"What happens to medicines and supplements after they are consumed?"
Pharmaceutical and personal care products (otherwise known as PPCPs) are the bad boys in this article. And, pharmaceuticals, in this case, include nutraceuticals (supplements), veterinary and farm animal drugs, as well as prescription, over-the-counter, and recreational drugs.
Kreisberg, a DC, notes that little attention has been given to PPCPs, even though their use has grown "on par with many agrochemicals" and that these chemicals are "pseudo-persistent," meaning their rate of decomposition into inert substances is exceeded by the rate at which they enter the environment.
Medicines are, in fact, considered naturally resistant to degradation. Kreisberg cited a German study finding outlawed barbituates still circulating in the environment some 30 years after they became illegal.
PPCPs are of concern because they can be active at extremely small concentrations and also have unpredictable interactions when mixed (as they are in our drinking supplies). Common antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft are being found in frogs and fish and interfering with natural development cycles.
Think about it. A witch's brew of oral contraceptives, antibiotics, steroids, anti-depressants, ibuprofen, fragrances, insect repellants, and more can be found in both surface and groundwater, according to studies by the US Geological Survey.
No drinking water standard for PPCP compounds currently exists and most drinking water treatment plants either cannot or do not treat for these chemicals. Questions emerge such as:
- What is the impact of ingesting these PPCPs over time?
- What is the effect of ingesting mixes these compounds?
- Are certain populations such as the elderly and the immuno-suppressed more vulnerable to the effects of these compounds?
Pat Hemminger's study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, "Damming the Flow of Drugs into Drinking Water:
"more than 100 kinds of PPCPs in significant concentrations in sampled waterways, the most common being aspirin, statins, hypertension medications, and hormones taken by women."
Consumers can certainly take steps to minimize the impact of the chemicals making it into the water supply, however, some 70% of antibiotics in our water supplies come from livestock farming, as do large quantities of growth hormones and steroids. Thus, dramatic improvements will come only when much greater attention is generated among manufacturers and wastewater treatment plants.My advice is to consider filtered water (reverse osmosis, ideally) and periodic detoxification programs -- think saunas, fasting, and liver-friendly, glutathione-boosting, detoxifying supplements like: l-glycine, l-glutamine, milk thistle, calcium d-glucarate, n-acetyl-cysteine, turmeric, alpha lipoic acid, fiber, etc.
Meanwhile, here's to our collective detoxification efforts -- of PPCPs, heavy metals, PCBs, you name it, we need all the help we can get to avoid autoimmune conditions and general malaise from toxic compounds.