Category Archives: Comics

A comic for Pharmacy Awareness Week 2019

I’m thrilled to work in partnership with the Quebec Order of Pharmacists (OPQ) for Pharmacy Awareness Week 2019!

For the occasion, I’ve created a comic that will be distributed to pharmacies throughout Quebec and provided to clients who come in for a new prescription.

The objective is to explain what happens while one waits for their medication, which is a total mystery for most people! Ultimately, the goal is to demystify the work of pharmacists, and to show what we do – and can do – for the public.

I like the idea of ​​learning without realizing it, hence the absurd visual metaphors. I hope people will receive the comic in the waiting room and be like “What is that?!“. This sounds like a good starting point 🙂

The comic was created for pharmacists and for the public. In other words, it’s yours. Here’s a link to the PDF version (8.5 x 11″; includes a 0.25″ bleed). Upon request, I can also provide you with a ultra-HD version, which you could print on giant canvas for display on cliffs, skyscrapers, etc.

If you’d like to use it outside of Quebec, please let us know, I’m sure we can figure something out 🙂

A huge thank you to OPQ, to all pharmacists and pharmacy staff members, and to all of you for your interest in this project!

The endless cycle of bad excuses for selling homeopathic products in pharmacies

An investigation by the McGill Office for Science and Society reveals that 2/3 of pharmacies in Montreal sell oscillococcinum, a homeopathic product more diluted than the equivalent of an atom in an entire Universe filled with water:


https://mcgill.ca/oss/article/health-quackery/two-thirds-montreal-pharmacies-sell-quack-flu-buster

Are you surprised?

I’m not.

Back in Sept. 2012, when I started Le Pharmachien (the original French version of The Pharmafist), my first post ever was a sarcastic video about homeopathy, and about how absurd it is that we sell these products.

Since then, not much has changed. We still use the same fake arguments to justify ourselves.

“IT’S POPULAR, CLIENTS ASK FOR IT, AND THEY’RE SATISFIED!”

What difference does it make if it’s popular or not? Healthcare and science are not popularity contests.

If people want to buy homeopathy, fine. But our role as pharmacists is to provide advice and care based on scientific evidence. When homeopathic products are sold in pharmacies, it gives the false impression that we endorse them.

Interestingly, most pharmacists don’t trust homeopathic products at all… but are stuck with them on the shelves. It’s a problem.

AT LEAST THERE’S NO RISK!”

Not true. If people neglect to seek medical care because they trust homeopathy, it’s extremely hazardous.

There are tons of examples, but here’s one from Canada :

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/tamara-lovett-holistic-medicine-trial-1.3869951

“IT’S A GOOD PLACEBO!”

ALL healthcare interventions generate a placebo effect: medications, surgeries, exams, talking to patients… These interventions are supported by scientific evidence, and have a placebo effect as a BONUS.

Meanwhile, homeopathic products are 100% placebo, but pretend otherwise on their labeling and are sold at ridiculously high price tags. How is that acceptable?

Also, by opposition to what most people think, from a pharmacy owner’s perspective, it’s not “money-related”; margins are low and associated profits are negligible (in my experience, 80-90% of profits in a typical pharmacy come from prescription drugs). Who’s making money, then? Manufacturers.

At the end of the day, those who could really make a difference blame each other and make bad excuses in an endless cycle. This graph summarizes the situation:

Will someone ever take responsibility for the problem?

Let’s be clear: Health Canada will not stop approving these products. Some countries have set limits, but none has officially banned them. So we have to stop waiting for them to make a move.

In my opinion, the simplest solution is that a pharmacy chain takes a stand and announces that it will no longer sell homeopathic products. With a bit of luck, others will eventually follow.

So, who will be first?

P.S. Oh by the way, I’d like to salute the Quebec Order of Pharmacists, who stated, in response to the McGill investigation, that a pharmacist who recommends homeopathy by claiming that it is effective would “place oneself in a situation of disciplinary misconduct”. BOOM!

