“US panel calls for research into effects of Ritalin”. This is the title of an article appearing in the December 5th 1998 issue of the British Medical Journal. The article goes on to say that the National Institutes for Health consensus panel called for “urgent clarification of the diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, (ADHD) and research into the long term effects of treatment with Ritalin.” This article typifies a growing trend of scientific and commentary articles revealing the dangers of using Ritalin.
Prescriptions for Ritalin have increased six-fold over the past ten years, raising the question of over-diagnosis and treatment. Peter R. Breggin, M.D., a psychiatrist and editor-in-Chief of a professional journal entitled Ethical Human Sciences and Services, lists several disturbing facts about Ritalin and its dangerous effects.
Decreased blood flow to the brain, an effect recently shown to be caused by cocaine where it is associated with impaired thinking ability and memory loss.
Disruption of growth hormone, leading to suppression of growth in the body and brain of the child
Permanent neurological tics, including Tourette’s Syndrome
Addiction and abuse, including withdrawal reactions on a daily basis
Psychosis (mania), depression, insomnia, agitation, and social withdrawal
Possible shrinkage (atrophy) or other permanent physical abnormalities in the brain
Worsening of the very symptoms the drug is supposed to improve including hyperactivity and inattention
Decreased ability to learn
An organization of concerned parents has formed called PARENTS AGAINST RITALIN (PAR). They have a web site, which can be found at: www.p-a-r.org . This web site host valuable information on the subject of Ritalin. The following excerpt was taken from their web site, “According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Ritalin is considered a Class II Drug and a controlled substance, a fact not widely known. Other drugs in this category are those such as cocaine, methamphetamine and methadone. A drug becomes a controlled substance when it has the potential for abuse and /or addiction. It is not uncommon in many classrooms today to find the percentage of children on Ritalin to be 25% or greater and the numbers are climbing.”
The following was excerpted are from the 42nd Edition of the Physicians’ Desk Reference*, on the drug Ritalin:
Ritalin should NOT be used in children under six years, since safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established. Sufficient data on safety and efficacy of long-term use of Ritalin in children are not yet available. Although a casual relationship has not been established, suppression of growth (i.e., weight gain, and/or height) has been reported with the long-term use of stimulants in children. Therefore, patients requiring long-term therapy should be carefully monitored.
Nervousness and insomnia are the most common adverse reactions but are usually controlled by reducing dosage and omitting the drug in the afternoon or evening. Other reactions include hypersensitivity (including skin rash, urticaria, fever, arthralgia, exfoliative dermatitis, erythema multiforme with histopathological findings of necrotizing vasculitis, and thrombocytopenic purpura); anorexia; nausea; dizziness; palpitations; headache; dyskinesia; drowsiness; blood pressure and pulse changes, both up and down; tachycardia; angina; cardiac arrhythmia; abdominal pain; weight loss during prolonged therapy. There have been rare reports of Tourette’s syndrome. Toxic psychosis has been reported. Although a definite casual relationship has not been established, the following have been reported in patients taking this drug: leukopenia and/or anemia; a few instances of scalp hair loss. In children, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, weight loss during prolonged therapy, insomnia, and tachycardia may occur more frequently; however, any of the other adverse reactions listed above may also occur.
According to a new nationwide US government survey, 38 percent of adults in the United States use some form of what the study called, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). The survey conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was released on December 10, 2008. In older adults ages 60 to 69 the percentage is slightly higher with 41% using some form of CAM procedure.
Josephine P. Briggs, M.D., director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of the NIH, defines CAM by saying, “CAM covers a wide range of therapies and practices not currently considered part of conventional medicine. Thus, its important to be well informed if you are considering using any.”
Of those non-medical procedures considered “CAM”, one of the most used and most accepted is chiropractic. Although not entirely accurate by chiropractic standards, the National Institutes of Health senior website explains chiropractic by saying, “The goal of chiropractic medicine is to help the body heal by correcting its alignment. Doctors of chiropractic, who are also called chiropractors or chiropractic physicians, use a type of hands-on therapy called manipulation, or adjustment, as their main type of procedure. Adjustments are done to increase the range and quality of motion in the area being treated.”
Dr. Robert Braile, a chiropractor in Georgia and past President and Chairman of the Board of the International Chiropractors Association notes that chiropractic usage continues to be on the increase. He states, “We are in an economy where times are tough, and nearly 50 million Americans are without health care insurance. Certainly many of these people are going to look for more affordable ways to deal with their health care concerns. Chiropractic has always represented an affordable and safe alternative to more expensive and risky forms of medical care.”
NCCAM Director Dr. Josephine Briggs noted the reasons why more Americans are turning to non medical forms of healthcare by saying, “The most common reason why people turn to complementary and alternative medicine in our survey results is chronic back pain – far and away, the leading reason to use complementary and alternative medicine,” she says. “Neck pain, joint pain, headache: All these other conditions are also given as common reasons. But chronic back pain is the leading reason, a very common and difficult condition to treat.”
In a December 12, 2009 release by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), they also noted that an increasing number of older Americans are turning to the Internet for health information. They noted that 68 percent of online seniors look for health and medical information when they go on the Web.
A case study published in the March 2010 issue of the scientific periodical, the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, documented a case of a woman who was suffering with Mnire Disease and was helped with chiropractic.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, (NIDCD), Mnire Disease is, “an abnormality of the inner ear causing a host of symptoms, including vertigo or severe dizziness, tinnitus or a roaring sound in the ears, fluctuating hearing loss, and the sensation of pressure or pain in the affected ear. The disorder usually affects only one ear and is a common cause of hearing loss. Named after French physician Prosper Mnire who first described the syndrome in 1861.”
Both the NIDCD and the authors of this study note that Mnire Disease is characterized by a triad of symptoms including recurrent and spontaneous vertigo (dizziness), hearing loss, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and may also be accompanied by a sensation of fullness in the ears.
In this case study a 40-year-old woman came to the chiropractors office with a 2-month history of vertigo which made her feel like the room was spinning. Additionally she complained of left-sided hearing loss and tinnitus for 16 months. She described the tinnitus as a loud “ringing tone” mixed with a sensation of “swooshing” or a fullness in her left ear. In addition to these primary problems, the woman also reported that her symptoms included chronic, left-sided neck and TMJ pain, along with intermittent headaches.
Chiropractic care was initiated with the woman’s visit frequency being 3 visits per week. After only 2 weeks of care, the woman’s TMJ pain, headache frequency and intensity, and vertigo symptoms had improved, and her tinnitus had completely resolved. She also noted that her neck pain was greatly reduced and her neck motion was improved.
On a follow up three months after she began chiropractic care, the woman reported only 2 minor episodes of “light-headedness” which only lasted several minutes. Also impressive is that the woman reported that she did not need to use any prescription or over-the-counter medications during the entire course of her chiropractic care. The case study further reported that two and a half years later, the woman only experienced occasional symptoms of ear fullness or mild light-headedness (not severe enough to be classified as vertigo) about 2 to 3 times per year.
The June 6, 2002 issue of the Boston Globe reports on a phenomenon becoming more common, children under chiropractic care. The story states: “Chiropractors’ offices, once filled with middle-aged construction workers, over-the-hill athletes, and migraine headache sufferers, are taking on a younger look these days as more and more parents are bringing their children in for exams. For many children, trips to the chiropractor have become a weekly event, squeezed between sports practices, orthodontist appointments, and piano lessons.”
Not surprisingly, the article also presents an opinion from a medical doctor, Dr. Robert Baratz, who said, “Show me a medical doctor who says, ‘You’re here for hypertension. Oh, why don’t you bring your kids in, too.'” In spite of these antiquated opinions, the Globe reported that in 1998, children made 420,000 visits to Boston-area chiropractors. This according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Local chiropractors say that figure has steadily grown since that study..
