Drugs: Our First Line of Defense?

www.mypicshares.com

I’m so glad to have such a timely post to share with all of my readers. It seems like more and more I have conversations with people about using natural means versus drugs and over-the-counter medication for health problems.

It is my most sincere hope to inspire some interest in using natural remedies instead of automatically going to pharmaceutical intervention. Of course, drugs have their place in the world. But in modern society, we’ve come to rely far too much on taking a drug for every little issue that ails us, instead of looking at the root cause of the problem and finding out if we can solve it by re-hydrating, reducing stress, or repleting our diets with nutrients we may be lacking.

I’d like to thank Kate at Modern Alternative Mama for volunteering to write a post for me in the middle of my chaos – lately I’ve been having my own health issues which I am attempting to address naturally – low thyroid and a magnesium deficiency – which has caused many nights of insomnia and panic attacks. Needless to say, my life has been turned upside down and things haven’t been getting done!  Fortunately, things are SLOWLY starting to get better, and I’ll be writing a post or two about my experience when I get caught back up from being behind for the last four weeks.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this well-written and thoughtful piece about approaching health in the most natural way possible, first…before turning to drugs. Great food for thought.   :)

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I see far too many people popping pills all the time. Have a headache? Grab some Tylenol! Cramps? Midol! A fever? Ibuprofen! And so it goes. There’s a pill for everything. Even new parents are sucked in – “You’d better have some Tylenol in the house, just in case.” But is this really the best first defense against illness or unpleasant symptoms?

Unfortunately, no. The way we treat pills these days is as if there were no side effects, or very minimal side effects. The mainstream perception is that even when pills do cause side effects, it is normal and ‘worth it’ to combat whatever ails you. We have pills for allergies (Benadryl), pills for colds and coughs, pills for the flu, pills for cholesterol, pills for birth control, pills for erectile dysfunction, pills for migraines, and on it goes. The solution clearly is – “If something ails you, there’s a drug to fix that.”

These drugs are not without side effects, and these side effects need to be considered very carefully. We need to look at the short- and long-term side effects of any drug before agreeing to take it. There’s a time and place for drugs, typically (in my opinion) in life-or-death situations. But they’re simply not the harmless little pick-me-ups we’ve come to view them as. Tylenol, for example, seen as one of the most “basic” drugs out there, is the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. That’s far from harmless!

Even more importantly, instead of focusing so heavily on our individual symptoms (and what drug might fix that!), we need to look for underlying causes of illness. Why do you have a headache? Is it from tension? Dehydration? A food sensitivity? By knowing the cause, you may be able to find the cure. Tension requires relaxation, perhaps a massage (from a willing husband or wife!), maybe a bit of lavender oil and a warm bath. Dehydration requires a drink of water! Food sensitivity probably can’t be “cured” immediately, but at least you’d know what not to do in the future.

When we turn to drugs, we forget to look for the underlying causes. Migraines are often triggered by food sensitivities, like MSG, theobromine (found most often in cocoa), or caffeine. High cholesterol may be caused by a diet high in refined carbohydrates (not saturated fat!). Coughs and colds are an unfortunate fact of life for many, but if we boost the immune system with nourishing foods and fermented cod liver oil, we may see fewer of them, lower severity, and less duration!

When something ails us, we need to look at our bodies and our lifestyles as a whole. What could we be doing that is causing the problem? Are we not getting enough rest? Are we deficient in some key nutrient? Is our thyroid malfunctioning or our adrenals taxed? There is some reason for the symptoms, and the underlying cause will tell you what to do about it!

We miss the underlying cause when we focus on the symptoms. When we throw drugs at the symptoms, we may feel better (at least temporarily), but we don’t solve the problem. The problem is still there, and is probably getting worse. If you’re having restless legs but choose to take the new “RLS” drug, you’re very likely missing an underlying magnesium deficiency! Your symptoms will
only get worse, both because you’ve missed the deficiency, and because you’ve added any side effects that the RLS drug causes. This is how it goes with many situations, when drugs become the first answer.

When it comes down to it, would you rather suffer a bit more temporarily, while you actually solve the problem, or would you rather have immediate relief of your symptoms while your health crumbles around you? I can assure you that putting your health back together after 20 years or so of doing it wrong is no easy task. We’re in the middle of the GAPS diet for my husband right now because
his health has been so destroyed by years of poor diet, undiagnosed food sensitivities, candida, and more. It’s a very long, slow, painful road. Could he just continue to take some drugs and hide the problems? Maybe. I’m honestly not sure at this point. (We did try that route a few years back, before we knew what we were doing. It didn’t help at all, and very likely made it worse.)

Finally, I’m not saying that when you feel poorly, especially with what you know is just a temporary illness (like a cold) that you should do nothing to feel better. There are many natural remedies that you can try. Ginger tea with lemon and honey is wonderful for a cold, helping to warm the body, clear  he sinuses, and soothe a sore throat. Rice-filled heating pads soothe sore spots. Arnica helps with body aches. These are all natural remedies that can help to soothe your acute aches and pains without dangerous side effects, nor masking underlying problems.