How to naturally heal your interstitium

 

(NOTE: This piece was first published on the French version of my website on March 29th, the day after the news about the interstitium came out. It was mostly meant as a joke… but a few days later, my “prophecy” pretty much came true. I’ll explain at the end. In the meantime, enjoy my newfound superpower. Many thanks to Jonathan Jarry from the McGill Office for Science and Society and The Body of Evidence – highly recommended blogs and podcast – for helping me with the translation!)

 

Unless you live in the basement of a suburban cult, unless you don’t care about health at all, or unless you’re a Big Pharmonsanto shill, you must have heard the good news: researchers have discovered a new organ in the human body(yes, this is real news)

(Well, to be exact, they just gave a name to this “new organ”, which is not really an organ… and was sort of known already … but anyway)

 

In a nutshell, the interstitium is a network of cavities filled with liquid, which would serve as a shock absorber between organs. In addition, these cavities are found everywhere and interconnected throughout the human body. This makes the interstitium the largest organ of the body.

But hey, who cares, right?

What you really want to know at this point is:

I have spent most of my life (i.e. the last 30 minutes) reading everything that has been written on the topic, so as a pioneer of the interstitium, I would like to introduce my own range of products and services to pamper and care for this vital organ. 

 

FIRST BOOK!!!

First of all, this spring, I will publish the first book ever written on the interstitium:

In this book, I explain that the interstitium is in fact the 3rd brain and 2nd pancreas of the human body.

(the value and accuracy of these analogies are none of your business)

 

I also explain that since the cavities of the interstitium are all interconnected in the human body, it is quite reasonable to think that by targeting it, we can prevent and cure all the diseases that exist or will exist in the human body in the future. I mean, it’s pure logic.

Lastly, I stipulate that if the interstitium is a natural “shock absorber”, then it is quite obvious that taking care of it will prevent all kinds of shocks, such as:

  • Emotional shock
  • Post-traumatic shock
  • Septic shock
  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Generational culture shock
  • Chocolate cravings
  • Chucky
  • Etc.

 

FIRST SECOND BOOK!!!

This fall, I will also be the first to publish a second book (time flies, wow!) on the interstitium.

(I worked on my empathic facial expression all week-end, and it paid off)

To sum it up, you should choose foods that vibrate at the same frequency as the interstitium. As a matter of fact, the vibration of things is extremely important with regards to health, as experts say.

By a total coincidence, these foods are all those we already know are good for your health:

 

And what’s BAD for the interstitium? Well, it should be pretty obvious by now:

 

And the coolest thing about this is that it comes from:

(as opposed to what I do not personally consider to be “real science”, i.e. anything that calls into question or contradicts my words)

 

FIRST CLINIC!!!

In parallel with the release of my second book, I will inaugurate the very first health clinic dedicated to the interstitium IN THE WORLD!

(my logo kicks ass)

 

OK so we all agree that discovering new organs is a whole lotta fun but, ultimately, what matters is how to cure them.

Because yes, your interstitium, which you did not know existed 3 minutes ago, is already sick.

 

Here’s a made-up patient that I successfully cured:

 

You’ll also be the first to try my clinically proven, 100% natural health product:

(Please note that this product is not yet approved by Health Canada and that I do not intend to submit it for review, because I don’t have to)

 

Book your consultation (with me) now!

For more info, please contact my PR firm or lawyer. 

 

P.S. OK so this was mostly irony … The “new organ” bit is real news, but I found it funny to imagine how shady people could use this discovery to attract attention and/or to make money, as is the case right now with the gut microbiota. Seriously, you don’t need to worry about your interstitium… until proven otherwise…

 

Weird update: A few days later, the interstitium was proposed as a possible mechanism to explain the “efficacy” of acupuncture. As skeptics then pointed out, such a theory is ludicrous. But even worse, it looks like one the main scientists behind the discovery, Neil Theise, was already quite involved in the promotion of alternative practices. Truth IS sometimes stranger than fiction….

