Is your health worth a billion dollars?
I would like to think it is – given that your health fundamentally defines what you are able to do with your life, and whether it is one worth living.
I know this first hand as I reflect on my own changing welfare. Having lost over 65 pounds and defeating many diseases, I know that health is worth more than anything money can buy.
Unfortunately, in the modern world where corporations dot so much of the landscape, your health is not worth a billion dollars. Rather, an unhealthy you is far better for profits!
The pharmaceutical industry makes billions of dollars in profit every year. In 2013, it was reported that the top 11 pharma corporations made a combined total of $84 billion dollars in profit. These figures have only continued to grow into our current fiscal year. The gross earnings figure enters the trillion dollar range when you add other expenses, court costs, employee salaries, etc. and view total earnings as a whole.
Are pills adding value to our lives?
Medications are produced less from the perspective of treating disease, and significantly more so from the view of generating another revenue source. It is a complicated industry, and one that on the surface may seem valuable. After all, these big pharma companies provide things we have come to view as necessary. Just thinking of a painful dental procedure without painkillers like Vicodin or Oxycontin is difficult to imagine, or lying in an emergency room bed after a major car accident without morphine to calm the nerves and pain. These medications definitely feel like valuable, even humane, alternatives to excessive pain and suffering.
Even if you view medications as a whole as an “evil,” there are situations that arise where they seem to be necessary (like the aforementioned scenarios). These cases are traditionally acute in nature – meaning the medical solution in the form of pills is meant to be temporary, not a long term treatment option.
With this said, the change in perspective that has led pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals, and stay-at-home moms (and everyone in between) to view prescription drugs as a long-term solution to life’s woes has led to a decline in preventive medicine and a rise in treatment, treatment, treatment without a real, tangible, solution.
As with anything in life, there will always been extreme cases. It is possible that a victim of cancer may require (and even desire) prescription meds to help manage some effects of this disease, and rightfully so...
To Prescribe or To Change Your Lifestyle
However, the overwhelming challenge of excessive medication stems from the over-prescribing of medications to your average person who could happily exist without it, or only would need to make some simple lifestyle changes to counteract the need to ever touch a drug again.
I find that I fall into this latter category myself, given that most of my medical problems (for which I was heavily medicated) stemmed from my obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise. I imagine that many people, especially in the Western world where obesity is one of the most significant healthcare challenges and a leading cause of death, could attribute many (if not all) of their medical problems to this simple source.
Making lifestyle and dietary changes should be viewed as a medicine in and of itself - and should be the first course of action prescribed by any doctor. The problem is: this is not always the case.
New Corporate Prey
These "regular" people have become the new prey of corporate pharmaceutical companies.
It is easy to sell drugs to the terminally ill as there is little hope left for their long-term survival - some medications can provide relief that would be desired at this stage of life.
It is less easy to push medications on those who don’t really need them unless you can convince them that the medication is vital to their well-being. The problem is: the prescribing of medication does not always come paired with best intentions in mind – as the doctor’s doing the prescribing may also be owned by the big businesses that are looking to sell their product.
It is well known that medical doctors typically undergo very little education in nutrition, yet spend so much time getting to know the ins and outs of an assortment of prescription drugs. There are literally college textbooks and courses designed around this area of study!
Whether the intention of a medical student is to be a "drug pusher" or they are genuinely looking to provide help to those in need is dependent on each individual, and I am not judging the intention of these people broadly as there is no doubt they are needed and valuable to society in certain capacities. Rather, it should be eye opening that even the doctor’s themselves are poorly trained from the start by a rigged system bent on turning them into salesmen of “health.”
A Larger Problem...
The new challenge then becomes – if we can’t trust our doctors, who can we trust?
It is certainly not the big business operating behind them, as these organizations have track records of corruption and a profit-driven focus.
In all fairness, the goal of most companies (excluding non-profit charities) is to make money and “turn a profit.” It is the nature of capitalism, and on this level not an inherently bad thing.
