Why Trump’s Doctor May Be in Trouble for Helping White House Staff Sleep

Prescription Drugs

By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

There are times when we may just not feel good. We may get stressed, overworked, sleep deprived and feel chronically fatigue. And when you feel this way, you may just want a quick solution to feel better and get through your daily activities and job functions.

Now imagine this scenario…

You are at the office, battling a terrible migraine. You’ve already drank water and taken an ibuprofen, but you still can’t seem to get any relief. Your coworker notices that you don’t seem like your usual self. After finding out what the problem is, your coworker offers some prescription medication that his spouse, who is a physician, prescribed to him. You gladly take the medicine. It is, after all, from a doctor.

So it’s okay, right?   

Wrong. Unless a prescription medication is prescribed to you by YOUR doctor, it is not only potentially dangerous but also illegal to take prescription drugs that have not been personally prescribed to you.

And this is the reason why President Trump’s doctor, Ronny Jackson, is in hot water right now, especially with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Dr. Jackson allegedly handed out Ambien, a sedative commonly used to treat insomnia, to White House staff and reporters during grueling trips with time zone changes with the president.

“You could be prosecuted,” said Melvin Patterson, a spokesman for the DEA, (The New York Times).

Whether it’s prescription or over-the-counter, taking medication can be a slippery slope if you don’t follow the guidelines and educate yourself about possible side effects.

And many of us are ignorant about one major side effect of taking medications - nutrient depletion.

Our increasing reliance on prescription medications has contributed to the growing problem with nutrient depletion. The truth is that every medication, including over-the-counter drugs, depletes your body of specific, vital nutrients. This is especially concerning when you consider that most Americans are already suffering from nutrient depletion,” according to this nutrition review.

Reportedly, Ambien (zolpidem) is one of the most commonly prescribed medications. It is the number one prescription sleep aid in America.

So let’s take a closer look at some of the essential nutrients this drug may deplete from the body.

Ambien belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines.

“Benzodiazepines (also called “benzos”) are a class of agents that work in the central nervous system and are used for a variety of medical conditions,” according to Drugs.com.

“They act on specific receptors in the brain, called gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABA-A) receptors. Benzodiazepines attach to these receptors and make the nerves in the brain less sensitive to stimulation, which has a calming effect.”

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) reports that benzodiazepines may decrease calcium absorption.

“These medications decrease calcium absorption by increasing metabolism of vitamin D, which is needed for calcium absorption,” reports AAFP.

Not only is calcium needed for strong, healthy bones, but this mineral is also needed in many vital body processes like muscle contraction, bone metabolism, blood clotting, hormone release, neurotransmitters and many more. (For foods rich in calcium, read here).


“Magnesium depletion is common in nearly all examples of people ingesting drugs,” according to one clinic.

The importance of this mineral cannot be stressed enough. Magnesium is one of the major minerals inside our bodies’ cells. Outside the cells, it is an important cofactor for hundreds of processes and reactions in the body, including energy. It is important in sugar breakdown and use, blood pressure regulation and muscle and nerve function, including the heart muscle. It is also a mineral associated with getting a good night’s sleep.

Magnesium-rich foods have been linked to good quality sleep, according to a study at the Human Nutrition Research Center.

And how about the irony of taking Ambien to get better sleep, while depleting your body of the nutrients which are important for ensuring that you get better sleep? (Foods containing magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, kefir, almonds, black beans, avocado, figs, dark chocolate and bananas).

Other nutrients Ambien may deplete?

  • B vitamins. Particularly B9 (folate), B1 (thiamine) and B12 (cobalamin). All B vitamins help your body convert food into fuel for energy. On top of this, deficiencies of B9 and B12 may cause pernicious anemia (a decrease in red blood cells that occurs when the intestines cannot properly absorb vitamin B12). (Some foods that contain B vitamins include fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, leafy green vegetables, beans and peas. Some cereals and breads also have added B vitamins. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you may want to look into adding nori in your diet).
  • Vitamin D. This vitamin works hand in hand with calcium to support bone health. Vitamin D may also be crucial in preventing cognitive decline that can lead to schizophrenia. You can increase your vitamin D levels by spending time in the sun, eating vitamin D-fortified foods and/or taking supplements.
  • Vitamin K. This vitamin is critical for proper blood clotting and bone metabolism. It may also help maintain brain function, a healthy metabolism and may even help prevent cancer. (Foods rich in this vitamin include chard, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage).

So how can you be proactive?

If you are currently taking Ambien or any other benzodiazepine, speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have, including nutrient deficiencies. Be proactive about incorporating into your daily diet foods rich in these nutrients where appropriate. It is also imperative that you take a comprehensive nutrient test. This will let you know if you have any nutrient imbalances. And from there you can work with a qualified healthcare professional to tweak your diet or find good quality supplements to take.

Be mindful that taking St. John’s Wort, an herbal dietary supplement used to treat symptoms of depression, may cause a serious drug interaction if you take Ambien as well.

And another potential side effect of Ambien is digestive issues, including nausea and constipation, which can significantly affect your appetite and contribute to nutrient deficiencies.

Try to find alternatives.

If you suffer from insomnia, you might consider trying alternative methods before you immediately resort to Ambien to help with your sleep issues. (Read here to learn how you can be proactive about preventing insomnia).

There are essential nutrients that are necessary for getting good sleep. These include iron, magnesium and calcium. There are even certain foods that may enhance our ability to get quality sleep, such as cherries, which contain melatonin - a hormone associated with good sleep. Read more about nutrition and sleep here.

Enjoy your healthy life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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