MedicationSense.com

Your independent, respected source for information about medications and natural therapies.

Medication side effects are the #4 leading cause of death in the U.S. annually (JAMA 1998). Yet, few people receive adequate information when medication is prescribed. This website is dedicated to providing information to help you and your doctor make informed, intelligent choices about medications and natural alternatives to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of treatment. Note: This website is free of drug company or government influence. Jay S. Cohen M.D.

Dr. Jay S. Cohen, M.D.

Natural Therapies

Dr. Cohen's interest in natural therapies began early in his career. During President Nixon's historic visit to China, a famous reporter, James Reston, developed appendicitis. The Chinese doctors used acupuncture anesthesia, and acupuncture became an overnight sensation in the United States. Soon after, Dr. Cohen was appointed as the Medical Director of the Acupuncture Research Project at UCLA, the first such project in America.

Two of the acupuncturists at this project were also herbalists, with whom Dr. Cohen had many conversations. He did plenty of reading. Interestingly, his experience at UCLA led to his interest in psychiatry. At the acupuncture clinic, he was responsible for in-depth interviews of all new patients. Some interviews were brief, but others took hours. Many of his patients had chronic pain syndromes. Their histories were complex and their feelings were deep. Some were brilliant. Others were famous celebrities.

Today, Dr. Cohen is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition. His knowledge of medications, side effects, and natural non-drug therapies, and nutrition in the prevention and treatment of disease is unique. In the last decade, Dr. Cohen has written six books on medical issues, and each of them discussed non-drug natural therapies as an alternative to prescription drugs.

Dr. Cohen's knowledge about natural therapies is broad. This allows Dr. Cohen to suggest the best methods and therapies from mainstream and alternative medicine. Here are some of the topics for which people seek Dr. Cohen's input.

Natural Therapies for the Prevention of Heart Disease

The most popular natural therapy for reducing cholesterol is red yeast rice, a fermented form of red yeast. This substance contains micro doses of a variety of statin-like compounds, the most prominent of which is lovastatin, the same substance in the drug Mevacor.

However, in red yeast rice, the total amount of statin-like compounds is small. For this reason, side effects with red yeast rice occur less frequently than with statin drugs, but muscle and joint pain can occur. If these adverse effects occur, reduce the dosage or try another natural remedy such as policosanol or guggulipid.

Other substances such as omega-3 fish oils, magnesium, and coenzyme Q10 also have beneficial effects on the heart and cardiovascular system. You can learn a lot more about this important topic from his book, Statin Drugs and Their Natural Alternatives.

Natural Therapies for High Blood Pressure

Fifty million Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), and 90% of us will develop hypertension in our lifetimes. Hypertension is a devastating disease that causes hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes. Many experts consider hypertension far more dangerous than high cholesterol. One of these experts is Dr. Cohen.

While many medications are available to combat this condition, these drugs come with many side effects. Side effects are the main reason that half of all hypertension patients discontinue treatment. Side effects can vary from dizziness, slow heart rate, cold hands and feet, and sexual dysfunctions. People call Dr. Cohen for his input of these and other side effects. They ask, "Is there a better medication regimen?" Quite often, Dr. Cohen can offer one. In fact, there are many natural therapies that can help reduce high blood pressure. This may allow your primary doctor to reduce or discontinue your prescription drugs.

People also ask, "Are there other things I can do to bring my blood pressure down?" There are many things people can do to reduce their blood pressures. In fact, natural methods can be more effective than prescription drugs in reducing the risks that high blood pressure brings: heart attacks and strokes.

Natural Therapies for Migraine Headaches

Migraines are one of the most painful disorders suffered by humans. Indeed, the World Health Organization rates severe migraines as one of the most disabling chronic disorders in the world. Migraine headaches occur in all civilizations and existed at the dawn of recorded history. Today, 25 million American adults and children -- 18.5 million women and 6.5 million men -- suffer from migraine headaches.

In some people, prescription medications are very helpful in reducing migraine attacks, but they do not help or they cause intolerable side effects in others. Some popular anti-migraine drugs can actually increase your risk of heart attacks or arrhythmias.

Many migraine sufferers do not know that there are natural, non-drug supplements that can be quite effective for treating migraine headaches. Some of these supplements have been shown to be as effective, and safer and less expensive, as prescription drugs. You can learn more with Dr. Cohen's 15 Proven-Effective, Natural Remedies for Migraine Headaches in Adults & Children.

Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDs)

In his 2001 book, Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies (Tarcher/Putnam), Dr. Cohen warned about the risks of the new, best-selling anti-inflammatory drugs such as Celebrex. Several years later, Vioxx and Bextra were withdrawn from the market because of serious side effects, Celebrex was reduced to a third tier drug.

Today, we know that even Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) and other NSAIDs have serious risks. People aren't sure what to do when then need treatment for pain or arthritis. Because we now know that all NSAIDs can increase the risk of heart attacks, so it is imperative to use the safest drugs and doses.

Cipro, Levaquin, and Other Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics

Dr. Cohen discusses this topic specifically on a separate page. Read Dr. Cohen's discussion of this topic.

Multiple Medication Problems

One of the most frequent problems Dr. Cohen is asked about is the use of multiple medications in people, especially the elderly. At the heart of this problem is the failure of a person's doctors to communicate with each other. Few doctors take the time to communicate with the others and streamline of the situation, and drugs are prescribed without any consideration of the other medications the patient is already taking.

This situation is known as "the prescribing cascade," and it can be very harmful, even lethal. Over the years, many people have told Dr. Cohen that their elderly parents did not die from their maladies, but from their many drugs interacting. In some cases using multiple medications may be unavoidable. Nevertheless, care must be taken to minimize the risk of drugs interacting with one another.

Dr. Cohen's books on natural therapies:

View all of Dr. Cohen's medical articles, consumer publications, and presentations.

NOTE TO READERS: The purpose of this E-Letter is solely informational and educational. The information herein should not be considered to be a substitute for the direct medical advice of your doctor, nor is it meant to encourage the diagnosis or treatment of any illness, disease, or other medical problem by laypersons. If you are under a physician's care for any condition, he or she can advise you whether the information in this E-Letter is suitable for you. Readers should not make any changes in drugs, doses, or any other aspects of their medical treatment unless specifically directed to do so by their own doctors.

If you have questions about your medications or medical care, Dr. Cohen is available for consultation at his office or by telephone.

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