July 26, 2023
“The medication manages it so well,” he thought.
I had a conversation with a family member a while back about the medication they’ve been taking for several years. As an herbalist, it’s my job to research drugs for side-effects and contraindications with plants. In doing research, I came across a warning about this medication. It has a high (and well-known) risk of causing kidney failure and this becomes problematic the longer someone’s on it. I texted them the research and suggested they talk with their doctor about weaning off and of course, I offered to help.
Here's another story, I woman came to our office the other day who’s on 8 medications for hypertension. Yes, you read that correctly, 8! I don’t even know how that happens, but I imagine that her physicians are honestly trying to keep her alive.
I support your health choices, whatever they may be. I believe there are many roads to well-being. For some that path includes taking life-saving medications forever. For others that includes taking medications for a short amount of time to get an issue under control. For others that includes refusing medications. Do what feels most aligned with you.
And if you’re on medications that you’d like to wean yourself off of or one day find yourself in need of medication, keep this in the back of your mind: there is a window of time where medications may work without noticeable side-effects. Noticeable being the operative word. In the same way that you don’t feel your body creating new cells, you won’t feel damaged cells dying. It’s a progression toward increased tissue damage and that window of time really depends on your body’s vitality.
Two of the most common long-term warnings I see when researching medications are hepatotoxicity and renal failure. Your liver and kidneys do the heavy lifting of detoxifying and cleansing. When we are taking substances that are not biologically compatible with our bodies, whether its artificial dyes from food, or medications the body has to figure out what to do with what’s foreign and that’s a big job.
Here's what you can do:
So what happened with that family member? He texted his old doctor and the physician agreed that they should probably get him off of that medication. Now he’s seeing a new doctor who’s more holistically minded and with a plan in place the doctor said, ‘it’d be better for you to have a flare up than to continue taking this medication.”
As always, remember you have options and that your path to wellbeing can be customized to suit your needs, goals, and greatest alignment.
Today’s plant ally on our Path of Possibility is Wild Lettuce! Wild Lettuce is fitting for our conversation on medications because pain medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription are some of the drugs taken the most. The most used over-the-counter drugs are Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen and hepatotoxicity is a significant adverse reaction consideration for acetaminophen. Here’s a quick video about the risks of chronic use of NSAIDS.
Back to Wild Lettuce. While it’s not fair to do a side-by-side comparison of herbal pain relievers to drug analgesics, Wild Lettuce’s ability to dial down acute pain, tension, spasm, and even anxiety (which worsens pain) is pretty remarkable. And I love it when the medicine we need grows prolifically - you likely have Wild Lettuce growing nearby! Wild Lettuce is another example of the abundant support in nature that’s within our reach. Relief is a gift when you live with chronic pain and when herbs. Here's a longer video on Wild Lettuce that includes some nuances and considerations should you decide to work with it.
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