Some pills can be helpful in maintaining health. But long-term use of pharmaceutical drugs, including oral contraceptives, can lead to nutritional deficiencies with big fallout for heart health, depression, sexuality and other areas of life, according to Ashland pharmacist, author and health educator Ross Pelton in his new book, "The Pill Problem."
The author of 10 books on topics such as brain food, anti-aging, alternative cancer therapies and natural medicines, Pelton says artificial hormones in birth-control pills impact 12 million American women.
One problem, he says, is that oral contraceptives lower testosterone, which "drives our sex desires," making sex painful and making it more difficult to have orgasms. Six months after going off birth-control pills, sex drive hadn't improved much for women in one test, he says.
Other problems from birth-control pills are increased arterial plaque, which can lead to clots and heart problems, birth defects, vaginal yeast infections, migraines, fluid retention and weight gain, he says.
In his book, he explains that oral contraceptives also can cause depression, lack of energy and insomnia from depleted nutrition, which sends some women to the doctor for antidepressants, which results in more depletion of nutrients, thus deepening the cycle.
Antidepressants, Pelton adds, "change the brain chemistry and have a long list of side effects."
"The Pill Problem" can be encapsulated like this: "Hormones are powerful, and the Great Creator never intended them to be put in our gastrointestinal tract," he says. "Synthetic estrogen and progesterone are not the same chemicals a woman's body makes. The first result is they interfere with the delicate lining of the intestinal tract."
To combat nutritional deficiencies from The Pill, his book advises a raft of supplements, including vitamin B6, L-methylfolate, tyrosine and coenzyme Q10, a powerful anti-oxidant that lowers blood pressure. Pelton calls it "my favorite nutrient."
In his books, consultations and speaking engagements, Pelton guides people to herbs, minerals, natural hormone supplements and the more benign medications available. He is a pharmacist at Ashland Rite Aid, and his wife, Taffy, a therapist, sometimes co-writes books with him.
"I'm an advocate of women's health and a certified clinical nutritionist," he says. "My passion is educating women on the side effects of birth-control pills and the things they can do to minimize them ... and I hate antidepressants and am very concerned about their side effects."
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Pharmacy and administrator for six years of a hospital in Mexico for alternative, nontoxic cancer therapies, Pelton says he considers himself an "authority on drug-induced nutritional depletion."
Pelton's books interlace around similar themes of natural therapies and enhanced mind, body and sexual function.
His "Alternatives in Cancer Therapy," published in 1994, focuses on nutritional alternatives that slant the body toward an alkaline balance by eating a veggie-rich (especially dark, leafy greens) diet.
His "How to Prevent Breast Cancer," published in 1995, urges similar steps, including boosting the immune system and diet and cutting environmental influences, because pesticides and other toxins are fat-soluable and tend to get stored in the breast.
He recommends that women get off estrogen as soon as they can tell menopause is over because estrogen stimulates tissue growth, especially in the uterus and breast, which increases the risk of mutations and cancer. He also suggests herbal and natural progesterone to replace estrogen — and considers synthetic estrogen inimical to health.
His book "Mind Food & Smart Pills," published in 1989, tells of many supplements, herbs, anti-oxidants and plants to improve memory, intelligence and learning and to slow brain aging. The contents cite both familiar and exotic substances, including ginseng, ginkgo biloba and a couple that are legal in most countries but not here. Piracetam reportedly increases the flow of electrical data between the brain hemispheres, and Lucidril may help to flush built-up cellular waste from the body.
Pelton's blog, books, e-newsletter and contacts can be seen at www.naturalpharmacist.net.