Modern medicine has made amazing strides in curing diseases, eliminating symptoms and overall making us a much healthier society. A substantial part of this can be attributed to the advent of many effective prescription drugs available to treat a host of physical ailments. The challenge now is that there is basically a pill for almost anything that ails us. Do we really need to be taking so many prescription drugs?

A brief history of prescription drugs

During the past 120 years there has been a revolution in medical treatments and options available to the public. Medicines have been discovered to cure diseases and to relieve pain. Aspirin was first introduced in 1899 and is considered the first and effective medicine that was not addictive. In the years following, as more medications were created, so was the need to come up with laws to protect the public from addictive narcotics and even addictive non-narcotics. In 1938, amendments to the Pure Food and Drug Act brings the abuse of non-narcotic medicines under the responsibility of the FDA. In 1986, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a report that recommended the use of opiate pain relief medication for those suffering from cancer and other serious illnesses that carried heavy, acute pain as a symptom. This report stated that first, the physician should try over-the-counter medication such as Ibuprofen, then if that did not ease the patient’s pain, codeine and other like opioids should be prescribed. Finally, if the pain was still not relieved, the doctor would recommend morphine and other related pain killing medication. Today, we are moving towards more stringent oversight on prescription drugs to ensure they’re dispensed and used correctly to avoid addiction or adverse medical effects.

How prescription drugs are used today

While prescription drugs seem to get a bad rap, not all prescription drugs are bad if used correctly and dispensed as needed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. As a matter of fact, 1 in 2 Americans take prescription drugs. The National Center for Health Statistics surveyed people across the US and found that about 46 percent of respondents had taken at least one prescription drug in the past month.  The proportion of Americans that take pills increases with age, with under 20% of children under 12 regularly taking prescription drugs, and 85% of adults over 60 being medicated.  Those are some big numbers! Are they really necessary?

Should we put more emphasis on natural alternatives to prescription medications?

This question is best discussed with your healthcare provider. However, it’s a good idea to understand what natural remedies can address your health issues in lieu of, or in addition to, prescriptions drugs. Prescription medicines and advances in medical treatment have helped people avoid disability and death caused by disease, lowered overall treatment costs, and has lowered death rates for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other deadly diseases for several decades so they should not be disregarded as an option altogether. Instead, understand how natural options such as taking turmeric for pain or oil of oregano for anti-bacterial effects can help overall. Also consider that unlike more natural remedies, many prescription drugs have a limit on how long you can take them without experiencing adverse effects.  For example, many people take turmeric instead of NSAIDs to allow the body to heal naturally without potentially damaging stomach, liver and kidneys. Oil of oregano can be taken instead of antibiotics which can only be taken for a short period of time. As a matter of fact, research has also shown that oregano oil may be effective against types of bacteria that can become resistant to antibiotics.

Understand your options and talk to your doctor

The advances in medicine over the years has been incredible, but alternative medicine with more natural options hasn’t changed. If you are concerned about an over-reliance on prescription drugs, understand your options and talk to your doctor. He or she may give you more natural options for treatment to help you reduce your reliance on prescription drugs. Work together towards the end goal of better health and well-being.