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

Time To Seriously Rethink Prescription Drugs

Over the past few months, you may have noticed a spate of new warnings about commonly used prescription drugs, and even non-prescription drugs. Just last week, the FDA issued urgent precautions about the serious risks of non-aspirin NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which worldwide are probably the most overused medications of all. Go into any drugstore and you can choose from several brands of the two over-the-counter NSAIDs, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Or your doctor may have written you a prescription for the NSAIDs celoxib (Celebrex), etodolac (Lodine), meloxicam (Mobic), or any of a dozen others. When she gave you the rx, she probably warned you about the most common side effect of all NSAIDS, an upset stomach. NSAIDS (including aspirin, which is, if you didn’t know, an NSAID itself ) are the number one cause of intestinal bleeding.

But now with the fresh FDA warning your doc needs to warn you about the seriously increased risk of heart attack or stroke with non-aspirin NSAIDS. Not wanting to overwhelm you, she probably didn’t mention they’re also are a common cause of kidney failure. And if you’re struggling to get pregnant, NSAIDs lower egg production and progesterone levels.

Risky drugs are common
Also appearing in news easily available to physicians, though less so to the general public:

If you’re a typical American, you entered the world of prescription drugs as a child, likely for some utterly unnecessary antibiotic. In your teens, you may have been handed birth control pills, an antidepressant, or an ADD med to improve your grades. You might look back on your 20s as relatively prescription drug-free, but perhaps you were prescribed something for allergies, mood, migraine, or irritable bowel. By your 50s or 60s, you could be up to a dozen individual pills a day, with inhalers, eye drops, medicated skin patches, and steroid creams thrown in for good measure.

All are powerful drugs, and each and every one is linked to a smorgasbord of side effects, Just once in your life open the Torah-length drug package insert and spend an evening reading the whole thing, beginning to end.

Also, there’s the fact that nobody is really certain what happens when you take two, three, or four prescription drugs simultaneously. Although the new electronic medical systems send out potential drug interaction alerts to both physicians and pharmacists, each of us is biochemically unique and serious drug reactions/interactions usually come straight out of the blue.

Let’s consider how most prescription drugs work
Understanding how rx drugs function is essential as we consider the undeniably safer route of alternative therapies, from exercise, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbs to acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic, meditation, yoga, and nutritional and functional medicine.

Most prescription drugs block or inhibit some usual and customary biochemical process in your body. You’ve probably noticed the warlike “anti,” “block,” and “inhibit” themes in drug names: beta and calcium channel-blockers and ACE inhibitors for high blood pressure; antibiotics (anti=against, bios=life) that kill both harmful and helpful bacteria; proton pump inhibitors; anti-inflammatories; serotonin reuptake inhibitors; birth control pills that block ovulation. Even the mouthful “HMG-CoA reductase inhibition” is how statins lower cholesterol.

The problem with this pharmaceutical modus operandi (and everyone in conventional medicine knows this, but prefers not to think about it) is that when you block a physiologic process at point A, you invariably get downstream effects from points B to Z. If the action at Point A does something useful, and you can live without noticing the B through Z side effects, then Big Pharma has multibillion dollar drug in its patent vault.

Being only human (according to the Supreme Court at any rate), Big Pharma does try to cover up what they know about the B through Z chaos their drug may be causing. Only after side effects are reported much later (heart attack risks with NSAIDs, for example, decades after the drugs’ release on the market) is the public finally warned.

The main difference between the warlike language of pharmaceutical treatments and those of alternative therapies is this: virtually all alternative therapies work by enhancing the self-healing capacities of your body.

Three aspects of illness and rx drugs
Consider three aspects of illness and prescription meds generally agreed upon by both patients and their physicians:

  1. We develop most of our chronic health issues via a combination of genetic risk and unhealthful lifestyle.
  2. We’re stuck with our genes and in our current healthcare approach we rely on poly-pharmacy to treat the consequences of unhealthful lifestyles.
  3. If instead we focused on making ourselves very healthy (good nutrition, exercise, stress reduction) and used alternative therapies to enhance our self-healing capacity, we’d need far less (if any) medication. Very few conventional physicians would argue this point. On a related note, this must-read article from The Atlantic discusses the general acceptance of alternative modalities by the mainstream health care system.

Less medication, by the way, might consist of lower doses of your current drug, discontinuing some of your medication mainstays, or switching to milder natural treatments like herbs or homeopathics.

