A Staten Island triathlete and endurance coach ventures into the ultramarathon realm where there are seemingly no limits to human endurance. In 2013, he successfully finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (picture of 2013 Grand Slam finishers above; I'm second from right), becoming only the 282nd person (since its beginnings in 1986) and only the fourth New Yorker to finish four of the oldest and most prestigious 100 mile ultramarathons in the U.S. in only 10 weeks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Musings About Over The Counter Drugs and Prescription Meds

Just this past weekend I came down with a pretty severe stomach ailment that caused me to get diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.  My suspicions (and some evidence) told me that I must have eaten some bad food. I have a pretty good idea where I got it too.

As a result, the bad timing also knocked me out of the Survival of the Shawangunks Triathlon on Sunday. Believe me, I tried, but the loss of over 12 pounds of water weight combines with not being capable of eating the day before had me reeling on the very first segment of the race, the bike. Vomiting only 10 miles into the ride gave me the not-so-subtle hint that I was in trouble. Climbing up 1000 feet in the last 5 miles at a virtual crawl was the clincher to ditch this thing before I really got hurt.

During this whole episode, I managed to stay away from the over-the-counter drugs that was supposed to make me "feel better".  Although my body was weak and in pain, my mind was a steel wall as always when it came to taking any sort of medication.

Please believe me when I tell you that I am not really anti-medication and that all medication is bad for you. What I am very critical about is the mechanisms in society that has us all believing that medication is the only way to go to take care of all the disorders in the world. In fact, what I DO believe is that medication should ONLY be taken as a last resort. And in those instances that medication is actually necessary, try to make it so that it is only a temporary situation.


I hold by my strong conviction that a person's body is a wondrous creation, capable of healing and fixing most of the damage he or she inflicts on it, whether through trauma or disease. Therefore, the body should be given the chance to fix the damage first. If by then a person finds evidence that the body needs a bit of help, then he or she can turn to medicine to help the body along.

The immunity system, like a muscle, needs to be stressed every so often so that it stays at 100% performance. Yet society, with the current "health care" system in place (more like "sick care" to me) has people believe that one should turn to medicine immediately when something is wrong. This is definitely the wrong approach, in my opinion.

Prescription drugs, especially antibiotics, tend to destroy the entire flora-balance (the "good bacteria") of the entire system in order to target the few "bad bacteria" that might be causing the ailment. That's like using a bazooka to kill a fly. Oh, I'm sure the fly will be dead, but you've destroyed the entire house in the process and will need time to rebuild.

Oh, and what about viral infections? You've destroyed the house, but the fly still lives (antibiotics are ineffective against viruses; that some doctors still give out antibiotics for viral ailments is, in my opinion, bad doctoring, yet it's very common in the United States).

Over The Counter (OTC) medicines are the worst of them all. Most of these tend to "relieve symptoms" of pain and discomfort. Excuse me? Those symptoms that people complain about IS their immune system actually fighting the ailment. Why would you want to SUPPRESS that? Yes, it will make you uncomfortable. Yes it might cause soreness. Yes you might not be at your fullest capacity for a day or two, but at least you know the immune system is working.

All I know that all the maladies that I've had in the past, when taking OTC medication, have taken as much as a couple of weeks to recover from. Without medication? All of my maladies, whether it be from the common cold, to this stomach ailment, have only lasted 2-3 days tops. Period. I am convinced that OTC medication, as it "relieves symptoms" suppresses the immune system and causes it to take longer for t to purge the malady.

As for me, I'm much better now. The symptoms were pretty severe, but I persevered without taking medication. It kept my body in balance and I know my immune system is stronger for it.

And feel the better person for it. :-)

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