“The best doctor gives the least medicines."
We have become a culture of excessive drug use. In addition to the dangers from using recreation drugs, like alcohol, tobacco and cannabis an even greater threat has arisen from the unprecedented increase in the consumption of more prescription and non-prescription medication than ever before. Is this a healthy sign? I think not! It was Benjamin Franklin who said, "The best doctor gives the least medicines." My perspective is, "The healthiest patient needs the least medicines."
Though modern medicines sometimes save lives and alleviate suffering, many of these drugs create unwanted side effects, new illnesses, toxicity and even death. Drug induced disease is now a common everyday reality. One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that each year in American hospitals over two million patients suffered serious drug reactions, resulting in over 100,000 deaths. However, another article in JAMA estimated that only 5% of drug reactions are actually reported and that in reality over 400,000 people are killed every year by these dangerous chemicals. Some experts now consider adverse drug reactions to be the number one cause of death in the US.
MOST DISEASES ARE LIFESTYLE RELATED
Medical research clearly shows that most of our common diseases – heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis and many cancers are the result of unhealthy lifestyles. They can often be prevented and even reversed by simple interventions like optimal nutrition, vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements, exercise and effective stress management. These natural alternatives are much, much safer than drugs.
Why then are so many drugs still used? Modern medical training puts little emphasis on natural therapies and the financial interest of the pharmaceutical industry remains a powerful influence. Also many patients have come to want and even demand drug therapy for a quick fix. They accept the risks and the side effects because if the doctor says it’s OK then it is OK.
KNOW THE DRUGS YOU TAKE
The biggest reason why prescription drugs require a prescription is because they are potentially dangerous and doctors and pharmacists do try hard to reduce the hazards of medicines. The information on a drug’s effects is generally provided by the drug manufacturer in a leaflet included inside the box with your medicine, but few patients read or understand it.
I suggest that you ask the doctor to fully explain the risks and side effects of any drug prescribed, and then find out why you should take those risks. If you do not get a straight answer, or if the doctor is "too busy" to discuss this with you, then you should consider seeing another physician.
You can also get this information from a reference book called the Physicians' Desk Reference (PDR). You may use the internet, ask your pharmacist for a look or go to the local library to see a copy. The PDR lists drugs under type, generic and brand name and even has pictures of some medicines. It is easy to find information on any drug but be ready for some unpleasant reading. Most drugs have more warnings and precautions than uses, more dangers than benefits.
CONSIDER AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
Double Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling called the use of toxic chemicals to suppress disease symptoms, toximolecular medicine. Pauling proposed another approach called orthomolecular medicine where one uses natural substances that help in supporting and restoring normal cell functions, allowing the body to heal and restore itself to health. I use this latter approach as much as possible to complement or often to replace drug therapy.
When the body’s cellular function is normalized, you health is restored. The orthomolecular approach uses food and nutrition, vitamins, minerals, herbs and natural remedies to rebalance the body and make it well again. The approach of just using potentially toxic drugs to suppress symptoms can make and keep you sick.
If you are on prescription drugs, recognize that there may be safer, more natural, and more effective alternatives. Consider consulting a physician practicing orthomolecular or preventive medicine to address the causes of your problem.
IF YOU ARE ALREADY TAKING MEDICATION:
Anything that you can do to be healthier is likely to reduce the amount of drugs that your doctor would need to prescribe for you. A good doctor should certainly want the patient to take as little medicine as is necessary. All drugs carry a risk.
But do not just suddenly stop your medication especially if you are taking powerful drugs. Discuss with your health care provider the possibility of reducing the drugs prescribed. Some doctors are happy to work with motivated patients who want to avoid medicines when possible. It is best to work with your physician who should supervise the reduction of your drugs while monitoring your progress.
However, you the patient must be willing to make the necessary lifestyle changes. For example, the overweight patient with high blood pressure must commit to an effective weight loss program if she wants to reduce the need for blood pressure medicines. The patient with a stomach problem must be willing to change his diet. Everything has a price.
If your doctor believes that you cannot reduce the level of your medication at all, you can honor that viewpoint but a second medical opinion might be in order. Look out for and report to your doctor right away any negative effects of the medication you take.
Drugs are the common options for treating illness but are however capable of doing harm, and great caution should be used in prescribing and taking them. If proper nutrition, a few supplements and a health lifestyle bring you good health, then there may be no need for medication. .