Did you ever wonder how drugs really work?
Did you ever wonder about the drugs that you take, how they find their way to the pain, how they can selectively bring your blood pressure down to normal, how they stop your allergies? How do they know what to do and where to go? The answers to these questions will give you a greater insight and tremendous amount of respect for how these drugs are designed and how they are able to trick your body to get the needed result.
When you swallow a drug it is immediately picked up by your immune (lymphatic) system and targeted as a foreign substance. Because it poses no threat it is sent directly to your liver to be detoxified. When it arrives at the liver and is detoxified, the inert drug that arrived there is stripped of a tiny molecular structure and turned into an active metabolite which is released into your blood stream and performs the desired action. Prescription drugs are designed for this to happen. After they have lowered your blood pressure or stopped your allergies, about ½ of the original drug is returned to the liver for detoxification whereupon it is converted to another metabolite and sent back out to the bloodstream to perform its action again. This will continue until the drug is completely used up. But how does it know where to go?
The cells of your body are full of little minute structures that could be compared to electrical outlets because certain activities or substances may cause them to power up. Pharmaceutically, we call them receptor sites because even though they secrete substances, drugs are designed to exactly fit the place where the secretions are coming from and block the action. For example, when you suffer an allergic reaction, specific cells all over your body secrete a substance called histamine. An antihistamine goes to these sights that has a similar molecular structure to histamine, fits itself into the receptor and blocks the release of histamine. That is why if you were stung by a bee and took an antihistamine immediately you block most of the histamine release and there is hardly any damage but if you waited for 4 to 6 hours it would be too late and a severe allergic reaction could result. Drugs for stomach ulcers work the same way in that they are designed to fit into the tiny receptor sites that release acid into your stomach. They are called proton pumps and drugs such as omeprazole and prilosec occupy many of the receptor sites and reduce the amount of acid released.
If you have a severe pain in your back, or your ankle or shoulder, the drug is not aware of where this pain is coming from. However, because pain is a defense mechanism that sends a signal to the brain that for instance tells us to take our hand off the stove, the drugs act in the brain and cut off the message. Because it is very important for your body to deliver the pain message, for example to keep you from aggravating a broken ankle, it uses many pathways and that is why drugs reduce the pain but do not take it away altogether.
Drugs have many ways to reduce your blood pressure and most of them work by affecting the electrical impulses to your heart. ACE (angiotensin converting enzymes) inhibitors block the conversion of angiotensin I to angiotensin II which causes sodium retention and high blood pressure. This drug fools the body because its structure is identical to a product in our bodies called bradykininase. This allows it to do its job but the extra bradykininase can cause asthmatics to have laboured breathing. This is important because as selective as drugs are they always have side-effects and interact with other drugs. Beta blockers selectively interfere with electric beta waves that stimulate the heart and slow down your heart rate considerably. Diuretics on the other hand simply force the kidney to release fluid from your body and this automatically reduces your blood pressure. They do this by selectively causing your body to eliminate sodium ions. However too much potassium is also forced out and people on diuretics must supplement with additional potassium.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs selectively reduce the output of HDL and LDL cholesterol produced in your liver but they also reduce the output of a beneficial product Co Enzyme Q 10 by 50% and this is very bad for you.
So if you are one of these people taking many prescription drugs you can see why all these drugs are specifically designed to fit specific receptor sites and know exactly where they are going. When a number of drugs arrive in the liver at the same time, it takes longer to convert them into their active metabolites and other drugs in your blood stream may be out there too long and cause serious side-effects. We call these drug interactions. The drug that ties up your liver the most is coumadin which is prescribed for most people who have had a heart attack or stroke. The 2nd worst drug for your liver is actually acetaminophen (Tylenol) which also backs up all your other drugs.
Prednisone is a prescription drug that completely blocks your body’s immune system response. That is why if you have a severe asthmatic attack, a severe allergic reaction or debilitating arthritic pain, prednisone will take away all of your symptoms. When cancer patients are given chemotherapy they are also given prednisone because any drug that could kill a cancer cell will kill normal cells and your body’s automatic response is to destroy the drug. Prednisone blocks the immune response and allows the chemotherapeutic drugs to do their work.
When you swallow supplements, in most cases they are easily recognized by the body because they are the components of the foods that we eat. So vitamins and herbs are broken down by your digestive system into their components and absorbed into the cells of your body wherever they are needed. This is exactly the same way your body treats food. In some rare cases, such as St.John’s Wort, the herb is detoxified at the same site in your liver as prescription drugs and must be used with caution under those circumstances.
Prescription drugs are synthetic designer drugs that fool your liver into turning them into active metabolites and fool other parts of your body by disguising themselves to look just like substances that are native to our bodies and then occupy those receptor sites. They are very scary substances that should only be used if they are absolutely necessary.