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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, August 11, 2008

Way Too Many Prescriptions

by Andrew W. Saul

(OMNS, August 11, 2008) Vitamin Therapy Safer, More Effective

Half of all Americans are on drugs: prescription drugs. It's true, says the Associated Press (14 May 2008): "Half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems." That is nothing to be proud of.

Among the very most prescribed of all are drugs to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol. Patients taking pharmaceuticals trying to do that are being mistreated. Why? Because niacin (vitamin B-3) in high doses is just as effective, much cheaper, and most importantly, far safer. Niacin raises beneficial HDL levels better than any drug. (1) It also dramatically lowers triglycerides.

The New York Times agrees, saying: "An effective HDL booster already exists. It is niacin, the ordinary B vitamin. Niacin can increase HDL as much as 35 percent when taken in high doses, usually about 2,000 milligrams per day . . . and it has been shown to reduce serum levels of artery-clogging triglycerides as much as 50 percent." The president of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Steven E. Nissen, said, "Niacin is really it. Nothing else available is that effective." (2)

Indeed, niacin is it. Niacin is cheaper, safer and more effective. (3) So why are cholesterol-lowering drugs pushed anywhere and everywhere? Professor of medicine Dr. B. Greg Brown offered an answer: "If you're a drug company, I guess you can't make money on a vitamin."

One reason why doctors and patients select drugs over vitamins is, said AP, "the pharmaceutical industry's relentless advertising." Indeed, "Americans buy much more medicine per person than any other country . . . The biggest jump in use of chronic medications was in the 20- to 44-year-old age group - adults in the prime of life - where it rose 20 percent over the (last) six years." That is a huge increase.

Even worse than that, now one out of every four children and teenagers is taking a chronic disease drug, usually for depression, asthma, or ADHD. Pushing drug therapy for these conditions is largely based on profit, not health. The value of vitamin therapy for each of these conditions is already well established. (4)

It is time for patients to assert that they are simply not going to accept more and more drugs, at higher and higher prices, with more and more dangerous side effects. It is time to demand the proven but too-long-overlooked alternative: safe and effective nutritional treatment.

Not one of the cells in your body is made from a drug. When you see advertisements urging you to take prescription drugs for a chronic condition, ask your doctor why. Then ask for a nutritional alternative. Half of us on chronic medication means it is time to say no to drugs.


(1) Alderman JD, Pasternak RC, Sacks FM, Smith HS, Monrad ES, Grossman W. Effect of a modified, well-tolerated niacin regimen on serum total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and the cholesterol to high density lipoprotein ratio. Am J Cardiol. 1989 Oct 1;64(12):725-9.

(2) Mason M. NY Times, January 23, 2007. An old cholesterol remedy is new again.

(3) Also vitamin E:

(4) Depression:
Behavioral disorders:
Research summaries at
Free access to full-text, peer-reviewed journal articles at

OMNS Update: OMNS August 7th, 2008 release titled "AOL Shills For Big Pharma" - AOL now appears to have dropped the "Presented by Journey for Control" link to Merck Inc. from their "Dangerous Vitamins" article. The text of the article appears unchanged.

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information:

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D.
Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D., Editor and contact person. Email:

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