I was sat in a café in Peru overlooking the beautiful mountains of the Andes. A little while went by and two young men came and sat at the table opposite. Overhearing their conversation, I learned they were medical students on holiday, and they had recently arrived.

They were complaining to each other about altitude sickness, but they were also complaining about the side effects of the altitude sickness medications they’d been taking. They were comparing symptoms, and saying that one pill was better than the other, but neither of the pills were getting rid of the altitude symptoms.

I found their conversation rather disheartening. The vast majority of people, especially young men like themselves, just need to drink a lot more water than they usually would, and perhaps take some ginger. Job done. No pharmaceuticals and dodgy side effects required. And in Peru, you can also get coca leaves that have been used for centuries to help people adjust to being at high altitude.

But it wasn’t that these young men hadn’t tried to simply hydrate themselves and take some natural remedies that saddened me — it was the impression I got that they wouldn’t even have considered it. Being medical students, they were already completely enraptured by the concept that there is a pill you can take for any ailment.

Around 70% of pharmaceutical drugs are synthesized from nature. One reason this synthesizing happens is so that drugs can be patented, and millions of dollars can then be made. But because the drugs are synthesized, they often cause side effects for the body and mind.

Certainly, pharmaceutical drugs have saved lives and have advanced modern medicine. Yet, they are also responsible for the deaths of thousands of people every year.

In the UK alone, it was calculated that over 230 million prescription errors occur every year. For example, wrong medications are given, or incorrect dosages are administered.

Furthermore, safety regulations barely change. And drug companies continue to push products onto the market despite trial indications of ill-effects, and a lack of evidence for effectiveness.

And drug companies do this even though they know that the vast majority of drugs do not work for most people who take them.

Numerous pharmaceutical companies have been convicted of fraud for illegal marketing of drugs, misrepresentation of research results and for hiding data on side effects. People tend to forget that corruption is commonplace in the pharmaceutical industry. Profit is often being placed before health.

Many commonly taken medications have side effects. For example, statins diminish cholesterol availability for cells and thus reduce the level of vitamins and nutrients being absorbed. Antibiotics can cause cellular damage and are linked with the rise of a number of diseases and syndromes due to the depletion of essential mitochondria, antioxidants, trace minerals and healthy gut bacteria.

Tens of millions of people around the world are regularly taking medication. Pharmaceuticals are being overused and abused. And many prescriptions are unnecessary.

Many prescription drugs have been found to be no more effective than placebo sugar pills. And many medications are later withdrawn due to side effects.

Try to take pharmaceutical drugs only when it is really necessary. If your ailment or illness is not serious or in urgent need of attention, then consider nutritional solutions and natural medicines as treatments.

Research pharmaceuticals before taking them, especially for contraindications with other drugs that you may already be taking. Doctors will often not check for contraindications before prescribing further medications.

If you’re taking medication, and you have uncomfortable physical or mental symptoms that are unexplained, it is worth talking to your doctor about changing or stopping your medication to see if the symptoms clear up.

If you do take antibiotics, consider implementing a Gut Reset diet afterwards to restore healthy balance to your gut bacteria.

Try not to ever become dependent on pharmaceuticals. Research alternative solutions. Get a second or even a third opinion from different health professionals as necessary.

*The information provided in this article should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.