A Case for Considering Natural Remedies Over Prescription Overuse

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This post is sponsored by Sovereign Laboratories

by Mark Sherwood and Michele L. Neil-Sherwood

Prescription drugs have become a lifesaver for many people suffering from a wide range of diseases, disorders, and general health issues. While prescription drugs are highly effective, they may not always be necessary or appropriate, as they can cause severe side effects. For some, prescription drugs have become overused, resulting in tolerance or addiction.

While there’s no denying the necessity for prescription drugs, becoming too reliant on them can come with problems. When physicians recommend a prescription to be taken on an “as needed” basis, there are natural remedies that can support lesser use and fewer side effects. Learn more about some natural remedies and alternatives to prescription medications below.

High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in nearly every cell of your body. It plays a wide range of roles, from synthesizing vitamin D to producing certain hormones. Your body generally creates enough cholesterol on its own, but you also get cholesterol from foods.

While cholesterol is generally harmless, high levels of cholesterol in the blood combine with other substances to form plaque. Plaque clings to the arterial walls, and excessive plaque buildup can eventually contribute to coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is characterized by arteries that have become narrowed or even completely blocked by plaque build-up prevents blood from reaching the heart and the rest of the body.

Prescription drugs for high cholesterol, known as statins, inhibit enzymes that keep the liver from producing cholesterol, thereby regulating cholesterol levels. These drugs are highly effective, dropping LDL (“bad” cholesterol) by 25 to 35 percent.

While it may be difficult to achieve results without the use of statins, you can still keep your cholesterol levels in check through simple diet and exercise. Avoiding foods high in saturated fats, particularly full-fat dairy and meat products, can help to bring cholesterol levels down by up to 5 percent. Increasing dietary fiber intake can also help reduce high cholesterol. Fiber is found in most fruits and vegetables, as well as beans, nuts, oatmeal, and whole grains. Essentially, a diet that is mostly plant-based will help bring cholesterol levels down naturally.

Exercise is the best way to boost HDL, or “good”, cholesterol. Normally inactive people who started regular exercise routines saw a boost in their good cholesterol by up to 20 percent.

High Blood Pressure

Your blood naturally exerts pressure on the walls of arteries as it travels throughout your body. However, if this pressure is too high for an extended period of time, your blood vessels may experience some serious damage. While it is not a disorder in itself, high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can contribute to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening issues, including stroke, heart failure, and kidney disease.

There are a wide range of prescription drugs designed to regulate blood pressure, and each has its own mechanism of action. Beta-blockers work to reduce heart rate and its blood output, which helps to lower blood pressure. Diuretics encourage the removal of excess salt and water to help regulate blood pressure. These drugs can come with a variety of drawbacks and side effects that could potentially harm your well-being.

Similar to cholesterol, you can control high blood pressure with some small changes to your diet. Incorporating more plant-based foods while avoiding fattier meats may help keep blood pressure under control. Consuming more healthy fats from plant sources, including avocados, nuts, and olive oil, may also be beneficial blood pressure levels. Additionally, reducing salt intake, exercising and cutting back on caffeine.

Pain

Pain is a complex and layered process that involves inflammation and immune response as a means of healing wounds and informing you that something is wrong. Prescription pain medication is one of the most common families of prescribed drugs. They are prescribed for everything from sports injuries to post-surgery recovery.

As effective as prescription pain medications are, they can come with some severe side effects. Acetaminophen can cause damage to the liver, while NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) can cause digestive issues and harm gut health. Other pain medications can even be addictive with as little as 5 days use.

No one should suffer unnecessarily with acute or chronic pain, but pain medication use should not cause additional harm once the injury is healed. Additionally, pain can be a symptom of an underlying condition, so for long-term relief, consult your doctor to get to the root of your pain.

In the short-term, there are a wide range of alternative pain medications and therapies that you can try, and these vary based upon your specific needs. Acupuncture has been used to treat pain from various sources, including sports injuries, arthritis, and joint issues. Chiropractic treatment can be effective for ongoing pain in the back, neck, and shoulders. CBD has become increasingly popular for managing pain. Certain vitamins and supplements may help you better deal with pain. Omega-3 fatty acids, for instance, are commonly used to reduce swelling and inflammation. Liposomal Curcumin has also shown to be effective as an anti-inflammatory.

Bacterial Infections

Antibiotics are incredible in their ability to neutralize bacteria, but unfortunately, they tend to get overused or abused. Many people take antibiotics for illnesses in which antibiotics are not appropriate, not effective, and potentially harmful, like for colds and flus (which are viral infections). However, even when antibiotics are prescribed properly, they can cause an imbalance in gut bacteria that can contribute to gastrointestinal problems, C. diff infections, and more. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are notorious for wiping out both the bad, infection-causing bacteria, as well as the good bacteria. Restoring your gut microbiome with probiotics is recommended whenever antibiotics are used.

Consider whether you actually need antibiotics for your illness. If your doctor doesn’t prescribe them, then you don’t need them. If your doctor determines that the illness is minor and likely doesn’t require antibiotics, you may try to optimize your immunities with more nutrients from your diet and through supplements. The human immune system is very resilient and when it does its job properly, can help stave off infectious processes. Colostrum supplements provide a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, antibodies, and other immune factors. These may help to improve your immunities and support your gastrointestinal health by healing your gut lining. However, it should be noted that colostrum is not a cure-all. It’s just one part of a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management.

Other antioxidant supplements such as Liposomal Curcumin and vitamin C can also be instrumental in bringing the body’s immune system back into balance.

Prescription drugs are an important tool in the medical arsenal, however, they should by no means be the only tool for maintaining good health. While you should by all means heed your doctor’s orders, don’t be afraid to turn to certain natural remedies to improve your health and well-being. Natural remedies can help harness the power of your own immune system.

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Mark Sherwood, Naturopathic Doctor (ND) and Michele L. Neil-Sherwood, Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) are trail blazers and pioneers in functional healing utilizing cutting edge treatment protocols that have led to hundreds of amazing healing testimonials. They have a full-time wellness-based medical practice in Tulsa, OK called the Functional Medical Institute where they adopt a whole person approach, which is outcome-based looking at each individual’s unique needs.

Sources of information for this article

Medicine Plus
Harvard Health
Web MD
Medical News Today
Heart.org 
Prevention Magazine