Are you afraid of EMFs?

Does your smart meter make your nose bleed?

Are you terrified of your microwave?

Have you installed am anti-brain cancer thingy on your cell phone?

Welcome to the world of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and their alleged harmful effects.

For the last ten years or so, people have been worrying about EMFs, along with the increase in the use of electronics.  And even though scientific data obtained so far is reassuring about the effects of EMFs on human health, a lot of people are still scared.

It took almost a year to create this comic. After all, the topic is mind-blowingly complex and, as a pharmacist, I am not at all qualified to speculate about it. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to work with two awesome collaborators from the very beginning:

Jérôme Poulin (Ph. D) is a physicist and researcher in optical physics. His Ph.D thesis was about cold atom guidance in a hollow-core photonic cristal fibre using a blue detuned hollow laser beam (Olivier’s note: I have no idea what that means… I think it’s about building the next Death Star or something). He was also part of the Electro-Urban Brigade, a team of scientists who measured the daily exposure to electromagnetic fields of citizens in the province of Quebec, Canada.

Michel Trottier-McDonald (Ph.D) is a physicist and data scientist. He namely worked on the ATLAS experiment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN in order to find the Higgs Boson (Olivier’s note: yeah, that big thing).

None of us are experts on the effects of EMFs on health and we don’t pretend otherwise. Fortunately, scientific knowledge on the matter is advanced enough for us to relay conclusive evidence to you.

The 5 key messages of the comic go as follows:

  • Certain types of electromagnetic radiation can break the molecules of the body, others cannot;
  • Until proven otherwise, mobile/radio/Wi-Fi fields do not pose a threat to human health;
  • Every day, we are exposed electromagnetic radiation that is hundreds, if not thousands of times below the international standards deemed safe;
  • Symptoms experienced by people who identify as “electrosensitive” do not appear to be caused by electromagnetic fields;
  • So-called experts and companies that pretend otherwise may not be trustworthy, or even qualified to discuss EMFs.

But hey, you should to read the comic before disagreeing…

So cover your head with aluminium foil, make holes for your eyes, turn off your router & 4G and read this right away!

P.S. As always, scientific references for this comic are listed in the first comment.

Translated by Patricia Rainville; edits and proofreading by Robyn Penney.

 

Title

 

Ionizing and non-ionizing radiation

Daily exposure to ionizing radiation

 

 

 

Visible light is the strongest type of non-ionizing radiation

No effects of non-ionizing radiation on human health have been found

 

 

 

Daily exposure to EMFs and international standards

Smart electric meters emit as much EMFs as a TV remote

What about increasing the international standards of EMF exposure

 

 

 

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

An example of trial to assess whether electrosensitivity is caused by EMFs

Wi-Fi allergies and suicides

 

 

 

So-called EMF experts

The carcinogenic potential of EMFs

Anti-EMF devices and clothing

 

 

 

Conclusion 1

Conclusion 2

 

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TOP 10 useless remedies for the common cold

The cold season has begun.

But there’s something worse out there: the plethora of esoteric remedies to allegedly prevent and cure the common cold, like…

  • Rubbing Vicks on your feet
  • Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water
  • A swig of gin and/or cayenne and/or oregano oil
  • Sweating out the virus
  • The mustard plaster
  • Flu busters
  • Putting something in your bum (like suppositories)
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • Cough syrups
  • Antibiotics

Being a pharmacist, I get asked about those all the time. And really, I don’t care if people wanna use medication, natural health products or home remedies… as long as what they do is safe, effective, evidence-based and science-based.

Would you like to know what works and what doesn’t? Here are the TOP 10 useless remedies for the common cold. Please laugh at each of them. They deserve it.

Translated by Valentin Nguyen; edits and proofreading by Robyn Penney.

