Big Pharma is big business and big money. Global pharmaceutical sales rose from $780 billion in 2010 to $1.186 trillion in 2021. It's serious business. It is no mystery that the primary goal of pharmaceutical companies is to make as much money as possible. If it were to create healthier populations, we would see more money put towards researching natural health products or educating doctors and patients on lifestyle interventions.
One of the key ways they continue to increase drug profits is by relying on people staying on drugs for the long term. Unfortunately, many drugs designed for short-term use become long-term go-to's in your "medicine" cabinet. This dangerous phenomenon harms more people due to a problem known as polypharmacy. Polypharmacy is, also known as overprescribing, a vicious concern all over the world. Around 85% of people over 65 years of age take at least one prescribed medication, and 54% of those people take four or more. With more drugs come more side effects, requiring more medications to symptom manage those side effects—a vicious circle. It isn't just those prescribed drugs that are an issue. Many over-the-counter (OTC) medications were not designed for long-term use, even though many people have used them daily for years! These include pain medication, cold drugs, allergy relief, etc. These OTC medications can negatively interact with other OTC and prescription meds. Let's go through some of the more common and dangerous medications.
Antibiotics The inappropriate use of antibiotics has caused a global emergency in the shape of
antibiotic resistance. Long-term use damages your vital microbiome, reduces your immune system's protective capabilities and increases the risk of type 1 diabetes. If your doctor doesn't prescribe a probiotic with an antibiotic, they are not up to date with the science. Many natural antimicrobials exist, such as Olive Leaf Extract and Nascent Iodine.
Laxatives Your body can quickly become dependent on laxatives, so daily use is terrible. Long-term use of laxatives will lead to digestive problems up and down the digestive tract, even to the point where it cannot function properly. Laxative use is also linked to many eating disorders. Speak with a gut health specialist and self-assess your diet, sleep, stress levels and exercise routine.
Blood Thinners Millions of people take warfarin. When taken for the long term, it increases your risk of bleeding. This bleeding can take place in organs or even the brain.
Tylenol - The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen; the research is detailed; long-term use damages your liver. Your liver is a remarkable organ and can put up with a lot, but often, when symptoms arise from long-term Tylenol use, the damage is already done.
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs - are used to control pain and reduce inflammation. They seem to be the go-to choice for managing chronic pain issues, but it's simply symptom management. No drug will get to the root of the problem. Too many people jump too fast for Tylenol for things such as fever and headaches without recognizing the potential dangers.
Extended use will cause digestive issues, internal bleeding, ulcers, and organ damage.
Mental Health Medications
SSRIs - drugs such as Prozac are commonly prescribed for anxiety, OCD, eating disorders, panic attacks and depression. The changes that occur in brain chemistry can increase the risk of suicide. Your body develops a dependency which makes withdrawal a significant challenge.
Antipsychotics - these drugs were initially designed to treat schizophrenia but are commonly prescribed to people with depression, anxiety and sleep conditions. You would be blown away by the lack of data for long-term use. Side effects of long-term use include sexual dysfunction, weight gain, heart inflammation, and akathisia.
Adderall - a drug widely prescribed for children with AHDH and those who require extra focus with work or school. Even in short-term use, dependence and addiction are common. Other issues include sleep problems, seizures, hallucinations and heart disease.
Other Common Drugs
Heartburn Meds - it is commonly misunderstood that too much stomach acid is the real issue of heartburn. Long-term use of heartburn meds can increase your risk of kidney disease, nutrient deficiencies, pneumonia and C-difficile infection.
Nasal Spray - everyone has one of these in the medication cupboard. A quick go-to for colds and congestion. Using these for more than a few days can cause heart rate changes, nose bleeds, harsher congestion and even tremors.
Statins - most people over 50 are on some drug that blocks the liver from its natural cholesterol manufacturing. The research points towards liver damage, risk of death from heart disease and double the risk of dementia from long-term use.
This article has a lot to think about because the chances you take one of the mentioned medications are high.
Natural options exist, and I can't emphasize the importance of lifestyle factors. Sleep, stress, nutrition, supplementation, hydration, and movement. These are cheap long-term solutions to getting your health back on track.
Try not to feed an industry that does not have your health as a primary objective.
Love and blessings to you all.
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP