By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
February 21, 2020
When it comes to drug dosages, one size does NOT fit all…
Now, I could go on-and-on about how over-prescribed we are these days. If you’ve been a longtime reader, you know the side effects from medications can be extremely harmful to your health.
So, hopefully, you’re working with your doctor to lower your doses – and eventually eliminate them altogether.
But, until then, you’re exposing yourself to toxic substances every time you pop a pill. As these toxins build up in your system, your risk of serious side effects increases.
And if the drug isn’t effectively managing your symptoms, you could be switching from one med to another, trying to find one that works for you.
In either case, you’ll be glad to know that there’s a test that can tell you how well – or poorly – certain medications work in your body.
It’s called cytochrome P450 (CYP450) testing.
This test reveals specific gene variants that affect the way your body breaks down medications. Certain variants can result in drug toxicity. Others will stop a drug from working at all.
For instance – because of your genetics – you may metabolize a drug faster or slower than the rest of the population.
In the case of a fast metabolism, your body will quickly ferry the drug into your bile… into your intestines… into your poop… and then out into your toilet. Or, you’ll metabolize it through your liver and kidneys so it is quickly excreted as urine.
In this case, a regular dose of a medication will not have the intended results because your body is working to get rid of the chemicals too quickly.
On the other hand, you may metabolize a drug slower than average. In this case, a small dose of 5mg might have the same effect in you as a regular dose of 20 or 40 mg has in another person. If you were to take the regular dose, you’d risk a toxic build up within your system.
And finally, think about how the various drugs you take interact with each other. It’s average these days for people over the age of 65 years to take six or more drugs each day.
Because of these factors, I like knowing which of these variants my patients have. It helps curtail drug interactions, slashes your chances of an overdose and offers a bit of protection against more severe side effects.
So if you take any cardiovascular drugs like beta blockers, warfarin or statins…
If you take pain relievers like naproxen, ibuprofen or acetaminophen…
Opioids, protein pump inhibitors, SSRIs or other antidepressants…
You need to have this test done.
How does it work?
All it takes is a cheek swab or blood sample. This is sent off to a lab, where the DNA code in the sample is analyzed to identify any genetic variations in the cytochrome P450 family.
When the results come back you’ll find out if specific enzymes – relating to specific drugs – are active or not.
For example, some enzymes may have little or no activity. This means you’ll have a hard time metabolizing any drugs related to those enzymes. As a result, you’re more likely to experience serious side effects and develop toxic buildup.
On the other hand, you could have increased activity of some enzymes. The problem with this is that high concentrations of the drug can rapidly enter your bloodstream – an express route to a toxic reaction or overdose.
It can also be why certain medications don’t work for you. They simply don’t stay in your system long enough to have any effect.
The CYP450 test will tell you and your doctor specifically which enzymes have these types of variants – and exactly which medications they affect.
As a very quick primer, here are some of the variations that fall under CYP450…
- Variations in the CYP2C9 enzyme affect the way your body responds to warfarin, NSAIDs, sildenafil (Viagra) and sulfonylureas (like glyburide).
- The CYP3A4 variant is linked to the metabolism of statin drugs, calcium channel blockers, sedatives (Ambien), opioids and benzodiazapenes (Valium, Xanax).
- CYPC19 variations can affect the way SSRIs, antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors (like Nexium and Prevacid) are broken down in your body.
This is a very short list. And some meds are metabolized by more than one enzyme. But it gives you the general idea of how the testing works… and how it can help your doctor zero in on the right medications and dosages for you.
And since your genes don’t change over time, you only have to take this test once in your lifetime. The results are good forever.
In the meantime, it’s still a good idea to get off of Big Pharma’s drugs if you can as soon as you can. So keep doing everything you can to naturally boost your health and reduce your reliance on medications.
Remember: The strongest drug you can take may just be on the end of your fork.
Belle, DJ, et al. Genetic Factors in Drug Metabolism. Am Fam Physician. 2008 Jun 1;77(11):1553-1560.
Ogu CC, et al. Drug interactions due to cytochrome P450. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2000 Oct; 13(4): 421–423.
Preissner S, et al. SuperCYP: a comprehensive database on Cytochrome P450 enzymes including a tool for analysis of CYP-drug interactions. Nucleic Acids Res. 2010 Jan; 38(Database issue): D237–D243.