A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

A Commonly Prescribed Medication Is Causing Breast Growth In Boys

Why this news story is relevant to you and what you need to know to be your own health advocate.

As a pharmacist, I am very aware of the adverse effects, risks, and warnings that come along with pharmaceutical therapy. There are limitations to that knowledge, however. Some risks and effects of pharmaceuticals are either not transparently disclosed by drug manufacturers, or not yet discovered as the cause of a problem.

A recent news headline about damages caused by one of the Top 200 Drugs (the 200 most prescribed drugs in the United States) has served as a reminder that when consumers do not have the information about risk and adverse effects of their treatment, they are vulnerable to serious harm. As a result, I am using this headline as an example of the consequences of not having the full available information in order to make choices about your health. I will go over risks that are disclosed about the drug in question, as well as outlining how to get the information you need to be your own health advocate in general.

News headlines lit up October 8th with reports of corporate giant Johnson & Johnson being ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to 26-year-old Nicholas Murray. Johnson & Johnson has a subsidiary (Janssen Pharmaceuticals) that manufactures the antipsychotic drug Risperdal. Back in 2003, Nicholas (at the age of 9) was prescribed Risperdal after being diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. As a consequence of taking the drug, Nicholas developed a condition called gynecomastia (the growth of female breast tissue in a male). News Story Below:

Johnson & Johnson News article on Risperdal

Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal Maker Hit With $8B Verdict

Breast development in boys from Risperdal is most likely caused by the drug increasing prolactin levels. Prolactin is a pituitary hormone that is present in low levels in both men and women. It affects the reproductive system, immune system, and fluid regulation. When a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, prolactin goes up to stimulate milk production. When prolactin goes too high in a male, he can develop breasts. He may also experience erectile dysfunction and loss of body and facial hair. In some cases, gynecomastia can only be treated by surgical removal.

Mayo Clinic Laboratories Endocrinology Catalog: Prolactin, Serum

Gynecomastia is not the only consequence of taking Risperdal; however, it is a very visible and undeniable adverse effect. There are other, more subtle and harder to directly correlate effects.

Below is a screenshot of some of the adverse reactions of Risperdal taken from the prescribing information:

Here are definitions of the some of the technical terms on that list:

  • Parkinsonism: Symptoms of Parkinson disease (such as slow movements and tremors) that are caused by another condition (in this case, antipsychotics)
  • Akathisia: A feeling of muscle quivering, restlessness, and inability to sit still, sometimes a side effect of antipsychotic or antidepressant medication
  • Dystonia: A disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions that cause slow repetitive motions or abnormal postures. The movements may be painful and some individuals with dystonia may have a tremor or other neurologic features.

The following is a screenshot of Warnings and Precautions from the prescribing information of Risperdal.

Here is a link to the full prescribing information of Risperdal from the manufacturer’s website. This is the information supplied to doctors and pharmacists. Package Insert on Risperdal

There are many known and dangerous side effects of Risperdal. The main issue Johnson & Johnson is getting called out for is the failure to accurately disclose the risk involved, especially in children. There is also the allegation that Johnson & Johnson marketed the use of the drug in children in ways that are not FDA approved.

This judgment for 8 billion dollars in damages is eye-opening. It is a message that disregard for the public safety for profit will not be tolerated. This judgment opens the door for thousands of other pending lawsuits against Risperdal to also be awarded punitive damages and a wakeup call to Americans to question our healthcare system.

Unfortunately, severe side effects are not isolated to Risperdal. Most prescription medications have their tradeoffs. The following is a table of drugs that can cause gynecomastia taken from an endocrinology journal.

Gynecomastia: Clinical Evaluation and Management

When it comes to medical treatment, most consumers are not trained health experts. The medical system speaks a complex language.  Many of the conditions are Latin (and Greek) words, so even simple terms sound very concerning. For example, I’ve had many patients say that they were diagnosed with tonsillitis and were worried and felt pressure to take treatment based upon this diagnosis. I explain to them that although it sounds scary, it is just a combination of the word tonsil and the Latin (from Greek) suffix -itis which means inflammation. They went to the doctor because their throat hurt so learning that their tonsils were inflamed was not actually a surprising revelation. If you don’t have any background in Latin or Greek, tonsillitis sounds quite ominous.

