Wonderful – Terrible – Prednisone

Prednisone is a synthetic form of corticosteroid that can be administered in topical, injectable, or oral form. Corticosteroids are a class of steroid’s which act like hormones that are produced by the adrenal gland.

Prednisone is prescribed to very effectively suppress immune system response when treating a variety of inflammatory diseases and disorders. This includes arthritis, eczema, some cancers, irritable bowel symptoms, asthma, allergic reactions, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, chronic pain conditions and many others.

When our bodies are under stress, a natural steroid hormone called cortisol is a released. Cortisol is part of the “fight or flight” response which causes changes to blood pressure, blood sugar, immune and inflammatory response. These changes are not harmful when the body has a chance to recover from the stress inducing event. Stress responses can become very problematic if triggered too frequently.

The immune system cannot operate properly under the influence of excessive cortisol. Impaired immunity leaves the door open to illness and disease. Because prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid it should be used cautiously, infrequently, and sparingly to reduce the likelihood of complications. When used judiciously, it can be a wonderful drug.

However, when prednisone is taken for more than a few weeks, it causes the adrenal gland to shrink, producing fewer natural steroid hormones. That is why discontinuing prednisone and other corticosteroids much be done slowly so that the adrenal gland can return to normal production. Sudden drug withdrawal can trigger dangerous side effects. There are also some terrible possible side effects and complications which can occur when using prednisone:

  • increased appetite
  • indigestion, stomach upset (including ulcers)
  • nervousness, restlessness, increased sweating
  • osteoporosis (bone loss)
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • hypoglycemia (high blood sugar)
  • headaches
  • darkening or lightening of skin color
  • dizziness, sensation of spinning, fainting
  • flushing of face or cheeks
  • decreased or blurred vision, eye pain, redness, light sensitivity
  • cataracts
  • frequent urination
  • increased thirst
  • confusion, excitement, false sense of well-being
  • hallucinations
  • mental depression, mood swings
  • skin rash, hives, acne
  • abdominal or stomach pain or burning
  • bloody or black, tarry stools
  • rounding out of the face
  • irregular heartbeat
  • menstrual problems
  • muscle cramps, pain, weakness
  • nausea, vomiting
  • reduced calcium absorption
  • pain in arms, back, hips, legs, ribs, or shoulders
  • reddish purple lines on arms, face, groin, legs, or trunk
  • stunting of growth (in children)
  • swelling of feet or lower legs
  • thin, shiny skin
  • insomnia
  • unusual bruising
  • unusual increase in hair growth
  • unusual fatigue or weakness
  • rapid weight gain or loss
  • wounds that will not heal
  • osteonecrosis or avascular necrosis (bone death due to lack of blood supply)
  • premature arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)

Large doses of prednisone (over 40 mg daily) or extended use (four weeks or longer) will increase the amount of time necessary for the body to return to normal after discontinuing use. After stopping, it can take up to one year for normal adrenal gland function to return when large amounts or extended use of prednisone has occurred.

In a 2009 study published in International Immunopharmacology, the potent pine bark extract antioxidant called Pycnogenol® was demonstrated to inhibit pro-inflammatory enzymes like COX-2 and 5-LOX. This is very impressive because chronic inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with many conditions that prednisone and other corticosteroids are prescribed for such as arthritis, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Unlike prednisone, Pycnogenol has no dangerous side effects.

According to Dr. Raffaella Canali, “This study reveals that Pycnogenol® can actually decrease pain and reduce inflammatory conditions, as has been previously reported, by shutting down the production of specific enzymes involved with inflammation.”

As the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This is especially true with it comes to dealing with inflammation. Isotonix OPC-3® contains the only form of rapid absorbing isotonic capable Pycnogenol® in the world.  It has been shown to be 20 times more powerful than vitamin C and 50 times more powerful than vitamin E in neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative stress and cellular damage which leads to and prolongs inflammation.

In addition, Isotonix OPC-3® has been clinically shown to improve major risk factors including blood pressure, total cholesterol and fasting blood glucose.

Another excellent natural anti-inflammatory alternative which rivals NSAIDs in effectiveness is Curcumin Extreme™.


  1. Ellie said,

    February 9, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you Julie for the timely information about Prednisone. We were not aware of the time line for recovery after taking steroids for long periods. We are strong believers in the use of OPC3 and other Isotonix supplements and know that in time the muscle weakness, depression, and other side effects will improve.

  2. Jessie said,

    February 12, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the info Julie. I have repetitively asked my fathers doctors to wean him off prednisone. I just get the brush off. For the past 5 years he’s been on this nasty drug which has in turn caused him to be diagnosed with diabetes now. On top of it all he has been on Oxycotin for the past 5 years and just recently has been on morphine for the past 12 months. Everyday -everyhour. No-one is looking into the core issue, they would rather push meds on him and give him a #. Absolutely makes me sick. Unfortunately you can’t be pulled off predinsone cold turkey but I keep pushing to have the doctors evaluate his situation and to look into other alternatives.

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