#98 Fatal Conveniences™: Cough Syrups: Helpful or Harmful?

#98 Fatal Conveniences™: Cough Syrups: Helpful or Harmful?

There are many different reasons for coughing, but most of the time, it’s your body’s way of clearing out your throat or lungs. Although suppressing a cough may sometimes be necessary, should you use over-the-counter cough syrups or drops?

Welcome to Fatal Conveniences™. 

Cough syrups are full of sugar, artificial dyes and harmful chemicals. 

There’s nothing more annoying than a persistent cough that won’t go away. And I get that there are many good reasons for wanting to hinder your cough. But when we turn away from nature and instead buy products with toxic ingredients, we’re exacerbating the problem- and creating new ones.

Store-bought cough syrups and drops are full of artificial ingredients and chemicals. These ingredients can cause allergic reactions, spike your blood sugar, and basically do the opposite than making you feel better when you’re sick. But it gets even worse. One of these chemicals can cause hallucinations, heart and lung complications and even addiction. The high is so compelling that 1 in 10 American teenagers have been known to abuse cough syrups for this chemical.

This segment is all about why we should avoid these toxic “medicines” and instead turn to nature. Plants have all you need, guys! In fact, when it comes to suppressing a cough, plants are MORE effective than this over-the-counter crap! 

EPISODE BREAKDOWN:
  • [00:00:44]  Why we need to cough 
  • [00:02:41] A brief history of cough suppressants
  • [00:05:16] When regulation entered the picture
  • [00:06:11] Cough syrups hit the party scene
  • [00:07:25] The dangers of DXM
  • [00:09:45] Prescription cough meds
  • [00:11:31] Dangerous medication interactions
  • [00:15:00] My advice on what to use instead
EPISODE LINKS:

Study on DXM abuse in teenagers

Cough & Cold Medicine Abuse by Kidshealth.org

Cough Syrup with Codeine Abuse American Addiction Centers

Dextromethorphan/DXM Overdose American Addiction Centers

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Can you get addicted to cold or cough medicines?

The Best Natural Cough Remedies by Healthline

BLK Water – Functional Beverages 

 

Episode Transcript

Darin: It’s that time of the week for another fatal convenience. This is a bite-size segment that addresses some of society’s fatal conveniences and the steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim of them. I define fatal conveniences as the things we may be doing because the world we live in makes us believe we have to, tap water, shampoo, sunglasses, food. I dive into the hidden truths behind some of our everyday choices that could not only be harming us but even killing us, so let’s dive in.

Darin: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the show. This is another edition of fatal convenience. This is something we’re going to get. We’re always going to get it’s annoying and it.

[00:00:54] And that has coughing irritation in the respiratory system, viruses bacteria that causes inflammation. Coughing is any central part of reading the body of these annoyances, right? It’s a protection from the infection. It’s actually. Mobilizing through the inflammation, through the phlegm mobilizing then infections so that we can get it out.

[00:01:24] It’s trying to clear the throat, unwanted secretions and irritants. So that’s why we cough. And man, is it a. But it’s essential. It’s part of the production of isolation of dealing with irritants that happen then in the body. And we, of course the fatal convenience here is we try to get cough drops or cough syrup, suppression, and all of this stuff.

[00:01:54] So we’re going to dig into that as to. How to support the body, but without hurting it in the process. And in some cases, creating addictions that are infinitely greater, as well as not loading yourself up. Chemicals and sugars and other unwanted active ingredients. But moreover, let’s look at the plant kingdom and there’s some easy fixes that are infinitely better.

[00:02:25] Time-tested without addictive. Irritating suppressing aspects of chemicals in these cough drops and cough syrups.

So there’s a little bit of a cool history here. Since ancient times, humans have been trying to stop coughing. It is irritating and when you’re sick and not feeling good and you cough, you can’t stop it.

[00:02:51] You can’t sleep. And so of course this is something that we’ve always wanted to do. And so we’ve tried all kinds of syrup’s and herbs throughout time. And we’re going to get into those things in 1847, however, a restaurant owner, James Smith met a salesman. Named sly Hawkins who sold him a recipe for cough candy.

[00:03:16] That’s a great name. Hey, check out. My cough candy, uh, Smith cooked it himself started to sell it. And then 1852. It started to sell this product and with the help of his two sons, William and Andrew James Smith and sons compound of wild cherry cough candy. Was pitched and sold to what cure all coughs colds, a hoarseness sore throat whooping, cough asthma.

[00:03:47] And it goes on and on in 1866 after James’ death, his two sons renamed the company as Smith brothers, and then trademark to the cough candies and came up with drop instead of candy. So. Drop. I love this kind of little history stuff, cause I always learn so much. It’s so cool. On the other hand, then the 1950s holes brothers out of great Britain, then Ray jumped into the cough drop recipe game using a basic combination of menthol and eucalyptus.

