Interest in natural or holistic medicine has recently been on the rise,
but with over 70 percent of Americans already on one or more prescription
drugs, it’s important to look at how a prescription regimen can
work in tandem with these natural alternatives.
The appeal of a non-prescription approach is oftentimes the promise for
a decreased dependency on prescription medications. Many people are frustrated
with the side effects that come along with some prescription drugs, and
turn to these seemingly safer remedies that work with the body’s
natural defenses to fight off illness. Switching to a long-term non-prescription
regimen has, in some cases, been shown to reduce a patient’s dependence
on certain drugs. It is, however, important to note that "even though
people perceive natural or non-prescription medicines likes herbs as being
more mild, they can still have a strong effect on your body," explains
Parveen Vora, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician at
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group, in Garden Grove. "They could potentially impact the safety or effectiveness
of the prescription medications you’re already taking."
Recent research has shown that mixing natural remedies with prescription
drugs can actually create more side effects and additional health problems
if not done carefully. Even things that may seem harmless, like high doses
of ginger or garlic supplements, can have hazardous impacts on your body
when combined with certain prescription medicines. Besides being potentially
dangerous to your health, combining these two treatments can also render
one or both of them ineffective. "Think about it this way,"
shares Dr. Vora, "if your prescription medication is tackling the
disease from one direction, and you introduce a non-prescription remedy
that attempts to attack it from the other, suddenly you’ve neutralized
the playing field. The last thing you would want is to assume that your
current dosage is ineffective and that you need to increase the amount
of one or both drugs that you’re taking."
That’s not to say that prescription and non-prescription remedies
cannot be used safely together, because they certainly can, but it’s
important that you consult any medication changes with your doctor before
making adjustments, or adding natural alternatives likes herbal preparations,
on your own. What may seem harmless or normal to you could be a sign of
a drug interaction that you don't even know to be looking for. "Physicians
prescribe medication based on their expert medical opinion of your condition.
You should never stop taking medications prescribed by your physicians
without consulting them, so be sure communicate openly and discuss your
treatment options," notes Dr. Vora. For both prescription and non-prescription
medication, it’s important to be honest with your doctor and clearly
communicate any changes or side effects you’ve noticed while taking them.
Have you added any non-prescription remedies to your prescription treatment
plan? Share your experience in the comments below.
Learn more about
Dr. Vora. Learn more about
St. Joseph Heritage Medical Group.