Have you ever made a simple, innocent off-hand comment, and all hell broke loose?
I was seeing a new patient for an initial appointment. She brought in all of her medications, as I requested. She was taking four medications prescribed in the past year by her physician.
She made the statement “I have been taking these pills for a year and I am not getting any better.” I responded by saying, “Well you know these medications you take everyday cure nothing.”
“What do you mean they cure nothing?” she asked. I explained that all of her medications manipulated a lab value or changed a symptom, but they did not produce a cure.
She excuses herself. She steps outside and calls her doctor. That’s when the hell broke loose. Once again, I was very happy that I do not prescribe pharmaceuticals.
After her conversation with the doctor, she comes back in and asks me to explain the effects of her medication. After I finished, she makes me promise to write a newsletter about this issue. What was common knowledge to me, was a life changing event for her and she wants everyone to know.
So ….. here’s the essence of my conversation with her…..
….. And to be clear, I am not a medical doctor. I cannot prescribe medications. I cannot and will not tell anyone to stop or change their medications. This is a conversation you have with your doctor, not me.
We are a nation of pill takers. In 2016 retail drug sales exceeded $379,247,789,500.00. If you lost track of all those numbers, that’s $380 BILLION DOLLARS! Our ridiculously expensive healthcare system is built on this model of pharmaceuticals. How effective is our model? Singapore is rated #1 in the world for quality of healthcare. We spend $7,100.00 more, per year, per person, than Singapore – to come in 46th place!
Here’s how we come in 46th? The very sad fact is 86% of these top 50 selling drugs – do not produce a cure. Without a doubt, at times drugs are absolutely life saving. But these are not the top 50 selling drugs that so many of us buy and take on a daily basis.
What do I mean by “they do not produce a cure”? The manner in which many of these drugs work, their method of action, is by suppressing a normal body function. By suppressing body function they do change lab numbers and lessen symptoms, but as a group, they cure nothing. And they allow the underlying disease process to continue.
For example a class of drugs used to treat elevated blood pressure is beta blocker. “BLOCKER,” there is the suppression of function, it’s in the name. They suppress the heart rate. The heart is a pump, by slowing the pump, blood pressure will decrease. But the volume of blood pumped also decreases along with all the nutrients, oxygen, and the body’s immune protection so people quite often experience fatigue. While the drug lowers blood pressure it does so at the expense of energy, vitality and a decrease in overall health.
Once you start these drugs, you take them for the rest of your life. If you stop the drugs, the elevated blood pressure returns. Other classes of blood pressure meds include; angiotensin-converting enzymes INHIBITORS, angiotensin II receptor BLOCKERS, and calcium channel BLOCKERS. The truth is in the name!
The underlying cause that is creating the elevated blood pressure is still there, nothing has been cured.
Popular drugs for mood and depression are Selective Serotonin Reuptake INHIBITORS (SSRIs). Serotonin is a chemical the body naturally produces that lifts our mood. Depression can be a consequence of lower serotonin levels. SSRIs don’t actually increase serotonin levels, they just inhibit a hormone from breaking down as it normally should, so it stays in circulation longer. They provide short term relief, but over time they actually further deplete serotonin levels and at some point stop working. The underlying cause that originally lowered the serotonin levels is still active. No cure has occurred.
Elevated cholesterol is treated with drugs called statins. Statins inhibit an enzyme which produces cholesterol. Statins can damage the liver, cause muscle tissue breakdown resulting in joint and muscle pain, and again do not cure anything. If stains are stopped, cholesterol levels increase. That underlying cause is still present.
One more example is diabetic medications. One of their methods of action is they partially inhibit the absorption of nutrients from the food we eat. Less food absorbed means less calories absorbed which translates to lower blood sugar numbers. But at the expense of the body not being well fed due to the blocked nutrition absorption.
These are just a few examples, there are many more classes of these suppressive drugs. There are acid BLOCKERS and proton pump INHIBITORS for heartburn and reflux. There are a host of immune SUPPRESSIVE drugs (think steroids) prescribed for everything from allergies, skin rash, joint pain, lung and respiratory issues, to inflamed bowel. And many more.
As you can see there are common threads with all of these medications:
• Inhibiting normal body function
• Underlying cause and disease process continues
• Drugs must be taken forever
Our approach at Living Ayurveda takes the opposite path. Our goal is to identify the actual underlying cause that is creating the problem. These above mentioned “diagnoses” are actually secondary symptoms, they are not the real issue. There is an underlying body dysfunction occurring, often multiple acting in concert, to produce these secondary symptoms/diagnoses. Our approach is to identify the actual underlying cause and resolve the issue at that level. We do this by repairing the dysfunction and up-regulating the body’s normal processes. Drugs mask symptoms, we actually fix the issue! By repairing the root cause, these secondary symptoms are permanently resolved , vitality is increased, and in the process, you get healthier!
Because we are each unique individuals, with our own unique genes and tendencies, our solutions to health issues are unique for each person. For example, our recommendations for 3 people given the same diagnosis of elevated cholesterol will be unique and specific to each of them. We do not take the “one size fits all” approach so common in medicine today. By working in this manner, your health and vitality increase without experiencing the negative side effects of medications.
We look at each patient in their totality. Everything in one’s life affects one’s health. Jobs, relationships, stress, age, diet, activity level – all affect our health for better or worse. Our job is to identify the true cause of disease and create a health plan which includes all of these factors to not only resolve your symptoms but to continue to increase your health over the long term.
Sometimes medications are necessary. Realistically, most medications should only be taken short term while the true underlying cause is being addressed. If you are taking medications, it is absolutely essential that you understand:
1. Why you are taking them
2. Their method of action (curative vs. suppressive)
3. How long you will be taking them
Good health is a choice. Be well, choose wisely.