So here’s what you can do the next time you’re handed a prescription by me, or whoever your doctor happens to be. Ask us the perfectly reasonable question “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes, ask why, for how long, and, most important, “what can I do to get off this med entirely?”

Don’t be too hasty accepting “Just take it for the rest of your life” from any of us, especially if anyone calls it harmless. You’re encouraged to blurt out, “Hey doc, this stuff is never harmless.”

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

 

 

Leave a Comment


  1. f michael smith says:

    Great insight, Doc. all my Docs are adamant i stay on the statins even though my cholesterol was good and is now excellent. should i up my level of doctor badgering or do you feel that in my case statins are a must due to stents. thanks ~ (this note should not qualify as badgering)

  2. Dr E says:

    Hi Michael
    The presence of the stents indicate you should stay on your statins.

  3. Deb S says:

    And don’t forget to ask about addiction and withdrawal before you start. I know too many people who can’t get off without withdrawal.

  4. Williamoforange says:

    Perhaps it’s best to keep honest medicine enough below the radar of the big oaf of multi-lateral big business so that honest people continue to have a refuge. Thanks guys 🙂

  5. zeljay says:

    I agree. However I have had severe esophagitis and miserable GERD as a result — tried many “natural” remedies under the guidance of an integrated medicine doc. Nothing worked, and I feel so much better on Omeprazole — like night and day. Aware of long term side effects. What’s a person to do?

  6. Dr E says:

    Hi Zeejay
    If you have not done this already, try a food sensitivity elimination diet (eliminate dairy, egg, corn, gluten, citrus and soy for 2-3 weeks) and see if this helps.
    If this doesn’t work, consider seeing a gastroenterologist who can test “esophageal motility.” Some people simply need a med to improve the strength of their esophagus

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "Time To Seriously Rethink Prescription Drugs"
  1. […] Over the past few months, you may have noticed a spate of new warnings about commonly used prescription drugs, and even non-prescription drugs. Just last week, the FDA issued urgent precautions about the serious risks of non-aspirin NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which worldwide are probably the most overused medications of all. Go into any drugstore and you can choose from several brands of the two Read More […]

Join our Newsletter

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

BIRTHDAY

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.

Join our Newsletter

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

Upcoming Workshops

**Pain Relief with Myofascial Balls
Tuesday, October 29, 6-8pm
With Renee Zambo, C-IAYT Yoga Therapist

Course Fee: $65.00
(includes WholeHealth Chicago Myofascial Release Kit, $40 value)

Does that same spot in your neck, shoulders, back or hips seem to bother you every day? Do you have joint aches and pains in the hands and feet? Would you like to learn ways to alleviate that pain and tension?

Join WholeHealth Chicago’s Yoga and Movement Therapist Renee Zambo for an evening of muscle tension release with myofascial therapy balls.

Space is limited and registration is required.
Please register online.
Call the Center for additional information at (773) 296-6700
More>>

Recent Health Tips

  • Dandruff, Fungi, and Cancer of the Pancreas

    It’s an eye-catching title, I’ll admit. But the links are quite real and further research may guide medicine in new directions of cancer prevention and treatment. It all starts in your gut microbiome, the totality of microorganisms–bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi–present in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract, mouth to anus. Until recently, researchers and clinical physicians alike paid virtually no attention to the microbiome and the Read More

  • New Hope For Sinus Sufferers

    When osteopath Dr. Rob Ivker moved to Colorado in the 1980s to set up his family practice, he had no idea that when he stepped off the plane he’d succumb to symptoms of chronic sinusitis that just wouldn’t go away: stuffy nose, thick mucus, pressure behind his cheekbones and above his eyebrows, dull aching headache, and thick goopy drainage in the back of his throat. Read More

  • Director of IV Therapies Katie McManigal, BSN, ANP

    Most people at some point in their lives have had an intravenous (IV) line. An adept nurse warned you about the tiny pinch of the needle as it was smoothly inserted and taped in place.  Then the  fluid dangling above your head slowly started making its way through a tube and into your body. IVs are all over the place in hospitals. They’re seen in Read More

October Sale – Save 20% off UltraMeal Rice

UltraMeal RICE is a tasty, non-dairy, nutritionally fortified, powdered meal replacement for those who want to support healthy body composition but may be sensitive to soy.

Click here to take advantage of this month’s promotion!