Dr. Rachel Taylor is board-certified Family Medicine physician with an interest in mindfulness medicine. She strives to avoid the over-utilization of medications and provide optimal healthcare screening in all aspects of life. She is passionate about helping patients change their lives with minimal medications and discusses her approach in her best-selling book, Medication Detox: How to Live Your Best Health, Simplified. She sat down with us to discusses the appropriate role of medication in treating disease with an eye on placing a high priority on preventative care, health education, and wellness strategies.
myDoqter: Thank you so much for sharing your insights and expertise with us! You are an expert in Mindful Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine and are board-certified in Family Medicine as well. Can you share with us your approach to Medicine and where the component of mindfulness and lifestyle come in? Is this your prescription for better health?
Dr. Taylor: I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I am a member of the College of Lifestyle Medicine and believe in their mission that lifestyle changes should be the foundation of a healthy person, NOT medication. The science now backs up the importance of diet, exercise, meditation, sleep, mood, etc. on our physical health and wellness, NOT just mental health.
myDoqter: Absolutely! We think that most physicians would fully agree, yet we are witnessing massive overprescription of drugs including pain medications, antibiotics, hormones, antidepressants, stimulants, and many others. What are your thoughts on the role of medications in Medicine?
Dr. Taylor: Medication is an integral part of healing in some cases, but not all. I think that there is definitely a time and place for medication at the lowest possible dose and for the least amount of time. The problem is when medication becomes a crutch in helping patients avoid changing what they are doing that is creating the initial problem. Medications are for stabilizing while working on what is creating the problem in the first place. It’s also important to note that when pharmaceutical companies sell directly to patients there is little to no education on side effects or possible negative long term effects. I have met many patients who have told me that if they knew of the risks of a medication they would have never started it.
myDoqter: We hear that all the time from patients. Direct to consumer marketing and indiscriminate sale of medication through online e-commerce type sites is becoming a more prevalent problem every day. Additionally, we are seeing numerous prescriptions being written by non-physicians which is leading to unnecessary prescribing and increasing numbers of side effects, sometime quite serious. Your book, Medication Detox, is very timely for the age in which we are living.
myDoqter: Your book is called Medication Detox. So tell us, what is the proper way to achieve a medication detoxification safely?
Dr. Taylor: I think that it starts with a physician who is knowledgeable about the medications and supports changes in lifestyle in order to be able to safely assist in decreasing amount of medications. For example, a physician could not wean a patient from diabetes medications if the patient has made no lifestyle changes and is unwilling to. Together the patient and physician can create a plan that will actually work for the patient and then together as the changes take effect they can successfully taper off the medications.
myDoqter: That is an excellent point. Even if the prescription was not started by a physician, it is good advice to evaluate and make any changes with a physician familiar with knowledge of the medication.
myDoqter: We are learning so much about the mind as an influence in chronic disease and mind-body medicine. We know that diseases are not caused by the mind per se, but how would you describe the relationship between mind and disease?
Dr. Taylor: I think that there is not enough widespread information on this yet – about how much the mind and body are not just “connected”, but really are one and the same. Science shows us that eating certain foods/exercising/meditation will change our mood and thoughts. Science also proves that stress/anxiety alone changes our physical health. For example, It has proven several times that there is a change in our DNA called methylation when we experience PTSD such as when a soldier goes to war.
myDoqter: That’s right; current studies in epigenetics support the notion that DNA changes can result from a direct result of states of mind that and these can even potentially be transmitted to future generations. We also know that stress in general is pro-inflammatory which can exacerbated chronic disease. This really underscores the importance of mind in helping to heal physical ailments if possible.
myDoqter: Can you talk about self healing? Can the body truly heal itself?
Dr. Taylor: Yes, I believe so. the body does all the time, when you get a cut for example, the body knows exactly what to do. I think the problem comes when we get in our own way. I think that we all have way more capability than what is typically believed we have. I also think that small changes are underestimated when it comes to the impact they will have on our health.
myDoqter: Another great point that illustrates the need for us all to make healthy choices at both the level of mind and body. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us here and in your book.