Is Pill-Popping a Cultural Obsession that Impedes True Healing?

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

We live in a pill-popping culture. In recognition, two doctors commented in a 2014 medical journal article that current over-usage tends “to distract us” from the real nature of disease and healing.

The article authors, Drew Leder, M.D., Ph.D., of Loyola University (Baltimore) and Mitchell Krucoff, M.D., of Duke University, put pills into perspective: while many pills have “great therapeutic potential,” the “exaggerated cultural fantasy” with them leads to many adverse effects and misunderstandings of the function of pills, which is “to assist bodily processes.”

Pills are models of miniaturized technical devices “capable of downloading into the body healing chemicals. As such, they seem to promise a disburdening solution to many of life’s ills,” they wrote. However, we need “to learn how to better choose and use them wisely,” they added, and begin regarding pills as a gift, with “appropriate gratitude and discernment,” so that “we may ingest fewer pills, but with greater efficacy.”

My Viewpoint: Over-dependence on medication in our society is a problem for both physicians and patients. Annual spending for prescription drugs doubled to $234 billion from 1999 to 2008. It’s no wonder, since according to a 2010 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half (48 percent) of Americans are taking medications! Thirty-one percent take 2 or more drugs. And 11 percent take 5 or more. One out of every 5 kids, and 9 out of 10 seniors are taking medication.

What this Means to You: I have used drugs countless times to save lives but I am against using drugs as the be-all and end-all of medicine. It’s not smart medicine; they have too many serious side effects. Physicians overprescribe and patients “over-want” as they both look for a quick fix. Pills may reduce symptoms but don’t get to the root cause which is often poor lifestyle habits. Changing lifestyle habits for the better might require education and hard work, but yields ongoing, healthy and safe results.

Recommendation: As the authors write, we need to choose and use pills more wisely. If you take multiple medications, ask your doctor to review your intake, and inquire about cutting down, and perhaps eliminating some. Work with a nutritionally-savvy alternative medicine doctor who can help you adjust your lifestyle and formulate and monitor a supplement program that can support tapering down or getting off specific drugs – as I often effectively did for my patients.

© 2014 HeartMDInstitute. All rights reserved.

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  1. Dorothy Cline

    on February 26, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Popping pills doesn’t mean just medical prescription drugs, how about all the pills Dr. Sinatra pushes–Mostly they help the body, but how many is too many?

    Regarding prescription drugs–one elderly friend commented that “Once they get you on their pills, you never have one day when you feel good.” I told that to a prescribing doctor one time and her remark was: “Well, we are saving lives.” I replied,”maybe but what about the quality of life when one NEVER feels good.”

  2. Dorothy Cline

    on February 26, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Why is my comment never allowed to be submitted?

  3. Jim Engel

    on February 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    I’ve been taking Dr. Whittakers and Dr. Sinatra’s pills for many (10-20) years. I’ve taken the pills recommened by their literature for Sugar Diabetes, an Enlarged prostrate and Heart Disease and a quadruple artery bypass. Read both doctors books, but find it very difficult to find a Medical doctor who understands holistic-alternative medicine. I take 43 different supplements for all the above and have no idea which pills that overlap the ailment I’m treating. I take Finistaride and Hytrin for prostate , Invokana/Metformin for diabetes and Metropolol-Lisinopril for Heart. Where do I go for medical advice ?

  4. Staranne Maxson

    on February 27, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    I have also been taking Dr. Sinatra’s supplements (3) for about 3 years with good results. My concern is the thought process that seems to say if a little does this much good, a whole LOT must be even better. Taking a tiny amount of B12 over a few years can cause severe harm to a diabetic with CKD, according to his med/supplement cross checker on his website. Can taking 12,500% of the daily value of this vitamin, found in his flagship supplement, over the same timeframe send a diabetic into CKD? My doctor doesn’t know. The “trained” representatives who answer the phone at Healthy Directions are not qualified to answer. Dr. Sinatra, in all practicality, is pretty hard to reach, if you don’t live near him. Where can we find answers to our questions?

  5. Barbara

    on February 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I am totally fed up with the medical profession in general. Too many specialists who are not interested in what the “other” doctors advise/prescribe, etc. I cannot afford to buy from Healthy Directions so I just do the best I can within my means. I’m 72 years old and I am feeling much better without all of the prescription drugs. I stopped taking cholesterol meds over a year ago and it seems that now there are some serious questions about them. My BP is normal without the medications and I decided to eat healthier and do some form of exercise every day. Don’t recommend for everyone, but for me it works.

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