I was struck by a recent article in Integrative Medicine regarding the incredible environmental risks we are creating with the huge volume of pharmaceuticals being used to manage pain. Consider that, according to the Institute of Medicine, there are probably close to 110 million Americans with chronic pain. The cost to our country of this form of pain management is between $400 and $600 billion per year. This use of pain medications for chronic pain does not even take into account all of the individuals with acute pain for which pharmaceuticals are being used. The pharmaceuticals include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories [NSAIDs], such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and opiates, including codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone, and over-the-counter analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). In 2010, physicians wrote 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone, making it the number 1 prescribed medication. Oxycodone and ibuprofen were in 21st and 22nd place. Physicians prescribed enough narcotic painkillers to medicate every American adult around the clock for a month. Currently about 40 Americans die every day from overdoses of prescribed narcotics. This problem also includes infants born addicted to mothers using narcotics for pain. In addition, there is the toll taken on individuals from addiction. There are also now more people addicted to prescription medications than those addicted to illegal street drugs.

pharmaceuticals and pollutionI recall reading once that if we take 3000 grams of NSAIDs in a lifetime, we increase our risk of kidney failure by 400%. This is about the amount of NSAIDs that a woman might need with every menstrual cycle with PMS throughout her life, just until menopause. Never mind how much is needed after menopause. The kidney failure risk is not to take away from the bleeding risks NSAIDs. In the past decade it has been acknowledged that about 10,000 people die a year from gastrointestinal bleeding from NSAIDs – all as a result of simply managing pain. Some other work recently found that the stroke prevention benefit in people over 65 from using a daily aspirin was far outweighed by the costs of managing gastrointestinal complications. Of course, in addition people commonly use aspirin for managing pain, often chronically.

Quoting from the article, “the environment is becoming increasingly contaminated with analgesic residues created by the manufacturer, consumption, and disposal of these medications. Most analgesic residues that end up in wastewater are not destroyed during treatment in wastewater treatment plants, and so they are accumulating in surface water, groundwater, drinking water, and sludge; municipal landfills are also accumulating loads of the unused medications. For most Americans these residues constitute a long-term, low-level exposure to analgesics and mixtures of different analgesics – as well as to whatever other pharmaceutical residues are in their environment. As healthcare professionals become more aware of the growing concern of the scientific community and federal regulatory agencies, effective nonpharmaceutical approaches to pain management may become more attractive. Manufacture of pharmaceuticals creates toxic waste, requires more infrastructure, and consumes far more energy and raw materials than the use of physical therapies does. Future environmental cleanup costs are also part of the total true cost of managing pain with analgesics.”

What this information clearly makes us aware of, is that we are taking internal analgesics—in fact all sorts of other pharmaceuticals—continuously, involuntarily, because of the environmental exposure. Then when you actually have to use pharmaceuticals for pain management, you simply adding to the burden you already have in your body.

The author of this article makes a strong point that physical therapies are very effective tools for managing pain and create a lot less personal and environmental risk. PEMF therapies can essentially be considered physical therapies. PEMFs can provide physical therapy not only to the musculoskeletal system, but also to help manage many other health conditions in other organs of the body as well. Even if we only think about PEMFs in the management of pain, for a relatively small initial cost, we would not only save an accumulating toxic burden to the environment by the use of pharmaceutical approaches to pain management, but we would also be saving money for ourselves long-term. Considering the fact that when we buy a PEMF system, it is available to us for recurrent use, ongoing for years, if not a lifetime. The long-term cost of the PEMF system for us would amount to only pennies a day.

I consider the PEMF systems that I own, to be first aid tools. Because a PEMF system can be used for such a wide variety of health conditions, it should really be a part of everybody’s first aid kit. Not only would you get the health and healing benefit, but you would also be saving the environment, and decreasing your body’s burden of chronic exposure to pharmaceuticals from the environment. PEMF therapy is voluntary and helpful not only for our symptoms but also for the body in general. Exposure of our bodies to environmental pollutants is involuntary and dangerous. Pain medications simply manage symptoms and almost never help the body heal. In fact, NSAIDs have been shown to actually delay healing and may worsen progression of the underlying problem.

Marybetts Sinclair. Environmental Costs of Pain Management: Pharmaceuticals Vs Physical Therapies
Integrative Medicine Vol. 11, no 5. October 2012.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. William Pawluk is an international medical expert in the medical use of electromagnetic fields (PEMFs), with over 27 years experience. He has had academic appointments at Johns Hopkins and U of Maryland, co-hosted a natural medicine radio show for over 10 years, has appeared on The Dr OZ Show, written and done interviews and lectures on magnetics, conducted research on the use of various kinds of PEMFs on pain, wound healing, concussion, etc., and teaches professionals and consults regularly with the public on the use of magnetic therapies. He has an authoritative website https://www.drpawluk.com/, and published the book Power Tools for Health, reviewing the science and various therapy options.