So how do people navigate the complex and somewhat esoteric system which is conventional medicine? Often individuals trust their doctor to make these decisions for them since a doctor is trained to interpret medical data and knows the language. I implore you to look at the data I shared above on Risperdal. Seeing those warnings and adverse effects, is that really a decision you would want someone else to make for you or your child? I certainly wouldn’t, regardless of how competent they may be.

The solution to this dilemma is to arm yourself with education. Make sure you read any information provided with a medication you are about to take. Don’t throw that paperwork in the trash. The information with a prescription is there for a reason – a legal reason.

You can also gain access to the full prescribing information of any prescription drug. This information is referred to as the “Package Insert” (PI). There is also a Patient Package Insert, which contains less information, but the regular PI intended for the doctor has it all. Drug companies are legally mandated to provide information on the studied use of their drugs and also risks associated with them but are not necessarily required to provide this to individual patients. The intention is that the prescriber reads the PI and then has the information to make treatment decisions and share it with the patient. You can have access to the same information as the doctors have. Most PIs are available from the following link. Click the link, type the drug name into the search bar and click the entry that applies to the specific form of the medication you are searching for. DailyMed Drug Search

For more information on PIs, read this link: U.S. Pharmacist: The Package Insert

However, before you even get to the pharmacy or opt to do any treatment you should ASK QUESTIONS. It is your legal right and obligation to receive Informed Consent from your doctor. The Oxford Dictionary defines Informed Consent as “permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits.”

Below is a link description of Informed Consent from the American Medical Association. Read this information to make sure you can get the information you need from your doctors. It is your LEGAL RIGHT.

American Medical Association Informed Consent

Even if your doctor is amazing, they may not have knowledge of alternative therapies that are outside of their expertise. This is where you need to be your own health advocate and do some research on alternative treatment options to surgery or prescriptions. Holistic doctors and Naturopaths can be great resources to consult as they take a different viewpoint on healthcare.

I see many patients who have taken medications and had serious reactions to them. If this describes you, you can and SHOULD help yourself and others by reporting any reaction to the FDA MedWatch program. Reporting to this program can help with information gathering to make others aware of potential risks and may play a role in future warnings or even drugs being pulled from the market.

FDA MedWatch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program

Medications have effects that extend beyond what’s intended for the treatment of a given condition.

When possible (when it’s not an emergency) it is good to look at other, simpler solutions first such as diet, exercise, and natural supplements. Many conditions, even severe, can be alleviated in a risk-free manner. With autism as an example, I have good results with patients in applying principles of the GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD). The foundation of this diet is healing the gut with the use of bone broth. GAPS Diet

Although it is tragic to hear about the damages individuals have suffered from Risperdal, the good news is that these headlines are bringing awareness about concerns with medications and healthcare at large. I recommend you use the resources I have provided so you have the data you need to make more informed choices. The problems of living are great, but there are solutions to explore that are safe options. It is time to be your own advocate and get the information you deserve.

Dr. Amanda Childress, PharmD
Holistic Pharmacist



Questions about our Nutrition Counseling Program? Or want to become a patient? Fill out this form and the best way to contact you, and we will get back to you within 24 hours!

4 + 13 =

Defeat Type II Diabetes with Food and Supplements

Defeat Type II Diabetes with Food and Supplements

Type II diabetes, often called non-insulin-dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90% – 95% of the 30 million people with diabetes.

Unlike people with type I diabetes, people with type II diabetes produce insulin; however, either their pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot use the insulin adequately. This is called insulin resistance. There are numerous possible causes for this type of Diabetes but the most certain are lifestyle habits (including poor eating habits) and lack of physical activity leading to obesity or overweight.herbal medicine for diabetes

The first line of medication therapy for Diabetes is Glucophage (metformin). It is thought that it works by making the tissues of the body more sensitive to insulin in patients who have become resistant. The truth of the matter is if you look up the mechanism of action of metformin in the official package labeling you get a list of wonderful things metformin does without any explanation of how. Not very scientific.

