I use drugs. Wait, that sounds bad. I use drugs, professionally. No, that sounds worse.
As a veterinarian, I prescribe drugs. But when I say that, you may not fully realize what it means or what the implications are.
As far as pharmacological philosophy goes, any substance that can be added to a living system and create an effect may be considered a drug.
So on that front, yes, water is a drug just like Valium. But not really like Valium.
So let’s consider regulatory definitions. The federal agencies regulating medications consider a drug to be a substance that has been purified in one way or another so it has only one chemical present.
So diazepam (Valium) is a drug. But your tap water has all kinds of chemicals in it, so it’s not considered the D word.
Neither are nutritional supplements. And that has a huge implication.
Drugs must have a reliable amount of their active ingredient and have a specific, prescribed effect on the body.
Valium affects a specific part of the cell membrane in nerve cells, yielding usually predictable results.
Nondrugs are a bit like the wild west. They can imply just about anything: Joints that feel better, hair that grows back or more masculine vigor.
But when you look at the small print, you see the difference in regulation means these claims are not supported by confirmation via experiment.
All a supplement has to do is not be bad for you.
Nondrug substances are regulated more like food than medicine.
Most of our use of such compounds is based on anecdotal evidence, which is sometimes questionable.
Some dogs I treat do wonderfully when glucosamine and chondroitin are added to their diet to help with signs of arthritis. Some show no improvement at all. Some get diarrhea.
The main thing is to make sure your supplement isn’t so questionable it causes some other problem. Too much of anything can be bad for you. Nobody on the Titanic wanted more water.
Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at email@example.com.