What if I told you I found a medication that could cure most cases of diarrhea, with no side effects, in about a day, for about two dollars?
Here’s yet another post about a massive quality of life improvement I have encountered basically just by moving outside the USA. If this sort of thing is not really your cup of tea, well, you were warned.
So here’s the government boilerplate on probiotics. Relevant passages:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any health claims for probiotics.”
Translation: “uhh… duh…”
“Government regulation of probiotics is complex.”
Translation: “er… derp?”
Yes, the NIH “fact sheet” on probiotics is indeed a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The fact that probiotics are listed as an “alternative medicine” just goes to show how thoroughly demented the entire US health care apparatus is.
Yes, I understand that the studies are new, and I understand that the US government takes a conservative approach to approving medications by default – based on the principle that it’s better to delay ten good medications if it means stopping one deadly one – but that’s clearly not what’s happening here. What’s happening here is that probiotics are completely cleared for public consumption in the US but the FDA has refused to bestow the official seal of legitimacy on them, which means that doctors don’t get to prescribe them and anyone who uses them risks being associated with the quacks and snake-oil salesmen that constitute the homeopathic movement and other thoroughly debunked pseudo-medical practices.
Just do a cursory search of “probiotics diarrhea” and the studies abound. The news articles about the studies abound. And yet I suspect most Americans believe that the best, most modern way to treat diarrhea is to drink lots of water and let it run its course – even if that course takes a week or two.
Well, Americans: I am here to tell you that you are living in the stone age of medicine. I have now used Linex to treat diarrhea twice, and both times I experienced immediate improvement. As in, an easing of cramps within an hour, and a complete cessation of diarrhea within twelve hours.
The specific probiotic combination that my TLG doctor prescribed for me is Linex – which is made by a company called Lek, which is based in Ljubljana, the capital city of my ancestral homeland. Lek is part of a “global generics leader” called Sandoz, which claims to manufacture drugs cheaply and safely for 90% of the world’s population. To me, this company is a paragon of capitalism: make money by beating the competition in price and quality.
A box of 16 Linex pills – enough for 8 doses – costs under 7 lari. Like I said, you get improvement after the first dose, and after 3 or 4 you’re pretty much as good as new.
When I imagine myself suffering from gastroenteritis for 7-10 days, drinking nothing but Gatorate and eating nothing but the occasional saltine cracker, never knowing that eight little pills could end my misery in under a day for under two dollars… well, it just makes me glad that there are places in the world where safe, effective medications can come to market quickly and efficiently and cheaply. Places completely unlike the United States of Diarrhea.
And yes, you can get lots of dubious, expensive probiotic products in Organic Health Food Stores in various rich neighborhoods across the US – I was especially amused by this one, which claims to be made of kefir from “the Caucuses” and sells for $40 a bottle (Georgians: imagine how much kefir you could buy for $40!) but there’s no way you could walk into a regular doctor’s office and come out with a prescription for probiotics and even if you could there’s no way that your insurance would cover it. In Georgia you can do both.
And even though Linex is sold in Georgia, and made for the Russian market, it’s made by a Slovenian company – in other words, a company in an EU country – in other words, it has the same safety regulations as you would find in France or Spain or Germany (or Switzerland, where Lek’s parent company, Novartis, is headquartered).
Anyway, the moral of the story is that two days ago I spiked a fever of 103F (39.4C) and couldn’t even tolerate water and tomorrow morning I will be able to go back to work. That is a wicked fast recovery time, in my personal experience. As long as I don’t think about the fact that I’m willfully swallowing a bunch of bacteria…