain reliever Substitute)
Herb Almanac | : Pain, Nervousness, Inflammation, Fever, Headaches, Menstrual Cramps
APS II® with White Willow Bark (Nervous) is formulated to provide nutrients that must be present for proper nervous system function. A healthy nervous system is a key to wellness and vitality. APS II with White Willow Bark is a source of calcium and magnesium.
APS-II ingredients include the following herbs:
Take 2 capsules a with meal three times daily.
Notice now another aspect of the vitamin industry. You cannot make any money just selling willow bark -- practically.
You have to fiddle around with the natural substances so that you have as close to a monopoly on them as you can. You add a variety of natural substances, throw in a pinch of Chinese herbs that can't be found easily, and you have a combination that will be hard to duplicate. THIS, then, you can promote at a reasonably high price, make a profit on, and do well with.
Can you buy a "pure willow bark" substance somewhere? Probably, but I didn't find it.
This stuff, above, has its own name -- APS-II! What is that? A marketing requirement to make money in this business. I call it "Life Glow One," as my oral chelation formula -- the name is an important part of the business enterprise. "Willow Bark?" No way! You won't succeed in business if the name of your product is:
No matter how fancy you make the text, anyone else can call their product the same exact thing -- and sell at one penny less, and you have lost your business.
I've covered a lot in a hurry here, but let's reconsider.
A "herb" is definitely something that was alive, grew and is a part of the Plant Kingdom. As you can see from the above, the definition of a "drug," from the legal viewpoint, is "any substance for which the claim is made that it can cure or prevent a disease, or alter a bodily function."
In this sense, foods, herbs and medical drugs can be classified as "drugs."
But many drugs have been created with no connection to any herb or food. Prozac is one of the most harmful drugs ever created and it is synthetic and artificial all the way through. It is a harmful drug, and it is NOT an herb.
So, once you see the truth of this, you can see that many herbs, particularly when taken in large doses, can "cure or prevent a disease, or alter a bodily function" and therefore would be legally classified as "drugs."
Here is a web site in Australia which promotes many different "drugs" all derived from herbs. This is an honest representation of these herbs. I am not endorsing each of these herbs for the claimed benefits, but heartily applaud the company for putting the truth out there -- that herbs can be, and often are, drugs.
To add to the confusion, consider something that just about everyone says is a "food:" MILK!
For goodness sakes, "milk" is one of God's gifts to mankind -- is it not? Well, as you probably know, many people cannot digest milk and actually get sick when they drink milk. Does that make milk a bad food? Or, is that person's body in such bad shape that the body can't utilize good food?
Part of the truth about milk is that when you heat milk, during the process called pasteurization, you greatly damage the milk and greatly increase the chances that a person will get sick from the milk. So, is milk now a toxic substance when it is heated -- but widely promoted as a healthy food? And if you don't heat the milk, making it far more healthy for the human body, it is called "raw milk" and made illegal in almost every state in America.
I, personally, worked on a considerable campaign to legalize raw milk in Los Angeles. I was not the leading figure in this, but I certainly helped. I invite you to click here and read some of the hundreds of pages about the dangers of drinking pasteurized (or homogenized) milk.
The Tower Of Babel is an ancient story from the Bible -- about the claim that God didn't want people to get into heaven by climbing some man-made TOWER -- apparently He wanted man to reach heaven only through the proper spiritual channels? -- so He noticed that all the people were speaking one language and thus understanding one another easily. He simply changed that -- scattering people over the land and making it harder to communicate. Thus, the Tower was not built -- as the people who intended to build the tower couldn't talk to one another. There is another possible explanation to the meaning of this story. Possibly, back some many years earlier, man was on such a spiritual plane that he communicated without using spoken words -- a sort of spiritual telepathy. Can you imagine a society when your every intention would be transparently obvious to others? A society where you could not hide your evil intentions? In such a society criminals would be discovered and dealt with instantly. Read by clicking here a bit of my philosophical musings on spiritual telepathy. This is one of my ADVANCED philosophical writings -- please don't miss it! Write and tell me what you think -- I promise to reply.
Can you consider that God saw that the trend toward spoken language would arrive at a point where man was depending only on material things to achieve spiritual salvation?
I won't pretend to be a serious student of these matters, but it is certainly true that our society seems held back in its communications because of the plentitude of different languages. And, we are not improving until our communication skills can discern the hidden evil intentions out of the utterances of sounds from a mouth or television.
Our planet is cursed with this affliction now. We have literally hundreds of different languages spoken by our people, and a great deal of the conflict and misery in society stems from people not understanding one another. This lack of understanding starts, at its most basic point, with the language itself.
Then, within what appears to be "English" for instance, we are plagued by many words that have multiple definitions. So, we come to the word "drug" and we are confounded to find a definition that we can all use in common.
Drug companies have a great interest in adding to these confusions -- so they promote definitions to suit their profit interests. I've written extensively about the confusion on the word "organic" or "natural" when applied to vitamins. Click here for that.
Finally, you may be disappointed, but I don't have an easy answer to these questions for you.
I think the solution to this problem lies back toward that type of spiritual communication where hidden intentions cannot be hidden. In other words, I personally believe that you must judge the character of a person before deciding whether to listen to his words.
Liars are fond of quoting statistics and scientific studies. The statistical studies, and scientific studies, are no more useful than the integrity of the person in charge.
I say to you that Prozac is an evil and harmful drug. I say to you that pasteurized milk is a dangerous substance, whether called a drug or not. I say to you that a formula of 50 different vitamin ingredients (Life Glow Plus) is a very healthy substance to take. I say many things to you.
Judge my science and logic as you can, but probably you will have to come to a senior conclusion about Karl Loren -- that he is a trust-worthy guy -- one whose data and opinions you can accept with confidence.
How do you arrive at such a conclusion? Well, the best way, I think, is to start with the fact that I have more than 13,000 pages on 11 web sites. Among all those many pages are many articles written by others. But, in these cases I have generally included my opinion about those articles. And, I have also written many thousands of pages of my own stuff -- just start reading. If you generally agree with what you find, you can safely conclude that, from your viewpoint, I am a trustworthy guy. If you find lots of stuff on my pages that you disagree with, then you cannot trust me or my words.
This is a game of honesty and trust -- and I suggest that we cannot arrive at a usable definition of "drug" but we can arrive at a usable way to judge someone's opinions and data.
You must put your faith, first, in the source of information, and follow your heart!
I suggest to you that Prozac is a killer drug and that any person who recommends it is your enemy.