According to statistics, 70% of Americans are on at least one prescription drug. Considering we live in a country that prides itself on the “War on Drugs”, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing a very good job of reducing dependency. Part of this is due to direct-to-consumer advertising.
The Most Prescribed Drugs in the United States
According to WebMD the most prescribed drugs in the US are:
- ·Hydrocodone (combined with acetaminophen) – Pain Management
- ·Generic Zocor (simvastatin) – Cholesterol
- ·Lisinopril – Blood Pressure
- ·Generic Synthroid – Thyroid
- ·Generic Norvasc – Angina and Blood Pressure
- ·Generic Prilosec – Antacid
- ·Azithromycin – Antibiotic
- ·Amoxicillin – Antibiotic
- ·Generic Glucophage (metformin) – Diabetes
- ·Hydrochlorothiazide – Blood Pressure
Don’t Believe Everything You See on TV
The first direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertisement came in 1981 in the form of a magazine ad for a new anti-pneumococcal vaccine. Now, ads for drugs appear on television, radio ads, magazines, and billboards on a daily basis.
If you’re struggling with a condition whose symptoms match the an ad you’ve seen, you may be tempted to try it. After all, your doctor has all the necessary information about these drugs and will know best, right?
Prescription drug manufacturers pump out new drugs every six months and send drug representatives out to clinics and hospitals to peddle them hard and fast. Few practicing physicians have the time to thoroughly research any drug before prescribing.
This is where you come in.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Taking a Prescription
If you’re in pain, it can be very tempting to just get on the latest drug and see what happens. Maybe this will be the one that will work, after all. The next time you see your doctor to discuss your condition, ask a few questions after he’s whipped out his prescription pad.
- ·What are Some Possible Alternatives?
- ·What are the Side Effects?
- ·Could it Interact with Anything I’m Taking Now?
- ·Could it Be Addictive?
- ·Is it Prescribed Appropriately or Off-Label?
Asking these questions will do two things:
1) It will show you’re paying attention and are acting as your own best health advocate.
2) It will give you an idea of the type of doctor you’re working with. If he’s dismissive, irritable or downright condescending to you, seek a second opinion immediately.
Natural Alternatives to the Most Over-Prescribed Drugs
Your doctor may never tell you this but there are plenty of natural alternatives to the most over-prescribed drugs on the market. Being aware of them will help you better understand all of your options.
- ·Pain Relief
Chronic pain affects millions, which is why corticosteroids are so heavily prescribed. Although these drugs may work in the short term, they do nothing to address the underlying causes of pain. One of the best treatments for any type of pain condition is a healthy diet. Junk food increases inflammation and contributes to nutritional deficiencies.
Studies have shown that vitamin D helps inhibit inflammatory cytokines.
An herbal compound called boswellia has been used for centuries in Asian and African folk medicine to treat chronic inflammatory illness.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C and medicinal mushrooms have been shown to fight chronic pain by helping your body break down free radicals, which helps decrease inflammation and stabilize the immune system.
Omega 3 fatty acids reduce pain and inflammation. According to one study, fifty-nine percent of chronic pain patients discontinued their use of prescription pain relievers after regular supplementation. Also, I’ve found anti-inflammatory diets like this one, can be very helpful.
Multiple studies have revealed statin drugs to be one of the most dangerous prescription drugs on the market yet doctors still prescribe them by the truckload.
If your doctor has tried to get you to take a statin drug, have him check you for metabolic syndrome as getting this condition under control can help lower your cholesterol naturally.
Eat a primarily plant-based diet with only moderate amounts of grass-fed meat and poultry 3-4 times per week. Get regular physical exercise even if you just take a half-hour or hour-long walk each day.
Also, reduce your stress levels. Most people are completely unaware that stress causes arterial vessels to temporarily expand during a crisis. This can cause inflammation and scarring that cholesterol works to heal when the danger has passed. If too much cholesterol is in your arteries when they close back down, it could bring on a fatal heart attack!
- ·Blood Pressure
To lower your blood pressure naturally, optimize your vitamin D levels, eat a healthy, low-sodium diet, and work to shed those extra pounds. Oh, and when you do use salt, be sure it’s sea salt or, even better pink Himalayan salt. Table salt is filled with unnecessary chemicals such as aluminum and fluoride that have been linked to neurological impairment. Here is another natural blood pressure remedy that has been proven to work.
- ·Thyroid Disease
In an earlier article, I explained about the foolishness of surgery for autoimmune disease. A thyroidectomy that leads to a subsequent lifetime need for a synthetic thyroid hormone is a travesty. If you still have your thyroid gland but are experiencing the symptoms of thyroid disease, try a gluten and casein free diet for a period of at least three months. Undiagnosed intolerance to both of these foods is often linked to thyroid dysfunction.
Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles containing the endocrine-disruptor Bisphenol A (BPA). Drink only from glass, stainless steel or BPA-free plastic bottles.
If your iodine levels are low, you may have a deficiency. Use kelp or an organic liquid iodine supplement.
Heavy metal toxicity is another common cause of thyroid disease. A combination of chlorella, milk thistle, chlorella, turmeric, and cilantro can help eliminate these metals from your cells. Medicinal mushrooms have been shown to be effective as well. Consult with a naturopathic physician to learn the best ways to detoxify with these supplements.
And, as always, eat a whole-food, plant-based diet to reduce inflammation, address nutritional deficiencies and stabilize your immune system.
Back in the 1950’s, cardiologist brothers, Dr. Wilfrid and Dr. Shute prescribed 1,600 to 2,000 International Units of vitamin E each day to eliminate the symptoms of angina without side effects. Vitamin E has an oxygen-sparing effect, prolongs clotting time, acts and an anti-inflammatory and helps break down clots. Use D-alpha tocopherol plus mixed natural tocopherols. Start slowly and gradually increase dosage over time.
- ·Acid Reflux
Proton pump inhibitors are some of the worst types of drugs you can put into your body. Proton pump inhibitors prevent your stomach from producing the acid necessary to break down and absorb nutrients from food. Over time, this can result in crippling nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, and depression.
It may sound counterproductive, but taking a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar before each meal can improve your digestion and reduce your need for acid drugs. Acid reflux sufferers can also find relief from acid attacks with deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). Many have even found this kitchen cure remedy useful in eliminating Acid Reflux.
Studies have shown that doctors over-prescribe antibiotics primarily because patients come in asking for them for every little cold and sniffle. If you are in the grips of a cold or flu, turn to natural antibiotics first. Oregano oil is one of the most powerful natural antibiotics on the planet. The same goes for olive leaf extract, which is so powerful it has even been used to successfully treat antibiotic-resistant MRSA! Loading up on organic garlic and onion when you’re sick can also eradicate offending bacteria while strengthening your immune system.
Most instances of type II diabetes can be treated exclusively through dietary and lifestyle changes. This means, if you’ve been diagnosed with the condition, you can treat it by slowly weaning off processed food and turning to a more holistic diet. The worst foods for diabetics include high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, trans fats, refined flour, and fruit juice. Come on, if Tom Hanks can do it, so can you! There’s even one cure that involves using a natural spice that may already be in your kitchen.
It’s important to note that if you’re currently taking a prescription, don’t just suddenly stop taking it. This can do damage to your health. Instead, seek the option of an open-minded osteopathic physician or naturopathic physician who can assist you in the gradual process of changing your diet and lifestyle for the better.