My patient (a woman in her 50′s) is hot and bothered and having a hard time. She is constipated and having hotflashes. Her face is flushed. She eats lots of fruit (which are cooling according to Chinese dietary therapy principles) to cool herself down.
I review the Western meds that she is taking. She is taking a tricyclic antidepressant (amitriptyline) and is reluctant to talk to her doctor about reducing this medication, as it helps her sleep.
I tell her that all drugs have side-effects. She tells me that she knows that the side effects include dry mouth. I tell her that in Chinese Medicine, this kind of drug is warm in nature, hence the dry mouth. Not only dry mouth, but dry intestines (and therefore constipation)! While she attributes the hot flashes she is having to her stopping HRT a few months ago, I say that taking this warming Western med is not helping.
She has an “aha!” moment and realizes that she needs to talk to her doctor about reducing her dependence on this medication. After all, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be very effective at promoting restful sleep.
While she is resting on the table getting her acupuncture treatment, I do some research in the medical literature and come up with the following article:
“Amitriptyline-induced constipation in cynomolgus monkeys is beneficial for the evaluation of laxative efficacy.” (Biol Pharm Bull, 2000 May;23(5):657-9.)
I find it more than slightly hilarious that researchers in Japan are using amitriptyline to induce constipation in monkeys so that they can use them to test the efficacy of laxatives. The abstract ends as follows:
In this study, we confirmed that constipation can be caused in cynomolgus monkeys by oral administration of amitriptyline. This model may also be useful for the evaluation of laxatives.
My patient, who is definitely not a monkey, by reducing this med and using acupuncture and herbal medicine, is going to get better.
There is no doubt that in some cases, some Western meds are important and life-saving. But if there is a natural way to heal, without side effects, one which can get to the root of your problem (and not just mask your symptoms), why not give it a shot?
And so, ask yourself, “Is a pharmaceutical company making a monkey out of me?”