“When you have a symptom—when you feel cloudy, sad, sore, gassy, weepy, tired, or unnecessarily anxious—bring some wonder to it. Ask why and try to make the connections. Your body’s symptoms are telling you something about equilibrium. Your body is trying to tell you that it has lost balance. Stand back and appreciate the infinite complexity of your organism.” Dr. Kelly Brogan
When was the last time you checked out the side effects of a new med your doctor prescribed – or even paid attention to the exhaustive list of possible repercussions of any of the drugs whose commercials commonly interrupt our favorite programming?
Here’s a true story about a friend of mine that might get you thinking . . .
A Step into Antidepressants
Here’s how it all started . . .
My friend was experiencing a particularly difficult time in her life. A death in the family. Feelings of sadness that bordered on depression. Hopelessness. Sleepless nights. All conditions that can put anyone in a downward spiral.
This, added to the isolation and events of the pandemic, led her to consult her physician, who prescribed a mild antidepressant. At a dose that she described as “such a light dose” as to be hardly noticeable.
At first, it seemed to help. But then it all went downhill. She began experiencing periods of fatigue. Fatigue so intense that if she didn’t lie down, she’d pass out.
Attacks of vertigo followed that would lay her out flat on the floor and immobilize her.
Spells of dizziness ensued. Brain fog got her thinking she might have some neurodegenerative disease or even a brain tumor (for which she underwent a diagnostic MRI). She even came close to an accident when she fell asleep at the wheel of her car.
Never once did she connect the “light dose” med she had been taking to what was happening to her at the time.
Lights Back On!
Her husband started to do a little sleuthing and checked into the “side effects” of the med she was taking. Here’s what the package listed – verbatim . . .
“anorgasmia, asthenia, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, headache, anorexia, decreased appetite, delayed ejaculation, diaphoresis, and xerostomia. Other side effects include abdominal pain, anxiety, blurred vision, hypertension, impotence, tremor, visual disturbance, vomiting, diarrhea, dyspepsia, increased serum cholesterol, pharyngitis, vasodilation, weight loss, decreased libido, increased dream activity, yawning, abnormal dreams, and flatulence. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.” (Yes, the list continued.)
The Rest of the Story
That was the end of that. She tapered off the drug and within a short period, the brain fog cleared. Dizziness and fatigue vanished. Worry about some tumor growing inside stopped. In her words: it was as if “. . . a curtain was lifted and I became myself again.”
What We Fail to Hear
Drug companies list every possible side effect of their meds. But when was the last time you actually paid attention?
We’ve come to believe so heavily in the magic of a “pill” to fix us, we often fail to consider the possible repercussions.
Your Body as a “System”
While medications have their place, most often they are a bridge and a bandaid to help us while we seek the root cause of an illness – the approach taken by “Functional” practitioners.
The body is an interconnected “system”. And like a delicate, intricate spider web, when you pull on one part of it, the entire web shifts.
Meds work in many ways . . . through gene activation, changing the way our cells work, by blocking or interfering with natural pathways – all of which have downstream consequences, such as . . .
- Driving nutrient deficiencies by interrupting the internal production of nutrients
- Impairing the absorption of nutrients
- Creating more free radicals which drive inflammation and accelerate the aging process
- Altering your gut microbiome – the center of your health
- Impairing and damaging mitochondrial function – the source of your energy
Most Prescribed Drugs & Possible Impacts
Here are some potential side effects of the most prescribed . . .
Statins – block the body’s production of CoQ10 – an essential nutrient and antioxidant naturally produced in your body and required for heart, brain, and cellular health.
CoQ10 is involved in energy production, cardiovascular health, blood pressure, brain health, and even the production of hormones. Diminishing this key nutrient results in numerous possible side effects from muscle damage and joint aches and pains, to mental impairment, and memory issues.
PPIs and Antacids – The interesting thing about acid reflux, heartburn, and what we think of is too much acid is often the reverse – too little acid.
Long-term use of PPIs, by diminishing HCL, impair the breakdown and absorption of proteins in your belly, deplete essential minerals (vitamin B12, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and magnesium), and are linked to heart disease, arrhythmia, bone density.
PPIs also set the stage for the growth of harmful, opportunistic bacteria which can take over in a low acid environment and lead to more complex gastrointestinal problems.
Perhaps most disturbing. . . More than 50% + of infants in the country are prescribed PPIs for inconsolable crying. This increases their sustainability down the road to “acute gastroenteritis, community-acquired pneumonia, and disorders of nutrient absorption and utilization.”
SSRIs / Antidepressants – Among the side effects discussed previously, SSRIs may interfere with the production of iodine and thus drive the need for thyroid medications. They also deplete melatonin, a powerful antioxidant and mood regulator. Other side effects include insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea. And another concern . . . potential for reduced blood clotting capacity putting patients at an increased risk for internal bleeding.
Antibiotics – wipe out your gut flora – the gatekeepers of your health, can damage the lining of your gut, disrupt digestion and elimination, impair your immune function, and are linked to obesity, depression, sepsis, asthma and allergies.
Oral Birth Control – increase something called “sex hormone-binding globulin” (SHBG). You don’t need to remember that. What you need to know is the potential downstream impact of “the pill” – which includes things like low libido, flat mood, hair loss, depression, constipation, weight gain, and increased inflammatory markers.
Always Ask WHY
When you’re struggling with a health issue the first question to ask is WHY?
I’m not advising you to stop your meds – that can be dangerous and only your physician can do that. What I am suggesting is that you begin to investigate the reasons behind the illness and start asking why . . .
Why are my veins clogging . . . my blood pressure up. . . my thyroid malfunctioning . . . my stomach always in a churn?
Asking why will help you uncover the root cause of the problem. Instead of applying a bandaid, seek out the source of the problem. Often the medication you’re taking for one ill can result in a cascade of meds that cause even more havoc in your body.
It’s Not in Your Genes
It is estimated that around 90% of chronic illness is not genetically driven, but a function of lifestyle and environment. In other words, your lifestyle choices drive your health. Food, movement, sleep, stress, meds, etc. – all influences that are within our control.
Ask for Help
If you struggle with your health and want to get to the bottom of it, schedule a call here. The first one’s on me. ♥
With love & health,
Disclaimer – I am not a physician or medical professional. I’m a coach with a desire to help you find your way to a healthier/happier life. The information I provide is for educational and informational purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice or establish any patient-client relationships.