Friday, July 13, 2007

Read This Before Taking Your Next Pill

It's pretty clear that in this modern world we're a medicated society. Have high blood pressure? There's a pill for that. Depressed? There's a pill for that, too. Need help getting it up? Of course there's a pill for that.

But one problem with taking all of these pills - chemical compounds created by pharmaceutical companies - is that many carry side effects. A pill may fix one problem, but cause a different problem in return, which warrants another pill to fix the new problem. It's a slippery slope that can lead to needing one of those little pill boxes divided by day just to keep track of the cocktail of drugs needed to stay relatively healthy.

Do we need all those pills, though? In some cases, yes, drugs can improve the quality of life and even be life-saving. But Suzy Cohen, author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist, argues that in many cases we can look to natural ways to improve our health without abusing our bodies with the side effects of some medications.

Cohen believes that many of the medications we take in our daily lives - like birth control pills - rob our bodies of nutrients that are needed to maintain our systems. When we lose these necessary nutrients, our bodies can't function as well, and so other health problems crop up. But through diet and the use of naturally-occurring compounds, we can correct these imbalances and feel better (not to mention save money on prescription drugs!).

Before you think she might be an alternative health quack, know this: she's a pharmacist. So she really knows her drugs and how they affect the body. Her explanations of how a medication can impact systems other than the one it's supposed to help make perfect sense, and are put in terms that someone without a medical degree can understand. And in recommending herbs and supplements to treat conditions, she gives a brief explanation as to how they help, along with stating any studies that have proven their benefits.

The book is easy to read, with short sections and engaging, sometimes humorous writing. The chapters are divided up by different health problems, covering everything from heart disease and joint pain to fatigue, depression, and sexual desire. The fatigue chapter was the one I paid special attention to. While I knew about thyroid problems, I had no idea an adrenal gland problem could lead to fatigue, and I plan to follow her advice to see if I can get over this constant run-down feeling.

Cohen does caution that the book should not be used in place of a doctor, and it's always wise to consult your doctor before trying anything new. But one big advantage of the supplements she recommends is that most can't hurt your body if you try them. For example, if I were to take the recommended dosage of pantethine to see if it could help me with my fatigue, but I don't have an adrenal gland problem, the supplement still won't cause damage to my body. And if I do have an adrenal gland problem, it could help me feel better.

I honestly love this book and will be giving it a nice home on my bookshelf. I fully believe in the power of supplements and natural cures before trying prescription medications, and this book is full of useful advice to solve health problems without costly drugs. I really don't have any complaints about this book. OK, I suppose I could complain that Cohen writes for women as her audience, which could alienate any men who were reading it, but then again, how often do guys actually seek out options to improve their health without a woman pushing them to do so? (Or maybe that's just my husband?)

If you don't like taking prescription drugs, want to balance your body's nutrients being stolen by your current prescriptions, or simply want to find natural supplements to compliment the drugs you are taking, I highly recommend The 24-Hour Pharmacist.

Want to win your own copy of the book and a $50 CVS gift card? Click here and leave a comment on the Parent Bloggers blog to enter the contest!

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