The article justifies the increased usage of chiropractic care by suggesting there is an increased need. “To understand why, look no further than Little Leaguers’ mud-stained uniforms, laptops flipped open on the edge of beds, and excessively heavy backpacks. Add in high-heel and platform shoes worn by teenage girls, hours in front of Nintendo and, in some cases, too much studying and not enough exercise, and you’ve got a lot of young, aching backs.” The Boston Globe also suggests, “The bigger reason children are getting treatment, though, appears to be parental experience. Some 27 million adults frequented chiropractors’ offices in 2001, up from 22 million in 1996, according to the American Chiropractic Association. As more adults find relief from their back pains through chiropractic treatment, they’re taking their kids in for checkups, too”.
Probably the most telling part of the article were the patient comments. One explains ‘I started coming to the chiropractor because I had a lot of tension in my back working in front of a computer all day,” said Audet, of Sharon. “When I first saw kids here, I thought it was kind of weird. But after my husband and I had been coming for four or five years, I thought, ‘Why not have them try it?'”
The chiropractors interviewed in the article explained that most younger patients have no symptoms, but come in for wellness and preventative care. They further explain that the children come in for correction of subluxations to allow the body to function healthier.
The April 26, 2011, issue of the scientific periodical, the Journal of Pediatric, Maternal & Family Health, published a case study documenting the case of an adolescent girl with headaches and night terrors who was helped with chiropractic care.
The study notes that several previous studies on the subject of headaches and children showed that a high number of children who suffered from headaches also suffered from sleep disorders such as sleep walking, nightmares, and leg movement.
In this study, a 10-year-old girl was brought to a chiropractor suffering with daily headaches that began when she was two and a half years old. She was also suffering from sleep disorders including sleep walking.
The young girl’s medical doctors tried to find the cause of headaches by ordering blood work and an encephalograph (EEG) to rule out seizures. The encephalograph and blood results were normal. Since reading seemed to trigger the headaches, the medical determination was that she was reading too much.
Her sleeping problems began when she was 7-years-old. According to her mother, every night her daughter would wake up several times screaming and would sit up in bed or be found walking or running through the house.
Chiropractic care was initiated for correction of subluxations that were shown to be present upon examination. Postural evaluations performed before and after each visit showed immediate improvement in the girl’s posture after care was initiated. Thermography and Surface EMG studies were performed on a regular basis, and verified nerve system function improvement as care continued.
On the girl’s first reassessment, she reported that the headaches were greatly reduced in frequency and severity. She also reported that she was sleeping better. The study notes that after a month of care, there was a significant reduction in headache symptoms, and complete resolution of the girl’s sleep disorders and night terrors.
In their conclusion, the study authors, Danita Thomas Heagy D.C., and Candice Warren, B.S., wrote, “Resolution of headaches and sleep disturbances presented in this case study suggest that chiropractic adjustments may be beneficial in adolescents who suffer from similar symptoms. Reduction of vertebral subluxations, in this case, were effective in the reduction of headaches, sleep disturbances, and musculoskeletal abnormalities.”
The above headline comes from a November 23, 2011 article on the Healthland section of the TIME website. This is just one of many articles which include headlines like, “Popular painkiller can be deadly even in small overdoses” (CBSNews), “Sneaky Killer: Just a Little Too Much Tylenol Can Be Deadly” (Fox News), and “Too much acetaminophen over time may damage liver”, (USA Today).
The articles are based on a study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in the November 22, 2011 edition. The USA Today article starts off with an ominous warning, “Taking slightly too much of the pain reliever acetaminophen (best known by the brand name Tylenol) over time can lead to an overdose that can cause liver failure and death.”
