Prednisone: Natural Alternatives

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Portrait Hans Selye
Jean-Paul Rioux, Portrait Hans SelyeCC BY-SA 4.0

Here’s something that may be relevant in Dr. Peat’s writings:

“While one of Selye’s earliest observations related gastrointestinal bleeding to stress, Meerson’s work has revealed in a detailed way how the usually beneficial hormone of adaptation, cortisone, can cause so many other harmful effects when its action is too prolonged or too intense.
 
Some of the harmful effects of the cortisone class of drugs (other than gastro-intestinal bleeding) are: Hypertension, osteoporosis, delayed healing, atrophy of the skin, convulsions, cataracts, glaucoma, protruding eyes, psychic derangements, menstrual irregularities, and loss of immunity allowing infections (or cancer) to spread.
While normal thyroid function is required for the secretion of the adrenal hormones, the basic signal which causes cortisone to be formed is a drop in the blood glucose level. The increased energy requirement of any stress tends to cause the blood sugar to fall slightly, but hypothyroidism itself tends to depress blood sugar.
 
The person with low thyroid function is more likely than a normal person to require cortisone to cope with a certain amount of stress. However, if large amounts of cortisone are produced for a long time, the toxic effects of the hormone begin to appear. According to Meerson, heart attacks are provoked and aggravated by the cortisone produced during stress. (Meerson and his colleagues have demonstrated that the progress of a heart attack can be halted by a treatment including natural substances such as vitamin E and magnesium.)
 
While hypothyroidism makes the body require more cortisone to sustain blood sugar and energy production, it also limits the ability to produce cortisone, so in some cases stress produces symptoms resulting from a deficiency of cortisone, including various forms of arthritis and more generalized types of chronic inflammation.
 
Often, a small physiological dose of natural hydrocortisone can help the patient meet the stress, without causing harmful side-effects. While treating the symptoms with cortisone for a short time, it is important to try to learn the basic cause of the problem, by checking for hypothyroidism, vitamin A deficiency, protein deficiency, a lack of sunlight, etc. (I suspect that light on the skin directly increases the skin’s production of steroids, without depending on other organs. Different steroids probably involve different frequencies of light, but orange and red light seem to be important frequencies.) Using cortisone in this way, physiologically rather than pharmacologically, it is not likely to cause the serious problems mentioned above. 
 
Stress-induced cortisone deficiency is thought to be a factor in a great variety of unpleasant conditions, from allergies to ulcerative colitis, and in many forms of arthritis. The stress which can cause a cortisone deficiency is even more likely to disturb formation of progesterone and thyroid hormone, so the fact that cortisone can relieve symptoms does not mean that it has corrected the problem.
 
According to the Physicians’ Desk Referenc, hormones similar to cortisone are useful for treating rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic osteoarthritis, synovitis of osteoarthritis, acute gouty arthritis, acute nonspecific tenosynovitis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, acute and subacute bursitis, and epicondylitis.
 
Although cortisone supplementation can help in a great variety of stress-related diseases, no curewill take place unless the basic cause is discovered. Besides the thyroid, the other class of adaptive hormones which are often out of balance in the diseases of stress, is the group of hormones produced mainly by the gonads: the “reproductive hormones.” During pregnancy these hormones serve to protect the developing baby from the stresses suffered by the mother, but the same hormones function as part to the protective anti-stress system in the non-pregnant individual, though at a lower level.
 
Some forms of arthritis are known to improve or even to disappear during pregnancy. As mentioned above, the hormones of pregnancy can make up for a lack of adrenal cortex hormones. During a healthy pregnancy, many hormones are present in increased amounts, including the thyroid hormones. Progesterone, which is the most abundant hormone of pregnancy, has both anti-inflammatory and anesthetic actions, which would be of obvious benefit in arthritis.
 
There are other naturally anesthetic hormones which are increased during pregnancy, including DHEA, which is being studied for its anti-aging, anti-cancer, and anti-obesity effects. (One of the reasons that is frequently given for the fact that this hormone hasn’t been studied more widely is that, as a natural substance, it has not been monopolized by a drug patent, and so no drug company has been willing to invest money in studying its medical uses.) These hormones also have the ability to control cell division, which would be important in forms of arthritis that involve invasive tissue growth.
 
While these substances, so abundant in pregnancy, have the ability to substitute for cortisone, they can also be used by the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and related hormones. But probably the most surprising property of these natural steroids is that they protect against the toxic side-effects of excessive adrenal hormones. And they seem to have no side-effects of their own; after about fifty years of medical use, no toxic side effects have been found for progesterone or pregnenolone.
 
Pregnenolone is the material the body uses to form either progesterone or DHEA. Others, including DHEA, haven’t been studied for so long, but the high levels which are normally present in healthy people would suggest that replacement doses, to restore those normal levels, would not be likely to produce toxic side effects. And, considering the terrible side effects of the drugs that are now widely used, these drugs would be justifiable simply to prevent some of the toxic effects of conventional treatment.
It takes a new way of thinking to understand that these protective substances protect against an excess of the adrenal steroids, as well as making up for a deficiency. Several of these natural hormones also have a protective action against various poisons; Selye called this their “catatoxic” effect.
 
Besides many people whose arthritis improved with only thyroid supplementation, I have seen 30 people use one or more of these other natural hormones for various types of arthritisusually with a topical application. Often the pain is relieved within a few minutes. I know of several other people who used progesterone topically for inflamed tendons, damaged cartilage, or other inflammations. Only one of these, a woman with rheumatoid arthritis in many joints, had no significant improvement. An hour after she had applied it to her hands and feet, she enthusiastically reported that her ankle had stopped hurting, but after this she said she had no noticeable improvement.
 
We often hear that “there is no cure for arthritis, because the causes are not known.” If the cause is an imbalance in the normal hormones of adaptation and resistance, then eliminating the cause by restoring balance will produce a true cure. But if it is more profitable to sell powerful drugs than to sell the nutrients needed to form natural hormones (or to supplement those natural hormones) we can’t expect the drug companies to spend any money investigating that sort of cure. And at present the arthritis market amounts to billions of dollars in drug sales each year.

From Dr. Peat in Blocking Tissue Destruction

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