As discussed in Part 1 of this blog post, the top three pharmaceutical drugs prescribed in North America are hydrocodone for pain, statins for lowering cholesterol, and amlodipine for lowering blood pressure.
In this post, I will review the next four most prescribed drugs and their natural alternatives.
4. Synthroid (levothyroxine) is the fourth most prescribed drug in North America. It is a synthetic form of thyroid hormone that is given to treat an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism). It suppresses the production of natural thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone. Long-term suppression of thyroid stimulating hormone can lead to losses in bone mineral density, heart failure, increases in blood sugar levels, and adrenal insufficiency.
Natural Alternatives: Iodine-containing foods that can boost thyroid function include strawberries, parsley, fish, kelp, seaweed, bananas, and eggs.
Minerals that are essential for thyroid hormone production are selenium, zinc, copper, and iron.
Daily exercise also keeps the thyroid gland healthy.
5. Prilosec, also known as Nexium and Omeprazole, is the fifth most commonly prescribed drug. It is an antacid, prescribed for GERD or acid reflux as well as for stomach ulcers. It works by suppressing the secretion of stomach acid, which impairs the proper digestion of food. Side effects of taking this drug include high blood pressure, liver disease or failure, eye inflammation, anemia, development of male breasts, testicular pain, increased or decreased heart rate, angina, tongue atrophy, and urinary frequency.
Natural Alternatives:Foods that can be used to treat acid reflux as well as stomach ulcers are manuka honey, aloe vera juice, dill pickles, broccoli, grapefruit, and baking soda.
6. Azithromycin and Amoxicillin, which are antibiotics, are the sixth most commonly prescribed drugs. Together they constitute 17% of all drugs prescribed in North America! These antibiotics work by preventing protein and cell wall formation in bacteria, both harmful bacteria as well as beneficial bacteria. Beneficial or good bacteria help us digest food and contribute to a strong immune system. By killing good bacteria, antiobiotics interfere with proper digestion and suppress the immune system.
Some side effects of taking antibiotics are colon inflammation, obesity, antibiotic resistance, stomach lining damage, liver inflammation, and allergies.
Natural Alternatives: Foods that help prevent infections are green tea, nuts, fish, Vitamin D (sunshine), turmeric, garlic, coconut oil, and foods containing natural probiotics, such as yogurt.
7. Metformin (Glucophage) is in seventh place. It is prescribed for type 2 diabetes, especially for people who are overweight or obese. Although it makes up only 7% of the most prescribed medications, its prescription rate is rising rapidly! It works by reducing the amount of glucose made in the liver. Side effects of taking metformin include increased homocysteine levels (high levels increase the risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks), heart failure, lactic acidosis, Vitamin B12 deficiency, liver and kidney damage, bladder cancer, and lower levels of testosterone and thyroid stimulating hormone. It also reduces the functioning of the pancreas.
Natural Alternatives:Foods that help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes are nuts, black tea, steel cut oatmeal, spinach, strawberries, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, leafy green vegetables, cinnamon, broccoli, and Vitamin D.
Most cases of type 2 diabetes can be resolved by exercising and avoiding sugary foods.
If you are taking any of these medications, do not abruptly stop taking them! Always consult a health care professional before making any changes to your drug regimen.
Find out how naturopathic medicine can help you lead a healthier lifestyle without the use of prescription drugs by booking a free 15 min consultation today.
Click here to read Part 1 if this article.
Yours in health,
Lina Mockus, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine