You can call it a New Years Resolution or just for the heck of it, but you really need to start cleaning out your medicine cabinet.
The main reason I am suggesting that is not just to organize your life (which we all should anyway). Nor to get rid of expired medications (you should, seriously!). But for a very, very good reason:
You are taking way too many medications.
I promise you that!
I know what you are going to say: “My doctor prescribed them“. Or, “I need them for my medical condition“. I understand your concern and panic, however, ask yourself:
Do you REALLY need all that medicine?
Or even better, do you really WANT to be taking all that medicine?
Ok, I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor. Nor am I going to pretend I know what you need to treat your medical impairment. But a little common sense goes a long way in deciding what you really need versus what you don’t need.
I’m sure you heard about or experienced taking a particular medication and needing another medication to counter the effects of the original medication.
Now imagine if you are taking 3 medications. Or 5 medications?
Imagine also that one medication conflicts with another medication you are already taking. Now imagine next that you have 3 doctors and each one of them prescribes you 3 medications. In this scenario, you are taking 9 medications.
Do you really think each one of your doctors can tell which medicine is causing a certain side effect compared to the next medicine?
I promise you, they can’t. Your doctor has no time to have that kind of knowledge.
Have you ever sat down to read those “description slips” that come with your medicine? You almost need a microscope to read them (for a reason)!
They also have all these complicated and fancy chemical components and descriptions that no one other than doctors can understand. Of course, that’s why people blindly trust doctors to know what these slips contain and that should be enough, right?
The problem with understanding each description slip aside from needing to be a doctor to understand them is the fact that even if the doctor knew about the side effects of each medication, those same slips contain descriptions that require reporting of “new” side effects.
A lot of them describe a lot of “maybes” or “potentially“. There are a lot of unknowns in that particular medication. Now imagine if all of your 9 medications contained the same “maybes” or “potentially“. With so many unknowns, how is it possible for your doctor to know everything that is going on in your body when you are taking those medications?
There are also other considerations
besides those listed above: Allergies!
I’m sure you or a loved one has had some kind of reaction to a medication you or they were taking. We tend to think we are “allergic” to that particular medication. A lot of times this is true. But not for the reasons you think.
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A lot of medications contain “fillers” that are not usually described in those “medication description” slips. If you are allergic to soy, iodine. Or if you’re lactose intolerant or have a wheat allergy, your medication may contain those ingredients and may be causing more damage than good.
You end up thinking you are sick or that you developed a new medical condition. Turns out it may just be your medication!
Wouldn’t it be nice to scratch off another diagnosis from your list of ailments?
When you have a side effect, it’s hard to tell if it’s from the medication chemicals or the fillers! But how do you know if you are having a simple side effect or an allergic reaction? Not all allergic reactions involve “throat closing” or “itching”. Some allergic reactions can be dizziness, upset stomach and other very uncomfortable sensation that makes you think you have a new medical condition.
You even hear these side effects described in TV commercials.
What they’re not telling you is that those reported side effects may have been caused by the fillers and not necessarily the chemical components of the medication.
The test subjects reporting these side effects may not have known that they were allergic to the fillers. All they reported were the side effects. And even if these subjects reported them when filling out their forms to participate in those medical studies, do you really think this would stop Big Pharma from releasing those medications or putting a warning about something as “inconvenient” as a filler? NO!
It’s easier for big pharma to simply report some side effects and some general recommendations that are the most obvious for that medication.
They also like to list things that are more likely to cause people to sue a pharmaceutical company. For example, “this medication may cause heart attacks“. Or “don’t take this medication if you’re pregnant”.
But an upset stomach? Meh, not important to big pharma.
How can you tell if you are having a side effect or an allergic reaction?
Not all allergic reactions involve “throat closing” or “itching”. In reality, the only way to know if you are allergic to a particular medicine is to figure out what “fillers” are used in that medicine.
However, you don’t always find that information on the description slip. It takes almost being a “conspiracy theorist” to find out.
When I want to research about medications I start with the description slip first. After I read it, I search for any terms I didn’t understand the meaning of. Then I go to a WebMD-type website or any other site that has the credibility to provide some medical information (there are plenty out there). From there I go to forums online.
And yes, I check those conspiracy theorists too!
The reason I do this is to gather enough information not only from reliable sources but also from the general public who already tried those medications and did the research for me.
Boy, you can learn a lot in those forums!
