Holistic alternatives to prescription drugs

It almost seems too simple, but if you remove the cause of your condition you can often address it holistically and in doing so eliminate the need for prescription medicines as a treatment option. In this article I want to discuss holistic approaches for more common health conditions and help you to safely get off the prescription drugs used for them. These include stomach acid disorders, asthma and COPD.

I’ll address depression, anxiety, psychoses, pain problems, and infections in succeeding articles.

Stomach acid disorders / GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)

Your stomach normally produces acid that is important for digestion as well as absorption of calcium and vitamin B12. If you have been diagnosed with Helicobacter pylori infection, consider that half of the world has this bacterium in their upper GI tract, and nearly 85 percent of those infected with H. pylori never even have symptoms or complications from it. [1]

There are, however, more important causes of this condition which you can eliminate in preparation to go off your acid suppressor medicine. These causes include:

  • Excess refined sugar, refined oils, carbonated drinks and food chemicals.
  • Unresolved or persistent stress/worry/low emotions.
  • Smoking.
  • Alcoholic drinks.
  • Medications for asthma, high blood pressure, heart failure, muscle spasm, pain relief (NSAIDs, narcotics), anxiety, urinary incontinence, migraine, diarrhea, antihistamines and antidepressants.
  • Pregnancy, obesity.
  • Hiatal hernia.
  • Barrett’s esophagus (from long-standing acid damage).

If you are able to remove the cause then you should be ready to come off your acid suppressor medicine (be careful with Barrett’s as this puts you at increased esophageal/stomach cancer risk if it remains). But don’t discontinue it suddenly or you will likely experience pain thought to be from rebound acid production.

To off-set this effect, supplement your stomach by taking Betaine HCL (a natural stomach acid supplement) along with a digestive enzyme blend with each meal. This provides the stomach acid you need for digestion and signals you stomach not to rebound with excess acid.

Also, you’ll need to keep stress to a minimum, eat whole foods (mostly cooked) and eliminate those spicy/sweet foods until your stomach acid is normalized. You should be able to eliminate Betaine HCL and digestive enzymes in a few months.

If you suffer from gastroparesis (diabetes) then consider the many herbs that do what Reglan does. Ginger stimulates gastric emptying [2] at the safe dose of 1,200 mg (three capsules); Swedish bitters (herbal blend) at one tablespoon before meals does this, too.

Asthma/Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

Asthma is an allergy condition of the lungs. If you could know what is triggering your asthma you could eliminate the cause. So you cannot just go off these meds until you have eliminated your triggers. Where to you begin to look for these?

Most people with asthma blame these common triggers for their condition: animal dander, house dust mites, molds or cockroach droppings. They may also blame viral infections, air pollution, tobacco smoke, or even dry cold weather. Yet if you look further at the likely underlying causes for the hypersensitive condition, there may even be medications, food additives/colorings, acid reflux and even strong emotions. Unresolved chronic stress produces inflammatory chemicals which contribute to the hypersensitivity.

Yet beneath all these triggers lie genetics and the main source of immune hypersensitivity: poor health of the small intestinal lining and large intestinal micro flora. Let me explain more about what I shared on this in a previous article.

Your main “antigenic window” to your blood stream is your digestive tract. In your small intestine you absorb 90 percent of your nutrients. It is here that your gut lining must discern between beneficial food molecules and potentially harmful molecules (which trigger immune system inflammation). Preservatives, dyes, medicines, refined and processed low fiber foods consumed on a daily basis not only damage intestinal lining cells, but also enhance the overgrowth of yeast and unhealthy bacteria in your large intestine. This quite common condition known as “leaky gut” allows leakage of unnatural molecules into your blood stream triggering systemic inflammation [3] [4] [5] including asthma.

Conversely, high fiber diets are known to enhance the healthy short chain fatty acids acetate, propionate and butyrate, which keep the intestinal mucosa strong and intact.

Another important antigenic window for allergens to enter your blood stream is your largest body organ: your skin. You are what you eat…and what you put on your skin.

A small part of all the deodorant, shampoo, perfume, skin care, etc. gets into your blood stream. Begin by reading the labels of your self-care products just to see how many chemicals you are putting into you through your skin, and consider the internal immune hypersensitivity it causes in addition to the hormone receptors it blocks or triggers.

This may mean a serious look at foods you eat.

Therefore, a food and emotional cleansing process, such as a liquid cleanse for three to seven days, helps you wean down from asthma or COPD medications, depending on how far advanced your condition is. Chronic airway conditions (COPD) will reverse some, but reactive airway inflammation (asthma) will reverse much more. When you are able, take them away the opposite fashion that you added them originally…finally using your rescue inhaler only as needed or not at all.

In my next article I’ll address depression, anxiety, panic and milder psychoses and how to safely wean off medicines for these conditions.

To feeling good without unnecessary prescription drugs,

Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options

This is the second in a series of articles about getting off prescription drugs. The first in the series is, “Getting off prescription drugs.”

[1] Bytzer P, Dahlerup JF, Eriksen JR, Jarbøl DE, Rosenstock S, Wildt S; Danish Society for Gastroenterology. Diagnosis and treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection. Dan Med Bull. 2011 Apr;58(4):C4271. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21466771
[2] Wu KL1, Rayner CK, Chuah SK, Changchien CS, Lu SN, Chiu YC, Chiu KW, Lee CM. Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 May;20(5):436-40.
[3] Fasano A (2001) Pathological and therapeutic implications of macromolecule passage through the tight junction. In Tight Junctions. CRC Press, Inc, Boca Raton, pp 697–722.
[4] Yu QH, Yang Q (2009) Diversity of tight junctions (TJs) between gastrointestinal epithelial cells and their function in maintaining the mucosal barrier. Cell Biol Int 33:78–82.
[5] Fasano A (2001) Intestinal zonulin: open sesame! Gut 49:159–162.


Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.