(2009 Feb post)
When doctors prescribe pain-killing or feeling-deadening drugs, they seldom warn the patient on how to deal with an inevitable side-effect.
Invariably, the motions of the alimentary canal (small intestines, large intestines, even the stomach) slow down or even stop. The result: Constipation.
This is a word that no one seems to like to talk about --- but, surprisingly, I saw a very forthcoming documentary on the subject, on a cable channel (History or Discovery) recently (Jan 2009), complete with dramatizations of Elvis Presley's experiences with the problem.
Elvis Presley and almost everyone else in the world has experienced it --- even to the point of death.
For some general information on constipation, one can start with information at Wikipedia.
Or use a web search. Then follow the promising-looking links.
Pain-killing drugs include strong ones like Valium or Oxycontin.
When I use the term 'feeling-deadening' drugs, I am referring to drugs, for example, that are advertised to deal with pre-diabetes conditions, like 'neuropathy' (tingling or stinging feeling in the feet).
These are drugs that may deaden an adverse feeling, but, typically, they do not really cure the problem --- resulting in continued use, and continued constipation problems.
In any case, a side effect of many drugs, like the pain-killing and feeling-deadening drugs, is interference with the transmission of nerve impulses, and thus a slow-down of the propulsive movements of the alimentary canal, and thus constipation.
I have personally experienced this failure of doctors to give a patient advice on how to deal with the side-effect.
I had to find out for myself that Mother Nature has the best solution --- high-fiber vegetables (or fruits), like carrots.
Doctors and dangers
Even if you go to a U.S. doctor to specifically ask him how to deal with constipation, they almost invariably recommend a commercial product such as Metamucil or Citrucel.
AND, they do not warn you of the dangers of using such concoctions --- even though it would only take about half a minute, to make sure the patient heeded the risks.
Doctors typically leave it to the patient to read, and heed, the warning labels on these concoctions.
Maybe these doctors feel too busy and under-estimate the likelihood of problems, AND the likelihood of INefficacy. (I have never found these concoctions effective.)
Read the Labels :
In any case, here is an example of the typical warnings on the labels, complete with the bold lettering used :
Apparently this warning should be taken very seriously, because on the same product is typically another warning:
In addition to these warnings, there are other warnings, such as ...
- do not take for a period longer than 1 week, unless directed by a doctor
In case of overdose, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.
I wonder how many people actually read these labels. People who do not read or understand English very well are REALLY at risk. Hopefully, most of them know the following facts, from practices common in their native country.
The Case for Carrots :
In contrast to 'the above', when you get a bunch of carrots, nowadays, it often comes in a plastic bag with various information on it, like ingredients and point of origin.
However, I have never seen warnings like the ones above on a package of carrots.
Reasons carrots do not need these warnings :
And products like Metamucil and Citrucel (and their private-label equivalents) have another detriment. They are ordinarily loaded up with refined-sugar --- WAY over 25% by weight.
Here is the typical ingredients list.
Note: The first ingredient is a common form of sugar.
And the 'Supplement Facts' show that there are 8 grams of sugarS in a 12 gram dose. That's 67% sugarS.
That's a little higher than the junkiest of breakfast cereals --- and 3 times higher than the 25% sugarS of commercial catsups, and 5 times higher than the 15% sugars of the typical junk drink.
Luckily, there's a limit to how much sugar will dissolve in water --- but, unluckily, the limit is still too high. Less than 7% sugars-to-water would have been nice.
Mother Nature, you failed us there.
Other, safe fiber sources
Of course, carrots aren't the only good source of naturally-packaged fiber. Lentils are another.
A lentil soup with added veggies, such as peas and/or corn and/or carrots, is another great, natural fiber source.
Mother Nature's bodaciously excellent packaging :
You often have to look hard to find a pharmacy that stocks sugar-free psyllium-based supplements. I have documented in another posting the dangers of sugar and the desirability of avoiding added-sugar products in your diet.
