By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
The last article I wrote was about how some unscrupulous medical practitioners, both qualified and unqualified, rampantly use a group of drugs called steroids to effect quick miracle cures and impress patients while at the same time endangering and sometimes even completely ruining their lives. After writing that, I have been inundated by phone calls and e-mails from people who are anxious to know how they can protect themselves from this hidden peril. These days even people whom I meet at shops and supermarkets and also while I am on my regular morning walk, stop me and ask me what they can do about it! So I decided to write a follow-up article to dispel people’s apprehensions and enlighten them about how they can safeguard themselves from treatment that can do them more harm than good.
Let me first make it very clear that steroids do have a very crucial role in the treatment of many diseases as long as they are used by properly qualified doctors who know how to use them. It is only when someone uses them beyond safe doses and durations or in situations where they should not be used that they become harmful. So they are like double edged swords that can do much good in the right hands and also do much harm in the wrong hands. But it is because they are always capable of giving immediate relief from pain and suffering that they get to be misused in medical practice especially by quacks and charlatans. Their misuse has now become so rampant that it far exceeds their legitimate use.
Very often patients themselves are responsible for endangering their own lives because they start medicating themselves with steroids after once tasting the quick relief that can be had from them. In this situation it is a very difficult task for any well-intentioned doctor to wean away such patients from their steroid addiction as stopping their use brings back their pain in double measure. I do not think I am wrong when I say that almost any medical preparation that is dispensed by anyone who practices any kind of medicine, modern or ancient, which does not have a label listing its ingredients and the address of a reputed manufacturing unit and which yet gives effective relief from some difficult to cure ailments like kidney failure, arthritis, asthma, eczema, allergy or even low body weight and low energy levels undoubtedly contains steroids. Yes, that is the absolute truth. I say this because it is only steroids that can work like magic in these ailments with all other groups of drugs known to mankind, not being even half as effective as they are.
It is a very simple matter for any unethical medical practitioner to simply grind some cheaply and easily available steroid tablets and mix this powder into a paste of Neem leaves and make tiny round balls which he or she can then dispense as absolutely harmless herbal pills. For children who may spit out the very bitter Neem-based concoction the very kind and considerate doctor can choose tasteless spinach with a dash of sugar! With these pills he or she can give you the relief that you yearn for so desperately and in turn earn millions, all in the name of practising medicine that has its origin in the wisdom of our ancient sages!
This is exactly what is going on all around us for which the government of our now quite advanced country has no cure simply because it does not care to implement the many deterrent laws that we already have! In our country anyone who has worked in a doctor’s clinic or a medical store in any capacity for just a few weeks and who knows what steroids can do, can become a very successful medical practitioner overnight with a roaring practice that goes on late into the night long after the rest of the respectable world has gone to sleep! So, what can you do to protect yourself from rampant evils like these? Yes, only you can protect yourself and your loved ones here.
Firstly, you should understand that there are limitations to what medicine can and cannot do. While there are some problems which are incurable there are many problems for which satisfactory cures are not yet available. And, there are many ailments for which the results of treatment can be painfully slow. So patients need to be patient ! Secondly, you should always be very wary of anything that is said to give surprisingly quick relief. Thirdly, you should simply avoid touching any medicine that comes without an identity of its manufacturer, irrespective of whether it is Ayurvedic, Unani, Siddha or even Allopathic in its lineage. Every pill that you pop should have all its ingredients listed on its package clearly. Fourthly, even if someone says that he or she is giving you only the so called ‘home-made, harmless’ pills you should know that they can be laced with steroids or lethal heavy metal salts derived from mercury and arsenic.
I say this because salts of these two highly poisonous elements too can suppress many painful conditions while poisoning you to death in the long run. Instead of accepting the medicine itself without an identity, people should always insist on having a prescription from which they can buy it from a reputed and licensed dispenser. That way they will be able to read the information on the label and know what they are consuming.
Mind you, EVERY PILL CAN KILL ! So never ever accept an unknown pill even if it comes from me ! Having talked about using the right pill for every ill I would like to narrate an amusing incident as a tail-piece.
Long ago, when I was attached to the Holy Cross Hospital in the Veerappan territory when the brigand’s menace was at its peak and soon after my two close friends, SP Harikrishna and his deputy, Sub-Inspector Shakeel Ahmed were gunned down by him, I used to have my double barrelled shotgun always standing in a corner of my consulting room as a precaution against any unforeseen eventuality. A Tibetan patient who was about to leave after picking up his prescription noticed my gun and timidly asked me, “Doctor Sab, yeh kis liye?” I smiled and said, “Agar is bar yeh goli kaaam nahin kari to agli baar woh goli!” He folded his hands in a Namaste and said, “Arey baap re, mere liye yehi goli kaafi hai!”
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