Most likely you've sat through oodles of those television commercials and infomercials touting one prescription drug or another that can relieve sufferers of some highly annoying (or worse) condition, whether it be high cholesterol, an overactive bladder, or erectile dysfunction, among others. Don't you love it when the announcer then gives you a rapid-fire list of possible side effects that, cumulatively, sound less desirable than the condition being treated. So, what's a person to do? It sounds like a no-win situation. Or maybe not. First things first is seeing your doctor and, as and if needed, being prescribed whatever prescription drug or drugs is/are deemed best suited for treating your condition. The next consideration is discussing with your doctor the possible side effects associated with each prescription and having a game plan in place if, indeed, you do start experiencing those pesky symptoms once you start taking the drug(s).
Vitamins and Nutritional Supplements Can HelpIt is not a hopeless cause. It's highly probable your doctor is prepared to go over with you what all those possible side effects are and what actions or remedies you should have in hand in case you have to deal with them. One option sometimes available to you in dealing with the side effects of commonly-prescribed drugs is getting on a regimen of vitamins and/or nutritional supplements that can target these side effects. Be sure to discuss such counterattacks with your doctor because there are instances in which taking vitamins and supplements unsupervised concurrent with prescription medicine use can be a recipe for a reduced effectiveness of the prescribed medication or a more serious health concern. Following are several examples of commonly prescribed medications, in no particular order, that produce side effects that can be countered by vitamins and/or supplements. Again, be absolutely sure to discuss such use with your physician before diving into the deep end of the pool. Of course, if you have questions about other drugs not listed here, mention them to your doctor:
AntibioticsThese potent drugs include the likes of penicillin, amoxicillin, and tetracycline, which are prescribed for all sorts of bacterial infections, such as a kidney infection or strep throat. But with the powerful healing potential of these drugs comes the potential for side effects such as yeast overgrowth and gastrointestinal issues, per verywellhealth.com. Note that antibiotics don't just kill the bad bacteria feeding your condition, they also wipe out the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that stand guard over the health of your digestive system. Here are some herbal products, vitamins, and supplements that can help you fight back in your side effects war:
- Herbal tea. Ginger tea can help soothe the stomach, while raspberry leaf tea can help firm up any loose stools.
- Milk thistle. Use of antibiotics can put a lot of pressure on your liver, which is tasked with breaking down the drugs we ingest. Milk thistle is purported to have antioxidant properties that can help protect the liver, but be careful – it can also cause nausea.
- Probiotics. This seems like an obvious choice, considering how antibiotics can destroy good bacteria as well as bad. Taking probiotics will help replenish your supply of good bacteria, and your tummy will love you for it.
MetforminThis drug has long been used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes, going back more than 50 years; in fact, earning for itself the nickname Old Warhorse, per sepalika.com. Over time, metformin has also shown up as a key component in other drugs. One of its best-known characteristics is an apparent ability to reduce circulating insulin levels. But like other RX drugs, metformin can also be accompanied by a number of unwanted side effects; in its case, these include fatigue, reduced appetite, tingling in the palms and feet, stomach/abdominal discomfort, weight gain, anxiety, diarrhea, blurred vision, hair loss, and mouth pain. Yikes, this sounds like one of those ads where the motor-mouthed TV announcer puts the pedal to the metal. Now for the good part – some vitamins and supplements that each can help counteract at least some of those symptoms:
Vitamin B12. One of metformin's side effects is that it can lead to a B12 deficiency, which could be remedied with a vitamin B12 shot or some other form of supplementation -- but only per doctor's orders and supervision. Adding B12 has the potential to counteract many of the metformin side effects listed above.
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid). This can help primarily with gastrointestinal issues.
- CoQ10. Supplementing with CoQ10 can help counter metformin's side effects related to gum problems, reduced muscle energy, and impacted cardiac health that can show up as swollen legs and feet, heart arrhythmia, angina, or high blood pressure, per sepelika.com.
AntidepressantsWhile none of the side effects produced by the use of antidepressants are considered dangerous, per mayoclinic.org, they can definitely damper a patient's day. Side effects can include nausea, dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation, as well as weight gain, sleep issues, and a reduced sex drive and difficulty reaching orgasm. For most users, the tradeoffs are tolerable, and in some cases these problems can improve within weeks of starting on an antidepressant regimen; for others, those side effects just seem to keep hanging around. Here are some cases in which a specific vitamin or supplement can help the patient deal with the downside of taking antidepressants:
- An antacid stomach relief, such as Pepto-Bismol. As you might have guessed, this takes aim at the nausea.
- Moisturizing throat lozenges. Dry mouth, you see, is a common side effect of antidepressants.
- Fiber supplements. Another reported side effect of antidepressants is constipation, hence the fiber supplementation.