Friday, November 2, 2012

Fashion Medicines: Are your medicines HEALTHY? or just Fashionable?

A while ago I went out looking for a black jacket to replace one that was a bit worn.  I went to many stores - but the 'style' I wanted was not for sale.  It was in style two years ago - and it had pockets in all the right places. It was light, comfortable, fit well and looked good.  But I was forced to buy a different style.

We have become used to the fact that perfectly good clothes go in and out of fashion - and if you shop at the big chains, what you can choose depends on the fashion of the moment.

What about medicines?

Is your medicine fashionable?  Are your health products fashionable?

That might seem like a strange question.  But think for a moment.  Or, go to the local drug-store  or supermarket and buy some toothpaste. You might see toothpastes, with names like:

Clinical Gum Protection - with Clean Mint
Protection and Whitening Striped Toothpaste
Fresh Mint with Baking Soda
Total Protection plus Whitening

Does this sound like a health product list, or a fashion list?

Or maybe your fashion is an organic, free range, non-GMO, non-fluoride toothpaste? You will probably need to go to a specialty store.  Because that fashion is not for sale in your local chain.

Let's be frank.  What is the healthiest toothpaste?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for seniors?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for children?  What is the healthiest toothpaste for you? Nobody knows - not even close.

You might think that the big toothpaste companies are actually doing research to determine which products are most effective. You might hope that your government is monitoring toothpastes to see if there is any risk to your health. Think again.  My local drugstore has over 50 different types of toothpaste on display.  No one could be expected to figure out which is more effective.  Every one of them contains fluoride.

GreenMedInfo lists 33 research reports into the dangers of fluoride.

I've tried to buy toothpaste that does not contain fluoride and documented it in my toothpaste rant blog. Is fluoride toothpaste better? No.  It's just more fashionable.

If you are buying toothpaste, you can choose your fashion, from the ones available at the store. If you want a different 'fashion' or style of toothpaste, sorry, we had that ten years ago, but this year it's 'out of fashion'.  Was it more effective?  We don't know.  Was it healthier?  We don't know.

What about cold medicines?  Are cold medicines sold based on their effectiveness?  Or on fashion?

At your local drug-store you will find many cold medicines. You can shop last year, this year, or next year and be guaranteed you will find products listed as 'new', 'improved', and phrases like 'now with ...'.
You will find that each company that sells cold medicines has a 'new improved product', with new and improved packaging and a new and improved price.

But will you find any scientific tests?  Do any of the providers of cold medicine actually test their results against last year's product?  Does anyone?  Does anyone actually compare one companies products against another?

The truth about cold medicines, fits perfectly into a recent blog "The Medicines Myth" - cold medicines, like most medicines sold today, don't cure anything.  They 'treat the symptoms'. Treating the symptoms explains why the fashion leading 'cold medicines' are 'all in one' medicines that treat cold, flu, sinus infections and allergies too.  These are symptom medicines, not treating the illness.

Which cold medicine treats cold symptoms best?  Is that one available - or can you only buy the latest 'fashion' of cold medicine?

It would be nice to think that the creation of cold medicines is progressing steadily to provide better and better products. But no.  There is no independent testing of effectiveness. The improvements are aimed at marketing not product effectiveness - just like toothpaste. It's easy to market fashion: : show someone sniffling and coughing - then show them breathing easy.  Which is more 'fashionable'.  Do these cold medicines make you healthier?  We have no idea, but like cosmetics, they might make you look healthier, they make you feel healthier.

What about condoms? You might not think of condoms as medicines - but they are designed to prevent disease.  But how are they marketed?  A report from whats-in-a-name blog compares condom names to names used for Android tablets, with some fun results.

Condoms may be sold to prevent disease, or to prevent pregnancy - but they are marketed using 'sell the sizzle, not the steak' fashion statements.  What does your condom say about you?

Another 'fashion' used to market medicines is the 'behind the counter' fashion.  If a manufacturer can market their 'medicine' as 'so strong the druggist keeps it behind the counter' - it's a powerful fashion statement. Are stronger medicines healthier?  Frankly, we have no idea which are healthiest.  We measure illness, not healthiness. We know that stronger medicines are more dangerous - we don't know if they are healthier.

But, is there a way out?  Is it possible to buy medicines that are not 'fashionable'?  Yes, but it's harder.  You have to buy 'open source' medicines, or 'green medicinees'. You will undoubtedly find these medicines are also marketed through fashion - that's the nature of marketing.  But they are not 'designed' as fashion medicines.  Drugstore toothpaste and cold medicines are designed and marketed by fashion, not for health.

In many cases, it's more effective to make your own medicines.  As Hippocrates advised "May all your foods be medicines, may all your medicines be food'.

When the only medicines available are the 'fashionable ones', our freedoms are limited to the current marketing hype.  It's possible to make an old jacket last a bit longer - but we need to know which medicines are most effective, not which are 'newer', 'fresher', 'more fashionable'.

Everyone has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of healthiness. 
to your health, tracy