I find it amazing that U.S. medical doctors do not recommend Mother Nature's products for dealing with the inconveniences, embarrassments, and real dangers of constipation.
Mother Nature has the best packaging.
In fact, not only does her packaging include a well-mixed combination of fiber and water, but her packaging also includes healthy "micro-nutrients" such as vitamins, minerals, and co-factors (many of which are not available in multi-vitamin pills).
[In fact, Mother Nature makes the best multi-vitamins --- but that is another story or blog-post.]
In additon to the fiber, water, and micro-nutrients, Mother Nature provides energy-giving "macro-nutrients" --- carbohydrates, such as starches.
(Those starches are long-chains of sugars, in a relatively safe form --- namely, not the 'empty calories' of refined-sugar products, but 'healthful calories' because they are accompanied by a veritable rainbow of micro-nutrients).
You cannot depend on (most) U.S. doctors to warn you of the c-word side-effect of nerve-deadening drugs.
Nor can you depend on them to advise you of safe ways of dealing with the side-effect.
You have to have information like the above at your disposal.
The best strategy is to use high-fiber Mother Nature products when you take gut-clogging drugs --- and take those wonder-products of Mother Nature on a daily basis --- or at least every other day, when you can't eat your veggies and fruits every day.
This is a conjecture, based on personal experience, for government researchers to test, since drug companies won't do it --- they can't patent avocadoes and olives.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature's products compete with their drugs, so the drug companies will undoubtedly fight goverment-paid testing/research/reporting, tooth and nail.
Preparation of Mother Nature's wonder :
The best way to prepare carrots is
That's all there is to it. Use them raw.
As far as snacks go, carrots can be rather bland --- even though they do contain some sugar, in addition to a lot of fiber and water.
Here's a way that works for me in making them a highly desirable daily snack. I found that there are vinegar-saturated potato-chips available, but they are so vinegary, that it is hard to take more than a couple at a time.
But when I follow up each chip with a cut piece of carrot (about the size of a finger-tip), the fiber-and-water of the carrot cuts through the vinegary taste of the chips.
The combination of the vinegar and the carrot is fantastic. And vinegar is another one of Mother Nature's wonder food-and-drugs.
I find that vinegar, and citrus fruits, with their slight acidity, seem to work well to keep ones circulatory system feeling clear.
They are kind of like Mother Nature's little aspirin pill.
One dose per day helps keep the circulatory system healthy.
And no risk of a bad side-effect like stomach-bleeding, which is a well-known side-effect of aspirin.
On vinegar (acetic acid) and citric acid
The drug companies would be apoplectic if they saw this post. They want to sell aspirin and even more expensive drugs for circulatory benefits.
The circulatory benefits of vinegar, and of citrus fruits, should be researched properly by a government agency. A drug company will not do it because they cannot get a patent on vinegar, nor on citrus fruits.
Besides, the drug companies know they cannot compete with solutions like citrus fruits, because citrus fruits have the added benefit of the rainbow of micro-nutrients, just like carrots.
The drug companies cannot duplicate that rainbow. And even if they could someday, they could not create that rainbow as safely as Mother Nature.
There are too many opportunities for contamination --- especially if they outsource their product for production to China or some other country with lax food manufacturing standards --- about as lax as U.S. food-and-drug manufacturing under a U.S. Republican-dominated Executive branch.
More on vinegar and citrus fruits --- i.e. acetic acid and citric acid --- in another post, someday.
For more on Elvis Presley and constipation, you might find it interesting to do a web search.
Byron Raphael, a close confidant of Elvis Presley, said in an interview:
"He could barely get up in the morning. Couldn't sleep at night. Taking so many prescription drugs. They found when he died, he had eighty or ninety pounds of fecal material inside. I believe he's really dead, because the amounts of prescription drugs he was taking was enough to surely kill him sooner or later. He couldn't have lived much longer. He was constipated to the point where he would go weeks without going to the bathroom. No amount of laxative would help."
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Page was posted 2009 Feb 04.