The term “side effects” is a euphemism for the adverse, toxic effects of medical drugs. And keep in mind that often the desired, sought-after effects are also toxic. For instance, acid-blockers work by poisoning the cells that produce stomach acid. Impairing the production of stomach acid is certainly a toxic effect in my book, since producing stomach acid is normal and healthy.

But, the biggest problem with the popular understanding of “side effects” is that if they don’t manifest visibly and palpably that they don’t exist. It’s often assumed that if a medical drug is well tolerated in the act of taking it, if it doesn’t cause you pain or discomfort, that it must be safe.  That is a delusion. Let’s say, for instance, that a drug is poisoning the cells in your bone marrow which produce blood cells. So, those cells are under attack, and they start producing abnormal, defective blood cells, whether red, white, or platelets, or a combination.  Are you going to feel anything? Probably not and for a long time. There are no pain receptors in your bone marrow. And if your blood contains abnormal cells, that is a high number of them, you won’t necessarily feel anything right away either. Eventually, say if you become anemic from the toxic effect of a medical drug, you’ll start experiencing symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, lack of stamina, paleness, etc. But, by then, by the time symptoms appear, the condition will be advanced. The early and intermediate stages of the drug-induced pathology will probably entail no symptoms at all.

It’s quite true that some people may tolerate a medical drug better than other people. And the converse is also true that some people may not tolerate a medical drug that most tolerate. Take, for instance, statin drugs. Statin drugs cause muscle breakdown which can lead to pain, which is very common. But, in some people, the muscle breakdown is so great that it overwhelms the kidneys with the breakdown products of muscle protein. And, the result is they go into kidney failure.  Of course, not everybody goes into kidney failure from taking a statin, but, I think it’s fair to say that everybody heads in that direction from taking a statin. Statins increase the risk of kidney failure, diabetes, and cancer. And that’s in everybody. And that’s in exchange for what? A vanishingly small statistical reduction in heart disease risk? It’s so small that 100 people would have to take statins for 10 years in order for 1 of them to avoid 1 heart attack. The risk/reward ratio for those drugs is absolutely appalling.

Antibiotics are another class of drug that work by poisoning. The whole idea of them is to poison: bacteria. And you hope that that can be done without poisoning you- very much.  But, at least with antibiotics, it’s usually a temporary thing. You take them for a week, maybe 10 days; maybe even 2 weeks. But, it’s not a life sentence. However, there are many drugs that are meant to be a life sentence. They put you on blood pressure drugs with the expectation that it is a life sentence. They put you on diabetes drugs with the same expectation. When they put you on drugs for arthritis, they don’t expect you to ever stop taking them. It’s meant to be permanent.

And even drugs that are supposed to be for temporary use often wind up being permanent or at least long-term. For instance, most sleeping pills say that you should only take them for 10 days. But, if people were only going to take them for 10 days, how could the drug company afford the expensive ads? They know very well that people go on Ambien or another sleep drug for years and years and years.  That includes drugs that were only tested for 6 weeks, meaning that they tested the safety of the drug over just 6 weeks of use.

So, there is no such thing as a “side effect.” There are only effects. And most drugs not only have toxic effects but work in their desired effect through poisoning something.

The fact is that there are very few drugs in Medicine that anyone with sense should want to take. Almost always, there are alternatives to taking medical drugs. And oftentimes, just living with your condition, whatever it is, is superior to treating it with medical drugs. I kid you not.

The time has come not only to reevaluate medical drugs, but to reevaluate our attitude towards medical drugs. They are, generally speaking, harmful and dangerous, and that is a fact.