Everybody over the age of 55 should be on a pill to lower their blood pressure. Oh, and we might as well just go ahead and put statins in the water. Well, at least that’s what the latest research suggests.
An impressive study was recently published that analyzed data from over 100 studies on the use of blood pressure medications. This study came to the conclusion that we don’t need to measure blood pressure anymore because any decrease in blood pressure is beneficial, whether you have hypertension or not.
These authors suggest we should put everyone on a daily blood pressure pill. Their study came out riding close on the heels of another “landmark” study that was done on statins. The statin study came to a similar conclusion, namely that a daily dose of statin is good for everyone, whether you have high cholesterol or not.
Armed with these study results, a pharmaceutical company is poised and ready to market a break through polypill. A pill that contains a couple blood pressure lowering meds, a statin, and, of course, don’t forget the daily baby aspirin. Imagine, all these meds in one little pill for our daily lifetime use. This sounds like a bad sci fi movie about some flawed futuristic society.
Is the human body really so flawed that we all require medications? Have we lost our ability to heal ourselves, to care for ourselves, to prevent disease and illness in ourselves? What in the world is going on?
Our society uses medications to prevent disease, to treat the cause of disease, to treat the symptoms of disease, and to even to treat the side effects caused by all the medications.
Pharmaceutical companies are massively lucrative businesses. Primary care physicians are pharmacists who happen to know how to diagnose and refer patients to surgeons. Natural medicine companies are popping up like wildflowers in response to the consumer’s intuitive distrust of prescription meds, allowing individuals to trade one pill for another and feel good about it.
The overdependence and over use of medication is a rampant problem in today’s society. Many individual’s turn to a pill and away from proactive involvement in their own health. They relinquish power without a second thought but scowl at prescription costs and whine to their doctors about the side effects.
Pills are promising, shiny, colorful little monsters. An easy fix in the palm of your hand. Is there a solution to this problem? Can we empower individuals with alternatives to medications, to means and methods of improving health that could provide benefits far beyond the quick fix?
Some of us would like to think so. The other day a colleague asked if I had any Tylenol for her throbbing headache. Instead I showed her how to rub a few acupressure spots while doing some deep breathing. Problem fixed, no pills involved.
Can we let our food be medicine, our physical activity be medicine, our thoughts be medicine? Can we begin to listen to our bodies and respond to our needs instead of ignoring or repressing them? Can we learn when a pill is necessary and when other medication-free options are the clear answer?
The answer is a brilliant, hopeful YES. But this will require a paradigm shift. Patients, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, medical schools, the healthcare system at large will have to change. Seems like a daunting task, but have hope. Too bad we don’t have a pill for that.