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Mind Over Meds    by Andrew Weil order for
Mind Over Meds
by Andrew Weil
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2018 (2017)
Hardcover, Softcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Bestselling author Andrew Weil addresses Western society's overuse of drugs (often to the detriment of health) in Mind Over Meds: Know When Drugs Are Necessary, When Alternatives Are Better - and When to Let Your Body Heal on Its Own. He tells us that 'Use of prescription drugs has skyrocketed since the middle of the last century ... Use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications has exploded just as dramatically.' And it's not good for us - or our national health systems.

Big Pharma drug producers 'profoundly influence physicians'. Studies measure drugs against placebos, but rarely against lifestyle changes that often work better. And patients have become used to leaving a doctor's office with a prescription for a fix. Dr. Weil ascribes his own interest in the subject as originating from an instance of drug toxicity that resulted in a patient's death. He tells us that 'Adverse drug reactions are the fourth leading cause of death' in the U.S.. And, with long term use, 'many of the most widely prescribed medications can actually prolong or worsen the conditions they are meant to relieve.'

Weil addresses other consequences of overmedication - escalating costs that stress failing healthcare systems; and troubling effects on the environment (discarded drugs that accumulate in water, soil, and foods) whose impacts are not well understood. After this Introduction, the book's remaining chapters address 'unintended consequences of reliance on medications that illustrate the body's natural tendency to resist disturbance', suggesting that physicians and patients should explore other ways of managing chronic health conditions.

Chapters cover medications 'most overprescribed and misprescribed, overused and misused:' Antibiotics; Statins; Medications for GERD; Antihistamines; Medications for the Common Cold and the Flu; Sleep Aids; Steroids; Nonsteroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs); Psychiatric Medications for Adults; Medications for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Opioids and the Treatment of Chronic Pain; Antihypertensive Drugs; Medications for Diabetes; Medications for Osteopenia and Other Preconditions; Overmedication of Children; Overmedication of the Elderly; and Over-Reliance on Medications: A Pharmacist's View.

For example, we've all heard about growing antibiotic resistance and the damage antibiotics can do to our microbiomes, also that'Experts warn we are coming to the end of the antibiotic era'. But did you know that statins, taken by over 26% of adult Americans, can cause cognitive decline? Also, 'Too many older people are on too many medications, putting them at risk for serious adverse reactions and drug interactions.' This one resonated with me, as my mother at age eighty almost died after prescribed anti-inflammatories caused internal bleeding. But these are only a few examples of topics covered.

Dr. Weil concludes by stating his firm belief that 'integrative medicine is the way of the future. It uses medication therapy ... only when necessary and always in the context of a comprehensive treatment plan'. I highly recommend Mind Over Meds to you and will keep my own copy on hand as a reference (for potential side effects of medicines and for alternative treatments) for myself, family and friends.

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