by Dr. Richard Powers
A note about medication and surgery in relation to one’s quest for optimal health.
To be sure, the availability of medication and advances in surgical techniques can be lifesaving when truly necessary, and thank goodness they exist. However, it is usually best only to resort to interventions that carry significant risks like prescription and over-the-counter medication and surgery—after less invasive, alternative approaches proved insufficient or ineffective.
Why? Because beyond the intended target (whether that is a cell, organ, tissue, or system) and the effect you aim to achieve (whether to combat infection with antibiotics, lower blood pressure, or regulate blood sugar), every drug also impacts other aspects of your physiology, which often results in unintended consequences. These are frequently unknown yet potentially detrimental side effects that you may not notice or experience for months or years to come.
If you are taking medication and desire to reduce your dependency on it, consider consulting an integrative physician who practices functional medicine* for guidance. Once a plan is in place to identify and correct the underlying causes triggering the need for your medication, have a discussion about the possibility of safely reducing or discontinuing its use.
As with medication—a true medical emergency outstanding— surgery is best considered only after alternative solutions have been exhausted. To improve your probability of a more favorable outcome, the potential benefits of surgery should far outweigh the potential risks, which include infection (and usual antibiotic use), and excessive bleeding. There are also several inevitable consequences of surgical intervention to be aware of, including the neurotoxic effects of anesthesia (i.e., its impact on brain function), unavoidable damage to lymphatics, blood vessels, and nerves as well as internal and external scar tissue—all of which have potentially significant implications.
Perhaps most importantly, a surgical procedure cannot be undone, and the risks associated with surgery are significant even without complications. Before proceeding with any surgery, I recommend obtaining a second opinion, ideally from an integrative physician who is trained in both conventional and functional/complementary medicine. Doctors cross-trained in both medical fields will likely be more aware of and able to intelligently explain to you additional options available beyond surgery so you can make a more informed decision.
* Functional medicine:
A branch of medicine that explores the underlying causes of chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmunity, and applies strategies (diet, lifestyle, nutrients, natural medicine, treatment) that address these causes in order to help slow, stop, or even reverse the disease processes.
If you are taking medication and desire to reduce your dependency on it, you may benefit from an Intelligent SelfCare™ program when utilized in tandem with and in support of you doctor’s recommendations.
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Find an integrative/functional medicine physician for additional guidance and support.