THE DOSE MAKES THE POISON
Everything in moderation is a good way of thinking about life. In practice it’s a good idea and it is one of the guiding principals of toxicology. If you think about what it means, everything in moderation can get you through and help to avoid running into too much of any one thing. It applies pretty much across the board.
Don’t overwork yourself. Overtime can run you down at your job. Trying to work in the yard like you are still 20 years old when in reality, you are 50 years old and that can run you down. Don’t overeat at meals. Again age comes into play as you want and think you can eat like you did when you were younger. As you age, the need for calories is significantly reduced and there is no physiological reason to eat the way you did as a teenager. Don’t overdo your consumption of adult beverages. The common phrase here is, “I just can’t drink like I used to” but the reality is that one can certainly drink like they used to, but they just can’t recover like they used to. That is the kicker is the whole secret to enjoying adult beverages. You have to know your limits.
The dose makes the poison is the catch phrase that simply states, if you are exposed to enough of anything, it could become bad for you. As you think about that, consider cyanide and the small amount it takes to kill someone. Even in this small amount that is lethal, one can be exposed to a lessor quantity and be perfectly fine, or at least survive the exposure. To demonstrate the other end of the dosing spectrum, think about water. The substance that life proverbially springs from and all its good qualities and benefits. Water in moderation sustains life. Water consumed in large quantities will dilute electrolytes to a point of decreasing electrical activity in the body and approach a physiological state that is inconsistent with life due to too much water. Then water in excess, as in you are in a pool of water at the bottom of the pool and that situation can also rapidly become lethal. The difference in each situation is dose. The dose makes the poison.
How does this deal with pharmaceutical products?
This principal applies to pharmaceutical products. Something to consider when thinking about pharmaceuticals is that this group of chemicals is unique in that they are designed to have an effect on the human body and when a pharmaceutical product is given a pathway of exposure, whether orally, by inhalation, in an eyedrop or in a skin patch, that drug product will have an effect on the human every time. If you have every read the drug labeling of a drug you are taking, you will usually see a rather long list of potential side effects. This is where the dose is critical. The therapeutic dose of a drug product is that dose necessary to result in the desired effect of the drug for most people on average. Drug testing is all about pooled data and group effects. Every person is different. No one is genetically identical (except those identical twins) and everyone reacts differently to pharmaceuticals.
The number of ibuprofen you take for an ache or pain tells a lot about how you deal with drugs. It suggests if you are a fast metabolizer and take more than others or if you are drug sensitive and take less than others for similar conditions. That is what makes humans unique and it is these traits that make everyone different but also makes the phrase “The dose makes the poison” so relevant. You know your own body and that is the driving factor behind everything in moderation. This simple tenant of toxicology can be applied widely in life and help to avoid many health challenges over a lifetime.
That is the basis of Superior Toxicology & Wellness service of personal pharmaceutical reviews that specifically evaluate the drugs a person is on, what dose is taken, how long the drug has been used and the desired and undesired effects of all of their pharmaceuticals. Drugs can provide needed effects, but drugs also have many undesired effects that also occur. If you don’t know the ins and outs of pharmaceuticals, it may be time to chat with someone who does.
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Dr. Joe Nieusma and the Superior Toxicology & Wellness Team