With the opioid crisis all over the news, it is easy to get more than a little concerned about your own medications. How can you reduce the number of medications you take daily? Is it safe to replace medication with supplements? How can I keep my symptoms under control otherwise? These are some of the questions we hope to help you answer. Before following this advice, remember I am not a medical professional and therefore cannot advise you personally. You should always discuss your medications and supplements with your doctor before making any changes. Remember, just because it is the right medication or amount of medication for someone else, doesn’t mean it’s right for you, and vice versa. Read on to consider how you might prevent your drug cabinet from resembling a fully-fledged pharmacy.
Begin by having a discussion with your doctor. Write down any questions you might have about your medical conditions and medication before you come to the office and bring those questions with you. Some suggestions to consider: Is Medication A something that I still need even though I no longer experience the symptoms it was prescribed to treat? Is there a lower dose of this medication that could be just as effective? Have any recent advancements presented an alternative to Medication A? Try to think about what concerns you most about your medications. Is it the side effects, the cost, the after taste, or the schedule of your medication that makes you want to change it? Bring these thoughts up to your doctor and take notes on what he or she says in response.
Then consider discussing whether a supplement, several supplements, or a change in diet might treat you disease, pain, or symptoms just as well as the medication does. For instance, it is widely known that Butterbur and Magnesium Citrate treat migraines and headaches very effectively. If you discuss it with your doctor you could possibly replace your current headache-controlling medication with these supplements. Similarly, Aloe Vera has been known to treat constipation just as well as laxatives. There is a world of supplements, vitamins, and minerals that could help ease symptoms (sometimes) just as well as conventional medication.
Next, consider trying dietary changes. An increased intake of water-soluble fiber and probiotic-dense fermented foods could ease digestive trouble. Consuming enough water can prevent headaches and constipation. Eliminating high glycemic index foods can prevent blood sugar spikes and drops. All of these tactics can be worked into a well-balanced diet with the approval of your doctor. Keep a food journal for a week and then talk to your doctor about your diet and what changes he or she might recommend to benefit your health.
Then consider changes to your daily habits. If you wake up with stiff, painful joints consider discussing replacing your pain or joint medication with gentle stretching or yoga. Similarly, if your joint pain could be alleviated by weight loss try walking around the neighborhood. Time spent in nature has been shown to alleviate anxiety and lower blood pressure to leave you feeling better at the end of your sweat session than at the start.
Lastly, talk to your doctor about altering the prescription medications you are currently taking. Maybe there is a single medication that could treat two symptoms that you are currently taking two medications for. Perhaps a lower dose of a medication could be just as effective. With your doctor’s permission you could try slowly tapering off a medication to see if the symptoms it was treating come back. If you are taking multiple medications to control one symptom consider tapering off whichever one you and your doctor think is least effective. Do not get disheartened if your doctor thinks it is unsafe to drop a certain medication. If he or she believes it is essential to your health it is far better to take the medication as prescribed than to change the way you are taking it.
Your most important partner in your health care journey is your doctor. Always discuss with your doctor any changes to diet, lifestyle, or medication before you make them. Communicate clearly what you want and need from your health care plan and your doctor will be able to assist you.