Rami's Blog

Like the Yin-Yang, Eastern Martial Arts and Western medicine are two halves of a whole. My mission is to preserve the ancient mind-body tools, and pass them on to you.


New Year's Health Resolution: Getting Off Medication

There is nothing wrong with prescription medication. Some people, especially in the alternative health fields, have an unwarranted grudge against medical drugs. Everyone reacts to each treatment differently, and where one patient may have their life nearly ruined by a bad reaction to a pill, many other patients's lives are revolutionized for the better with the same medication.

Before you can take control of the role that pills and potions play in your treatment, you have to take a few facts to heart. First: Just because an option didn't work for you, doesn't mean it won't work for someone else. We all have the right to select what treatments we want to try or avoid.

If you started reading this post, or this whole blog, hoping to throw away all those bottles in your medicine cabinet, you are already in the WRONG mindset. You need to listen to your body, and make small adjustments, one at a time, as you and your doctor feel comfortable with them. This brings us to the second fact: Getting off medication may mean simply reducing the number of medications you take, not being medication free

Everyone can agree that the fewer medications you have to take on a daily basis, the better. More pills floating around means a greater chance of mixing up or forgetting medications. That can be dangerous. Not to mention, certain medications can have such severe side-effects that they really come in pairs of two: one pill to medicate, and another pill to reduce the first pill's side-effects. This kind of medication-for-medication drug use can be a vicious circle. So what should we do about it?

If it's an emergency, take the pill. I believe exercise and meditation can improve or fix almost any ailment, but you can't exercise your way out of an infection. Don't let pride in the healing abilities of your body prevent you from properly protecting your body.

Ask your medical professional about alternative treatment options, and alternative treatment specialists you can talk to. Doctors are always going to offer what they think will help you most, while also being the least stressful for you to incorporate into your life. Often, that is a pill. But you should feel safe telling your doctor that you are up for a little more work if it means fewer pills and potentially fewer side-effects.

Always get a second opinion. And remember that your doctor isn't trying to work against you if he or she disagrees with your pursuit of different treatment options. Take what your doctor says to heart, but take it with a grain of salt. There is too much medical knowledge out there for a single person to have it all.

Never go cold turkey. Start your replacement treatment before stopping your current treatment whenever possible. I have done research showing strong support for the effectiveness of Tai Chi to treat rheumatoid arthritis in the knees. But, I would never suggest going off your medication right as you begin a Tai Chi routine for your knees. Keep in constant contact with your doctor, and figure out at what rate you should reduce your medication intake given the improvement you feel (if any) from the Tai Chi, or other treatment option.

The same goes for emotional and mental treatments. I believe that anxiety, depression, and many other disorders can be greatly improved by a meditation and mindfulness practice incorporated into your daily life. However, I insist that people trying new routines STAY ON their antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications until they feel, for an extended period of time, like they are in a position to reduce or eliminate them from their treatment plan.

Good luck with all of your heath resolutions for 2015! Happy stretching!