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3 Prescription Drugs That Do More Harm Than Good

Changing Course

Many doctors rely on pharmaceutical reps and materials for the latest information on treatment options. And they’re inundated with reports — that may or may not be credible — about the latest research. As Golomb notes, clinical studies designed to prove the efficacy of a certain drug have inherent limitations, particularly as it relates to examining safety.

For patients seeking unbiased information, two credible resources are The Cochrane Collaboration ( and Clinical Evidence (, both of which feature summaries of valid pieces of research that provide important, relevant, more accessible information to patients and doctors.

At the very least, patients should ask their doctors to explain the pros and cons of every drug in a way they can understand, so patient and doctor can share the decision about treatment, says Brownlee. “If your primary-care doctor says, ‘I’m ever so busy, I’m not going to do that,’ you might need to find a new doctor who will help you be informed and who will share treatment decisions with you,” she says.

Patients must be “assertive, smart consumers” to make sure they are not being overmedicated or getting drugs they do not need, says Joseph T. Hanlon, PharmD, MS, professor of medicine in the University of Pittsburgh’s Division of Geriatrics and Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, and health scientist at the VA Pittsburgh Health Care System. “Make a list of every drug you are on and make sure you can answer five questions: What is it called? What are you taking it for? How and when are you taking it? What are the common side effects? And when will the treatment stop?” Hanlon says. “Medical schools don’t always do the best job of teaching prescribing. You are your own best advocate.”

Pamela Weintraub is features editor at Discover and author of Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic (St. Martin’s Press, 2008).

Many Problems, One Cure

You’ve probably heard the line in plenty of pharma ads: “When lifestyle changes aren’t enough . . . ” But changing your life can and does work, even in tough cases — as long as you’re making the changes that really count.

In fact, research shows that basic shifts in nutrition, activity, stress and other lifestyle factors can be more effective than drug protocols in treating inflammatory health conditions — dramatically improving overall health and fitness in the process.

Unfortunately, most people (including many primary-care physicians) don’t know what kinds of lifestyle factors actually work, or how to go about embracing them. So we’ve gathered articles from our archives that cover effective interventions for tackling chronic health problems. Get all 11 in one downloadable PDF by clicking “Get the PDF” to download.

Tips from the Archives at
Get the PDF

Related Links:
Nutrients Depleted By Common Pharmaceutical Drugs
The Surprising Second Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
Conquer High Cholesterol
10 Food Swaps to Lower Blood Pressure

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2:15AM PDT on Jun 21, 2013

thanks for the informative article. The statins i have used in the past has left me a legacy of sore muscles to really really painful muscles especially in my thighs. Im sick to death of taking drugs and sick to death with dealing with issues assoc. with them. I am very sensitive to drugs and have tried quite a few, chopping and changing, to no avail. Clearly I cant be the only one, can I? I dont think so. When you stop statins your muscles are still effected which when I first started them wasnt told about. Nice Huh?

1:42AM PDT on Jun 6, 2013

Great info. I agree, there are way too many medicines that we should do our homework on. Thanks for sharing!

3:19AM PDT on May 16, 2013

Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

6:56AM PDT on May 14, 2013

thanks for posting

6:25AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013


4:07PM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Prescription drugs are poison virtually nothing can't be cured with proper diet and exercise,vaccines serve only weaken your immune system,big pharma starts poisoning you at birth with them.I am 41 yrs old and have never been to a doctor other than the forced stuff in the military I exercise almost daily and eat right take a few supplements I haven't had so much as cold in 20 yrs. I whole hearted believe its from allowing my body to heal itself rather than taking there pills,I take q10 C ,B, supplements yr round and D in the winter,also use a mix of peppermint speariment and almond oils for tooth brushing and haven't been to dentist in 20 yrs. The last 4 yrs or so I've been organic juicing atleast one drink a day,do a 5 day partial juice fast (eat 1 plain salad a day during)once a month to cleanse myself of the red meat and pork I can't give up.Man survived thousands of yrs. Without there pills and vaccines.

12:57PM PDT on Apr 17, 2013


food is also medicine and we need to educate ourselves about this and use this as well as part of our healthcare. It is too bad this is not incorporated as part of our general education from K-12 and beyond, perhaps it will be some day.

12:54PM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

The majority of our doctors have been trained in "allopathic" or "standard" medicine and they have been taught to use pharmaceutical drugs to manage health problems. This is what they know. They have not been trained in in natural alternative medications or medical treatments and therefore do not feel confident or comfortable in using or prescribing them. This does not make them demons, it's simply a matter of how they have been trained and the kind of knowledge they have been given. There are a few exceptions of doctors who will incorporate both types of treatment, but they are few and far between and very hard to find. Insurance companies do not want to pay for alternative medical practitioners or treatments, which further compunds the problem, and since insurance companies will not pay for these things you have to pay for them yourself. We have to be very proactive in being our own health care advocates, do the research on the drugs being prescribed to us, do the research on the natural alternatives, and figure out what seems to be the safest and most effective treatment. However herbal and natural remedies also have natural chemical properties (which is why they work) and you need to have some knowledge of how to use them safely, what are safe and effective doses, and which ones not to combine, or not to use at all if you have certain health issues, etc. Nutrition also plays a big part in our health, food is also medicine and we need to educate ourselves about thi

12:04PM PDT on Apr 17, 2013

Thank you SOOO much for this outstanding article! I was given statins for a couple of years for high cholesterol which I was told was of a hereditary nature, and had so many problems because of them. Severe and constant muscle aches and pains, rise in blood pressure, rise in blood sugar, numbness tingling and severe pain in my feet, charley horses in my legs every day, memory problems, eventually became diagnosed with pre-diabetes, had blood in my urine (due to the muscle breakdown caused by the statins). After doing some research discovered all of these things to be side effects of taking statins. My question to my doctor was, if they cause the breakdown of the muscle tissues, and the heart is a muscle, how is this "protecting" my heart and it is worth the damage being done to my body overall? And the statins did not even do much to reduce the cholesterol levels! I have since gone off the statins and all of the above problems have disappeared. I have always been extremely leary of pharmacuetical drugs, they seem to alleviate one symptom ( nor cure the CAUSE) and cause many other problems in addition to the original one. I am a huge advocate of dietary changes and natural herbal and other natural suppliments. I now use Red Rice Yeast in place of the statin, fish oil, and CoQ10 and have never felt better! Thank you so much for teling the truth about these drugs!

2:17PM PST on Nov 29, 2012


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