Pharmaceutical drugs are a huge worldwide industry. But perhaps more than people anywhere else, Americans seem to be dependent on pharmaceutical medications to solve our health problems. At Men’s Fit Club, we believe prevention is the best possible medicine, but we do recognize the need for medical intervention when lifestyle, diet and exercise aren’t enough to overcome an illness or disease. What’s scary is facing the truth that any and all medications carry with them a certain level of risk. Man-made substances enter our bodies and interact with the complex chemistry of our various bodily systems, sometimes to our benefit and sometimes with more risks than we anticipated. Here are a few of the most commonly used medications for which it may be worthwhile to explore alternative treatment options:
NOTE – Do not stop taking any medications without first consulting your physician. Never suddenly cease a medication unless directed to do so by a certified medical professional.
Statins: These are cholesterol-lowering drugs (like Lipitor). Currently, over 25% of Americans take these drugs on a regular basis to help keep cholesterol levels within the “desirable” healthy range (Total Count less than 200, LDL less than 100, HDL 60 and above). There has been much discussion about how many people are on these drugs unnecessarily, when proper diet management is often quite effective at lowering cholesterol levels. What many people on statins do not realize, or have not been told is that they cannot simply replace fats with simple carbohydrates. Low-fat salad dressing is an excellent example. The offending cholesterol and saturated fats have been removed from the dressing, but have been replaced with various sugar and sugar derivatives to preserve taste. These sugars throw off insulin levels, thus contributing to further cholesterol imbalance. A person who needs a careful diet ends up on serious statin drugs he or she may not need.
Blood Pressure Control Medications are another over-prescribed remedy to a very real problem. However, nearly a third of all people measured to have high blood pressure have what’s called white coat hypertension, meaning that the stress and anxiety of seeing the doctor is enough to elevate blood pressure levels just high enough to tip the reading from a pre-hypertension measurement to one of level 1 hypertension, or level 1 to level 2, and so on. In a large number of cases, home monitoring of blood pressure, a moderate exercise program, stress management and even dietary supplements like magnesium, olive leaf extract and bitter melon can solve high blood pressure without a pharmaceutical prescription.
Antidepressants: It seems lately that the more that is learned about antidepressants, the more we’re finding that these medications do not reliably work as intended. From deepening depression to suicidal tendencies to bouts of violence to lack of sex drive and beyond, the side effects of these medications are increasingly turning out to be just as bad, if not worse, than the very condition they are trying to treat. Part of this is because clinical depression is a very broad diagnosis that can cover a variety of nuerochemical disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder all fall under the depression header, but are each very different ailments. No wonder antidepressants effect people so differently. In some cases, a regimen of comprehensive lifestyle changes are more effective, easier to manage, and last longer than pharmaceutical remedies. Exercise, reduced sugar intake, vitamin D, vitamin B, St. Johns Wort, and tryptophan can all work to help restore the proper serotonin/dopamine cycles in the brain. When coupled with counseling, this can provide a much more desirable alternative to patients who feel compelled to go off medications because of the foggy feeling that comes with being drugged.
Again, don’t remove yourself from medications without consulting with a physician. But do feel free to discuss your desire to remove unnecessary medications from your daily routine. Together with your doctor, you should be able to decide which supplements or lifestyle changes you’d like to try and add in to your daily life, watching for results or changes, and then responding with the appropriate decrease in medication if medically advised.