The 10 most prescribed drugs in Canada

According to the website on May 25, 2012, the 10 most prescribed medications in Canada were: 1. Synthroid (thyroid); 2.Crestor (lowers cholesterol); 3.Apo-Atorvastatin (lowers cholesterol); 4. Asaphen (coated aspirin); 5. Apo-Furosemide (water pill to treat high blood pressure); 6. Plavix (blood thinner); 7. Nexium (controls stomach acid, heartburn and difficulty swallowing); 8 Teva-Amoxicillin (common penicillin type antibiotic often used in children for ear infections); 9. Apo-hydro (water pill used in high blood pressure) and 10. Coversyl (ACE inhibitor for controlling blood pressure).

I would like to suggest naturopathic strategies in helping you keep this polypharmacy out of your kitchen cupboards.

  • Synthroid: Underactive thyroid is certainly something I encounter every day in my practice. One nutrient that can often help optimize the health of the under active thyroid gland is naturally occurring iodine eaten in the form of seaweed or kelp. When some people eat it daily they notice their body temperature improves and they are less chilly, which is a common symptom. Their energy improves also. There are kelp chips snacks available now as well as nori seaweed wraps that can be put into soups.
  • Crestor and Apo-Atorvastatin are the same class of statin drug used to lower LDL cholesterol. It is particularly recommended for those who have had a heart attack but there is much controversy about their efficacy at preventing heart attacks. Nutrients that lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL, the so called good cholesterol, include: fish oil containing EPA and DHA in several thousands of milligrams, high fiber (psillium or flax); low sugar and carbohydrate diet, the Dean Ornish vegetarian diet; exercise and weight loss. Did you know that statin drugs deplete the nutrient CoEnzyme Q10 which is a critical antioxidant for the heart and the brain?
  • Asaphen: It is prescribed to prevent strokes and heart attacks due to its anti-inflammatory effect. This coated version of aspirin protects against the incidence of bleeding from the stomach. Fish oil thins the blood and makes the platelets less sticky. The Mediterranean diet of high fish and coloured vegetables also lowers CRP (C Reactive Protein) one of the inflammatory markers that you want to keep less than one. Exercise and vitamin D also lower inflammation. Serrapeptase and or nattokinase are other natural anti-inflammatory agents that also thin the blood.
  • Apo- furosemide and Apo-hydro are diuretics used in the treatment of blood pressure. There are natural diuretics including celery, vitamin B6 and herbs such as dandelion that can have a similar effect. Lowering blood pressure often happens naturally when people correct deficiencies in calcium and  magnesium, vitamin D and essential fatty acids. Coverysl, an ACE inhibitor, can be used first line or if a water pill is not adequate to lower blood pressure. Naturopathic medicine does provide effective herbal remedies for high blood pressure and with monitoring some of the milder cases are able to reduce and or get off their medication. Water pills are particularly bad at depleting many nutrients such as magnesium, manganese, zinc and potassium to name a few and the ACE inhibitors deplete zinc as well. Some beta blockers also deplete CoQ10.
  • Plavix is a blood thinner often used after someone has had a heart attack. This drug is expensive and does a similar job to the Asaphen so often patients are switched to Asaphen after a few months. See the above recommendations for thinning your blood.
  • Nexium helps with heartburn, acid reflux and troubles with swallowing. Naturopathic medicine looks at the underlying cause which is usually foods which are also eaten in the wrong combinations as well as a yeast overgrowth in the intestinal tract. Treating the cause and then encouraging improved food combining makes a huge difference. It is common in my practice to be able to get people off Nexium. The only ones who should be on it are those with Barrett’s esophagus. Don’t forget these drugs deplete B12 and possibly increase the risk of H. pylori and C. difficile overgrowth in the gut.
  • Teva-amoxicillin is a common penicillin antibiotic used for ear infections in children. The most common cause of ear infection is an allergy to dairy products. Once alternates are found the child no longer has adenoid problems and ear infections.


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