Can You Reduce Side Effects by Reducing Your Dose


    By Kennedy Shelley

    What’s the lowest effective dose for the medicines you take every day?

    This is an interesting question that I first heard raised by Tim Farris in The 4-Hour Work Week.

    His point was that certain medicines can actually provide the benefit you need at much lower doses than you are prescribed.

    He actually noticed this in what is referred to as the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 Rule.

    The idea is that 80 of the results come from 20% of your effort.

    So, you can reduce your time in the gym and get 80% of the results by only doing 20% of your regular effort.

    I decided to put this idea to the test when I started noticing that when I was prescribed medicine to lower my blood pressure.

    When I took the full dose, I could not stand without getting lightheaded.  And it was seriously affecting my ability to do my regular exercise routine.

    But I had to admit that the meds did substantially lower my blood pressure.  And that is what I wanted.

    So, I monitored my blood pressure at home and started lowering my dose on my medicine.

    After a month I found that I could get my blood pressure to normal levels by only using 8 mg of the medicine instead of the prescribed 40 mg.

    The lightheadedness and other side effects went away.

    What my little experiment showed me was that if you have a trackable result you are trying to get from a medicine or treatment, it might be worth working with your doctor at reducing the dose to get the result you want and need with substantially lower side effects by lowering the dose.

    Sometimes you can’t track so easily or see the results as quickly as you can with blood pressure.

    But some items can be checked at home.  Blood glucose and ketones can be checked with home testing kits.

    Even issues dealing with certain blood tests can be done apart from going to your doctor.

    If you live in the US, you can get any blood test done at often very low costs without going to your doctor.

    I just had a complete blood workup done for $15 to see if the things I was doing were having an effect on an important inflammation marker.

    The point is that while you are working with your doctor, you don’t have to be dependent on them.

    You can individualize your health care to work for you and improve the quality of your life by minimizing side effects.

    Some have found that by using a pill cutter that they can reduce the amount of Viagra or other ED medicine and get the desired results.

    More is often not better.  More can sometimes mean more negative side effects.

    If the 80/20 rule is true, then more of a drug will often give you less and less benefit, but in all probability increase your risk for a negative side effect.

    That often means people will quit taking a potential lifesaving drug.

    So back to my original example, my blood pressure was dangerously high and needed to come down.

    Reducing the dose 80% gave me the important result of normal blood pressure, without all the problems.

    You might want to talk to your doctor about strategies to use lower doses to get the results without the problems.