Question Your Meds

How many times have you visited your doctor and been handed a prescription? It is probably more often than not. Let’s face it – we even expect to receive a prescription. We’ve become accustomed to thinking that we need to take a pill for all that ails us – it makes us feel like there is a neat, easy-to-take remedy when we feel bad and need a quick fix.

The use of prescription medication is rising, and for a number of reasons. As mentioned, we want to feel better, so there is patient-driven demand. In addition, many doctors also fear the consequences of under-medicating – they do not want to take the chance of malpractice charges if they fail to prescribe all possible medication. Finally, “Big Pharma” invests enormous financial resources designed to persuade doctors, regulators, governments, and even the public, that prescriptive pills are the answer.

Simply put, we’ve become a nation of pill happy people. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Take Charge Of Your Healthcare

Nothing is more important than your health – so it is important to be an active participant in your own healthcare. Part of taking charge of your health means being more proactive, and becoming better informed about healthcare and life choices. Once you start learning more about your body, the way that it works, the way that it is fueled, and the way that it moves, you will naturally start to adopt a more healthful mindset and lifestyle.

Many people refer to this as holistic living. Being mindful of your body and adopting a more natural approach to healthcare, getting plenty of rest and exercise, and healthy eating are all preventative measures that will result in fewer visits to the doctor.

Of course, we all get sick, and we all need to visit the doctor from time to time. The great thing about being more aware of your health is you are now able to actively participate in your health decisions. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about any treatment plans or prescriptions. Is medication the only way forward? Are there any natural alternatives? What are the side effects, and will I need medication to counter those effects too? Armed with an understanding of how your body works, and your unique bodily needs, you will be able to have an informed discussion with your doctor, instead of simply taking the first pill offered to you.

Another option for a more natural approach to healthcare: Consider getting to know a naturopathic doctor. A naturopath is a board-certified doctor, but they take a more holistic approach to treating conditions, treating the whole person, not the disease, by helping the body to heal itself. If medication is required, a naturopath will refer back to a regular doctor, although that may be changing soon, at least in California, where Senate Bill SB 538 is being introduced to lift restrictions on naturopathic doctors relating to prescriptions and minor procedures – dramatically widening the availability of holistic healthcare (click here to support this bill).

Misused and Over Prescribed Drugs

Among one of the most commonly prescribed classes of prescription medications are antibiotics; and while they have many important uses and benefits, from minimizing serious health complications to preventing life threatening conditions, there is a propensity for them to be overused or even prescribed unnecessarily.   One of the risks of overusing or misusing them is that they play a role in contributing to antibiotic resistance which doesn’t only affect our medicine, but the food we eat and our livestock, which we have written about previously.   Alarmingly, antibiotic resistance affects over 2 million people and leads to approximately 23,000 deaths each year.

It’s a risk that none of us need to take if we don’t have to. However, if there is a valid reason to take a prescription and your doctor thinks it is absolutely necessary, this is the time to ask questions. We’re not advising that you go against doctor’s orders, but to know all your options. The key is to become your own health advocate. Before the doctor hands over a prescription, ask if you really need to take it. Partner with your doctor and don’t be afraid to speak up and ask if there are alternative solutions.

Our Recommendations

If medication is necessary, we always recommend that you follow your doctor’s instructions. If you do have to take medication, it’s very important that you finish the course. Ask your pharmacist how to take your medication correctly, what side effects there may be, or if there are any special precautions.  Discuss with your doctor about taking a probiotic, and if you do, take it 2 hours apart from other medications. It can be a good idea to “double down” on probiotics for 2-3 weeks after a course of antibiotics to rebuild your gut bacteria.   If you still have questions, call one of our probiotic consultants at 866-4-NATREN, and we will gladly help you.