Monday, November 2, 2015

52 Weeks to a Simpler Life – Tip #9 – Clear Out Your Medicine Cabinet, Keep The Aspirin Handy

Have you peeked in your medicine cabinet lately? We live in an over-medicated society. Now, I'm not just talking about prescription drugs dealt out like cards in a game of Poker. I'm also talking about the over the counter and off the shelf medications available . . . well, practically everywhere anymore.

Our TV screens are full of ads for over the counter and off the shelf meds for everything from a cuticle to migraines to acid indigestion to common head colds to a pain in the . . . elbow. Medicine is BIG business. And, not only is it big business, it's both expensive to the consumer and very profitable to the retailing channels and the manufacturers.

And, I'll take this one step further. Let's not neglect the “supplement” products that will improve your memory, protect men's prostates, help your eyesight, balance your moods and a litany of other things.

How did humanity survive before there were all these little orange and brown and white and transparent bottles of pills, powders and liquids to solve every possible malady known to humans since the beginning of time, plus a whole bunch of things we never knew existed and were a problem. Does all this stuff REALLY work? Does it all actually make your quality of life better? How much of it may be more placebo than actual working medication or effective supplement? Or, is much or most of it simply ways to remove money from your bank account and transfer it to the retailers' and manufacturers' shareholders, founders and patent holders' accounts?

Oh my! Am I a Doubting Thomas? Who am I to question the efficacy of these claims on TV or in magazines or the government employees earning huge salaries at the FDA or the FTC? Don't you just love all these government agencies we're paying for with their important acronyms beginning with the letter “F?”

Reality Check

Okay! So, let's do a little reality check. How full is your medicine cabinet? Do you also keep meds and supplements in your nightstand drawer, dresser or chest of drawers, a kitchen cabinet, your purse or your attache' case? What meds do you have? How many are supposed to do the same things? Why do you have them? When was the last time you actually used most of them, other than doctor prescribed meds you're supposed to take according to the directions on the labels. How many prescribed meds do you have where you've never completed the course of treatment, like antibiotics?

If you can honestly say you don't have a lot of things you bought because you had a situation like a cold, some indigestion, acid reflux, a sore cuticle, a headache, an aching knee or leg, a stomach ache, etc. You can name the malady. Are you on prescription drugs where you've suffered some kind of side effect, so the doctor prescribed another med to counter act the side effect of the first med? Sometimes this can go several meds deep just to take care of one issue.

How many of these medications and supplements, regardless of whether they are prescribed, over the counter, off the shelf or supplements are brand names and how many are store brands or generic? Have you checked the difference in cost between the brand names, the store brands and the generics? It's usually quite substantial.

Have you checked to find out what the difference is between the off the shelf variety of a medication and the prescribed version of the same med? For example, I discovered one time that the prescription version of Tylenol or the generic name, Acetaminophen, is typically the same as four 325mg tablets. The off the shelf variety is either 325mg or 500mg. This is being cut back. At one time 4,000mg of Acetaminophen was the maximum daily dosage. Due to the very high possibility of liver damage, it is suggested that people using this stuff should only take a single 325mg tablet. Stay away from that 4,000mg daily limit.

But, here's the real deal. Good old fashioned aspirin will do the same job as all the other “pain killing” compounds and it's been around a lot longer. It's also considerably less expensive. So, consider eliminating all the other pain relievers and use aspirin as your standard. And, yes, I know there are reports that aspirin can cause some stomach damage. It's suggested that you always have something in you stomach when you take it.

As far as all the other stuff. There was a time when I was affiliated with a multilevel marketing business that sold vitamins and food supplements. Of course, since I was pushing the product, I consumed it. I was taking so many tablets of all these supplements that I could have probably skipped eating regular food . . . except, I happen to really enjoy eating certain foods. I decided to do a little experimenting on my own. I wanted to see how much impact all this “good” supplementation was having on me. So, I cut back from mega tablets several times a day to a simple multivitamin once a day. I cut the other stuff out cold turkey. I let a month or two go by. The interesting thing was I felt no different without them. I didn't eat or crave anything different. I had the same energy level.

So, what did this tell me? It simply said that my body was receiving all the nutrition it needed from my normal diet and the multivitamin may have filled in a thing or two that I couldn't tell the difference about.

I'm not a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist. I'm not telling you what to take or not to take. I'm not selling you anything. I'm simply saying this is what I found out about ME. Maybe it's time for you to do some experimenting with whatever you may be taking, IF you're taking a bunch of supplements. You may find, like me, no difference, in which case, especially since all my blood lab reports said my chemistry was right on target, I began saving a LOT of money.

The same is true for all the meds. One person I read about said, when she took some of the highly touted cold meds, her typical cold symptoms lasted about 8 to 10 days. When she stopped using all the high-priced, heavily advertised, miracle cold remedies and just switched to aspirin, her cold symptoms were gone in 3 to 4 days. I don't know about you, but I really, really, intensely dislike colds. Fortunately, my resistance is usually high enough I seldom have them. But, I'd much prefer dealing with the symptoms for 3 to 4 days at a lot less cost than 8 to 10 days at a much higher cost. What do you think about that?

Here's the deal. We're talking about simplifying our lives. That goes hand in hand with minimizing and economizing. We live in a society that's over-medicated and even addicted, not necessarily in a narcotic way, but just becoming dependent on either prescription or over the counter or off the shelf meds. That being said, there is also a serious addiction issue with things like Vicodin, Oxycodone, DMX and codeine laced cough medicines, etc. They are highly addictive.

