Open up your medicine cabinet and check to see if you have any of the following products: Alka-Seltzer Plus Cold Medicine, Alka-Seltzer Plus Children’s Cold Medicine, BC Allergy Sinus Cold Medicine, Comtrex Deep Chest Cold and Congestion Relief, Contac 12-Hour Cold Capsules, Coricidin “D,” Dimetapp Cold and Cough, Naldecon

DX-Pediatric Drops, Robitussin CF, Triaminic DM Cough Relief, and, for all you diet lovers, how about Acutrim and Dexatrim?

Unfortunately, if you answer yes to any of these, you can be at risk for a stroke or an early death, especially if you’re a woman.

In October 2006, a panel of scientific experts, who gathered evidence from a five-year study at Yale University, recommended that the Food and Drug Administration ban an ingredient in many decongestants and appetite suppressants. Fifty years of using this ingredient in hundreds of over-the-counter drugs, mostly cold remedies, proved fatal for many young women while also causing hemorrhagic strokes leading to permanent disability.

The culprit is phenylpropanolamine, or PPA, the key ingredient in most cold remedies and some prescription decongestants and a major player in all suppressants. Dozens of our medicines contain PPA and many are intended for children. Six billion doses of these health hazards were sold last year alone, according to the FDA.

The Yale study found significant evidence of increased risk of certain types of strokes in women who had taken cold remedies or appetite suppressants containing phenylpropanolamine. It is likely that the FDA will ban PPA, which is the active ingredient in more than 35 of these brand-name medicines. When this ban takes effect, drug companies that produce these products might reformulate them and slip them in as prescription medications. How convenient–your doctor will be able to write you a

prescription for that potential stroke.

Dr. Eric Brass, chair of the Department of Medicine at UCLA, told the New York Times,

“If asked by one of my patients, I would recommend they use alternative products rather than risk using any phenylpropanolamine.”

According to the Times, Dr. Robert DeLap, of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, urged consumers to “read carefully the labels of all products involved in the Yale study.” A better suggestion would be to read the labels, immediately discard these products and then write your representatives about the lack of attention the FDA is giving to the dangers of many over-the-counter drugs.

The tragedy is that the FDA should have known about the hazards of PPA for decades. The FDA received reports on PPA from many users who were suffering from hemorrhagic strokes–bleeding in the brain, also associated with high blood pressure– since 1969. It took the agency 31 years to conclude that PPA did not “meet the burden of proof for safety.” The question is, how many strokes, disabilities and deaths resulting from the use of PPAs have gone unreported and unnoticed?

The holistic and alternative medicine community has been vocal about PPA. Hulda

Clark, in her powerful book Cure for all Diseases, refers to the “propanol” base of the

PPAs, warning us about their dangers.

As I wrote on September 28, according to Dr. P. Yutsis, more than 150,000 Americans died last year from taking the wrong prescription drugs or from the serious side effects of drugs. A month later, every major newspaper is flashing warning signals about the dangers of medicine containing PPA–which Americans use on a consistent basis! The nightmare behind this American drug dream is that a huge number of children’s cold and decongestant medicines contain PPAs. Not only will PPAs affect the long term health of children, but may be the link in the rise of childhood asthma and circulatory problems.

Especially for children, alternatives such as herbal and homeopathic remedies for colds, coughs and congestion work so well that the use of these drugs is quite unnecessary. Unfortunately, it is easier to pop just one spoonful of PPAs into a child that will give eight hours of relief than to give 10 drops of homeopathics three to five times daily. What problems have we created for our children by taking the easy way out?

I was mad and sad reading the Times report “Stroke Risk Seen in Ingredient Used For

Cold Remedies.” There has never been more need for consumers to take back their healthcare than now. Conscious connections to holistic and preventative healthcare is a must. Learning to use non-invasive therapies and taking time to let them process will be movement in the right direction. Consumers need to become health detectives and handle their healthcare choices very suspiciously–meaning, question all involved and leave no stone unturned, Sherlock!

Health isn’t just being free of sickness. Quality health care is a process. To take that first step in this process, go to your medicine cabinet and ditch every single medicine that contains phenylpropanolamine–now!

May the long time sun shine upon you.