[00:04:24] So that’s cool. A cooling relief. Those are natural plant compounds, ladies and gents. So way to go. That’s usually how it starts. And then somewhere along the line, sugar and other synthetics are involved that hit the US market in the 1950s and became very popular. 

In the 1990s they were introduced all over the world, the mixture of cough syrup, alcohol, soda, and other things started becoming popular in candies, like even jolly ranchers. But then with all of these other cough syrups and alcohol and all these other things, they then started using codeine. It’s actually a super effective bronchodilator. But of course he required a prescription for that because the DEA came in straightaway and said, ‘Hey, wait a minute, you can’t use codeine’.

Darin: And these then laws were instituted due to the meth production in small labs, in the United States. So interesting. The Halls (cough syrup) was marketed differently around the world. In the US they introduced it as a medicine and then Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and the Philippines they introduced it as just a hard candy, not recognized to be a medicine for cough.

One of the ways people abuse codeine cough syrups is by mixing them into alcoholic beverages. Now this creates an amplification and dangerously intoxicating mix that then got other famous names because it became, you know, Lean out with all of this speed. It was also called-  I don’t know why – called the ‘Purple Drank’ and ‘Dirty Sprite’.

[00:06:14] These mixtures became crazy names for this codeine-laced alcohol, cough syrup, weird combination. That just was simply a way for people to get high. 

So what are the conveniences? Obviously, when you suck on a little candy, it creates some relief, the menthol and eucalyptus. It creates some stimulation there.

[00:06:37] So can potentially help with that. The codeine bronchodilation and helps with that. You know, and it gives you that short term fix and it tastes a little good. It’s got artificial sweeteners and all this other crap, and that’s another fatal convenience and sugars. That’s a fatal convenience, all of these other things, but why should we care?

[00:06:57] So really, you don’t need chemicals to suppress your cough. That’s number one. And at the end of it, I will give you some simple, powerful fixes. You can go to that instead of all this stuff, but here’s where it gets tricky and gnarly is the introduction of chemicals as it relates to trying to suppress.

And there’s this one drug that’s called dextromethorphan or DXM. An ingredient in nearly a hundred cough and cold products as of now sold in pharmacies and supermarkets. So this DXM can alter your mental state. You’re going to be shocked. Okay. So this can rearrange perception & reality, create hallucinations, poor judgment, dizziness, visual changes, lack of coordination. And this stuff you can buy.

[00:08:00] So again, the teens and the younger generation have gotten a hold of this. The symptoms of this are everything from motor function, numbness, disassociation, episodes, audio and visual hallucinations, nausea, heart rate, variability, high blood pressure, agitation, all of this stuff. So then what the teens do is they mix this DXM with other drugs, including alcohol.

[00:08:30] Easy, easy to do, which increases these dangers. What’s more is these are over the counter cough and cold products all over the place. Often contain other drugs as well. Decongestions and other anti-inflammatory drugs that are within this all creating dangers and possibly dangerous that can include heart attack, stroke and liver damage, but it produces a level of high.

[00:09:04] So what this does through these hallucinations and out of body sensations, there are similar to drugs like ketamine and PCP, very easy combination. Buy a bunch of cough syrup, combine it with alcohol and away you go. And it can last for as long as six hours, this DXM also depresses brain function, particularly parts of the brain that control breathing and heart function.

[00:09:36] Super, super dangerous. 

There’s also prescriptions Promethazine-codeine, cough syrup that you need a prescription, but kids can get ahold of this in their parents’ stashes. And then they can get all kinds of buzzes and highs and including with alcohol and the DEA is all over this stuff. So with these codiene prescriptions, and this DXM is super dangerous for pregnancy, especially this opioid medicine, your babies literally can come out, uh, dependent and addicted on these drugs.

[00:10:15] And this is all what you’re trying to do is suppress cough. So it gets pretty gnarly, pretty quick. So overdoses occur all the time with using the DXM and they’re intentionally ingesting large amounts of this cough syrup and some people which is equally more dangerous, or simply poor metabolizers of this.

[00:10:40] So people will fall into the category, do not metabolize the medication as efficiently as the average person. Typically, these people should take smaller doses of the over-the-counter prescription medications to avoid intoxication and addiction. So there’s a lot of the stuff I have it in the show. Also the other area, the DMX and serotonin create what’s called a serotonin syndrome.

[00:11:08] Although the DXM is not by itself an antidepressant, it does act on serotonin pathways in the brain. This is part of why the substance is intoxicating and can cause hallucinations. 

It also means that DXM interacts with psychiatric medications. 

So now if your kids are on ADD and ADHD medications, these interactions can be very dangerous, including antidepressants, SSRIS, MAO inhibitors, etc.These medications are designed to change the levels of serotonin in the brain and can be very dangerous when mixed and again, people, these are in the cabinet over the counter. These can cause restlessness, agitation, confusion, disorientation, dilated pupils, excess sweating, mental rigidity. So a lot of these kids and celebrities have gotten their hands on these things. According to a study in 2008, one in 10 teenagers, abused DX M okay. People, parents, one in 10 teenagers. I don’t know if it’s going around in your areas, but make sure that your kids aren’t getting a hold of a bunch of this cough syrup and ask them because this can be very dangerous.

[00:12:33] The substance abuse and mental health services administration reported in 2008, that 3 million adolescent and young kids, usually between the ages of 12 and 25 have used cough and cold medicines to get high. This number included using codeine based syrup’s as well as the over the counter DXM drugs. This kind of substance abuse is also part of hip hop culture, crazy enough. With numerous celebrities, which we have in the show notes, ending up in hospitalizations, due to these mixtures of marijuana and alcohol. 

Little Wayne, rapper, on the syrup specifically. He said, ‘Weezie said he can’t just quit cold Turkey’. This is little Wayne. What he said. ‘Do your history, do your research’, he vented, ‘It ain’t easy. Feels like death in your stomach. When you stop doing this shit, you got to learn how to stop. You got to go through the detox. You got do all kinds of stuff’- That’s the advice of little Wayne who was all strung out on DXM and cough syrup and mixing that stuff. So never, never use this cough syrup under any circumstances, especially addictions overdoses.

[00:13:56] And it also can lead to death. I never imagined. When I dive into these things, how gnarly this stuff is and how people can just buy coughs there. You’re just trying to stop a cough. Next thing you know, you’re addicted to stuff. Next thing you know, you’re trying to get high and disassociate yourself and hallucinate combining this with alcohol, everyone’s trying to escape this reality, this beautiful reality we’re in cause of pain and shame and sadness and anger and fear.

[00:14:26] All this it creates unregulated abusive chemicals. When all we really need to do is go back to nature. You know, what is really powerful and studies show this, and we have those in the show notes? Honey. Honey works really, really great. The study showed that over the counter medications, including DXM use honey. But then you can mix a little two tablespoons.

[00:15:01] You can mix it with herbal tea, make sure it’s warm with lemon. Lemon can also help the congestion and that warming effect is also the third trifecta. Honey, lemon and the warm water is incredible. Also probiotics are fantastic. Fulvic minerals are fantastic. Helps the microflora in the mouth. And in the throat.

[00:15:30] So probiotics, fulvic minerals, you can find at the BLK water. It’s a great functional beverage compan. You can use, uh, systemic enzymes, one being bromelain. Okay? This can help loosen the throat. This is directly from raw pineapple. So pineapple juice – fresh, not from store-bought. And of course, ginger, peppermint, turmeric,

[00:15:59] cayenne, marshmallow root. And, a powerful one is gargle with a sole of salt water. That means a nice half a cup of salt water. Add a couple of tablespoons, mix that up, make sure it’s warm, gargle it. Incredible. These things are infinitely better than chemicals people, ladies and gentlemen, you know me. I love the plants.

[00:16:25] I love nature. It’s got the answers. If we think we are God, we are going to go off on chemicals that infinitely and destructively go down a path that gets worse and worse for us and our health. Okay? So that’s what we have to do. Keep watch over your children, making sure they’re not abusing this DXM and other codeine cough syrups, and you can remedy the stuff straight away.

[00:16:52] Okay. Fatal Convenience. No chemicals. Only nature. Remember, I love you.

Darin: Thanks for tuning in everyone. I hope that left you feeling inspired to take a closer look at the everyday choices you’re making and how they could be impacting your health and even the planet. If you want to learn more about life’s fatal conveniences, head over to fatalconveniences.com. You can sign up for the exclusive access to Fatal Conveniences episodes, news, insights, and more. And all this great stuff gets sent each week straight to your inbox, making it really easy. Now, that’s a convenience without the negative side effects. It only takes a few seconds to join. Just fill in the form and take that amazing step towards making better choices. Remember, small changes can have big impact. So, keep diving my friends, keep diving. And if you haven’t had a chance to check out the interview, I released earlier on the week, here’s what you missed:

Plant-Based Juniors: Feeding your kids all of these wonderful, abundant plant foods that are naturally good sources of protein, and then also focussing a little bit more on beans and legumes, you’re going to get all the protein you need, likely more than you need.

I think a lot of people also are not as aware of where protein is found. Protein is literally fast. Every single whole plant food. There is not one whole plant food that doesn’t have protein in it.

[00:18:28] So as long as you’re eating a diverse array of plants, you’re going to meet your protein needs very easily. Something parents don’t understand is that foods like whole grains are an excellent source of protein. A slice of bread has got four to six grams of protein in it. A cup of oatmeal’s got like nine grams of protein in it.

[00:18:45] So plant-based kids can easily meet their protein.

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