As our society has evolved over the centuries, so have other aspects of that evolution. Technological advancements that used to double every hundred years are now doubling every decade. We now have the internet and access to a worldwide database of information, which is something we could barely have conceived of decades ago. The mere fact that you are reading this blog on a small computer or phone speaks to how far we’ve come.
Other advancements have been made as well in the areas of medicine and pharmaceuticals. Vaccinations have eradicated some of the deadliest diseases on the planet, and there are medications that save lives every day and improve one’s quality of life. Unfortunately, our dependence on these medications has created an environmental crisis.
The Problem with Pharmaceuticals and the Environment
As the world’s population has grown so has its dependence on pharmaceuticals. There seems to be a drug for every illness now, and television, print, and electronic ads constantly tout new drugs that promise to take care of a condition you’re not sure you have. Even still you are encouraged to “see your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.”
We have become accustomed to using over-the-counter and prescription drugs to help us sleep, help us deal with stress, and help keep our blood pressure down, and so much more. Lifestyle drugs are now all the rage. In England prescriptions of just one type of cholesterol-reducing drug rose from 12.8 million to 18 million in one year.
The problem with all of these pharmaceuticals is that they are finding their way into the environment. There are three main paths that lead drugs into our soil and water systems.
- Industrial Waste – This is a big issue, especially in foreign countries that have not implemented restrictions on wastewater from pharmaceutical factories. One case study done by German scientists in 2016 was in Hyderabad, India. There are 170 drug companies in this city creating 50% of India’s drug exports. Samples taken from the water in the area showed contamination from antimicrobials. In addition, they found that 95% of the bacteria and fungi studied from samples taken in the area were resistant to antibiotic drugs.
- Human and Animal Waste – Drugs that humans ingest are processed through our digestive tract and whatever is not used ends up in our waste. Unfortunately, most waste treatment plants do not have the technology to remove the antibiotics and other drugs that are found in wastewater, so these drugs end up back in the aquifer. The same goes for animals. Veterinary medicine has advanced as well. Livestock are regularly vaccinated and pumped full of antibiotics. The waste from these heavily medicated livestock eventually makes its way into the soil.
- Discarded Drugs – For reasons such as drug expiration, or just excess supply, many drugs are flushed down toilets or are disposed of in other ways that cause them to end up in our groundwater and soil.
Without proper guidelines for the disposal of drugs, and the handling of waste, these drugs will continue to be introduced into the environment.
The Consequences of Pharmaceuticals in the Environment
There are a number of consequences that are already being felt regarding the introduction of pharmaceuticals into the environment. One example is from a study done by the science journal Nature in 2009. This study found that there were a large number of male fish in many of Europe’s rivers that were “intersex,” meaning they had both male and female reproductive organs. A prior study in 2004 by the United Kingdom’s Environment Agency found that 86% of male fish at 51 testing sites were intersex. The conclusion reached was that this phenomenon is being caused by contraceptive pills and their ingredient, Ethinyl estradiol. Another alarming example comes from India where 58,000 newborns die each year from drug-resistant infections.
Efforts to Regulate
Some headway has been done to make changes and create regulations to handle the problem, but it falls far short of solving the issue. The European Medicines Agency and United States Food and Drug Administration have yet to include environmental standards in their guidelines for good manufacturing. The non-governmental agency, Changing Markets, which organizes awareness campaigns on the issue has said;
“There is a crying lack of transparency about pharmaceutical supply chains, which means that we know practically nothing about where our drugs are made. This is a scandal and pharmaceutical companies will face increasing calls to do something about it.”
Without transparency from the pharmaceutical companies and an increased urgency to solve the issue, this problem will only get worse and continue to affect our environment.
The Natural and Holistic Healing Solution
The problem of pharmaceutical pollution is a worldwide problem that must be addressed on a grand scale. Regulations must be set on a global basis to stop the contamination from getting worse, but this, sadly, may never happen. However, there is another solution.
Holistic healers for centuries have recognized the vast number of plants that provide relief from many common ailments. It seems only recently that we in the U.S. have begun to explore these natural alternatives to over-the-counter medications. Because they are plant-based, these alternatives to the medications you find on your pharmacy shelves do not cause the environmental pollution you see with pharmaceuticals. It is incumbent on us to find more environmentally friendly solutions to many of our ailments.
This is one of the many reasons why we at Pharmstrong are so passionate about our line of holistic Pure + Potent CBD products. From our oral drops to our pet products, to our uniquely paired kits, not only is everything in our inventory Verified Pure Premium Grade, but every item is also environmentally friendly.
We invite you to try the holistic, natural, and environmentally responsible solution to your wellness needs by shopping with Pharmstrong! You can shop online, give us a call, or drop by our store in Breckinridge, Colorado and try out our one-of-a-kind sample bar.
Go natural and holistic. Go Pharmstrong!