Medications can save lives if used properly in a crisis and help manage conditions for those unwilling or unable to change their habits. I certainly do not recommend readers stop a crucial medication without discussion with the doctor. (It is exceptionally dangerous to suddenly stop psychiatric medications.)
But, wouldn’t our ancestors be astounded to learn that 20% of the US population takes five or more drugs each day? And, for context, that the effects of those meds in any one year kill more Americans than breast cancer, gun shots, auto accidents, AIDS, home fires, tornadoes, floods, and workplace accidents. Actually, to come close to the total annual drug deaths you have to add the total of two recent wars and the 911 tragedy! Those shocking numbers don’t even reflect the serious under-reporting or the fact that drugs contribute to deaths blamed on other causes.
Most drugs, even those originally based on herbs, are now new-to-the-planet new-to-humans chemicals. It is no surprise that they all have side effects. That is because their mode of action is typically to poison a natural bodily process in order to calm a symptom or force a test result change.
Unfortunately, too often meds also interfere with a process that we need. For example, statin type cholesterol drugs interfere with our ability to make heart protective CoQ10. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Advil, Aleve, Aspirin, Celebrex, Motrin, and many more) calm pain, but as you may know, also weaken the lining of our intestinal tract and cause thousands of deaths annually from internal bleeding. As pharmacist, Suzy Cohen, points out in Drug Muggers, virtually all drugs interfere with nutrients. As I note in Natural Alternatives to Nexium and other acid blockers, among other problems, those heartburn drugs interfere with critically important vitamin B12 and magnesium.
Medications are too often prescribed when there is no proven necessity. For example, cholesterol lowering drugs are given to the elderly when studies show they live longer without them. Or that up to 50% of the time, antibiotics are wrongly used for viruses or when watchful waiting would be better. (In the Probiotic Cure I detail the tragic price we pay when antibiotics kill off our good bacteria.) Drugs are given in doses that are arbitrarily too high, for longer than makes sense, and in combinations that have never been tested (polypharmacy).
Try listening to TV drug commercials with your eyes closed so that you aren’t distracted by the pretty pictures. The potentially lethal side effects they list so casually may not even be the worst problem. Because doctors are programed to automatically give a medication for any complaint, that there is rarely an effort to find and fix the real cause. It doesn’t help that they receive so little training in other approaches.
Drugs are also routinely used when there are less toxic alternatives…telling that story that is what Healthy by Nature’s radio show and writing is all about. Natural remedies are typically very safe and, because they enhance the body’s fundamental processes rather than interfere with them, they usually provide fringe benefits. While you work on one thing, 2 other things may get better!
The main reason for the overreliance on medications is that pharmaceutical industry money has been proven to corrupt the FDA, the US Congress, state regulators, medical schools, medical journals and even doctors.
Check out this Library Page. (I’ve added this blog copy to it.) At the bottom you will find links to save money on drugs; guides to drug safety (e.g. interactions, identify a pill, side effects, patient comments); statistics on use; evidence of willful wrongdoing by the pharmaceutical industry; radio interviews; and helpful books on the topic.