Where are we currently?
Over 50 % of Americans take more than 4 prescription medications on average according to a consumer reports survey of 1,947 adults.
Nearly 1.3 million Americans went to emergency rooms due to adverse drug effects in 2014 and about 124,000 died from those events. Statistics in 2022 Canadians aged 40-79 take one or more prescription drugs and about 35 % of Australians take prescription medicine every day according to Health Direct 2018.
What is deprescribing?
Deprescribing is the process of intentionally stopping a medication or reducing its dose to improve the person's health or reduce the risk of adverse side effects. Deprescribing is part of good prescribing – backing off when doses are too high or stopping medications that are no longer needed. The goal of deprescribing is to improve and maintain quality of life.
Why should people deprescribe?
I’m not against medication. It saves lives and people suffering from cancer, high blood pressure, chronic pain, and mental illnesses it helps to control their symptoms. However, when it becomes long-term usage I think it is important to understand the benefits vs the risk.
Our body changes over time and the same happens to the environment we live in. It is therefore important to evaluate the medication and side effects it may have on our body to consider reducing or stopping the medication. E.g an immunosuppressant stops the annoying symptoms, but it also impairs the immune system, which doesn't allow the root causes of autoimmune disease to be addressed in the gut so it is sustained and requires the drug.
A proton pump inhibitor ( PPI) relieves symptoms of acid reflux and works by reducing the amount of stomach acid made by glands in the lining of your stomach but if you are low in stomach acid it impairs the absorption of key nutrients, like magnesium that is needed for optimal functioning of the lower esophageal sphincter so it becomes a vicious cycle. The same happens to medication for type two diabetes that just increases insulin furthering the disease process.
Deprescribing using a Functional Medicine Lens
Deprescribing can be one of the most fulfilling things I do in my practice and to see how much better my clients feel. Most people. would prefer not to take medications if given the chance to empower, educate and support. I find deprescribing represents a new focus in guiding clients to true wellness and when the body gets the proper nutrients and when the actual root cause of the disease is uncovered the body’s need for medications decreases all by itself
Until next time