I asked, at the beginning of this article, how people survived before we had the array of both prescription and non-prescription drugs? My guess is that we learned to deal/cope with things. There were lots of natural and herbal concoctions, especially from the Far East, that people used. And, of course, narcotic/opioids were dispensed rather freely back then. So, all was not necessarily better or safer. But, pharmaceuticals have become not just a big industry, but a humongous industry. There is a pill, ointment, cream or liquid for virtually anything you can name.

We have an entire medical specialty called “Pain Management.” I'm not going to suggest that living in pain is good. Nor will I suggest that doctors who specialize in this field are evil. I'm just saying, in some cases, the collaboration of the medical profession and Big Pharma may not be too different that getting in bed with the devil.

Personally, and this is NOT my recommendation, it's my preference to take as little as I can of any kind of meds, prescription or non-prescription and supplements. I will put off taking anything as long as I can and I'll get off it as soon as I can.

My Personal Disclosure

In all fairness, I will make this disclosure. I currently take two blood pressure meds. My blood pressure is generally right in zone most of the time. I was on a med for cholesterol and triglycerides, but I finally worked it out with my doctor to take me off that med. I am working at reducing my weight and exercising more to eventually eliminate the blood pressure meds.

I take a daily multivitamin I take a single 81mg baby aspirin. It's not prescribed by my doc, but she thinks it's not a bad idea. At my age it should help keep my blood flowing and avoid possible clots and stroke activity. I take a vitamin D capsule. However, now that I spend a considerable amount of time in the sun, I get adequate natural vitamin D. And, I take about 1,000mg of Omega 3 from one fish oil capsule a day. The Omega 3 supposedly helps keep my cholesterol and triglycerides down. At the moment, I can't prove that one way or the other.

Although my “drug of choice” for headaches and an occasional body ache is Acetaminophen, I always carry a bottle of regular strength aspirin with me. I still have a jug of a generic version of Acetaminophen I have been traveling with. However, I'm focusing more on using aspirin and eliminating the Acetaminophen from my storage saving space.

I have eliminated a large box of stuff I used to have and kept for years. Yes, I do have some antibiotic ointment I use on cuts and scratches. I do have an anti-itch cream I use when I get insect bites. I do maintain a variety of band-aids plus, gauze pads and tape for the occasional larger wound, but that's about it.

And, as soon as I can get off the two blood pressure meds (both generic and so economical my Medicare prescription plan doesn't even count them), they will be gone. I will stop using the Vitamin D capsules when I run out of them. Once I lose a little more weight and I'm pleased with my level of physical activity, I'll probably drop the fish oil capsules. Ultimately, I will maintain a daily multivitamin and a baby aspirin. Who knows, maybe one day those will go even though they are very inexpensive. It will be two less things to think about and stock.

The Bottom Line

What's the bottom line for Tip #9? Simple! Less is more. Go through all . . . that's ALL . . . your meds and supplements. With any prescription meds you'll need to get with your doctor before you just stop using them. There could be serious withdrawal or side effects. But, have a serious discussion about exactly why you're on them, what they are actually supposed to be doing for you and discuss a plan to reduce the dosage and, eventually, eliminate them.

Get rid of any old prescriptions. Go to a pharmacy to see if there is a safe way to discard these substances. Don't just dump them down the drain or toilet, it could (along with other people doing the same thing) contaminate the sewer and eventually the drinking water or rivers and streams.

Go through all the non-prescription over the counter and off the shelf remedies and supplements you have stockpiled. I you haven't used them since you can't remember when, get rid of them. If you do use them consider doing some experiments like I did. Stop using one for at least a month. See if you notice any changes in your body, thinking, emotions, energy and so on. If not, it means, you're probably only realizing a placebo effect. In other words, you feel good because since you bought them and take them, you think you feel good. In fact, there may be no impact on you at all. Get rid of them one at a time.

Simplify your necessary meds and remedies by using aspirin, maintaining an antibiotic ointment and, maybe, a lozenge you've found effective for the occasional dry or sore throat.

Here is one other important point. I'm not suggesting that all medications prescribed by your doctor are unnecessary. I'm also not suggesting that all doctors prescribe medications without solid medical and scientific reason. But, ask the important questions regarding each medication prescribed. Be sure to make your wishes known that you don't want a med prescribed that you'll have to remain on for a long duration or the rest of your life without absolutely good scientific reason. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, use the entire prescription until it's gone. Just because the symptoms of a medical issue may be gone doesn't mean the cause is gone. Stop taking the antibiotic too soon and the situation could return.

I spent a total of 35 days on Doxycycline for Lyme Disease. That is a lot of time to be on an antibiotic. However, that was what the doctor felt was necessary to catch the Lyme Disease at the early stage to hopeful prevent future problems from it. Once you have Lyme Disease, it's something you want to have control over. If it comes back at some future time, it can cause devastating medical problems including heart attacks and death. So far, five years out, I haven't had any issues. I'm hopeful the 35 days of antibiotic treatment may have circumvented future problems.

So, there's your tip. Clean out all your meds and supplements. Keep and use only those that are effective and, hopefully, inexpensive. Do the best you can to keep yourself healthy and fit to avoid the necessity of requiring any prescriptions from the doctor. This will save space, time and money and go another big step toward simplifying your life.

Share this article with friends, family and colleagues. Share your own thoughts and experiences by contributing a comment below that may enlighten other readers and me more. Like the Living Free fan page on Facebook and join me on Google +. And, as always, thanks for reading.

Live free and be happy. EH 

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