Metformin is a physician’s favorite to use in diabetic or prediabetic patients that are overweight because it induces weight loss. It also induces diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, and other abdominal discomforts. No wonder people lose weight while taking it!

Metformin also is known to cause nutritional deficiencies. It reduces the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.  It also causes folate deficiency and an increase in the amino acid – homocysteine. These deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, nerve damage, and much more.

It can cause a dangerous condition known as lactic acidosis.

The pH of the body becomes too acidic and this condition can cause coma as well as be fatal. The warning that accompanies the drug says it is a rare condition; however, it also states that it is fatal in 50% of cases in which it occurs.

The truth is, in practice, as a Doctor of Pharmacy, I have not seen results with Metformin. More often than not, patients feel ill and get no results yet are kept on the drug because it looks good on paper. Meanwhile, these patients feel horrible, their conditions are worsening and they are increasing their risk of serious illness and nutritional deficiencies.

cause of chronic diseaseIt is well known that diabetes is a lifestyle/dietary disease. Before we had McDonald’s on every corner and Hungry Man TV dinners as the staples of our diets, these problems did not occur on a large scale. Dietary and lifestyle changes are the safest and effective treatments for Diabetes because they address the cause. AND now, at The NHCAA we address the symptoms and the mechanism! See more.

Taking whole food supplements and eating proper food for diabetes is hands down the most effective way to treat diabetes. It can be done and we specialize in helping people regain optimum organ function and real health so they don’t need drugs. Drugs don’t cure, but Mother Nature does. Contact us for more information on diabetes diets and how to choose supplements.​

Yours In Health,
Amanda Childress, PharmD


Read Dr. Schmidt’s article: Resolving Chronic Illness

Watch Dr. Schmidt’s video: Lactic Acidosis Description. Analogy: Dirty Aquarium

Take the LACTIC ACIDOSIS QUIZ to see if you have lactic acidosis.

How to Get Rid of Heartburn Without Medications

How to Get Rid of Heartburn Without Medications

How to Get Rid of Heartburn Without Medications Can Be Tricky

Heartburn, GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease), acid reflux and any type of indigestion is MISERABLE. I know from experience because I was miserable when I developed GERD as an 8-year-old kid. I took Prilosec and Zantac and the occasional Tums for YEARS. I felt terrible if I didn’t have medication on a daily basis. This combination stopped working reliably in my 20s and I had to move on to stronger medications.

What I didn’t know then was WHY I had GERD. My gut was severely damaged from the NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) I was taking for arthritis. I also had undiagnosed food allergies and a history of chronically taking antibiotics which decimated my gut flora.

As a pharmacist, I learned that drugs like Prilosec (known as PPI’s) were initially only intended to be used for about 6 weeks in order to increase the pH of the gut so the inflamed stomach tissues and esophagus could heal, then stopped. However, patients were not healing over the short term and the acid reflux was returning as soon as the medications were stopped. Thus begun long-term use of PPI’s.

I had the opinion for many years that if it kept the heartburn away, who cares? I wasn’t having side effects and I felt so much better. But as I got older and my health started to fail more and more, I started changing my diet and taking supplements. I found over time that I no longer needed the medications and felt better without them.

Because of very minimal side effects, PPI’s and other antacids seem safe to take; however, there are long-term effects.

Here are a Few of the Important Functions of Stomach Acid

  • Digestion of food (especially protein)
  • Signaling other digestive enzymes
  • Initiation of peristalsis: the movement of gastric contents through the GI tract
  • Killing of pathogens like harmful bacteria and parasites
  • Assimilation of minerals and vitamins like B12

If these functions do not occur, this leaves you vulnerable to poor digestion and other long-term digestive problems, gut infections (like parasites…EEK!), an overall weakened immune system, mineral and vitamin deficiencies and bone loss.

If you’re having symptoms of heartburn or digestive pain and you are taking medications to manage it, you are masking the actual problem. In many heartburn cases, the actual cause is too little stomach acid in the first place! Food does not digest from the stomach readily and sits there too long and begins to putrefy an off-gas. Then the body overproduces acid in a delayed response and burning, pain and bloating occur. Especially, in this case, medications that lower stomach acidity helps the symptom but actually worsen digestion and ensure the problem doesn’t go away.

What Are the Causes of Heartburn?

There are many possible causes of heartburn; such as medications you are taking (most common culprits are aspirin and other medications for pain and inflammation and even some anti-depressants), foods you are eating (pop, sugar, and bread frequent offenders) and a congested gallbladder. There are tons of interventions that are very successful to actually heal your gut and esophagus, but they must be tailored to YOU based on your cause.

How to Start Healing

A good place to start understanding how to get rid of heartburn without medicine and begin healing your digestion is to take a high-quality probiotic for at least 3 months and start eliminating processed foods like bread and sugar, deep fried and pre-prepared/packaged foods. You can also try a swig of apple cider vinegar(ACV) before eating your meals. If your esophagus is particularly raw from long-term heartburn, ACV may be too harsh. You can get it in a pill form or betaine hydrochloride tablets. Gut healing foods that are often helpful include Rachel’s Tea, peppermint, aloe vera, bone broth, and beets.


You may need to wean down on your medication as you are doing these interventions rather than stop abruptly because your body is used to having help regulating its internal acid pump. Dropping the dosage for a while, then later using it every other day can help staunch the rebound effect.

If you need help getting rid of heartburn naturally and figuring out the cause of your acid reflux, come into The NHCAA. We can help you reduce heartburn naturally.

Your Holistic Pharmacist,
Dr. Amanda Childress

Read Dr. Amanda’s Bio

Risks Involved with NSAIDs & Natural Solutions for Pain and Inflammation

Risks Involved with NSAIDs & Natural Solutions for Pain and Inflammation

It’s Good to Know There are Natural Alternatives to NSAIDs

In 2015, the FDA strengthened the warning on NSAID risks (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) from warning that these medications may cause an increased risk of stroke and heart attack to stating that they are known to increase this risk. The FDA went on to state that the risk may increase with prolonged use of these medications over time. A mere two years later, a new study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) confirmed that NSAIDs not only significantly increase the risk of heart attack, but this increased risk can occur as early as within the first week of use.

Fast forward two years to now; a new study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) confirmed that NSAIDs not only significantly increase the risk of heart attack, but this increased risk can occur as early as within the first week of use.

What makes this report so alarming is that NSAIDs rank amongst the most commonly and liberally used pain and inflammation medicines by the general population. This includes prescription as well as over the counter use.

Commonly used NSAIDs examples are Motrin(Ibuprofen), Aleve (Naproxen), Midol, Celebrex, and Voltaren (Diclofenac). Refer to the list of NSAIDs for more examples.list-of-NSAIDs

In addition to these new warnings, other known NSAID risks include severe gastrointestinal issues such as ulcers, acid reflux, and bleeding in the digestive tract as well as many other varieties of side effects.

NSAID risks are scary, but don’t worry!

There are natural solutions for pain and inflammation that are safe and effective. Think of inflammation as a mini fire in your body. This could be in one spot or diffused all over. Insofar as how you feel, this can translate to pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling and many other manifestations. Inflammation has a normal physiological function. Think of inflammation like a smoke signal to your immune system, alerting it that there is a problem where assistance and healing are needed. This mechanism can become faulty, and if the problem area is not efficiently healed, inflammation can persist to a point that the fire rages out of control. This creates more tissue damage and more pain, and as a result, the immune system and healing mechanisms of the body can become overwhelmed, and in a sense short circuit.

NSAIDs do a pretty decent job of targeting inflammation and reducing it, but their side effect profile makes them not a desirable intervention. Thank goodness for natural supplements that are great for helping your body regulate inflammation. Some good examples of natural supplements for treating inflammation are Boswellia, frankincense, turmeric and turmeric derivatives, omega fatty acids, and arnica.

Of course, there is only so far supplementation can go if you are fueling your body with foods that promote the inflammatory response. The most common inflammatory foods in the American diet are sugar and refined carbohydrates such as bread.

Pain, discomfort, and swelling wreak havoc on your quality of life. Using NSAIDs to control these symptoms is like using a band-aid that makes you feel better short term, but jeopardizes your long-term health. We’ve only mentioned a few examples of NSAIDs that can have a harmful effect on your body.

You don’t have to compromise your longevity to be able to function.

You can live longer and better. The treatment for pain and inflammation is natural, simple, and safe. The answer lies in fueling your body with foods that nourish it, not inflame it and supplements that stomp out the inflammatory cascade and promote the rebuilding of healthy tissues.

Each inflammatory situation is different. Consult with an NHCAA practitioner to find a diet and supplement program that is customized to your unique situation so you can have your best quality of life for the longest time possible.

Link to fill out New Patient Form to become a patient OR become a Long Distance Patient where you can talk directly to me on the phone and get my recommendations to get your health back.

Dr. Amanda Childress
Wholistic Pharmacist

Read my Bio

Is Your Brain Fried?

Is Your Brain Fried?

Executives, salespeople, administrators, and the modern office worker you may feel like your brain is fried from overworking!

When Your Brain Gets Overworked (is fried), You May Feel These Brain Fatigue Symptoms:

  • Heavy head
  • You don’t want to look at the computer screen despite the work you still have to do
  • Eyes feel fatigued even with the right corrective lenses
  • The brain fatigue is worse on Friday than it is on Monday. Some recovery occurs over the weekend
  • It’s harder to concentrate on figuring out problems
  • You rub your temples or forehead for relief
  • Slower thinking
  • Words, numbers, and letters get scrambled in your brain and when you speak
  • Difficulty to put attention on subjects other than what you’re well trained to do at work
  • You’re grumpy, and you don’t know why
  • Cloudy thinking
  • It takes longer to gather your thoughts or find words
  • One-track-thinking dominates over thinking multiplies
  • You care less
  • Not taking on bigger tasks due to inability to stretch mental function
  • Naps don’t bring refreshment
  • Memory is not as powerful

Most regular doctors would call this “depression” BUT IT’S NOT! There are no drugs for this; only supplements and healthy food choices will fix these symptoms of overwork.

Woman with brain fatigue looking down with her head in her hand.The Three Biggest Causes of Brain Fry:

  1. Looking at a computer screen
  2. Thinking/problem-solving
  3. Stressful situations

Doing all of these at the same time takes quite a toll on the brain. Doing them for a week or a whole career builds up.

For comparison, body fatigue looks like these symptoms (just to name a few):

  • Hitting the snooze button in the morning.
  • Needing to take a nap then waking feeling refreshed.
  • Fatigue an hour after eating.
  • The brain works well and fast, but the body needs to be pushed or pulled along.

Body fatigue is also not “depression”. Too many people are on antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs for these two conditions when they just need specific nutrition.

When you experience brain fatigue symptoms, here are a few things you can do to help.
All four of these are equally important:

  1. Reboot your nervous system by looking at things outside while you go for a walk. As you walk, keep looking at objects and call them out to yourself verbally or in your head. “Tree, sidewalk, car, cloud, leaf, window.” Keep doing this for about 10 to 20 minutes then suddenly your body will take in a deep breath and reset like when you reboot your computer. When this happens, your nervous system, including your eyes and brain, is reset. Try it, it works. You’re not walking for exercise or cardio when doing this.
  2. Eat saturated fat and cholesterol. These fats have never caused heart disease so don’t be afraid of them. You’re eating these because that is what your brain is made of. Your brain is not made of bread, vegetables, fruit, coffee, antioxidants, protein, soy, water, granola, etc. It is made of saturated fat and cholesterol. Get the fat from fatty beef, pork, sausages, bacon, cheese, eggs, fatty fish, and butter. Low-fat dairy, lean meats, chicken sausage, and sushi are not fatty enough if your brain is tired. When you eat the fatty foods, you will eat less food overall through the day, and you’ll get leaner and stronger, too. If you’re eating a vegetarian diet because you read an article saying it’s healthy, then find an article saying it’s unhealthy and follow that advice. See how your body responds to find out which is true for you.
  3. Stop looking at screens or reduce your screen time considerably. When you go home at night, don’t watch TV if you just spent 8 hours looking at a computer screen. That is the time to look at things outside or at a distance.
  4. Take supplements that repair a tired brain like RNA, ginkgo, bacopa, iodine, certain minerals, fish oils, and dare I say….brain. Yes, you read that right. Some supplements actually contain brain in them from lamb or pig. These are fantastic for neurologic repair. You won’t turn into a zombie. Pig brain was a standard food a few decades ago in the product “head cheese” but that’s been slowly taken out of our food supply.

If you are independently wealthy, you can just buy all these supplements and take them. That’s called guessing. Hopefully, it’s what your body needs and it doesn’t reject them.

However, if you don’t know what you need to take, and you are smart with your money, then come in and see us for help with your brain fatigue symptoms. We have helped thousands of people with tired brains and got them back to better functioning levels. I’ve even reversed Alzheimer’s before – twice. Your brain fry may be dreadful but I’ve seen worse, and it isn’t so difficult for me to handle.

Dr. Darren Schmidt

Read Dr. Schmidt’s Bio

Addressing High Blood Pressure Naturally

Addressing High Blood Pressure Naturally

As a pharmacist, I dispensed thousands of prescriptions to treat high blood pressure. Many patients were taking 2-4 blood pressure-lowering medications, yet still were failing to obtain and maintain optimum blood pressure.

I have also observed a broad range of side effects of these therapies including fatigue, dizziness, fainting, depression, loss of sense of taste and smell, and many more. Learn the effective ways to lower high blood pressure naturally with supplements and lifestyle changes.

Blood pressure medications can be lifesaving. I’m glad they exist, especially when someone goes into crisis. However, over the long term, they can create other issues in the body and put additional stress on your vital organs. These medications don’t actually address the cause of high blood pressure. Often, the problem in your body that is driving your blood pressure up has greater implications for your health than the high blood pressure itself. This is why addressing high blood pressure naturally is so important.

High blood pressure is a symptom of a greater problem! Most high blood pressure issues are induced by stress on the following organs:

  • Heart and arteries
  • Kidneys
  • Adrenals
  • Liver

If you have high blood pressure, it’s likely you need nutritional support for one or more of the organs listed above. It’s different for every person. With muscle testing, we find the organs that are stressed and then find the nutritional support appropriate for your body.

The most common natural high blood pressure supplements I use in patients are whole food B vitamin complexes (most commonly Cataplex G by Standard Process), wholefood vitamin C (Cyruta), magnesium, and supplements that encourage decongesting of the kidneys and liver.

Other healthy/natural ways for lowering high blood pressure are:
Image of a bacon salad with greens and fresh avocado.

  • Get off of sugar- this is key to getting high blood pressure under control
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Replace table salt with Celtic sea salt
  • Avoid processed food – Shop the outer perimeter of the grocery store buying primarily unprocessed meats and produce.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Sleep at least 7 hours a night
  • Exercise regularly. Walking works great! It’s low impact, doesn’t overly stress the body but can do wonders for your health.

The program of natural high blood pressure supplements varies from person to person. Even given this variability, one thing is for sure; if you have high blood pressure your body needs help! You have nutritional deficiencies present that need attention.

You don’t have to play a guessing game with your health. Come in for a consultation and find out what food choices are healthy for your body and the correct supplements and vitamins for high blood pressure to feed your deficiencies.

Yours in health,

Amanda Childress, PharmD
Holistic Pharmacist

Read Dr. Amanda’s Bio