Steroids — a short term fix or the start of long-term dependency? Is there an alternative?

Supplementation of the body’s natural chemical processes by a stimulant can have a short-term benefit, but in the long term can trigger a whole series of unwanted side-effects.

Take for instance steroids. They are prescribed for a variety of illnesses that involve inflammation in the body. These include allergic conditions in the lung which cause wheezing (asthma), other serious allergic reactions, inflammation in parts of the body such as the joints (eg rheumatoid arthritis), the bowel (eg ‘Crohn’s disease’ and ‘ulcerative colitis’), and various other types of inflammation that affect muscles, blood vessels, skin (eg eczema) and the eyes. In addition, steroids are sometimes used to treat blood conditions (including leukaemia) and swelling of the brain.

Steroids can be very effective (and sometimes life-saving) medicines. However, like other medicines, steroids can cause problems. In the short term these may include: mood changes, depression, suicidal thoughts, or feeling ‘high’ (sometimes causing unusual behaviour) – these conditions affect children as well as adults, and can happen within days of starting treatment; difficulty sleeping, confusion, agitation (nervousness); skin rashes; stomach/intestine problems (nausea, diarrhoea, pain, rarely ulcers or bleeding); worsening of diabetes and epilepsy; headaches, and; changes in menstrual periods.

They also can reduce your body’s ability to fight infections (by making your immune system less active), so you may be more likely to catch an infection, and you may be more unwell than normal if this happens.

As with most medicines, the risk of side-effects increases with higher doses and with longer treatment. Here are the more important long-term side effects, which not everyone experiences: reduced growth in children; eye problems - poor vision due to problems with the eye lens (cataract) or increased pressure in the eye (glaucoma); muscle weakness; thinning of the bones and increased risk of fractures; high blood pressure; change in appearance and skin changes - bruising, ‘stretch marks’, acne, sweating; weight gain - in particular, developing ‘moon face’ and ‘buffalo hump’, which are specific characteristics of steroid medication.

And the greatest problem - when steroids are taken long-term your body gradually stops making its own natural steroids which are needed to sustain your well-being.

So if steroids are essential to life, why does the body not produce enough? The answer is that it does, providing it is healthy and not under undue chronic stress. The body’s own steroids are produced primarily in the adrenal glands, which are situated one above each kidney. The adrenal cortex produces three classes of corticosteroid hormones: glucocorticoids, such as cortisol (hydrocortisone); mineralocorticoids, such as aldosterone, and; androgen precursors from DHEA. The ovaries and testes are involved to a much lesser extent.

The effects of the body’s own steroids can be seen in almost every cell in the body. They regulate the metabolic systems in terms of utilisation of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, and they allow us to ‘cope with’ stress – physical, mental and emotional.     

Some of the steroids produced by the adrenal cortex influence the kidneys to balance sodium and potassium levels, whilst DHEA is converted to adrenal androgen precursors, and ultimately results in testosterone and oestrogen production.

What happens when things go wrong?

Too much, or too little of these steroids can have devastating effects on the body. An excess can cause numerous symptoms: obesity (particularly at the nape of the neck, and the face), diabetes, diastolic hypertension, arteriosclerosis, oedema, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, hirsuitism, depression, fragile skin, easy bruising, decreased libido, an increase in virility, as a result of high levels of testosterone, and an increased susceptibility to infections and thromboses. Insufficiency can result in: fatigue, weight loss, muscle and joint pain, anaemia, hypoglycaemia, low blood pressure, a craving for salt, and in extreme cases, without treatment, cardiac toxicity can result from the imbalance in salts.

Why do things go wrong? 

This is generally due to underproduction in the adrenal glands – and this can be either as a result of adrenal exhaustion*, or adrenal suppression following the use of pharmaceutical steroids, or bio-identical hormones. Because the body tries to regulate the levels of chemicals at all times, when a steroid is introduced artificially, the adrenal glands think that they don’t have to produce such large quantities, and become ‘lazy’. The problem here lies in the fact that these ‘lazy’ glands are not able to respond in a crisis, when a huge increase in circulating cortisol is needed to cope with a stressful event.

On-going and chronic stress can ‘burn out’ the adrenal glands and they are simply unable to produce steroids in high enough quantities. Other than as a result of today’s seemingly never-ending ‘rat race’, the adrenal glands can malfunction because of toxins and pathogens present in and around the cells.

*The adrenal glands are part of a production line. The adrenal glands rely on the production of hormones in both the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. Not all symptoms of adrenal insufficiency originate in the adrenal glands.

Why are steroids prescribed if they can upset the balance?

Steroids, because of their properties, exert particular influences on the body’s cells. One of their functions is to reduce inflammation, which can be a helpful remedy for inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, or Crohn’s Disease. Although the symptoms of inflammation are reduced, they ‘dumb down’ the body’s natural response to infection, or trauma. As a result, the causative factor of these diseases cannot be addressed, because the body’s healing mechanisms are halted.

You may wonder why the body doesn’t cure itself from chronic conditions such as Crohn’s Disease. The fact is that we live in a toxic world and our immune systems are compromised; for some people, their bodies never get past the inflammatory stage and progress to healing. They remain chronically unwell. Steroids reduce the symptoms, but at what cost? Certainly the use of steroids doesn’t offer a long-term cure.

So what is the answer to the problem, and what can be learnt from Field Control Therapy?

The Field Control Therapy(FCT) medical system works in a completely different way than conventional and alternative medicine. Rather than treating the symptoms, it seeks to identify and address the underlining causes. Through sophisticated FCT Bio-resonance testing it can identify those particular causative factors that are preventing the body from healing itself. To self-heal, we need to have robust immune systems and endocrine systems which are in balance, and that can respond to the needs of the body in any moment.

Pharmaceutical steroids are usually prescribed to ‘manage’ chronic inflammatory states. Let’s take the example of asthma, where the lungs are chronically inflamed. The increased mucus formation, and decrease in the diameter of the tiny air passages means that it is more difficult to breathe. In addition, the increased mucus production can lead to infections, since the bacteria which normally reside in the airways breed to excess.

Steroid inhalers reduce inflammation, and open up the airways, and this is absolutely critical in the management of asthma. However, not many cases of chronic asthma are resolved. Most continue for years, with acute exacerbations periodically.

But supposing the causative agents were removed. The FCT Bio-resonance testing  procedure determines the individualised, non-invasive course of treatment, aimed at healing the immune system, increasing the function of the body’s hormone glands, whilst at all times supporting the lungs. Any infections are healed, and the normal inflammatory process resolves as healing occurs, and the body’s energy is restored. A relatively little-known fact is that many ‘allergic states’ are caused by parasitosis. Here, again, FCT is able to diagnose the presence of parasitosis, and successfully treat the condition, which can cause either under-activity, or over-activity of the immune response.

And unlike conventional medicine FCT does not profess to address the condition with a one stop ‘cure’. Each patient is frequently assessed over numerous treatments and at all times the treatment works within the body’s own capacity to heal.

There are hundreds of inconclusive peer-reviewed articles citing investigation into the side-effects of steroids. However, you are likely to draw the conclusion that all this scientific research demonstrates that there is still a question mark over the prescription of long-term steroid medication.

Academic research

Childhood asthma treatment can result in lower adult height: potential effect of inhaled glucocorticoids must be weighed against known benefits.

Does inhaled corticosteroid treatment result in a secondary immune deficiency predisposing to recurrent infections?

Inhaled versus systemic corticosteroids for the treatment of chronic lung disease in ventilated very low birth weight preterm infants.