Dr. Kenneth Simpson, an author of the study explained in the USA Today article that taking just a little more than the recommended dosage over time can cause serious liver failure and death. He explained further in the Journal’s press release, “They haven’t taken the sort of single-moment, one-off massive overdoses taken by people who try to commit suicide, but over time the damage builds up, and the effect can be fatal.” The term that the researchers used to describe this kind of repeated mini-overdosing was “staggered overdoses.”
The study looked at 663 patients who had been hospitalized at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh between 1992 and 2008 with injuries caused by acetaminophen. Of these patients it was determined that 161 of them had staggered overdoses from, according to researchers, taking the drug for things like headache, toothache, muscular pains, and abdominal pains. Dr. Simpson explained the real danger these people were facing by reporting, “On admission, these staggered overdose patients were more likely to have liver and brain problems, require kidney dialysis or help with breathing and were at a greater risk of dying than people who had taken single overdoses.”
The article in TIME reports that “Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used drugs in the world, with 28 billion doses purchased in the U.S. in 2005 alone.” They go on to explain that because it is such a common drug, being the main ingredient in Tylenol, that people might think that it is safe. However, they note, “Tylenol overdose is the leading cause of acute liver failure in the U.S., leading to 26,000 hospitalizations and nearly 500 deaths annually, according to the Food and Drug Administration.”
In a number of different articles backpack safety has become a big issue. One article from the September 1, 2006 Ancaster News from Ontario, Canada, reports that more than 7,000 people required a trip to the emergency room in 2001 due to backpack-related injuries. These numbers were reported by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Several other interesting facts were noted. Among children age 12 to 18 it was stated that 75 percent suffer from some form of back pain with backpack weight being a large contributor to this statistic. According to an Italian study, one-third of school children regularly carried more than 30 per cent of their body weight in their backpack.
In The Sunday Times from Ireland was a similar article on September 03, 2006 that also covered this issue. In this article they noted that international guidelines suggest that children should carry no more than 10 percent of their total body weight in their backpack. Virginia Cantillon of the Chiropractic Association of Ireland warned, “We see more kids with problems and a lot is attributable to the weights they are carrying. They are having neck problems, mid- and lower-back pain. They are candidates for back pain down the road.”
Single shoulder bags may not be a solution, and may even make matters worse, according to a September 5, 2006 article from Montreal, Quebec, Canada in the “CBC News”. The article notes that these new single shoulder bags are fashionable, but are a bad idea according to the British Columbia Chiropractic Association. Dr. Don Nixdorf, executive director of the B.C. Chiropractic Association, warns those who use these new bags, “You’ll start to have some pain around the neck, which can also lead to headache, and movement is going to be mechanically impaired.”
Another article appearing in the September 2, 2006 Ottawa Sun, also notes that “Overloaded packs can lead to damaged backs.” In this article Dr. Dean Wright, president of the Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA) states, “Carrying a poorly designed or overloaded backpack can place excessive weight on a child’s growing spinal column.” He continued, “This kind of daily stress and strain can lead to serious back pain, changes in posture and gait, and potential irritation and injury of the spine, joints and muscles.”
Opponents of Chiropractic have attempted a smear campaign over the last several years by suggesting that chiropractic adjustments to the neck increased the risk of a certain type of stroke. This campaign was never based upon any scientific evidence, but rather on biased opinions. A new study to be published in the medical scientific journal “Spine” on February 15, 2008 puts those false accusations to rest and clearly shows that chiropractic does not increase the risks of these types of problems.
The story only received limited press coverage including a story in the January 19, 2008 issue of the Globe and Mail out of Canada. The scientific journal “Spine” is an international journal and recognized as one of the most prestigious publications on spinal health matters. In this study, published on February 15, 2008, researchers conducted one of the largest studies of this kind. They looked at 818 patients with a specific kind of stroke that some suggested might be the result of neck manipulations. The difference in this study was that the researchers checked the prevalence of visits to chiropractors and to medical doctors related to this problem.
