If you’ve read our newsletter in the past, you’re familiar with our motto of lifestyle interventions first and foremost, and medications as a last resort for treating physical ailments. But even we were shocked to find out that older individuals, on average, are on 15 prescription medications each year.
A recent New York Times article highlighted these findings from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists – “People aged 65 to 69 take an average of 15 prescription medications a year, and those aged 80 to 84 take 18 prescriptions a year. And that’s in addition to the myriad of over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals they may take, any of which — alone or in combination — could cause more problems than they cure.”
An overwhelming majority of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies have harmful side-effects, especially when taken improperly. Legacy prescribing – when a drug is prescribed and then taken beyond its recommended or needed timeframe – is also a common issue and partly to blame for the many medications we sometimes find ourselves taking. We should also keep in mind that it’s not only conventional medical doctors who over-prescribe. Alternative and functional medicine doctors are also guilty of this – often in the form of supplements, herbals, and unnecessary testing that don’t actually contribute to better health.
Where gut health is concerned, keep in mind that prescription medications – such as laxatives for constipation, acid blocking drugs for reflux, antibiotics for SIBO, and psychotherapy drugs for IBS – often fail to address the problem at its root, and instead cover up the problem, causing side effects and potentially worsening the condition in the long run.