Stop the medication madness

November 18, 2016


There are hundreds, if not thousands, of articles explaining how to get healthy. But have you ever stopped and wondered about why certain diets, exercise regimes and medications work?

Science gives great insight on not only what works and what doesn't but also why. Let’s say you eat vegetables because they’re good for you.

You might be surprised to learn that some are better than others, or that the method of cooking them makes a big difference. Fitness is just as complex. What kind of exercise, for how long for the best results?


Medication isn’t one size fits all. Drug-drug interactions are widely recognized as a major cause of adverse reactions. 

Researchers studying how people process medications and nutrients have proven that there are two important types of interactions also exist: drug-gene interactions and drug drug gene interactions.

A drug gene interaction occurs when a patient’s genetic type

( slow metabolizer ) affects that patient’s ability to clear a drug. A drug drug gene interactions occurs when patient’s genotype and another drug (  inhibitor ) affect the individual’s ability to clear a drug. An article by Sonya Collins; "Determining Drug a Response " in the Genome magazine discusses the current and future directions in pharmacogenomics.


And while the healthcare system is trying to figure out logistics and reimbursement models, I believe that the raw genetic data from Direct To Consumer genetic testing services if used correctly can fill in the gap.


To simplify that, people's bodies don't metabolize at the same rate, so understand your metabolism and use the right supplement/medication at the right dose.


Nutrition a key element in our health, has the potential to help us manage our conditions and delay or even prevent disease states before they occur. Ideally, consuming healthy balanced diet is the best way to meet one’s recommended nutritional needs.  But individuals who are at risk for nutritional deficiencies or who have increased metabolic demands should use dietary supplements to prevent symptoms from worsening.


Let’s take vitamin B6; individuals with  Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) have low vitamin B6 concentrations, and these low concentrations are due to the inflammation caused by (RA), which in turn increase the inflammation associated with the disease. Furthermore, low vitamin B6 and B12 can be associated with folate deficiency.


Prescription drugs remain the cornerstone of treating disease. For generations, we’ve all taken the same drugs and nutritional supplements at the same dosage for our various ailments, but our genes have a big influence on the effect that medication or supplement has on our body. Often, an effective drug response is found in a few patients treated, while most benefit little or not at all.


Much could be gained if we could select the optimal drug for the individual patient before treatment begins.

Here is why…

There are four main isoforms, or families of mixed-function oxidases known as cytochrome p 450 ( CYP450 ) involved in xenobiotic, or drug metabolism.


Researchers have found that more than half of all patients have variations in their DNA that can profoundly affect the way they react to many commonly prescribed medications.


Take the CYP2E family, it contains only one enzyme, CYP2E1 .It is also responsible for the breakdown of many low molecular weight toxins and carcinogens, many of which are used in manufacturing and dry cleaning industry, including benzene, styrene, acetone, vinyl chloride and N-nitrosamines. Some of these substances are pro carcinogens which are activated by CYP2E1.


Furthermore, there are gender differences in the expression of the enzyme, obesity and fasting may also affect its activity . This may provide a putative explanation for obesity related cancers

There is also mounting evidence that CYP2E1 may be a key factor in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease . The exact role of CYP2E1 is unclear, although the enzyme is induced by both alcohol and nicotine , and may explain the higher ethanol elimination rates among smokers.


Many drugs and nutrients interact with the same enzymes and transporters. As a result, variation in the genes encoding these proteins can affect risks of side effects and likelihood of treatment success. These interactions may be different and not necessarily predicted from trials of single drugs.


Understanding various genes activities will lead to predictable patient outcomes when evaluated with regards to environmental exposures, medical history, family background, and other factors.


There are many community resources available to assist with medication therapy, for no or a small fee you can consult with a qualified professional to enable you and your healthcare team optimize your health based on your metabolism.


Disclaimer; the information presented in this article is not medical advice and it should be treated as such.


Ramzy Haddad, RPh

Health scientist & health hacker


Health Hacker

I My goal is to assist people with decisions about nutrition, exercise and drug therapy to reduce their personal risk of injury. My favorite way to spend time is outdoor adventures and cycling.


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