Most patients who have had fibromyalgia for more than a few years are already nodding their head sagely at the title of this piece. I can’t tell you how many new patients come to me frustrated with the multitude of problems they are experiencing either with their condition or with the medications their doctors have them on.
Dr. John R. Lee, MD, wrote:
“That said, there is no need to suffer if you can safely avoid it! Short-term use of drugs to mask unwanted symptoms is certainly appreciated by both patient and doctor. But FMS and CFS are not short-term illnesses. And drugs used to treat these syndromes can lead to dependence and further complications. One drug’s side effects can initiate new symptoms, which must then be treated by more drugs!”
Does that sort of scenario sound familiar? Sadly, we live in a culture of instant gratification, especially where our health is concerned. We want to feel better, and we want to feel better right now. We’re taught this as children, “take your medicine and you will feel better.” For acute illnesses, this usually works.
Drugs can be helpful and are sometimes the only option when symptoms are out of control; however, they only treat the symptoms, not the cause. They will not reverse fibromyalgia. To do that, you need to be healthy, which is exactly what these drugs prevent.
The truth is, however, that traditional doctors have absolutely no idea how to treat chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, and many of them don’t really care to try. With patient-doctor face time in an office visit lasting around 7 minutes, it’s much easier just to prescribe the newest medication to cover up the symptoms rather than take the time to treat the cause of the problem. Lifestyle coaching, which would likely prove far more beneficial, is completely out of the question in that time frame.
Instead of proper patient education, lifestyle recommendations, and investigating underlying causes, many traditional doctors have fallen into the trap of big business… by that, I mean big pharmacy, the industry that has spent several decades creating drugs and making up diagnoses that those drugs could treat.
Let’s take a quick look at what this really means. Big pharmacy is a $200 billion dollar business, and this number continues to increase by an average of 12% every year. This industry has a $188 million lobbying budget and a $14 million budget that it uses to buy politicians and doctors. Further, the United States (5% of the world population) accounts for 34% of the money spent on prescription medications! This is a continually growing industry that will likely reach $1.1 trillion by the end of this year, 2014. Why is the U.S. so drugged up, yet still one of the unhealthiest first-world cultures on the planet?
Quite simply – Money.
Clever marketing ploys and the buying of political laws and regulations, along with the executive “special” treatment of physicians, pharmaceutical companies are able to buy their way into your head and convince you that you need this “new” medication, even if it’s not even really new. For example, Nexium, the popular purple GI drug, was only created because Prilosec was running out of his 17-year patent time and was about to lose revenue. Therefore, the company took out one patented chemical and made a new drug so they could continue making astounding profits.
The high-level marketing of these drugs is incredibly potent. Imagine yourself sitting there at 3 a.m. in front of the television and suddenly a 2-minute commercial comes up and asks “Having trouble sleeping?” They then proceed to tell you that you could benefit from this new sleeping pill. At the end, they will say something like “ask your doctor if this drug was meant for you.” Many people dutifully do so, and the traditional doctor may prescribe it since he gets paid or has been paid some pretty pennies to use that particular medication anyway.
The frightening truth is that doctors are bought by these pharmaceutical companies, and the very person you want to heal you is likely participating in keeping you ill.
Doctors are paid huge “consulting” fees by big pharma, taken on luxurious vacation retreats for “educational” purposes, wined and dined at the fanciest restaurants to “consult,” etc. They are also paid a lot of money to speak on behalf of this new drug at conferences.
There are clever tactics used especially for medications for pain and chronic conditions like fibromyalgia. Why? Because there is no known cause or cure for the disease, so instead of working to find the cure, they are choking the life out patients by drugging them up so heavily that nobody can tell if the symptoms are from the disease or the drug.
Take a look at some of the prescription medications that are used for fibromyalgia, and the side effects might surprise you. I have found that many of my new patients with long lists of medications actually have symptoms that are caused or worsened by those drugs. Once we wean them off to only the essentials, they begin to feel better.
Please note, that I am not anti-drug or anti-doctor. There are hundreds of practicing physicians who refuse to play the game of big pharmacy. We are few and far between, but we’re here. With functional-medicine techniques, however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for fibro and chronic fatigue patients. We don’t believe that all drugs need to be banned. We just don’t think that so many need to be used, and the ones that are used should be the least insulting to the body used sparingly.
Bottom line is that prescription medications can be immensely dangerous. Over 780,000 people die from FDA-approved prescription drugs that were taken as directed and monitored by a physician. This makes medicine the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S., beating out cancer and heart disease. This number doesn’t even include the number of hospitalizations and injuries caused by FDA-approved drugs, which is significantly higher.
Drugs are needed. They can be helpful and sometimes life saving, sometimes your only choice, but drugs don’t make you healthy. Treating symptoms with drugs often leads to more symptoms. One drug for symptom another for the side effects…
I encourage you to explore a new way of treating and beating fibromyalgia-finding and fixing causes, not treating symptoms. You can learn more about this new revolutionary approach, the same one I’ve used for years to help thousands feel good again.
Please join me each and every Tuesday night for a live FREE Treating and Beating Fibromyalgia Teleconference
(replays are available)