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Understanding how medication works is important, but even with increased knowledge, scientists are still unsure how medication directly affects different parts of the brain, but loosely speaking we can break it down into three categories.

The first category is those that replace chemical deficiencies. These would include vitamin supplements, insulin and hormones. This is where the body is unable to make its own chemical requirements, has not received enough via natural means such as diet, water and sunlight, or has lost them due to a different issue. Therefore these would be given artificially. The downside of giving artificial supplements is that it can reduce the body's ability to make its own in the future. Often, a good way to provide extra supplements is through a person’s diet. Many foods contain all the supplements that we need as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

The second category of medication is interfering with cell function and this group would include pain killers. Pain killers work by blocking the transmission of messages through the nervous system. As the action of this medication cannot be confined to one area, there are some negative side effects with taking pain killers. It can mask other symptoms and cause other problems, such as slowing the heart rate down. These can be taken in the short term, but if a problem persists, you really need to speak to the GP. Some painkillers are also addictive, and you should also report to the GP if you suspect this.

The third category looks at medications acting against invading organisms and abnormal cells. This would include fungal treatments, antibiotics and cancer treatment. The downside of this type of medication is that medications attacking cells can also attack those that are healthy; they do not discriminate. Also, with regards to antibiotics, if you were to give an antibiotic for the wrong type of infection, it would have no effect. For example, if we were giving antibiotics for a viral infection, it would do nothing and taking antibiotics when they're not needed will increase the risk that they won't work in the future. As well as this, some antibiotics act against a broad spectrum of bacteria, including some of the healthy, useful bacteria in our digestive tracts.