 

 

Rubbing Vicks on your feet

Rubbing Vicks on your feet continued

 

 

 

Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water

Sticking your face above a bowl of hot, scented water continued

 

 

 

The mouth-burning contest

The mouth-burning contest continued

The mouth-burning contest continued even more

 

 

 

Sweating out the virus

 

 

 

The mustard plaster

The mustard plaster continued

 

 

 

Flu busters

Flu busters 06b

 

 

 

Putting something in your bumPutting something in your bum continued

 

 

 

Chicken noodle soupChicken noodle soup continued

 

 

Cough syrups

Cough syrups continued

 

 

Antibiotics

Antibiotics continued

 

 

Conclusion

 

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4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet

4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet

The other day, during an unplanned visit in a raw food and detox smoothies store…

Alkaline water to restore body pH

What a wonderful premise for a comic about Evil Acid and the Mighty Alkaline Diet!

According to some people, our bodies are full of acid and constantly fight to preserve the acid-base balance, which wear us out and make us sick. It is said to cause illness, such as osteoporosis, eczema and even cancer.

Acid-base balance and blood pH do matter a great deal in medicine. There is also available research on how diet can impact those.

Unfortunately, we only hear half-truths on the matter. As an example, you can read online about a so-called “alkaline diet”, made out mostly of fruits and vegetables, which allegedly prevents multiple illnesses. Websites and books supporting that diet are full of claims like:

  • “Meat increases the levels of acid in the body!”
  • “Fruits and vegetables are alkalizing!”
  • “Acid excess is unhealthy! ”
  • “Cancer cells cannot grow in an alkaline body! ”

Those statements are more or less true… but more often than not, they’re part of a discourse which has no scientific ground, spread by people who don’t seem to understand how the human body works.

hippie meme acid-base balance

Let’s sort this out! This comic strip examines 4 half-truths regarding the acid-base balance… and adds the missing pieces of information that make up the whole picture.

Translated by Patricia Rainville; proofread by Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson.

 

4 Half-Truths about the Acid-Base Balance and the Alkaline Diet (header)

Some foods are acidic

 

Some foods are acidifying or alkalinizing

Too much body acid is unhealthy

 

The body fights to maintain the acid-base balance

 

Boring conclusion

 

Better conclusion

 

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The NO-PANIC Guide to the Birth Control Pill – Part II

The no-panic guide to the birth control pill part II (header)

Have you read Part 1 of my No-Panic Guide to the Birth Control Pill? If not, please do so before scrolling down.

I’ll continue in the same line of thought with the second (and last) part: my goal is to make you UNDERSTAND the risks associated with the Pill so that you can look at what you read and hear from a different angle.

I won’t tell you what to do: what I hope is to offer you a place to start and give you the necessary tools to promote enlightened reflection.

While deciding on what to incorporate, I took into account the myriad comments and suggestions I received after the publication of Part 1. Obviously, I couldn’t cover everything. I would’ve gladly added a section dedicated to cancer and depression, discussed the alternatives to hormonal contraception, provided more practical examples… but I decided to limit the scope of the last comic in order to keep everything “digestible”.

I don’t expect everyone to be engrossed by the topic, let alone read it in its entirety. Without doubt, it’s the longest comic I’ve produced so far and it’s quite stuffy… I tried to shorten it as much as possible, but under no circumstances would I cut corners on such a serious and complex topic. My goal was to give women the necessary information for them to do their own critical thinking (such as being wary of allegations made by the media) and encourage open discussion with their doctors in all matters concerning the contraceptive pill.

If you manage to read the entire thing, you automatically win a bag of 1000 gummy bears that you can claim if you ever meet me in person.

In order to make sure that my comic is accurate, I asked for the help of Lyne Massicotte, a clinical biochemist. Lyne, whose work I greatly admire, is the cofounder – with her partner Mathieu – of Nasci Biologie Médicale, a medical lab specializing in male fertility. Thanks Lyne!

