What's Your Poison, Doc?

Just the other day, I was making small talk with an acquaintance of mine and he simply asked, "So, Doc, what are you on?"  My reply, "What do you mean, what am I on?"  When I realized he was referring to my medication of choice, I simply informed him that I have been taking several multi-vitamins, fish oil supplements and a probiotic for the last 20 + years and that I wasn't "on" anything.

While I seemed surprised by my friend's question, the fact is that not only are Americans taking more medications than ever before, but that doctors are prescribing more than ever, too!

 According to the Mayo Clinic, seven in every 10 Americans - that's 70 percent of all Americans - take at least one prescription pill regularly. Just over half of Americans take two prescription pills.  The most common pills taken, according to the same report, are antibiotics, antidepressants and painkillers. 

 Did you know that while only 10% of sore throats in adults are due to strep, doctors admit to prescribing antibiotics in 60% of patients with sore throats that they see? A recent publication from the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) confirmed that doctors often misdiagnose strep and that most sore throats actually are caused by a virus and shouldn't be treated with antibiotics.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has acknowledged that pediatricians are guilty of contually overprescribing despite warnings and other evidence.

 While the development of antibiotics has lengthened our lifespans, our excessive use of these drugs may have serious effects on our gut and the "good" bacteria that live there.  Yet many parents refer to antibiotics as "the magic pill."

 And what about antidepressants and stimulants?  More people than ever are considered depressed today. Everyone feels sad or lonely at some point in their lives. With today's media marketing, if you're not happy all the time, then you must be depressed.  In fact, 57% of Americans diagnosed with mental health disorder are being treated solely with medication.
Unfortunately, medicating children for a host of mental disorders has become very popular in some parts of the USA. More than 8 million kids from 6 months to 17 years of age are on pharmaceutical drugs in this wonderful country. We lead the world in drugging youth for behavioral, cognitive and attention issues.

 It's not just depression that's over-diagnosed and medicated. If you don't act normally, there's medication to fix that.  In fact, today millions of children carry the diagnosis of ADHD in the U.S.?  Nearly twelve million are using the drugs prescribed to treat the disorder.  Because of the stimulating side-effects, Ritalin is one of the most abused prescription drugs by young people.

When a brain, especially that of a developing child, is exposed to medications that alter the brain's chemistry for an extended period of time, the brain begins to grow accustomed to those drugs and thinks it needs them when it truly doesn't.  If you're continuously taking a pill for a disease or ailment, you have not been cured.

The frightening part about this generation of children - recently referred to as "Generation RX" - is that despite all of the medications they are on, our children are getting sicker...

Could it be possible that our obsession with over-medicating, over-vaccinating and over-sanitizing might actually be lowering our children's ability to naturally develop immunity?  Could it be that the lack of exposure to nature and natural foods and overexposure to chemicals and preservatives may be leading to everything from acne and allergies to autism and ADD?

As parents, It is important that we start to realize that our children may be getting "too much of a good thing."  And that it is okay to question our doctors - to have an open conversation - so that we can make informed choices about our families' health.  So, the next time that your doctor reaches for his prescription pad, I urge you to question wheter medication is the answer.