My basic rule about drugs is to use them in a comprehensive healing program that addresses the underlying reason(s) why you’re sick. I prefer to use more natural, less toxic alternatives if they are available and efficacious. However, sometimes drugs are lifesaving, especially in acute situations. Some of my patients suffer needlessly because they refuse to take a drug that would help them. I encourage these patients to keep an open mind, especially during that period of time when integrative modalities are taking effect. Sometimes a short course of drugs can bridge the gap.
All medications carry a risk/benefit ratio.
If you’re taking an over-the-counter or prescription medication, find out how it works, what side effects it can cause, how it should be taken, and what substance should not be taken at the same time. Knowing the correct dosage is most important, as all drugs can be toxic at higher levels. In general, drugs tend to have a much more narrow therapeutic window (and consequently a much larger chance for toxicity) than nutrients.
Medications can be very problematic. Many routinely administered drugs can cause health problems. Every class of medication has its potential side effects. Antibiotics alone can cause diarrhea, colitis, liver function abnormalities, and decreased blood cell counts. As a culture, we have to stop using antibiotics to the extent we do because bacteria are becoming more and more resistant. In our search for a stronger and stronger “magic bullet,” we are forgetting that often, real healing comes from the patients own immune system.
- Anti-inflammatory medications can cause gastritis, ulcers, bleeding, and kidney problems.
- Blood pressure medications can cause impotence and fatigue.
- Blood thinners can cause abnormal bleeding problems.
- The Pill is associated with vascular complications (stroke, heart attack, blood clots) and nutritional deficiencies.
- Steroids suppress the immune system and can allow infections to become more virulent or widespread.
- Synthetic estrogens are associated with endometrial cancer and breast cancer.
There are far too many medications and side effects to mention here. All medications carry a risk/benefit ratio. When I find it necessary to prescribe a drug for one of my patients, I give the smallest effective dose and simultaneously recommend natural immune system modulators. (It should be noted that in certain conditions, such as Lyme disease, the effective dose may be higher than it is for less onerous infections.) In our practice, we always give nutrients and herbs with antibiotics to promote the immune system and to protect the gastrointestinal tract and liver.
- Interfere with digestion and with the absorption and utilization of nutrients
- Cause organ strain (different drugs tax different organs, including the liver and the kidneys)
- Elevate your body’s need for certain nutrients used in the detoxification process
- Raise your need for antioxidants to combat free radical damage
If you’re taking any medications, particularly for an extended period of time, make sure you’re eating an optimal diet and getting healthy doses of antioxidants and the specific nutrients and herbs you need to protect the organ(s) that may be affected by your medication.