Thursday, December 24, 2009
The culture of prescription drugs
Following up on my previous post of eat.sleep.walk. I stressed the necessity of proper living can solve most of our health problems. I also talked about prescription drug abuse. As a disclaimer, I would like to say I am no health nut who is in perfect shape. In fact, I dont follow any strict health regiment. These are just my thoughts on reducing so much difficulty financially and physically if we simply make a mental shift on health.
Currently, at least in the US, people in general are in a grave illusion that prescription drugs actually can eliminate health problems (whatever it may be). In fact, this notion is blatantly supported by the drug companies (obviously) and subtly supported by the medical industries including your neighbor friendly nurse and doctors. The minute you have a doctor's appointment, 9 out of 10 times, you will be asked to take medication. Rarely are patients advised to change their lifestyle habits. Head ache - there is a drug, cough - take a drug, stomach ache - take a drug etc. Because it has become a culture, younger generation think it is normal to drug up for every health blemish. This attitude is dangerous as chemicals are "unnatural" to the otherwise "natural" makeup of the human body.
I can share my own story. Once I was seriously ill I was put on large doses of steroids in relatively short time and my immune system completely shut down. Just one visit to the bathroom, I got urinary-tract infection and was urinating blood (most excruciating pain). Of course, the doctors knew about these side-effects only to be given another set of drugs to counteract the urinary-tract infection. This is a small incident, however. My point is, just as we are mechanizing the planet by man-made materials at the macro-level, we are chemicalizing our body at the micro-level.
Please don't get me wrong, medicine is important but just as anything else, it has to be given in proper amounts depending on individual patients. Today, doctors rarely spend time with patients trying to understand his/her body structure and lifestyle behavior. This time spent by the doctors is absolutely crucial to understand how much drug to administer and what, to a patient. If I remember correct (please correct me if I am wrong), there was a time when the doctor actually wrote down the actual formula of chemicals to make the drug and hand that medical prescription to the chemist. The chemist seeing the hand written formula of chemicals of the doctor made the exact amount with the exact dose suiting the need for an individual patient. In other words, the drug was especially customised for the patient. Therefore the position of the doctor and the chemist was very highly placed in society. Today doctors just recommend brands of drugs as they are tested by drug companies based on statistical research. This generalization assumes the bodies of all human beings are same, their lifestyle habits/culture is standard and ultimately the drug will react exactly the same on everyone. If there is an anomaly, another drug is prescribed and so the cycle continues till there is relief. As a result of this two things happen; over-dosage and addiction. Over dosage does not necessarily mean death but can also lead to chemical dependancy. The chemicals eventualy store up in the fine tissues of the body eventually causing long term irreversible damage. Today, I have cataract in both my eyes as a result of a treatement I took 10 years before and I am only 34.
Today, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (US government's National Center for disease control and prevention called CDC), more than 50% of Americans use at least one prescription drug. Most of them are related to obesity (cholesterol), diabetes, depression and heart disease. If we analyse the average American lifestyle, according to Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) a nationally funded CDC project, 55% of adults in the US have had at least one drink of alcohol within the past 30 days in 2007. If one actually studies the average lifestyle, almost most of them drink alcohol. More than 75% of adults in the US (2007) consume fruits and vegetables less than 5 times per day. Obviously, most of them consume meat. Infact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, on average, every American consumes 222 lbs of meat (chicken, turkey, veal, lamb, beef, and pork) per year. This data is for 2007. This number has increased from 144 lbs per person per year in 1950 to 222 in 2007. An increase of 55%. Plus if we take into account the aspect of sedantary lifestyle (no physical activity), we end up with a rather obese population. Yes, according to 2007 BRFSS National data, approximately 2 out of every 3 American is either obese or overweight (technically definitions of obese and overweight are slightly different).
In spite of the glaring facts, neither the doctors nor the drug companies promote peventive measures such as healthy eating and lifestyle. I think the Obama administration spoke about preventive health care as better health care than access to health care. This destructive eating and living habits by common man has forced him/her to seek the "magic pill" only to increase and increasingly depend on the consumption of drugs to solve all sorts of minor/major health problems. Hence, today, I am convinced that prescription drugs causes more side-effects and harm to the human body than its original intent. Hence the only solution is to alter one's eating, sleeping and walking habits thus maintaining a vibrant and health lifestyle.
Ultimately, if we think about it, the choice is ours. The only way we will be motivated to go away from a glutonous lifestyle is if we understand there is a higher purpose than merely fulfilling bodily demands. In other words, I am not against fulfilling bodily demands. But when fulfilling bodily demand is made the goal of human life, then the tendancy is why not fulfill it in the best possible way...hence the unrestricted desire to satisfy (aka sense gratification). This mood of unrestricted sense-gratification is reflected in the statistics above. Therefore, the only way to reverse this chronic and dangerous trend is by instilling in people that there is more to life than just eating and sleeping nicely. That knowledge of higher purpose is comprehensively explained in the science of Krishna Consciousness.
By chanting Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare/ Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, one can invoke that higher purpose thus satisfying all gross and subtle demands. One need not resort to overdose of anything material - be it food or prescription drugs.
Please chant and be happy!