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Dr Russ Blog - The Most Prescribed Drugs - and Why Some Shouldn't Be
The Most Prescribed Drugs - and Why Some Shouldn't Be
Created on 2/18/2014

IMS Health recently released their list of the top-selling and most commonly prescribed medications. A look at the information gives reason for pause - here are the top 10 most prescribed medications for 2013:

1) Synthroid (for hypothyroidism / low-functioning thyroid)

2) Crestor (for high cholesterol)

3) Nexium (for acid reflux, GERD and similar disorders)

4) Cymbalta (used in the treatment of depression)

5) Ventolin (asthma medication)

6) Advair Diskus (asthma medication)

7) Diovan (for high blood pressure)

8) Vyvanse (used with attention deficit disorder)

9) Lyrica (primarily used to treat seizure disorders)

10) Spiriva (for management of COPD)

Most of the medications on this list are clearly indicated for the management of the disorders listed beside them - but for numbers 2-4, and even #7, a lot can be done on our own, and might lessen our need for drug therapy.

High cholesterol? A tasty Mediterranean diet, or the more specialized Portfolio Diet plan, can help lower cholesterol, especially when combined with regular exercise.

Acid Reflux? You might need medication for a period of time, but be sure to ask your doctor how long you'll need to take the agent, and how best to get off it (so-called PPIs, or Proton Pump Inhibitors, are associated with a number of potentially harsh side effects). Managing stress effectively and lessening intake of caffeine and alcohol can help reduce symptoms of acid reflux.

(Keep in mind that PPIs are also used to treat ulcers in the stomach and small intestine, and unhealthy changes in the lining of the esophagus [the tube that leads from the mouth to the stomach] - in which case you will likely need to be on the PPI for a long time.)

Depression? Hopefully you are aware that mild forms of depression, even some cases of moderate depression, respond well to diet and lifestyle changes. Antidepressant medication can be very important for people with major depression, but with very mild forms drug therapy may not be indicated.

High blood pressure? Yes, you may need medication - but talk with your doctor about the DASH diet, developing a program of regular exercise and proper body weight management, and stress reduction. These activities can help reduce blood pressure to some degree on their own.

A word of caution - DO NOT STOP TAKING YOUR MEDICATION(S) WITHOUT FIRST SPEAKING WITH YOUR DOCTOR - doing so can be bad for you, as well as make you feel bad. For example, stopping an antidepressant "cold turkey" will often make you feel very, very bad for at least a few days.

Drug therapy is an important mainstay of modern medical care - and it's worth remembering that our bodies are remarkable and can respond well to our taking good care of them -

and so maybe negate the need for a prescription drug, or lessen the recommended dose.

Speak with your doctor or pharmacist to see if there are ways you might safely and effectively manage your health issues while using less medication - it might take a big commitment in terms of diet and exercise, at the least, but wouldn't it be great to have more control over your health?

And if your doctor tells you that you need to take your medication(s) to be healthy - please take them.

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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