Of course, they are not substitutes for your doctors’ knowledge about you and your condition. But never EVER trust your doctor blindly when it comes to them telling you what medications are best for you or whether these meds aren’t going to make you sicker.
Your doctor doesn’t have time to research every medication and every filler out there and how YOUR meds can hurt YOU
It is well known that doctors have very high student loans to pay. In addition to that and because of many lawsuits, doctors pay a very high premium for their medical malpractice insurance. And when I say high I’m talking 5 to 6 figures high per year! That’s a lot of money!
If you add staff, equipment costs, office supplies, utilities and other expenses, running a doctor’s office is very expensive!
Having said that, I’m not saying that your particular doctors are not good people. But even good people need to pay their bills. That’s where things get complicated.
While doctors are in the business of healing people, they are also in the business of making money. Not just to pay the bills but also for the lifestyle associated with being a doctor. Why else would you go for years and years of training?
In order to make money, doctors need to see a lot of patients. How many doctors have you seen that didn’t even take 5 minutes with you? I promise you, a lot. Unless you are one of the lucky ones.
What that means is, doctors, don’t have time to chat or dig deep into your medical conditions or allergies. Much less research your medication fillers. All they have time to do is to prescribe the medicine that best matches the symptoms you describe or diagnoses that are clear on bloodwork or films. That’s it!
How many lawyer commercials have you seen saying:
“if you or a loved one took this medication and this or that happened, Call us…”.
Most people like to blame lawyers for those lawsuits but I tell you, some medications really, REALLY mess up some people. Big pharma should not be able to get away with that.
Sure, lawyers will make money in the process but the work involved in collecting and divulging that information to the public is important and can save thousands of lives since those medications caused serious damage to people, including death. Unfortunately, I see the damage from medications every day in my practice. That’s why I wrote this post.
My point is: Take charge of your treatment and medication regimen. I know you don’t want to be sick or in pain but a lot of medications are making people sick. They may be making YOU sick.
Cleaning Out the Medicine Cabinet
I’m not saying that you should ignore your doctor’s recommendations but I want you to take charge of your treatment and really ask this question: do I really, really need this medication?
Your follow up questions should be: What are the side effects of this medicine? How debilitating are these side effects? Can I go without these meds? Am I addicted to them?
There is a funny (but kinda sad) saying from Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian when he was describing these medicine commercials and their blurb about the side effects of medications, Jerry says “find out what kills me and back it up a little bit”.
I mean, have you really paid attention to those “oh so fast” descriptions of side effects in those commercials? They really describe something close to Seinfeld’s joke. But it’s no joke.
Medications kill and knowing that your doctor doesn’t have the time to really learn about each medication and your known or unknown allergies make you wonder if you really, really need that medication at all.
I have to admit that I have been a victim of that myself. Or better yet, I have been offered medications I was told I would “need” for the rest of my life. But because I’ve always been a curious cat and also because of my job I refused to take them. Am I still doing just fine without them? Yes!
Turns out, I didn’t need them. AT ALL!!!
So, ask yourself: Do you really really need all that medicine?
Let’s find out! I want to give you some homework. I know, nobody likes homework. But this is your life and I think it’s important!
Read those labels and descriptions! Compare them with the current side effects you have and make note of them.
If you feel that you can’t tell which one is causing a particular side effect, consult your doctor. You should see if it’s possible to go a while without them (or eliminate them one by one) under close supervision.
If your doctor dismisses you or says something generic that makes no sense, look for a second opinion. You may be surprised at the response!
- Get rid of expired medications. Find out any local rules about disposing medications. You don’t want this stuff in your city’s water table or landfill.
- Enjoy the free space in your medicine cabinet. Instead of clutter, you now have space for that lipstick or your nice shaving cream.
- Make a list of your medications.
- Read each description slip for each medicine you take.
- You should list the known side effects from the slip.
- Then list YOUR side effects or reactions.
- List any of your known or possible allergies (ask family members if any of them have particular allergies that can explain allergies you never knew you had – you would be surprised how much you can learn about yourself from family history)
- Research your medication including fillers.
- Consult your doctor and ask about your findings. Can your doctor find a substitute or completely eliminate that medication?
- If you are taking addictive medications like opioids or narcotics and you find out the fillers are bad for you, consult your doctor about rehab to withdraw from those medications properly and safely.
- Finally, after a few months without the bad medicine(s), make notes about how you feel. Better? orWorse?
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Until next time,