Oct 282015
Damien Hirst

Damien Hirst, ‘Lullaby, the Seasons Spring’ (detail), 2002

I love this Damien Hirst print. I could easily create my own with the amount of medication some of my patients are taking when they first come to see me. A large number of them are experiencing symptoms caused by these drugs. This is mainly medication prescribed by doctors, but also includes drugs bought over the counter, such as painkillers and antacids.

Read the label

Sometimes the patient is aware that their symptoms are, or may be, caused by the side effects of medication, but often they are not. And I’d just like to say here that it’s important to read the list of potential side effects, and contraindications with other medication and health complaints, that accompanies any medication you are prescribed. Doctors don’t always give you all, or even some, of this information.


Just to complicate matters, some of the patients’ symptoms may stem from medication prescribed to help counter the side effects of the first lot of medication prescribed. It’s part of a syndrome known as ‘polypharmacy’, aka, ‘over-prescribing’ (my definition).

Recent research has revealed that approximately two-thirds of the drugs given to polypharmacy patients can safely be stopped, with no ill effects. In fact, often with very positive effects. There was a great article in the New Statesman in October last year, called ‘The old lady was taking lots of pills – and then she got confused’… Kind of sums it all up.

Statins, painkillers, anti-inflammatories….

Some of the commonly prescribed drugs that my patients have problems with include a whole range of antidepressants, statins, blood pressure and heart medication, thyroid meds, asthma medication, HRT and the contraceptive pill, painkillers, anti-inflammatories and steroids. Specifically, a few names that spring to mind because I hear them so often, are Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Levothyroxine, Carbimazole, Propranolol, Tamsulosin, Finasteride, Tranexamic acid, Alendronic acid, Clopidogrel, Atenolol…. to name but a very few.

A natural approach to side effects

What I help people to do, is work out which meds may be causing problems for them, and look at ways to help them either stop, or reduce, that medication, using herbal medicine – medicinal plants – as an alternative and/or support while withdrawing from medication. At the same time, I will be trying to find the underlying cause of their health problem, and using herbal medicine, dietary and lifestyle advice to help them resolve it naturally, without any further damage to their health. At the very least, I aim to reduce the amount of medication they are taking, improve symptoms and quality of life, by supporting the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

  2 Responses to “Side effects of medication”

  1. Well Deanne, whilst I agree that medication is very much ‘over prescribed’, with doctors not knowing the effects of what they are prescribing because not enough study has been done on the possible side effects, it is often the patient who finds out to their cost, that what they are taking can have side effects that are often in the very small print if the booklet that comes with your tabs .
    In 2010, I suffered a workplace injury whilst working at a health facility and a few weeks later I developed Cellulitis, which was not diagnosed as such until much later… It was generally assumed by nearly everyone that it was part of my injury..
    For the first 4 years I was prescribed a time release analgesic which I could even take without fluid in an emergency. In the meantime I had had my operation and within 6 months my Cellulitis had blossomed into full-blown ulcers just above the scar tissue right up to my knee.. I was on a low dosage Penicillin for 2 yrs which just kept me stable..then my dr decided to change my medication and I then had a succession of antibiotics that were very expensive.. I can take Penicillin for a little while but as it builds up in my body I start developing allergies. Unfortunately these types of wounds heal best with this.. One particular medication had no side effects in my stomach but I bled from the bowel every time I used the toilet.. This then propelled me to ask online at various holistic sites what was best to tackle this..after having continually being told that I would have these ulcers for at least 20 yrs…For someone who before my injury hardly took anything this negativity from nearly every health professional I came across was quite demoralising and sad.. I determined that I would not accept this life sentence and so I started on a journey of many pitfalls, but also some wonderful long-term commitments in place to bring me to a better place
    1) Silver colloidal ..2) Black seed oil..3) change of diet..4) more water..5) various vitamins, specifically the ones that dealt with my immune system and a positive attitude, despite the continual mockery of the things that I was trying, by my own doctor and other professionals in the injury management area that were dealing with me at the time..
    The thing is that you are a guinea pig for the pharmaceutical companies and you are a source of income for the doctors who deal with you, so therefore they aren’t interested in your attempts to get better on your merits… They would rather see you as a number in the system continually taken their conditions and staying sick.. Like everything else in life don’t dare to go against the flow !
    A dear friend showed me some dvds from her naturopath that showed a lot of success with pain management and water.. Which sounds wonderful in theory but when you’ve eaten something that has had a bad reaction and you are having intense bone pain for up to 12 hours and no amount of tabs will kill the pain, it is hardly a consolation … Rather than becoming a statistic be pro-active and experiment with what is best for you… Don’t blindly accept that what the doctors tell you is 110% true..
    You after all, are the person who has to live 24/7 with your condition and if you accept that they know best, your body will end up falling apart because we are not designed to live continually on fake medication.
    Thank you for allowing me to share these experiences with you… on my journey which is not over yet…
    I’m currently on the final antibiotic that I can take and I supplement this with vitamins and minerals and simply don’t discuss the other stuff I’m taking because they tend to label you..

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jan. I’m sure your story, and your determination and actions, will inspire others in similar situations to take control of their own health, and fight back. I wish you well, and send you my support and encouragement, as you continue on your healing journey.

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