So many of us are prescribed medication for all kinds of things — depression, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infections, heartburn, pain, blood sugar dysregulation, thyroid disorders, anxiety… You get the point. But is drug therapy always appropriate?
It can be difficult for patients to navigate the world of drug therapy. After all, we’ve always been taught that our doctor knows best and that we should just take the medication our doctor prescribes.
However, you may be surprised to learn that the evidence of benefit for many drugs is marginal at best, and often these drugs can be accompanied by bothersome side effects and a hefty price tag! We have to ask: is drug therapy always worth it?
Here's an example of how drug therapy can work:
The average blood pressure medication reduces blood pressure by about 7 points systolic and 4 points diastolic. This means if your blood pressure is 150/90 mm Hg, you could be expected to see a reduction to about 143/86 mm Hg. For many people, this many not be enough of a benefit if they also experience annoying side effects like a chronic cough or fatigue. Plus, given that blood pressure is simply one of many risk factors for a cardiovascular event, if a person is otherwise healthy, we really have to weigh the pros and cons and ask ourselves if the cost and potential side effects are worth the marginal benefit.
Another tidbit many people don’t realize is that dosages are often much higher than what is necessary to have effect in the body. Often a much lower dose than what is commonly prescribed of any given drug will be just as effective and not cause the same bothersome side effects that we see at a higher dose. I don’t know about you but if I’m on a drug, I want the lowest effective dose possible!
If you’re using drug therapy to help with your symptoms or chronic health issues and are wondering if it is right for you, please connect with me. As a naturopathic doctor, I’m uniquely poised to help people navigate the pros and cons of their drug therapy program and explore alternatives that may be more appropriate, as necessary. My ultimate goal with all my patients is that they won’t need any medications (or supplements) at all!