Where I fundamentally take issue is in these companies knowingly applying bad practices, immoral sales practices, and peddling these medications even to potential user groups outside of regulatory advisement.
If this is a topic that really interests you, you should check out The Huffington Post’s comprehensive article series “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker” about Johnson & Johnson, the creation of a powerful drug (Risperdal), the illegal promotion to children and the elderly, a side effects cover up, and billions of dollars in revenue generated. Through all this, they still tend to be viewed calmly as “a family company.”
Modern medicine is dominated by corporate corruption & a false perception of free choice in the matter
The toughest pill to swallow in all of this is that the corruption, illegal promotion, and other criminal activities are widespread throughout the big pharmaceuticals industry. J&J is not the only corporation that works in this fashion – so many others have emulated their behavior and walk freely among us.
They prey on our bodies and minds, often at moments in our lives when we are at our most vulnerable.
I am all for the freedom of choice and believe every individual should be able to decide for themselves whether to take medications or not – but the problem is that most prescription drugs are not freely chosen.
They are chosen as a result of excessive advertisement for these drugs plainly on television – even on children’s networks like Nickelodeon and Disney. Some patients take these suggestions to their doctors who write a prescription without judgment.
All free decisions are only truly free if made with some level of education and understanding – this is made truer when discussing something as serious as the pharmaceutical industry and consumption of the pills sold to us given the potential for misuse, serious side effects, and even death resulting from recommended and proper use!
Few other industries market products that have the potential for death through regular, “as directed” use!
It's a medical addiction!
To make matters worse, prescription drugs are addictive. By nature, the longer they are used, the more the individual taking them will become dependent on them. This addiction can be quite literal as many prescription drugs are derived from the same (or similar) chemical compounds that make up “street drugs” like cocaine, meth, and heroine.
Symptoms of withdrawal can be significant, and even worse than the problem originally being treated by the medication. Of course, not all drug addictions culminate in beautiful scenes of recovery as depicted on television shows like House.
Sometimes, addiction is as simple as forming a habit around the need to take a medication. No inherently negative side effects - at least ones that are noticeable. Daily you consume pills as recommended, monthly you go to your local pharmacy for a refill, on a regular basis you consult with your doctor about your medication and make adjustments as needed...
You can become addicted to the entire process of treatment - but what if you could break the entire cycle? What if you no longer needed to visit your doctor to discuss your medication, drive to a pharmacy and pick up your refill, experience the side effects and feel like an experimental lab rat while you try to get the right "dosage," what if this entire cycle could be destroyed and replaced with something far easier, far better, and far more natural?
What does this all mean for me?
The notion being sold by the pharmaceutical industry, big business, paid medical professionals, TV advertisements, etc. that medications are preventative treatments are lies – as nature provides us with ways to prevent disease in the first place, and through these natural preventive medicines we can bypass the need for any long-term, chronic need for prescription and even over-the-counter medication.
Like any good preventative measure, your lifestyle decisions can also be the cure for many diseases and conditions you do encounter during your life. This is not to say that prescription and over-the-counter medicines do not have their place in some cases, but they should be reserved for more extreme scenarios than provided to treat pain and disease every time we fall down and get a scrape or to resolve disorders that could be legitimately solved by diet change and exercise.
It seems like such a simple thing to me – but I know from experience that it can be hard to believe given how this drug culture is indoctrinated into our minds from a young age. I was once dependent on medications, and have since learned a simple but poignant thing –
I attribute much of my continuing success in reversing disease in my own life and reclaiming my health to a few simple things: adopting a whole food plant-based diet, exercising more, losing a significant amount of weight, the support of my family, friends, the Plant-Smart Living community and connections I have made through this endeavor, and the blessings from my God.
With Plant-Smart Living, I hope you are able to utilize the many growing resources we have put in place to share this message of hope with you. This is not a message we take lightly, as the results have been experienced first hand, and need to be shared. We provide a lot of great, free content about all sorts of topics related to health, overcoming disease, gardening, and much more.
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