Big pHARMa and My Beef With It
There is a lot of controversy regarding pharmaceutical companies, the government, and doctors currently. And for a good reason, I believe. When profits are prioritized over patients' wishes or needs, there is a cause for concern. Whether you take prescription medication or not, you probably know people who are on medication for various health, including mental health reasons. For the last eight years, I have sought to live a healthy, holistic life making lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, instead of opting for prescription pharmaceuticals. This is my experience in the pharma world and navigating my own journey. No judgment to anyone who feels that prescription meds are the solution for your issue (hopefully short-term) . . . but just know, there are holistic options that have no side-effects and will lead you to a happier, healthier, more balanced life.
I grew up with a mentally ill mother until I was 11 years old. Over the course of her life and the time I was with her, she had been on several different pharmaceuticals which were prescribed. And then, some that weren't. The three different times in my life where doctors had offered to prescribe me medication for anxiety and/or depression, I refused. Each and every single time, it felt wrong. A little voice, deep inside my gut kept telling me, "NO!" It was not the route I wanted to take to get better. I didn't want to become dependent on a pill and have my life shadowed and discolored without any real joy. I saw the way my Mom would mope around the house and have the curtains drawn so it would be pitch black in the apartment in the middle of the day for days. Not a good way for a kiddo to grow up. That was her depression. Then came the mania. The rambling. The incessant chatter . . . I'm guessing that was also the cocaine she would snort on occasion. I went with her to her psychiatry appointments on the corner of Edgemont Street and Hollywood Blvd. I would wait in the children's play room and stare at this huge Jungle Book poster and play with the toys. As a young child, I thought "were these pills even working?" I knew her self-medication with recreational drugs wasn't helping either. Each time the doctor wanted to prescribe me medication, I always said no. I wanted tools. I wanted to be able to figure this out on my own. I didn't want to be like HER. I didn't want that life. Now that I'm older, I have some tools and strategies that I can use. I'm very grateful that I decided not to go on any mood stabilizers or anti-anxiety meds. I am happy that I listened to my intuition because I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get off of them once you've been on them for such a long time. No judgment. Ever. They just weren't for me. I tried benzos for a short-period of time, no, not by prescription, but from my Mom, of course. I found benzos too easy to get addicted to. It was a nice warm fuzzy feeling that just brought everything down a notch . . . nice feeling, but I could see that these could be habit forming for me.
The Mayo Clinic estimates that at least 70% of the American population is on at least one prescription medication. I've had many friends and family members suffer from ailments that I believe could have been cured or reversed, if the root cause of their disease had been addressed. Many of the conditions could have been treated and reversed with lifestyle changes with no pharmaceuticals necessary. Lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, cutting way back on animal products including dairy and eggs, reducing alcohol consumption, and increasing fresh fruit and vegetables along with lots of water are all very beneficial to bringing wellness back to the body. My concern is that pharmaceutical companies and doctors don't want you to get healthy. They want you to stay sick so they can keep feeding you pills. More pills means more money in their pockets. If doctors wanted to keep you healthy, they'd be prescribing lifestyle changes and telling you a whole foods plant-based diet is best for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer prevention. Why aren't doctors teaching their patients to eat better? Why aren't we going back to the basics of health? Food, exercise, sleep, and stress management? These are the causes and cures for our modern American ailments. We eat the wrong kinds of food that are calorie dense, yet nutrient poor. We don't move our bodies as nearly as much as we should, we don't practice good sleep hygiene, and we're stressed to the max and then we add alcohol and caffeine to the mix. No wonder we are in the unhealthy state we are in with more than 42% of Americans being obese. Health is a personal responsibility and I've said this since day one of the "pandemic."
Last week, I was reading my daily morning chapter, and it said that Yoga is the best life coaching program. And I'd have to agree. It gave me tools and guidance on how to live a holistic, healthy, balanced life. It was a resource. Since Yoga includes movement (asana), breath work (pranayama), a guide on how to live (Yamas/Niyamas), and meditation (dhyana), it gave me the tools and guidance I needed. Some of the Yoga philosophy texts even promote a vegetarian/vegan diet since it coincides with the first Yama of Ahimsa, non-harm in word, thought, or action to living beings. For me, Yoga encompasses all aspects of life.
In the end, it is up to you to decide how to treat illnesses and dis-eases in your body. My only wish is that doctors would inform their patients of the many options that are available to them prior to bringing out the prescription pad. Lifestyle, diet, and environmental changes may be enough to counter your ailments and be free from pharmaceuticals. Obviously, there are some that are absolutely needed. . .I'm not talking about those. But there are many ways in which we can improve our health without needing a scrip. We can do it the holistic, natural way first, then, if necessary, use medical intervention.
Your Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach