top of page
  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Are you trapped by Polypharmacy?

Polypharmacy: Too many drugs!

"Medicines are meant to help, not harm. But sometimes taking too many drugs can be dangerous, especially for older adults. The use of multiple drugs to treat diseases and other health conditions is known as Polypharmacy. This is a growing concern for older adults".

(The dangers of Polypharmacy and the case for deprescribing in older adults)

I'd add that this is also a growing problem for young people.

The commercialisation and centralisation of modern medicine have interfered with doctors’ ability to act independently in the best interest of their patients. Long gone is the family doctor of old who would turn up at your home at two o'clock in the morning with his stethoscope and leather bag and proceed to wipe your child's fevered brow. Today, medicine is a hurried ten-minute appointment ending with a prescription determined by best practice protocols and what is on the funded (permitted) Pharmac database.

A key predictor of who will have a long, healthy and productive life is the absence of the need for medication.

Note carefully that I've said "the absence of the need", so the last thing you do is stop taking medication if needed for managing a disease. A healthy person does not need medication. A person who needs medication cannot be entirely healthy. A few drugs, such as antibiotics, cure a condition, but these are the exception. Instead, drugs suppress symptoms while not addressing the root causes of illness. Sometimes, due to irreparable damage to an organ system, such as Type II Diabetes, or where the thyroid has been surgically removed or irradiated, medication may be a lifetime requirement. It should be added that even in such instances, there are nutrition and lifestyle strategies that reduce the need for these lifelong medications, thus improving health.

My role in health is to help people stay healthy for their entire lives, thus not needing medication. If a person is on medication, my job is to guide them in their quest for better health and, therefore, need less medication and, hopefully, no need. Getting healthy takes time, sometimes several years, but always worth the effort of the journey.

I've hesitated about writing this article because I have many friends and associates within medicine, and I do not want them to take offence, interpreting my writing as anti-doctor. On the contrary, I am fiercely pro-doctor but not the kind of doctor who is mindlessly following what is displayed on the list of Pharmac approved and subsidised medicines and inflexible "Best Practice" procedures. We've seen too much mindless medicine dictated upon the doctor from outside the clinic during this "COVID Era". Instead, I support personalised medicine that holistically treats body, mind and soul and what is good for our environment, such as growing fresh, nutrient-dense food without excessive reliance on toxic chemicals.

Modern medicine has saved millions of lives by treating infections and injuries that once killed; however, it is an abject failure when curing lifestyle, nutrition and ageing diseases. The way forward for a long, healthy, enjoyable and productive life is through a holistic approach to healthcare and not via a patent medicine or injection. I support my medical friends who practice holistic medicine. Unfortunately, they are attacked from many quarters nowadays and are now a threatened species. In this essay, I explain polypharmacy, which is at the heart of modern medicine's failure to improve health and longevity.

New Zealand: No longer Godzone. Now better known as "DrugsZone".

When I was a child and teenager during the 1950s and 60s, New Zealand was in the top five nations of the Developed world for just about every health measure. We competed with nations like Norway, Sweden and Japan for the top spots. Today, to our collective shame, we are competing with countries like the USA and the UK for the bottom places for measures such as diabetes, obesity and suicide. The common factor is our adopting the US free-market health model from the 1970s, which included its love affair with patent medicines.

I've been in the health business for about 45 years, and during this time, the prescribing of drugs in healthy New Zealand has gone from almost zero to astronomical. Yet, at the same time, we have become less healthy, thus adding weight to my opinion that few drugs convey good health, whereas most result in worsening health. Twenty years ago, having a client under 50 years on medication other than a contraceptive was rare. Likewise, it was rare to have a child on medication. Nowadays, most Kiwis, including many children, are medicated, often on multiple drugs, for life - a life dogged by multiple illnesses, chronic fatigue and a short one.

Big Pharma, Big Chemical, Big Food and Big Agriculture control medicine, including what is prescribed: Not the doctors any more.

Especially now in the mRNA era, medicine is, without doubt, the biggest killer in first-world countries, including Godzone - New Zealand. While some drugs, such as statins and bisphosphonates, are terrible and should be banned from general use, they are not the real problem: The bigger problem is prescribing multiple medications with scant care or regard for their complex interactions.

Few people die from old age these days. Instead, they die from medication side effects and malnutrition from depleted food.

Reality Check: All drugs have side effects

Each drug has a long list of side effects. However, most side effects are subtle and tend to creep up on the user over the years. Because of this creepy-crawly effect, the user may not realise their increasing fragility, including new ailments, are due to the medication's toxic effects. Instead, they may think they feel so terrible because they are getting old, just like all their ageing friends who, incidentally, are probably equally medicated.

Drug interactions are complex and seldom known before they go on the market. If harmful side effects and drug interactions are discovered and acted upon, these are almost always years after the drug has been on the market and only after untold harm may have been caused. This is why a person must be cautious about the new miracle wonder drug. It is usually better to go with the older drug that doctors are familiar with, even if it has more side effects than the new one. Give the new one a few years to catch up, please!