In a perfect world, we’d all be healthy all the time. We wouldn’t get sick or be in pain. But we don’t live in a perfect world and we’re bound to have bad days! Rather than multiplying the bad days by masking and ignoring our symptoms, we can work without bodies to discover the true causes and resolve them. By (almost!) always consuming an excellent, nutrient-dense diet, we can be healthier and feel well without drugs!

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Kate blogs at Modern Alternative Mama and discusses nutrition, food, recipes, natural remedies and more. She is a wife and mother of two. Kate currently home is just beginning to home school her oldest child, is active in her church, and enjoys sewing, crafts, and cooking.

More reading!

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How I cured a raging sinus infection naturally, with no drugs

Prescription drugs, healing, and the almighty dollar

11 Comments

  • February 22, 2011 - 8:24 AM | Permalink

    Good morning.
    Thanks for the post.
    I found out recently that I have low thyroid and was told recently to take a certain med, but started to take Kelp instead.
    Have you found something natural that works to raise thyroid?
    Peace,
    Amy

    • February 22, 2011 - 8:56 AM | Permalink

      I’ve read that fluoridated water can make thyroid problems worse. You might check out your water to see if that could help :)

      • February 22, 2011 - 9:36 AM | Permalink

        Hi Heather – we buy water in glass bottles from our health food store that is reverse osmosis to avoid those substances in the tap water. We also have a chlorine filter on our shower, and when I take a bath I usually use the shower head to fill up the tub to avoid the chlorine getting in my body. I do know that our city’s water doesn’t have any added fluoride, there may be some naturally-occurring, but at least I’m not drinking it. It’s full of other harsh chemicals too though, like arsenic, lead, chromium, cadmium, and others which can adversely affect health. But thanks for mentioning that, it can definitely be a factor for people who are drinking tap water or bathing in water with those substances.

  • February 22, 2011 - 8:40 AM | Permalink

    Hi Amy – I am actually trying to figure that out right now. I’ve had 5 weeks of panic attacks and no sleep, and it has been very difficult. Right now I am taking a type of kelp, but I have also heard that if you have low thyroid, there may be metal issues that are preventing your body from storing and using important minerals like iodine and also magnesium. In this case, you may need to do salt loading with iodine to ensure the halides like bromine and fluoride in your body get flushed out. Here’s a link someone sent to me yesterday:

    http://breastcancerchoices.org/drshevin.html

    I also found out I am low on magnesium which is also useful to the thyroid. Right now, I’ve had to resort to a beta blocker just to sleep until I figure out what to do. In the meantime, I’m taking 500 mg of magnesium daily and I’m taking the kelp supplement early in the day – I’ve heard to avoid taking any iodine at night from a supplement as it could cause sleep disorders. Also, I am eating a lot of Kerrygold butter, which you can get at many health food or possibly grocery stores. Kerrygold is rich in many nutrients – especially iodine because it is from Ireland where they still use traditional farming methods and the soil is near the ocean. Another really important food to be eating every day is coconut oil, as it has a very positive impact on the thyroid.

    I’m hoping to get some answers from my doctor, whom I am seeing tomorrow. I also have heard from various sources that Dr. Ron Schmid has a glandular product, bovine thyroid from animals in New Zealand, that is very effective for supporting thyroid function and can be used instead of synthetic thyroid replacement. I’m going to ask my doctor about it tomorrow. Here’s the link:

    http://www.drrons.com/thyroid-adrenal-liver-pancreas-glandulars.htm

    I hope that helps! I will be posting my findings when I learn more in the coming weeks.

  • February 22, 2011 - 8:52 AM | Permalink

    I always seem to develop a headache and even a migraine after consuming a “food” with MSG in it. I actually started supplementing with magnesium and avoided MSG and my migraines are gone now.

    Such a simple thing. Why would anyone take drugs?

  • February 22, 2011 - 9:10 AM | Permalink

    Great post. Thanks for sharing. It’s amazing how we’ve become a bunch of pill poppers, which masks the issue and makes us more dependent.

    I had many years of foot and ankle pain (about 12 or so). After a few thousand dollars in medical expenses, supplies and pills, I took a deep look inside of myself and saw that it was emotional pain that was causing the physical pain. I’ve been pain free ever since. The story is much longer than that, but that’s the short version. It’s what got me started down the path that I am on now where I question this kind of stuff.

    Thanks again for sharing.

  • Elizabeth M
    February 22, 2011 - 9:13 AM | Permalink

    Something to look into is “Wilson’s Syndrome” (Dr. Wilson) which is a thyroid issue where Reverse T3 is causing issues. It is also signified by consistent low body temperature.

    I do like the suggestions of Dr.Rind (drrind.com) to help map body temps and what tests need to be done to discover the full view of what is going on with your body… and how to UNDERSTAND those tests.

    Thyroid issues are often joined with Adrenal issues. It is rare to have a Purely Thyroid or Purely Adrenal issue. Also what may present as low thyroid can actually be hyperadrenal function.

