I'm pulling together information from various sources for my new Backyard Herbalist article, it is tentatively titled "There Are No Shortcuts...". I want to address the modern mindset of "a pill for every ill", or the belief that the law of cause and effect can be suspended by the wonders of modern medicine. Part of the article will deal with the overuse of steroids, particularly Prednisone. Excerpts of what I've discovered:
*Osteoporosis can occur within a matter of months. Steroids cause 8 per cent reduction in bone mass after four months (Ann Int Med, November 15, 1993), the equivalent of the effect on your bones of having your ovaries removed. Even low doses of inhaled steroids (400 micrograms per day) reduce bone formation (The Lancet, July 6, 1991).
*Low doses (10-15 mg prednisone) for a year can cause cataracts (Surv Ophthalmol, 1986; 31: 260-2).
*Topical steroids may begin to cause eye damage or raise pressure after two weeks. Extensive visual loss can be caused by a 1 per cent hydrocortisone ointment, which is available OTC (BMJ, August 20-27, 1994).
*Rub-on steroids have caused Cushing's syndrome in children as soon as a month after treatment has begun (Arch Dis Child, 1982; 57: 204-7).
*Inhaled steroids slow growth in children after six weeks (Acta Ped, 1993; 82: 636-40. See also, The Lancet, December 14, 1991).
Steroids don't take years to damage your system, as doctors maintain. Permanent, crippling damage can occur weeks after you've begun treatment. Like antibiotics, steroids are one of the most abused class of drugs in the orthodox field of medicine. At one time, they were reserved for the extreme emergency cases. Today, they are being used on the most trivial of conditions. Why? They give the appearance of an instant miracle cure which matches the expectation level of the client. So, many doctors and veterinarians turn to steroids as the first, rather than the last, line of attack for their anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects. Steroids mimic the action of the adrenal glands, the body's most powerful regulator of general metabolism. Far from being a wonder drug, steroids cannot cure one single condition. All they do is suppress the body's ability to express a normal response.
The medical community seems to have a particular blind spot about these drugs, refusing to believe that steroids can cause the terrible carnage that the manufacturers have long admitted to. For over 30 years we've known that steroids can routinely cause over-activity of adrenal hormones, which produces Cushing's disease. They can also cause muscle wasting, hyperglycemia, water retention, bruising, insomnia, serious mood changes, menstrual problems, impotence, loss of libido, or even allergic shock and diabetes. (Source: Physicians Desk Reference).
Daily low doses of a commonly prescribed oral steroid, prednisone, can double your risk of hip fractures and cataracts, scientists reported today. Researchers have long known of the link between higher doses of oral steroids and dangerous side effects, but the new study shows the potential for side effects at much lower doses, says Dr. John B. Wong, an associate professor of medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. The problem is that prednisone and other steroid medications are critical in managing diseases in which inflammation plays a painful role, Wong says.
So what would I do to avoid steroids if I had a condition that might be helped by them? I would read and study the information from this site, much of the information here was directly taken from that site. I would buy this book. I would take this product along with a good quality fish oil. I would study and believe that God must have a solution for this problem, just as He does for all of our problems. I feel that in the case of steroids we have traded discomfort for chronic, debilitating conditions. And that's not a bet that I'm willing to take.