Let's suppose someone e.g. an athlete is abusing some medicinal products such as petites, steroids or some human/animal hormones like HHT etc to arrive at a short term goal, not knowing that it can cause many disorders for him in the long-term. Liver problems, problems with kidneys, cardio problems, male fertility problems etc.

It is just the consequences of abusing those standard drugs and only in sport area. But there are many other medicines which can harm body's other organs in some ways. For instance, there is a medicine called "Dexamethasone" (the generic name, perhaps it differs in the US) in the category of "carticosteroids" which can harm you by blocking calcium absorption by your body for a period of many months.

There is no doubt that it would impose some side effects to your health system. Although the mentioned drug has passed its clinical analysis, but it lunched into the market several years ago, just because there was no any cost-effective and affordable replacement for it. So how one can overlook such a thing? Nevertheless, this was not what I was going to imply.

I'm not an MD or pharmacist and do not have quite information about pharmaceutical affairs. I am just looking for an idiomatic and natural way to imply the sentence below in English.

P.S. We know that almost every chemical medication has some particular side effects on one or even more body organs. Whereas based on our traditional ways to heal many diseases, some older people in our country believe that every medication can damage your body, although, it can heal one illness at the same time. In this regard, we have a saying about all chemical drugs. I need to know how a native speaker would indicate the following sentence in a natural way:

  • Every medicine heals one place, but harms a hundred of other places in you (meaning in your body.)

Where "a hundred" is a way of emphasis on the possible degree of the side effects.

  • I like the idiom pros and cons Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 11:20
  • 1
    Your phrase "many side-effects* expresses that thought well.
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 12:41
  • 1
    @A-friend Pretty much, though "every medicine" sounds a bit awkward. Try "Medicine heals, but it can also have many side-effects".
    – Lawrence
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 13:26
  • 2
    What you're trying to express is factually incorrect & you are looking for ways to polish it. Consider not saying it at all or starting with a correct statement. Many people prefer or believe in traditional or natural healing, which is fine. But if you are going to make comparisons to the use or risks of medicines, actual data is readily available. You weaken your case by using demonstrably false statements. Rather than trying to make dogma more eloquent, start with a solid foundation. You can make your point without needing to resort to claims that call the rest of your message into question.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 22:53
  • 1
    @fixer1234: In most of his questions, A-friend has been looking for ways to express an idea sententiously. He has been looking for maxims and proverbs and "folksy" set phrases. It appears that A-friend is doing so here in this question as well. In that context, the (real) distortions of fact which you (rightly) point out are not relevant, and the phrase "Medicines do more harm than good" would be a valid answer to the question linguistically, even though it flies in the face of current science. It is how a native speaker (one with not much knowledge of science) might express the idea.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 22, 2017 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


The question is about a local expression stemming from a general distrust of medications. You have already provided a literal translation and ask how a native English speaker would say that. Other than variations and permutations of the same literal words, the answer would have to be a common expression of comparable meaning.

This question involves both language and cultural differences. Expressions with directly equivalent meaning in English wouldn't be common, mainstream expressions. The great majority of native English speakers in the US, and I suspect some other countries, generally embrace medicine and would not have an expression with that same meaning, or be likely to routinely express that meaning in a sentence. So it would be speculation as to exactly what an equivalent native English expression would be.

However, the corollary you describe in the clarification would be something native speakers would commonly discuss. So I'll focus on what would be culturally equivalent for most native speakers.

From the clarification, the corollary is the risks associated with intentional abuse or the casual use of drugs that can have serious side effects.

It's focused on those medications that can have serious side effects, as opposed to all medications in general (a fundamental difference in meaning from your expression). These would be side effects that are seriously harmful in a long-term way, the kind of thing that would create a new condition needing treatment.

"Harming in a hundred other places" may be a way that evolved to express the general concept of great harm, but it is the wrong analogy for the corollary. The issue isn't the number of things that can be affected, but the seriousness of the risk; the potential "dire consequences".

"Heal" is also not a good term here. It's probably the right meaning for your expression but not for the corollary. It implies restoring damage to its normal condition. Part of what is covered in the corollary is using drugs for enhancement, which was probably not conceived of when your expression was coined. So a more general term, like "benefit" would be better.

The culturally equivalent expression would be something along these lines:

Some medications can produce a desired benefit, but intentional abuse or failing to follow recommended precautions can have dire consequences.

While a native speaker might say something like that in a clinical or technical setting, they probably would not in casual conversation. That would likely be less precise.

There are endless ways in which that could be said less precisely, including something like, "Drugs can really mess you up." Surprisingly, that common "street" expression for the corollary is not too different in flavor from your expression.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .