“Few know that systematic reviews of hospital charts found that even properly prescribed drugs (aside from misprespcribing, overdosing, or self-prescribing) cause about 1.9 million hospitalizations a year. Another 840,000 hospitalized patients are given drugs that cause serious adverse reactions for a total of 2.74 million serious adverse drug reactions. About 128,000 people die from drugs prescribed to them. This makes prescription drugs a major health risk, ranking 4th with stroke as a leading cause of death. The European Commission estimates that adverse reactions from prescription drugs cause 200,000 deaths; so together, about 328,000 patients in the U.S. and Europe die from prescription drugs each year. The FDA does not acknowledge these facts and instead gathers a small fraction of the cases.” This was pulled from an article published on Harvard University’s Center for Ethics blog (link HERE).

Wait–did you catch that? Prescription drugs rank fourth with strokes as a leading cause of death in this country.

Not all drugs are bad. Some drugs save lives. But we need think very carefully before we sign up for taking one. Or two. Or 13 at once.

I frequently get patients with complex health problems who have landed on the slippery slope of Rx on top of Rx, and 13 drugs later can’t figure out how they got there. Each one seems to be treating the side effects of the last one. And the patient can no longer remember which one came first or why. They feel confused, betrayed, and hopeless. And they’re nowhere closer to feeling good or getting healthier.

Why, as a culture, do we put up with a system of medicine that allows its solutions to also be the fourth largest cause of death in this country?

It’s because we trust that someone else is looking out for our best interests. Or we think there are no other options. Or we just want to feel better, now. Or we’ve become so disconnected from our bodies and our souls in an effort to avoid discomfort that we’ve forgotten how to really nourish and care for ourselves.

We are so busy being busy that we think we don’t have time for wellness until we get sick and are forced to make time for illness.

And we all know that being sick is not just something that happens to someone else (although that is what most people believe before they get sick). So why have we built a way of life for ourselves that keeps us busy and away from wellness all the time?

Somewhere along the line, we were convinced that being busy was good for us, that it meant we were more important, and that would mean we were on the road to success. But busyness is not a badge of honor, and it does not guarantee importance or success.

In our society, busyness is actually more likely to promote an imbalance in your health due to a lack of time spent caring for your body and your soul.

This may be the true underlying social misconception that we have to disconnect from and reshape in order to release the notion that the solutions to all our health problems are found in a pill. Because wellness takes time.  

I chose natural medicine. I felt called to study and embrace a system of healing that focuses on understanding and respecting the inherent wisdom of the body.

I wanted to help people feel better than just “okay.” In my years of study, I have learned that the things that ail us physically are an opportunity for us to slow down, reconnect, and learn to listen to our intuition about what we really need.

I did not want to take the well-paved and well-paid route of conventional medical school, and enter a system that I believe is participating in deeper philosophical problems about how we diagnose and address what ails us. I did not want be another cog in the wheel of a prescription-reliant system that relies primarily on treatments where human beings are the collateral damage in an evolving experiment to manipulate and control physiology.

Many prescriptions are, by design, akin to putting a thumbtack in the wall with a sledge hammer. Why bother figuring out the real cause of a headache, even if the medication used to treat it causes mood disorders, nerve damage, and motility problems in the gut? As long as the cholesterol remains low, who cares if the person has muscle aches all day long? The fundamental mindset behind this approach is one that makes the body and its symptoms wrong.

The body’s physical response to an irritant or attempt to fix an imbalance isn’t wrong–uncomfortable perhaps–but not wrong.

Let me be clear though–modern medicine has some areas where it truly shines. It has the ability to improve and prolong lives in ways unimaginable to humans even 50 years ago.

If I’m in a car crash and I break my hip, I am thankful to have modern medicine at my disposal. I won’t turn down the antibiotics and pain medications needed to get me back on my feet.

I do not believe that there is bad medicine, only bad usage of medicines. The diagnostic technology and acute treatments available in modern medicine are awe-inspiring.

But for many functional, chronic, multi-system issues that are not so easily defined, natural medicine provides intuitive, body-nourishing solutions where modern medicine lacks answers and over-prescribes.

We need to re-think our reliance on prescription medications as solutions to squash our body’s attempts at healing. It is our job, for ourselves and for our society, to learn how to care for our bodies and our souls.

The body is designed to fix itself, and it will generally do so quite well given the right kind of support. When we open ourselves up to this, the healing that occurs is often not limited to the physical realm.