Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Randy

Due to potentially serious side effects, decisions to take prescription drugs involve weighing possible benefits alongside potential risks. Statins, for example, potentially can cause upset stomach, muscle pain, and liver damage.  Eating grapefruit while taking statin drugs can possibly worsen these side effects. Prescription drug side effects kill an estimated 100,000 Americans every year. Nutritional supplements can also have side effects, which most health food store employees may not inform customers about.

A whole-food, plant-based diet may improve health without the side effects of prescription drugs. A whole foods, plant-based diet can treat high cholesterol better than some statin lowering drugs; reduce the presence of IGF-1, a growth hormone linked to cancer; treat asthma and eczema; reduce the risk for diabetes, breast cancer, heart attack, depression, menstrual pain, multiple sclerosis, all without side effects of the prescription medications used for these health problems.

Specific whole, plant foods may help treat certain diseases without the risk of potential serious side effects from prescription or over-the-counter medications. For example, eating berries at least twice a day can lower the risk of excessive platelet activation; beans, flax seeds, and Indian gooseberries, also known as amla may help control diabetes; cherries may help reduce inflammation, reducing uric acid levels that could lead to gout, treat muscle soreness, and help treat insomnia; peppermint oil may help treat irritable bowel syndrome, pistachio nuts may treat erectile dysfunction; green tea may reduce mouth plaque, cranberry juice may treat bladder infections; flax seeds can help benign prostatic hyperplasia and high blood pressure; watermelon may treat erectile dysfunction and muscle soreness; cloves, ginger, rosemary, and turmeric may reduce inflammation; ginger or lemon balm tea may protect against radiation and treat migraine headache, topically applying turmeric curcumin may reduce precancerous lesions, and eating curcumin may reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and colon cancer risk; phytates may help treat cancer; and saffron may treat Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, orange aromatherapy and listening to certain genres of music may reduce anxiety, and exercise should be considered when treating ADHD.

Some plant foods also have potential side effects. For example, consuming fenugreek seeds may result in your armpits smelling like maple syrup. Pink urine and red stools are potential side effects of beet consumption. Herbal teas, like hibiscus, can erode the enamel on our teeth if we don’t rinse our mouth with water after drinking them due to their natural acids. But, drinking enough hibiscus tea can be as effective as taking a  high blood pressure drug called Captopril without its more serious side-effects. In the case of drinking tea, potential side effects, such as providing liver and brain protection, as well as lowering the risk for some cancers, are considered beneficial.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

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