Americans spent more than $300 billion on prescription drugs last year; nearly half of all adults have taken at least one prescription drug in the last month. On top of that nearly a third of adults in the US need two or more medications and women are likely than men to use prescription drugs (all according to the CDC).
Prescription medications are undoubtedly helpful and save lives, but they also can mean treating symptoms and masking the real problem. Which makes you wonder – is there something else I could be using instead? Supplements are everywhere, but are they safe?
I’m in no way a doctor, but if you’ve asked yourself “should I try supplements or stick to my prescription medication” – then this is for you.
How Do You Know If Your Prescriptions Work
It’s simple, do you want to stop taking them and find out if they’re working or not?
When I was taking my normal prescriptions for gout, I just ached, I never really felt good. When I moved to taking supplements, that all changed. I slept better, I had more energy, and I didn’t experience gout attacks.
Bottom line: Are your prescriptions working for you? Are you feeling better?
If you’re not feeling better, or maybe you feel better for one thing but experience side effects that create a whole other issue, it may be time to look into something else. Whether it be other drugs or as an alternative, supplements. Let me make something clear, I am not a doctor. I cannot and will not tell you to stop taking a prescription or that anything supplement is a cure-all (if anyone does say these things to you, do yourself a favor and run in the opposite direction).
Western medicine has created advances in care and the human life span that even 60 years ago seemed impossible, but it doesn’t mean that every prescription drug is appropriate for everyone.
Are Supplements Safe
Because supplements aren’t considered drugs, they aren’t put through the same strict safety and effectiveness requirements that drugs are. So all the drugs you can buy, even without a prescription, must be proven safe and effective – but dietary supplements do not. Essentially, supplements are treated more like a special food than a drug – which sometimes is fair.
But that doesn’t mean every supplement is safe for you to use freely with no limitations. For example, take willow bark, a natural alternative to aspirin (it has salicin which is a compound similar to aspirin) which has been used for hundreds of years. Since it contains salicin it has the same side effects as aspirin, where it can cause upset stomachs, vomiting, stomach bleeding, skin rash, and more.
When using supplements, always look for reputable companies that share where they source their ingredients, share how to use it safely, test their compounds, and be aware of potential side effects for yourself.
Supplements can 100% be safe and effective as long as you understand what their impact should be, take them responsibly, and make sure they don’t interfere with any medication you may currently be taking.
Tips For Using Supplements:
Tip #1 Always Share The Supplement Information
Every time you visit a health care professional’s office, bring a list of all the dietary supplements and medications you are currently taking. Include the dosages and how many times a day you take them. Some people find it easiest to throw all their dietary supplements and medications in a bag to bring to the medical visit, but do what is easiest for you.
Many physicians won’t take the time to look through your supplements, but the ones who do will help guide you through what may help your body or what potential side effects you should look for. Remember, every body reacts differently to things (just like prescription drugs)!
Tip #2 Never Add A New Supplement Without Consulting Your Physician
If you’re thinking of adding a dietary supplement to your daily routine, call your health care professional first, and let him or her know what other supplements and medications you’re taking. The only exception to this may be individuals who are not currently taking anything.
Make sure to note when you began taking it and track any changes you may notice and ask others around you if they have noticed changes. It may be in as little as a day or as long as 60, but the easiest way to know if supplements are helpful or hurtful is to track them.
Tip #3 Always Share Your Changes In Your Health Status
Tell your health care professional if your health status has changed, particularly if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you’ve experienced any illness or surgeries lately. While it would be ideal if our physicians were as involved in our day to day life as we would like them, it’s up to us to share the changes we’ve experienced and how it may impact our medical needs.
Don’t risk the health of your baby or yourself by keeping things from your doctor.
Are you feeling a different from your prescriptions or are you ready to try out something new, supplements that are proven to be helpful? I’m sharing what helped me go from constant arthritis pain, to a new man feeling like I’m in my 20s again – check it out for yourself!