Two African Witch Doctors Wearing Masks
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Last week, I had a curb-side consult with my neighbor, Bill Jones. I said "How ya doing, Bill?" Bill said "not too good", and then proceeded to show me the Ace Wrap on his arm and the two bottles of pills his doctor prescribed for his peripheral neuropathy. Bill was having burning pain, tingling, and numbness in the arm and hand constantly, all day and night, preventing him from sleeping. The pills were generic gabapentin, a drug marketed for treatment of peripheral neuropathy, and Tramadol, a synthetic opiate pain pill.
Knowing that a cocktail of B vitamins and alpha-lipoic acid will frequently clear up and heal a peripheral neuropathy, I asked Bill if he was taking any vitamins. Bill's face lit up. He became excited and invited me into his house. We sat in the kitchen and Bill brought out a sheet of paper listing his medications and vitamins.
At the top of the list was Pravastatin, a drug to reduce cholesterol. When I saw this, I immediately knew what was causing Bill's excruciating burning pain in the arm and hand. This is an obvious case of statin-induced neuropathy (1). My job had been simplified.
I told Bill the statin drug was causing his peripheral neuropathy, so he should stop the drug immediately. I also gave him a list of vitamins to take: Benfotiamine 150 mg three times a day, B12 methylcobalamin 5000 mcg sublingual tabs twice a day, P-5-P form of B6 50 mg. daily, Alpha-Lipoic Acid 50 mg three times a day, and Ubiquinone form of CoQ-10 100 mg twice a day.
Adverse Side Effects of Statin Drugs
The drug companies have cleverly planted deceptive articles in the media, proclaiming statin drugs have no side effects. In reality statin drugs have horrendous adverse side effects which have been documented in the medical literature for over thirty years. These include peripheral neuropathy, muscle pain, muscle damage, myopathy, cognitive dysfunction and dementia, autoimmune disease, drug-induced lupus, disturbance of immune function, etc (5).
No Good Reason to Take a Statin Drug
Bill had no evidence of heart disease, his cholesterol levels were perfectly normal, and he should never taken a statin drug in the first place. Amazingly, his doctors failed to recognize he had a statin-induced neuropathy, and instead gave Bill a worthless ineffective drug, gabapentin, as treatment for peripheral neuropathy, no more effective than placebo (13). They also gave him an opiate pain pill Tramadol, which is effective for pain relief; however, the price is narcotics addiction. Prescribing an opiate pain pill for a statin-induced neuropathy is misdiagnosis and mistreatment, a medical error of monumental proportions.
Who Benefits From a Statin Drug?
Medical science is clear that statin drugs reduce cholesterol quite well in men and women of all ages. However, there no health benefit obtained from lowering cholesterol in women, the elderly, or men with no underlying history of heart disease (8). According to Rita Redberg MD, in an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, healthy men should not take a statin drug. On the other hand, thirty years of statin medical studies have shown a benefit greater than placebo for middle-aged men with known underlying heart disease (9). Although this benefit is not impressive, this is enough to justify prescribing a statin drug to men with known heart disease.
Temptation to Profit
Statin drugs are the most lucrative drugs ever, making more than 100 billion dollars for Pfizer (2). How did Pfizer make so much money? They put on the African Witch Doctor mask and created fear. Fear that if you don't take my drug, you die.
Creating Fear -- Medical Marketing of Statin Drugs
As a kid we used to visit the museum where they exhibited scary witch-doctor masks designed to induce fear in villagers. (See above image Lassa Witch doctors courtesy of CDC).
I often laughed at the scary masks and marveled at how primitive these people were. A modern doctor would never stoop so low as to don a scary mask to induce fear in the patient. How can that be part of any effective medical treatment? Our modern medical system is above that. We are not savages living in mud huts. We are civilized, we have nuclear weapons and the New York Times.