2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

The Dark Side of Prescription Drugs

Posted on 06/26/2006

One of the many reasons I decided to learn more about using nutritional supplements to treat various medical problems 15 years ago was this: I was getting nervous about the medical profession’s over-reliance on prescription drugs.

“A pill for every ill” seems to describe much of health care today, and many of my patients tell me it seems every encounter with other doctors ends with some medication being dispensed. I actually remember a professor telling me, “The patient will feel cheated if she doesn’t get a prescription.”

The practice of trying to solve medical problems with pills is even more prevalent now than when I was in medical school years ago. These days, consumers are barraged by television ads extolling the virtues of drugs for everything from heartburn to happiness. Doctors are themselves besieged by pharmaceutical salespeople (drug reps) who swamp them with brochures, note pads, and embossed pens for the latest drug, often a copycat of another drug already on the market.

The result is that we’re taking far more prescription meds than we possibly could need. Consider these facts:

  • The Journal of the American Medical Association has reported that each year approximately 120,000 people DIE from correctly taken prescription drugs, usually from either a devastating side effect or a previously unknown allergy or an inappropriate combination of two or more drugs.
  • Most prescription medications are taken for what could be called lifestyle illnesses. Our unhealthful diets make us obese, raise our cholesterol and our blood pressure, and give us diabetes. Millions of patients are popping one or more pills, often several times a day, for each of these. Would you really need an expensive medicine for heartburn if you simply ate smaller meals earlier in the day and limited your coffee and alcohol? Are you one of the millions who smoke and carry an asthma inhaler in your purse? Are you using an overpriced arthritis “anti-inflammatory” that has been shown to be no more effective than aspirin?
  • Antibiotics, the cash-cow of the industry, are handed out like trick-or-treat candy, often when a doctor feels pressured by the patient. In actual fact, the average person probably needs antibiotics no more than six times in her entire life. Colds, flu, and bronchitis are virtually always caused by viruses, which are unaffected by antibiotics. If an antibiotic seemed to work for you once for one of these conditions, it was a placebo effect.

Given all this, you might want to review the meds you’re taking and ask your doctor why you’re taking each one. Then ask which drugs you can drop. Also, the very next time (and every time, for that matter) your doctor reaches for the prescription pad, say “Could we talk about some lifestyle changes first? I think I might be able to take care of this myself.”


Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!

Health Tips

Dr. Edelberg’s Health Tips contain concise bits of advice, medical news, nutritional supplement and pharmaceutical updates, and stress relief ideas. With every Health Tip, you’ll also receive an easy, delicious, and healthful recipe.

When you sign up to receive Health Tips, you can look forward to Dr. Edelberg’s smart and very current observations arriving in your in-box weekly. They’re packed with helpful information and are often slightly irreverent. One of the most common responses to the tips is “I wish my doctor talked to me like this!”

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our

patient-portal

The Knowledge Base

Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Telemedicine – Now Available at WholeHealth Chicago

In order to maintain your continuity of care, WholeHealth Chicago now offers telemedicine appointments with most of our practitioners. During a telemedicine visit, you and your healthcare provider can review medical history, discuss symptoms, arrange for prescriptions, and more. When necessary, labs and diagnostic imaging can be ordered from a facility near your home, and our Natural Apothecary can ship supplements quickly to your door.

Please contact Patient Services for details and scheduling a telemedicine appointment, or to change a regular appointment to telemedicine by calling 773-296-6700.

We’re looking forward to meeting with you in our virtual consultation room soon.

DIAGNOSE-IT-YOURSELF: COVID-19

Far and away, the commonest phone call/e mail I receive asks about COVID-19 diagnosis.
Just print this out, tape it on your refrigerator door, and stay calm.

ALLERGIES

• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Red, swollen eyes
• Itchy eyes and nose
• Tickly throat
• No fever

COLD
• Runny nose
• Sneezing
• Sore throat
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild dry cough
• Rarely a low fever

STREP THROAT
• Painful sore throat
• Hurts to swallow
• Swollen glands in neck
• Fever

FLU (Standard seasonal flu)
• Fever
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Sudden onset over few hours
• Headache
• Sore throat
• Fatigue, sometimes quite severe
• Muscle aches, sometimes quite severe
• Rarely, diarrhea

CORONAVIRUS-COVID 19
• Shortness of breath
• Fever (usually above 100 degrees)
• Dry cough (no mucus)
• Slow onset (2-14 days)
• Mild muscle aches
• Mild fatigue
• Mild sneezing

Recent Health Tips

  • Commonly Missed Diagnosis: Early Autoimmune Disease

    Amazingly enough, there are more than 100 different autoimmune conditions, which collectively are responsible for more chronic illness and disability in women than heart disease and cancer combined. Men can get autoimmune diseases too, but the predominance in women (2:1) is striking and also puzzling, though current thinking attributes this susceptibility to a combination of genes and hormones. Because autoimmune conditions can affect any area Read More

  • Six Commonly Missed Diagnoses: B12 Deficiency

    You’re pretty sure you know your body and you tell your doctor you’re just not feeling right. You’re tired, maybe a little depressed, a bit achy. Maybe your digestion is “off.” The list of foods you can’t seem to enjoy is definitely longer. Your doctor’s empathic, not at all dismissive of your symptoms, but after a physical exam and some apparently appropriate tests she can’t Read More

  • What is Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and Can It Help Me?

    Ten years ago April marks the anniversary of the first time I wrote about low-dose naltrexone (LDN). I described it as an orphan drug, meaning that its patent had long ago expired, that it was generic, and that it was not owned by any one company. For these reasons and because they’d never recoup their investment, no Big Pharma company was interested in pursuing the Read More

Join our Discount Program

Member benefits include 10% off all your purchases. Low, one-time membership fee of $25 ($35 for family).

MORE INFORMATION

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!