In the early 20th century, an amazing, a life saving class of medications first came to be used, anti-biotics. Since then, antibiotics have saved millions of lives. However, sometime between this amazing discovery and today, less than 100 years later, we, as a society have come to believe that medications are a cure all. Don’t get me wrong, medications in an acute setting, or for an acute problem, like an infection, ARE life saving. But what about chronic disease? Particularly, what about diseases that are lifestyle related or even lifestyle induced? Why are we taking a lifestyle problem and addressing it with a medical answer? Doing so is like putting a band-aid on a bleeding head wound. The first rule of treating a bleeding patient is to find the source of the bleed, and stop it, not to cover it with a bandage. The bandage would only mask the problem, and it would continue to worsen. Why are we not diving into the roots of chronic diseases and trying to treat the underlying causes? We have GOT to stop seeking a pill for every ailment and look deeper, if we really want good health.
Let’s take the biggest health epidemic plaguing our society, metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of diseases/conditions which center around high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, insulin resistance/pre-diabetes/type 2 diabetes and obesity. If we tackle this syndrome with medications, we will take one, two or even three medications to treat each component of this condition. But the reason these diseases have been clustered together, is because they have a common cause. If we treat the cause, we need only treat it with ONE approach…healthy lifestyle. Medications do NOT reverse chronic lifestyle-induced illness. In fact, most of these medications CREATE other conditions that then need to be treated.
Medications should be used as aids to assist us while we are using lifestyle modification to heal from chronic disease. Depending on how long we have had a particular health condition, and how much damage it has done, we may not be able to stop all medications used to treat chronic disease. But if we are using medication ONLY, with no change to lifestyle, and we think that medications will make us well, we are very much mistaken. Deep down, I think we all know this. We know it because all of these medications make us feel terrible!
To return to my previous analogy, let’s stop ignoring the bleeding. Let’s stitch the wound, and let’s use a smaller bandage to catch any remaining bleeding until we are healed. Then rip off the bandage and throw it in the garbage when it is finished doing its job.