Translated by Qian Li (Pharm.D. candidate), proofread by Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson.

 

Comic header

 

The car analogy

 

Scary headlines about the Pill

The risk-benefit ratio

Risks and benefits associated with the Pill

The Pill and DVT blood clots pulmonary embolism

Pill generations vary in estrogen and progestin

 

Practical examples

 

Conclusion

 

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The NO-PANIC Guide to the Birth Control Pill – Part I

The no-panic guide to the birth control pill

For quite some time, I’ve been trying to put together a comic on the birth control pill (a.k.a. “the Pill”). I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about: its risks (e.g. blood clots, cancer), its benefits, available alternatives, etc.

And yet, I was staring at a blank page. Utterly stuck.

Then, at some point, I finally discovered the reason for my mental block: it’s impossible to tackle the risks of the Pill without first understanding how it works.

After all, how many women know…

  • How the menstrual cycle and ovulation work?
  • What are the purposes of the different structures of the female reproductive system, such as the ovaries and the endometrium?
  • What are the roles of estrogen and progesterone?
  • How does hormonal contraception work?

Answer: not many.

It’s easy to frighten people with a list of all the serious side effects of hormonal contraception (because they do exist), but it’s much garder to paint the whole picture.

This is Part 1 of my “No-Panic Guide to the Birth Control Pill.” The second (and last) part will specifically deal with the risks and benefits of the Pill.

In order to make sure that my comic is accurate, I asked for the help of Lyne Massicotte, a clinical biochemist. Lyne, whose work I greatly admire, is the cofounder – with her partner Mathieu – of Nasci Biologie Médicale, a medical lab specializing in male fertility. Thanks Lyne!

Translated by Qian Li (Pharm.D. candidate), proofread by Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson.

 

Introduction

 

The brain releases FSH and the ovaries start working on the folliclesEstrogen appears and LH stimulates the ovaries even furtherThe ovum begins its journey and progesterone prepares the endometrium

Fertilization or period

 

How the Pill works A

How the Pill works B

 

How the Minipill works

 

Other types of hormonal contraception

 

Conclusion

 

The no-panic guide to the birth control pill part II (header)

 

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5 Bad Tips About Sugar

5 bad tips about sugar (header)

Look like sugar has become public enemy #1.

Some of the newfound concerns are completely justified, but some are not. Actually, it’s become one of these black-or-white craze, where one website tells you to cut all sugar from your diet, whereas another one claims it’s harmless.

And to tell the truth, I’m kind of pissed off about everything we’ve learned regarding the industry in the last few years, so I agree that something has to change.

(And as it happens, I’m especially irritated by the whole juicing fad, which is totally related to this, although most people don’t realize it.)

Obviously, a single comic strip can’t cover the whole subject, but I’ve selected 5 common beliefs that, I think, come from a poor understanding of the core issues we’re facing here.

Nope, you won’t have to go sugar-free (or keto).

But yep, you may have to rethink how you eat quite a bit.

Many thanks to Catherine Lefebvre, registered dietitian, for inspiring and reviewing this comic!

Translated by Patricia Rainville; proofread by Stéphanie Alcaraz-Robinson.

 

 

5 bad tips about sugar (title)

 

Don't eat too much fruit, it's full of sugar (1)

Don't eat too much fruit, it's full of sugar (2)

 

 

Choose your sugar wisely and natural

Choose your sugar wisely like agave maple honey

 

 

Skip dessert

 

 

 

 

Fat is more damaging to your health than sugarBig sugar strategies 1

 

 

Sugar recommended daily intake

Sugary drinks at the pharmacy

P.S. This comic is NOT AT ALL an endorsement of the ketogenic or low-carb-high-fat (LCHF) diets. Both are ill-advised for most people. Too much sugar OR too much fat isn’t a good idea; that’s the whole point of a balanced, plant-rich diet (e.g. the Mediterranean diet).

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