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In a recent survey, one-sixth of all hospital admissions were attributed to drug interaction or unintended reaction to drugs, many of them antihistamine or cortisone based.

These act in a similar way to tranquillisers, muscle relaxants, narcotics, painkillers and alcohol, suppressing brain and nerve function. For this reason antihistamines are a component of many commonly prescribed sleeping pills.

Suppressed brain and nerve function lower your performance physically and mentally, to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the doses of antihistamine taken. A combination of sedatives and antihistamines can cause tremors and mental confusion. If painkillers are also taken, as they often are by arthritis sufferers, depression can ensue. Drugs that suppress brain and nerve function tend to intensify each other’s effect and can lead to nutrient deficiencies by interfering with the body’s ability to metabolise vitamins and minerals.

For instance, aspirin can cause vitamin C deficiency. This is bad news for arthritis sufferers—vitamin C is needed to repair the destroyed collagen of their affected joints. Indomethacin, another drug used to treat arthritis can cause psychiatric disturbances, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease by interfering with vitamin B, zinc and manganese metabolism. It also predisposes to infections and defects in the body’s ability to coagulate blood. It impairs kidney function and, given time, can actually burn holes in the stomach wall, greatly interfering with digestion and absorption.

Dr Jean Mayer, Professor of Nutrition at Harvard University, believes a vast number of people suffer from iatrogenic (doctor-caused) malnutrition. My experience is that people on long-term Indomethacin most certainly do.

Although not particularly toxic in the short term, antihistamines can, even if no other drugs are taken, be toxic to the body over a period of time. It is because allergy sufferers take antihistamines for years on end that they end up joining the hospital admission list.

The following are the well-recognised side effects of commonly used antihistamines:

Atarax- severe drowsiness may occur with the use of this drug. Patients should be warned against driving a car or operating dangerous machinery while taking it. Potentiates the action of sedatives and alcohol.

Benadryl- this medication may cause drowsiness. If affected do not drive a motor car, avoid alcohol. Potentiates the action of sedatives and alcohol.

Fabahistin- same as above.

Polaramine- same as above.

Phenergan- drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, jitteriness, faintness, headache, nausea, allergic skin manifestations of rash and fluid retention, fatigue, disturbed coordination, tremor, irritability, blurred vision, palpitations, nervousness (and more).

Recent research in the United States has shown that long-term use of antihistamine nasal sprays can cause a permanently blocked nose—the very condition they are used to treat in the first place.


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