Saturday, February 2, 2013


Most 'health food products' are just that, food. They are marketed as 'healing agents' but more commonly depend solely on 'placebo effect' for benefit. Often they are touted with 'pseudoscience' taken from the real science associated with the mainstream pharmaceutical industry. That said there are increasingly agents which are effective and beneficial. I have a couple of herbal medicine and alternative medicine texts in my office. I try to keep up to some extent on advances and know there are amazing products coming out of research of traditional medicine. Aspirin was just such a find.

I had a sore throat last year and was developing laryngitis. Normally when that occurs I close my practice. A colleague offered me some Vicozen, a new herbal liquid drink which is not yet widely available in Canada though is available in the US and overseas. It was amazing. Instantly the sore throat was better and in contrast to other occasions I didn't have to take time off work.
 Interested in this product I looked at the ingredients. One was from the leaves of Mitragyna, a tree indigenous to Thailand. This mitragynine in lab research has worked on opioid receptors, noradrenergic and serotonergic systems. I didn't notice any mood altering effect like I might with codeine or such medication but felt better and locally the pain relief was immediate. Others I know who tried it found it was especially good for joint pain  and headaches. They did not notice any negative side effects. That's of course anecdotal and subjective. I was impressed it was effective. Here was this Thailand herbal remedy that really did work.
When I was in India many of the medications that here require a prescriptions there didn't. I was just discussing this with a pharmacist on a recent trip to Mexico who told me that a whole range of medications were over the counter and didn't require a prescription. In Germany however medications that we consider over the counter are there considered to require a prescription. Given the increasing wait lists, there really is a place for over the counter medications.  Clearly it would be best if these actually worked. I don't imagine Vicozen will one day need a prescription but it will certainly provide an alternative approach for pain relief especially for those who are looking for something different. Often chronic pain is best treated with a variety of agents as often one agent alone is limitted by a particular side effect. Time and more research will be needed to find where Vicozen will line up with other effective pain relief medications but my belief is that it will indeed be in that line up.

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