    SO it is rarely only about getting thyroid issues fixed. Magnesium also plays a sizable role with adrenals. Low sodium can cause adrenal issues… because high potassium levels can over stress the signaling for certain hormones. And cause heart palpitations due to the imbalance in the muscle tissue. Sodium is needed for proper contraction.

    The issue with giving any hormone replacements for Thyroid conditions when you only look at T3/T4/TSH and do not discover FreeT3/FreeT4 and the reverse of those… is that you can have low levels due to a sluggish thyroid… OR from too much reverse T3 being produced.

    Consider T3 the gas and RT3 the break. You could actually be producing too much T3 that is making your body produce ALOT of RT3 to get it is balance and slow down.

    It is rarely as simple as just giving thyroid hormone replacement.

    I would also suggest reading The Diet Cure. It shows how you can use specific amino acids to help bring your body back into balance.. while working on diet. If our brain can’t signal correctly… our glands and body can not function correctly.

    I do a nutrient dense diet and even i am reaping benefits from doing a broad spectrum free form amino acid supplement. Waking up earlier, much more balanced mood…even a better libido!

    I will always do natural over drugs. I only took pain meds (aleve) when cramping… now that i have corrected that issue naturally… i have no more need. I recovered from strep last year (my first case ever in my life) with some supplements, herbs, homeopathics and an adjustment.

    Our bodies respond to what we give them…. if we give them the foods that cause dysfunction… they will be dysfunctional. If we give them foods that cause optimal function they will function optimally. If we support our immune system to do its job… it will do it well. If we give our bodies a drug, we only deal with symptoms and create more problems… never getting to the root cause. If we never exercise.. our bodies will be weak. If we exercise our bodies will be strong in accordance to the exercises we do. If we never use our brains, they will become weak.. if we use our brains often, like a muscle it and you benefit.

    Most of our illnesses have to do with habitual practice… until our habits change our health never will.

  • Pingback: Agriculture Society » Drugs: Our First Line of Defense? | Urban Organic Gardener

  • February 22, 2011 - 9:33 AM | Permalink

    Hi Elizabeth –

    I have the Diet Cure and I’ve read it, I need to go back and read the thyroid section again. I’m getting pressure from people in my family to take the synthetic thyroid medication, and things are very difficult. I need to talk with my doctor further about the test results I received from my blood work. I have some amino acids that I bought from a friend who is a nutritional consultant that works with cancer patients, it’s the 8 basic types of aminos our bodies need to produce the others. I have been drinking Himalayan salt in water every day, I’ve also been reading about salt loading with iodine. I’m taking kelp right now and considering getting a better, more absorbable iodine like Lugol’s drops. I’m going to see my doctor tomorrow about those two things, so we’ll see what she says.

  • February 22, 2011 - 6:18 PM | Permalink

    If you can get the nutrients you need from food, your body has the wisdom and ability to become and stay healthy. It requires constant work and vigilance to get good food, and it is never easy, but it is worth it.

    I have taken no drugs of any kind for the last five years, including no over the counter drugs, and I have had exactly one illness, (a flu that everybody around me was getting,) in all that time. I got over that just fine without drugs, as well.

    Sometimes a drug may be necessary to provide emergency temporary relief. But drugs never ultimately cured anything.

  • February 23, 2011 - 2:58 PM | Permalink

    Hi Stanley –

    I agree that drugs don’t cure anything. We are not deficient in drugs, moreover, we are grossly lacking in minerals, vitamins, co-factors, and enzymes to maintain our health properly. Our soils are so depleted in these elements, even eating real food in the modern age is no guarantee that we’ll get all we need to be healthy. This is actually one reason why for many years I have taken vitamin and mineral supplements, albeit, whole-foods and organically-sourced, because I realized that to get in what we are supposed to have everyday, it would be nearly impossible to eat enough of the foods containing those nutrients to meet those requirements. If you look at RDAs from the government, even those are woefully low in targeting what we need. Vitamin D? It’s something like 400 IUs a day….are you kidding me? And then our foods are completely lacking in enough mineral/vitamin content to deliver those needed amounts.

    So I think the answer is in balance – eat as many real foods as you can, because your body recognizes and can utilize those elements much more easily than from something synthetic. If you still aren’t getting enough, maybe it’s time to supplement with a high-quality product that’s produced from a real food source, so at least you are getting something rather than going without. That’s what I dealt with some years ago when I was really sick and trying to get back to health…and really, that’s what I’m doing now again. I find that despite my thinking that I’ve been eating healthy these last 5 years, I’ve still been lacking in some very critical elements I desperately need, and now I’m back to square one again. Of course, there are plenty of people who are now saying to me, “But Raine, I thought you were eating a healthy diet, so how could you be so deficient?” Again, the answer is that so much of what we need simply isn’t present in our diets, organic or whole foods or not, that sometimes we have to target certain elements we’re lacking in, and concentrate on those foods for awhile or supplement. There is no such thing as perfect health, but I’m on my way to getting as close to that as I possibly can.

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