Moving Away From Prescription Medications

Do you know anyone who actually likes taking pharmaceuticals? Most patients I speak with worry about everything from the taste, the timing, the idea of putting a little pill in their body, even the inactive ingredients. It makes sense that many are skeptical about manufactured medications, especially if they are not quite sure what it even does or doesn’t do - including concerns about unintended side effects.

Whether it is sleepiness or flatulence, the unpredictable nature of medications can be unnerving. According to the National Institutes of Health, ⅓ of Americans seek alternative forms of medical treatment. This includes everything from chiropractors to fish oil to melatonin and of course, CBD.

Is the goal to abandon pharmaceuticals altogether? For some, yes. For others, they simply want options. I have seen few things that dishearten a patient more than when another doctor has told them they will be on certain medications for the rest of their lives.

Options and alternatives do exist in some cases. Fish oil is the most common natural product taken by children and adults. 7.8% used it in 2012 that is up from 4.8% in 2007. Many do so to avoid cholesterol medications. In a study conducted by Brightfield Group and HelloMD, 42% of CBD users said they stopped using traditional medications like Tylenol pain relievers or prescription drugs like Vicodin and had switched to cannabis instead. These are only two of the numerous examples of how people are choosing alternative treatments I hear about every day in my family medicine and cannabis offices, but doing it safely is key.

When deciding to shift from pharmaceutical medications to alternative options there are a few things to consider:

1- Switching to an alternative option still means you have to engage in that alternative option habitually. Many patients are disappointed to discover that moving from manufactured medication to CBD doesn’t simply mean taking CBD “as needed”. If you are choosing an alternative treatment, it has to be a regular part of your routine, similar to most pharmaceutical drugs. Irregular or haphazard treatment of your condition can not only be irresponsible, but dangerous.

2- When shifting from a pharmaceutical to an alternative treatment, reduce medications gradually. It can take time for CBD to reach a therapeutic level, so do not stop your traditional medicine cold turkey. As you reach your therapeutic goal with CBD, slowly wean off your prescribed medications under the guidance of your physician.

3- All medicines are only a tool to help you reach your goals, so the smartest plan is to utilize multiple tools to be the most successful. CBD is simply a resource, not a cure. With any treatment you ought to engage other supportive lifestyle practices to develop balance and overall wellness. We all know what we eat and drink is important, we're becoming aware of the impact of our sleep and social patterns. Depending on your health and interests you might consider including some form of movement, meditation, and/or massage. Choosing one of these options to work with is a place to start, but together they work synergistically to help you soar!

4- Most importantly, stopping medications can be dangerous. Only change your medication regimen under the guidance of a physician. Share your goals with your doctor as well as your dedication to a healthier, more natural lifestyle. Not all medications can be replaced with alternative options, so keep an open mind to the right treatment that keeps you safe and alive, no matter what the source may be.

Have questions or would like to suggest a subject for my next column? Please email me at

Dr. Bridget is a Board-certified family physician, cannabinoid physician and life coach. She is the owner of Green Harvest Health Clinics and GHH CBD Medicinals. Learn more at or

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