Dr. Frank Silver, one of the researchers and a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto and director of the University Health Network stroke program, noted that there was no incidence of increased stroke for a visit to the chiropractor than for a visit to the medical doctor. He explained the results, “We didn’t see any increased association between chiropractic care and usual family physician care, and the stroke.”
This scientific study shows that past assumptions attempting to relate chiropractic care with certain types of strokes were not due to the care, but rather to the fact that the people who went to chiropractors and medical doctors with certain types of problems were slightly more likely to suffer this type of problem anyway. Dr. Silver explained, “The association occurs because patients tend to seek care when they’re having neck pain or headache, and sometimes they go to a chiropractor, sometimes they go to a physician. But we didn’t see an increased likelihood of them having this type of stroke after seeing a chiropractor.”
The above headline appeared as the title of a feature article originally published in Northern Colorado Business Report of Feb. 20, 2004. The article, whose subtitle was, “Medical community losing its opposition to chiropractic care,” was written by Chryss Cada, and features a number of testimonials from chiropractic patients.
The opening testimonial came from a woman, Nancy Summers who took her 10-year-old daughter, Anna, to a chiropractor. It seems that Anna had been having “episodes”, for which she had been brought to general physicians and a neurologist. During these episodes, the athletic and otherwise healthy young girl became dizzy, had ringing in her ears and was unable to function. Her mom believes the episodes are the result of an ATV accident.
Neurologists, thinking Anna might be suffering from some type of migraine headache, put her first on anti-seizure medication and then diuretics (in an effort to drain excess fluid from her ears and restore her balance). The drugs did have some positive impact on Anna’s symptoms, but they also had side effects. “It wasn’t like she was totally zoned, but it’s like she was numb and not the same girl she had been before,” Anna’s mother said. “And we weren’t really happy with the idea of having her on medication for the rest of her life.”
Anna’s mother, Nancy, recalled that Anna had had three episodes the week before going to the chiropractor. However, after starting chiropractic care, her mother noted, “The weekend after there was not one episode. It was incredible. We were totally in shock.” The article further reported that since Anna began chiropractic care in November, she has had only a handful of episodes and those have been milder and up to nearly a month apart.
Ms. Summers said she felt her daughter’s doctors were trying to dissuade her from seeking chiropractic care. “It’s like the traditional medical community acts like seeking a treatment outside of that medical community is irresponsible,” she said. “It was a big step to take her to a chiropractor. But now I know it was definitely the best decision we made.”
The article’s author further noted that, according to a study published in the Nov. 11, 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 11 percent of the population visited a doctor of chiropractic in 1997. That translates into approximately 30 million patients.
A study published in the February 2010 issue of The Spine Journal, the official journal of the North American Spine Society, provided additional evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of chiropractic for certain types of headaches known as “cervicogenic headaches”. A report on the results of this study was also published online on February 26, 2010, on the site “Modern Medicine”.
In this study, 80 patients with chronic cervicogenic headaches were divided into three groups. Two of the groups received various forms of chiropractic adjustments, which the study authors called Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT), and one group received just a light massage so as to be able to compare the results. Results were calculated using standard pain scales. Data from the subjects was collected every 4 weeks for a 24 week period.
The researchers found that the groups that received chiropractic showed significantly greater improvement in pain scores as compared to the group that got just light massage. Those receiving the chiropractic care were more likely to have a 50-percent improvement in their pain. The two groups of patients who received chiropractic care were only given either 8 or 16 chiropractic sessions. The study did see a slightly better response for the group receiving more adjustments, but due to the study parameters, no data was available beyond 16 visits.
Dr. Mitch Haas and a team of researchers at Western States Chiropractic College, were quoted in their conclusion as saying, “Our pilot study adds to an emerging picture of spinal manipulative therapy dose for the treatment of headache. It showed that a plateau in intervention effect might be found in the range of eight to 16 treatment sessions, although a dose effect at these treatment levels cannot be ruled out. The study also adds to the support of spinal manipulative therapy in moderate doses as a viable option for the treatment of chronic cervicogenic headaches.”