Are you one of the seven in ten Americans who are on some form of prescription drug? You may have alternatives that can make you feel better, not jeopardize your health and unchain you from the tyranny of the nation’s pharmaceutical industrial complex.
In this podcast hosted by life coach and healthy living enthusiast Ameer Rosic, learn how to take care of your body so you don’t end up dependent on daily pharmaceuticals. Rosic interviews Dr. Andrew L. Rostenberg, a board certified chiropractic physician who practices at the Red Mountain Natural Medicine Clinic in Idaho, on common health problems that can be solved using natural solutions.
“The United States, we have a big drug problem,” Dr. Andrew says in the podcast. The dealers aren’t on the street corners, however, they are in doctor’s offices and pharmacies around the country. “In my opinion, there’s plenty of doctors that have the ability to give a patient a drug,” Rostenberg says, “but there are precious few doctors that know how to solve a problem without a drug.”
He notes the alarming statistic that although the United States only holds about four percent of the world’s population, we consume over 25 percent of prescription drugs. That means we have to pay the consequences: Most drugs have potentially harmful side effects, and not just for the initial consumers. Traces of drug chemicals leave the human body via urine and end up in the water supply, so nearly everyone is exposed to them.
That’s not to say prescription meds are universally malevolent. “Drugs can have their place,” Dr. Andrew says, but should be used sparingly and only when truly necessary. Instead, try natural remedies in place of these over-prescribed pills:
Hydrocodone: Better known by the brand name Vicodin, this opiate painkiller is the number one most prescribed drug in the country, making up about 131 million prescriptions per year.
“Pain is the number one complaint that people go to a doctor for,” Dr. Andrew says, but instead of seeking opiate relief, try to knock out the pain before it occurs by limiting inflammation in your body. “If the biggest drug in the world is a pain killer, then the biggest problem in the world is inflammation,” he says. Adjust your lifestyle, the doctor recommends, by avoiding processed food, getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep to combat obesity and maintain a healthy environment for your gut bacteria.
“Most inflammation in the human body is gut-derived,” says Dr. Andrew, so to avoid pain, adjust your lifestyle to “support systemic and metabolic health to create a situation where the inflammation would go down in the body and the pain would go down thus the need for medication would also be reduced.”
Statins: Statins refer to drugs used to lower cholesterol and are used by about 25 million adults every day. However, their usage can be misguided, for several reasons, Dr. Andrew explains. For one thing, research shows that a majority of people who suffer from coronary artery disease don’t even have high cholesterol levels, cutting out the main justification for controlling them with medication. Furthermore, dropping cholesterol too low can cause problems as well, since the body requires it to produce hormones.
If your cholesterol is too high, try high-dose niacin, vitamin B3, exercising more, and increasing the fiber in your diet. “Sometimes the most simple ideas give patients the most incredible change,” the doctor says. Whatever you do, he warns, don’t skip meals or you throw your system into chaos. Instead, focus on healthy eating with lean protein, healthy fats and lots of vegetables.
Lisinopril: This ACE inhibitor is used to combat high blood pressure. Unfortunately, like many pharmaceutical drugs, all it does is mask your symptoms without addressing the underlying issue. “They’re trying to manage biology with a synthetic chemical to force the body to do something,” says Dr. Andrew. “When you’re at risk of dying, that is an acceptable approach,” but for otherwise healthy people there is usually a better solution.
The body raises blood pressure for an intelligent reason, he explains — because the blood is inflamed and is too thick to push into small blood vessels. “So ACE inhibitors mean you’re fighting what the body is trying to do,” he says. Instead, follow the same advice to avoid pain, like seeking a healthy diet, good exercise and sufficient sleep to create an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. “The little things you do every day are what determine your fate,” Dr. Andrew says.
Synthroid: This prescription drug is used for thyroid problems, but if you take it long enough, your thyroid atrophies and becomes useless, the doctor says. Instead of trying to prop up the thyroid with drugs, look at your hormone levels, especially keeping an eye out for an excess of estrogen. “You need to find a functionally-minded doctor to really look at their body holistically,” says Dr. Andrew. “Look at gut health. Disease and health starts and ends in our gut.”
Esomeprazole: This drug is better known as Nexium, or “the purple pill” to provide heartburn relief. “This is a very dangerous drug,” Dr. Andrew warns, noting that the proton pump inhibitors that reduce your acid levels end up destroying your digestion system. “If you lower the acid level, food isn’t broken down, and the gall bladder and pancreas don’t get the signals they need to release enzymes to fully get the nutrition out of food,” he says, and patients end up malnourished.
Instead, you actually need to increase your acid levels to send the signal to close the sphincter between the stomach and the esophagus. “[Hydrochloric acid] is the most important part of the digestive process,” the doctor says. “It has to be taken care of for the other things downstream to work correctly.” For patients with heartburn, he gives HCL replacement to take after eating, as well as recommending that they de-stress and make sure to get enough sleep.
Antibiotics: Doctors write some 100 million antibiotic prescriptions every year, often without testing to verify that they are even combating a bacterial infection. “They give antibiotics willy-nilly,” says Dr. Andrew. The consequences of this over-prescription are twofold: For one thing, bacteria are evolving to become resistant to antibiotics, so they won’t be as effective in cases where they really are needed. What’s more, antibiotics destroy your beneficial gut bacteria, creating an opportunity for yeast or harmful bacteria to set up shop and cause even more health problems. “You’re left with a totally obliterated GI tract,” the doctor says.
Sometimes antibiotics are necessary, and they can save your life, but try to avoid them when you can and focus on a good diet by eating soluble fiber and healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil, while avoiding trans fats and rancid fats.
The most important message Dr. Andrew conveys to avoid illness and prescription medicine? Practice a healthy lifestyle and keep your gut happy. “We live and die by digestion,” he says. “The decisions we make consciously affect every cell in our body.”
Check out the podcast below for more tips on how to stay in great shape and far away from the pharmacy.