Why are we a pill popping nation?

Posted on: 18 September 2018 by Kate Goodfellow

New research shows that up to 50% of the UK population is taking some form of medication every day. The question is, is this level of mass medicalisation ultimately solving our health problems? And if not, what can we do to help ourselves become healthier and happier?

statins

According to a recent report, up to half the UK population is taking at least one prescription drug daily.

An NHS survey of 8,000 patients showed that 25% are on at least three drugs, with millions of pensioners on at least 5 different types of medication. And the data for England showed one in 7 people are taking daily cholesterol lowering statins while one in 10 are on anti-depressants, the latter fuelling a 47% increase in drugs dispensed over the last decade.

The most common medications were statins, indigestion remedies, pain killers and anti-depressants - remedies for common health disorders formed more often than not as a direct result of our fast-paced Western lifestyles – stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, poor diet and so the list goes on.

And while we are blessed to have access to conventional medicine, the question is, do we need it at the levels we are currently taking it? And if not, what can we do to empower ourselves rather than relying on a drug in our quest for optimal health?

Professor Dame Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges - which represents 33,000 senior doctors says 'On the face of it, these figures are really concerning. We have no way of knowing if these medicines are all really necessary, but we do know less is often more when it comes to some drugs.

“Lifestyle changes such as taking up exercise can be just as effective at treating some illnesses such as mild depression.”

And Professor Sarah Harper, director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, said, "Drug therapies are fantastic, but we have to be careful that we don't just have drugs where there are healthy living alternatives. The problem is that public health initiatives that help us stay healthy are always put on the back burner."

So why do we continue down this road of medicalisation if we know that simply tweaking our lifestyles or choosing more natural remedies can go a long way to aiding our health issues?

Stephen Mack, CEO of Perfect Vascular Natural Ltd, distributor for All In One - a natural alternative to statin medication, said, “In the West, when we are sick, we immediately reach for a quick fix in conventional medication instead of looking at how we can help ourselves. It’s a fundamental fact that we expect a drug to fix us.”

“When our GP prescribes us a pill, we need to ask ourselves honestly, is it actually capable of solving our health problem?  People are becoming more disillusioned as our medical system isn’t necessarily getting to the bottom of their health issues. Now more than ever, they are seeking other routes.”

One customer took statins for 10 years but lived with aching muscles as a result. She said, “I spent years taking medication to cope with the side effects of statins. It all seemed rather counter-productive but I felt I had no other option.”  

Said Stephen, ““I deal with people weekly who are taking a statin that is presenting other issues such as side effects. And the effects of longer term use of statins is relatively unknown. It’s when conventional medication doesn’t work that people are forced to find other ways.

“As a society, we need to get to a point where it is normal to explore other routes first rather than simply reaching for a drug.”

Stephen Mack is CEO of Perfect Vascular Natural, distributor for All In One – a natural statin alternative that is used and recommended by leading cardiologists in both the UK and the US. For more information, visit Vascularnatural.co.uk.

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