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Prescription Drug Dangers

Older woman taking medicine from a younger woman
February 23, 2015 (Updated: October 22, 2019)
Lily Moran

An epidemic is taking our nation by storm. But the source is not some mutant virus or superbug. No, it’s much sneakier and more sinister. And you probably have it in your own home.

Prescription drugs.

You may be wondering how something that’s supposed to improve your health or save your life could actually be hurting—even killing—you. Just look at the stats, and you’ll understand.

Nearly 50 percent of Americans—and 90 percent of adults 65 or older—take at least one prescription drug. In 2009, 4.6 million people visited ERs for prescription drug-related issues—half of which were adverse reactions.  And about 100,000 Americans die every year from side effects of prescription meds that they took exactly as directed by their doctors.

Here’s a short list of dangerous, sometimes life-threatening side effects you can experience with some of the most common pharmaceuticals:

  • Metformin (Glucophage)—This popular diabetes drug not only depletes B vitamins but also causes serious kidney damage.
  • Sleep aids—Temazepam (Restoril), zolpidem (Ambien), and other sleep meds have been found to increase the risk of not only cancer, but death. People have also reported bizarre behaviors such as binge eating, driving, and having sex while asleep.
  • Statins—Cholesterol-lowering statins are known to drain reserves of the important nutrient coenzyme Q10. This can result in fatigue and weakened muscles. Another little-known side effect is amnesia.
  • Antidepressants—Various selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft), have been linked to higher risk of suicidal or violent behavior, especially in younger people.
  • Blood thinners—Dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto) increase the risk of bleeding events. The real problem is that, unlike other blood thinners such as warfarin, these drugs have no antidote to stop the uncontrolled bleeding. This can result in severe injury or death.

I could go on and on. But you get the picture. In certain situations, short-term use of drugs such as antibiotics can be lifesavers by knocking out an infection. But taking medications long term to “manage” conditions such as diabetes, depression and the like can prove to be seriously harmful.

There’s no need to fall prey to the dangers of prescription drugs. Safer options are available. Let me tell you what we recommend.

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Save Yourself From Pharmaceuticals

The first step toward freedom from medication is to make a list of all the medications you’re taking. Next, ask your doctor to help you develop a plan to wean yourself off the drugs and onto natural alternatives wherever possible. Nutritional supplements and herbs are easier on the body, usually get the same results, and often reduce concerns about risky side effects and interactions. Using this approach, more often than not, any mysterious or bothersome symptoms go away leaving you feeling healthier than ever.

We also stress the importance of healthy lifestyle. If you take good care of yourself to begin with, you can usually eliminate the need for most prescription drugs.

Follow a diet that focuses on whole, unprocessed, organic foods. Stay away from sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and trans fats, all of which promote disease and have no nutritional value.

Also be sure to exercise regularly. Think of your body as a machine that needs to be maintained through daily movement. Your workouts should include aerobic/cardio (walking, running, biking, dancing, elliptical machines, etc.) and strength/weight training. For an even more well-rounded program, you might consider adding yoga, tai chi, Pilates, or some other exercise that stretches the muscles and enhances flexibility.

And don’t forget to decrease stress. Prolonged stress leads to chronically elevated levels of the hormone cortisol. Sustained high cortisol affects bones, muscles, digestion, metabolism, mental health, immunity, and endocrine function (to name a few).

Do whatever it takes to let go of your burdens. Some people like to engage in talk therapy with a counselor or psychologist or lean on a trusted pastor or support group. Others may choose deep breathing, meditation, prayer, or exercise. All of these are effective stress-busting tools. Find something that works for you, and do it often.

Finally, be sure you’re taking at least a multivitamin, vitamin D, and omega-3 essential fatty acids every day. These nutrients provide a solid foundation for health and well-being. They also boost immunity and protect against disease.

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