Supplements and Drugs: A Hazardous Combination
As I have become more involved in using functional nutritional therapy in my practice, I have come to realize that many people are still confused about the safety and effectiveness of various dietary supplements. Because these products are "natural", many feel they are always safe to use. Although supplements and herbs can be safer than pharmaceutical drugs, they can still function as drugs in the body and should be used with caution and respect.
It is estimated that over 80% of the world's population and 60 million Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). However, although many believe CAM compliments their current traditional healthcare, most do not inform their physicians that they are taking these products. And, many providers don't ask or discuss CAM use with their patients, although one survey of 181 cardiologists found that half of them took antioxidant vitamins, themselves.
What many people don't realize is that there is no regulatory agency in charge of the supplement industry. Herbal products are not tested for purity, effectiveness and safety as drugs are. In 1994, the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) was enacted that requires the FDA to prove beyond any doubt that a supplement is unsafe before removing it from the market. Other than regulating what can be included on the label, they are unable to enforce any other regulation.
There is no incentive for supplement companies to conduct research because they are unable to patent 'natural' products. Those marketing herbs and other supplements save millions of dollars not spent on research, or worse, yet, conduct their own "research", which often does not include rigorous controls. Although there are many excellent and reputable supplement companies on the market, the typical consumer is unlikely to know who the credible ones are. Many independent sales representatives only know what the company tells them, and are as unaware as the consumer.
Even if the supplements are pure and not harmful by themselves, problems arise when combined with drugs. Dietary supplements may compete with drugs, leading to toxicity or treatment failure of that drug. An estimated 4 million people are at risk for herbal-prescription drug interactions. Here is a list of the most common interactions between supplements and drugs:
* Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to prevent blood clotting for those at risk for deep vein thrombosis, stroke, or heart attack. Supplements that can change bleeding time controlled by this drug include flaxseed oil and fish oil supplements, goldenseal, saw palmetto, feverfew, garlic, ginseng, and willow bark, just to name a few.
* Digoxin is another heart medication. Ginseng has been noted to falsely elevate blood digoxin levels. Some herbs that will affect drug effectiveness include senna, licorice, aloe, cascara, hawthorne, foxglove, goldenseal and guar gum.
* Phenytoin is a drug used for seizures. Herbal interactions to be aware of include ginkgo biloba, white willow, lemon balm, skull cap, kava kava, and valerian root, to name a few. It is also important to know that Folate supplementation is necessary with Phenytoin, but excess Folate can be harmful.
* It's important to take calcium supplements and vitamin D two hours apart from taking either Phenytoin or Digoxin in order to not interfere with these drug's effects.
Of particular concern are interactions with the herb St. John's Wort, which is taken by 7.5 million Americans as a depression remedy. This herb can cause serious consequences when taken with drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, or Paxil, as well as warfarin, cyclosporine, and oral contraceptives. This herb may also interact with Digoxin, chemotherapy drugs, and other drugs, causing treatment failure. Some of these interactions are serious enough that if St. John's Wort were a drug, the government would restrict marketing, make it a prescription-only item, or require label warnings.
So, what can one do??
Anyone taking a dietary supplement should first do their homework. Know exactly what the purpose of a particular supplement is for and learn all known interactions. There are many excellent informational websites on the internet. A good rule of thumb is to look for a site that does not offer products for sale!
It's also important to inform your healthcare professional what supplements you are taking, in order to avoid potential supplement-drug interactions that could put you at medical risk. Although many credible professionals sell products, there are just as many who sell products but don't really understand the physiology of the human body and are just out to make money. Supplement sales is a very popular 'easy' way to make money today!
It's just as important to do one's homework when looking for a complementary care practitioner. Although this is only one set of criteria, the best recommendation is to look for one or any of these: A pharmacist or registered dietitian who is educated in medicinal herbs, a physician who specializes in functional medicine, or an MD, OD, ND, DC, PharmD or RD who also has the CCN credential.
Don't be afraid to take supplements. They serve a very beneficial purpose. But do know why you're taking each supplement, just as you should know why you take any prescription medications. Be an informed consumer and take responsibility for your health and wellbeing.
Marjorie Geiser has been teaching health, fitness and nutrition since 1982. She is a nutritionist, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer and life coach. As the owner of MEG Fitness, Marjorie's goal for her clients is to help them incorporate healthy eating and fitness into their busy lives. To learn more about the services Margie offers, go to her website at www.megfit.com or email her at Margie@megfit.com
Havent Heard of the Acai Berry Yet?
You've probably been eating blueberries since you were a little kid. Maybe you've had huckleberries too, which are a little harder to find since they're hand-picked in the wild. (They're not easily cultivated.) But are those the only small, dark berries?
Colostrum May Help Prevent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
A 2003 study by the Health Sciences Department of the University of South Australia suggests that taking concentrated bovine colostrum supplements could reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.
Creatine Supplementation for Increased Performance and Building Muscle
Creatine is an amino acid that is in meat and fish. It is produced by the body in the liver and kidneys and converted in the muscles to creatine phosphate to resupply them with their source of energy.
L-tyrosine and Your Health
L-tyrosine is a protein that the body produces from phenylamine, thus making it a non-essential amino acid. L-tyrosine is available from natural foo sources including:- cottage cheese- yogurt- cheese- milk- bananas- lima beans- turkey- peanuts- avocados- almonds- pumpkin seeds- sesame seeds
Vitamin A ? The Glow-in-the-dark Vitamin
The ancient Egyptians had a cure for "night blindness". They fed the patient lots and lots of liver. Perhaps they thought they were appeasing the Gods of sight. In 1930, the first fat-soluble vitamin was discovered - vitamin A - which, it turns out, does indeed appease the Gods of sight.
The Vitamin Companies Don?t Want You To Know
Do you ever find yourself asking any or all of these questions:
Vitamin Supplements ? A Pill is Not Always the Answer
Vitamins are organic compounds that our bodies use, in very small amounts, for a variety of metabolic processes. Taking vitamins 'just in case' is not a habit that anyone should get into and it is always recommended that vitamins are taken through wholesome and quality food.
Creatine: More than a Sports Nutrition Supplement
Although creatine offers an array of benefits, most people think of it simply as a supplement that bodybuilders and other athletes use to gain strength and muscle mass. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Know Your Bodybuilding Supplement - Ecdysterone
Ecdysterone is a powerful compound that can help to maximise your genetic potential to build muscle. It exists in the herbs Rhaponticium and Cyanatis Vaga. Although it has been known about for many years the expense associated with its extraction meant it was not viable for commercial production. Recent advancements in extraction technology, through in-vitrio cultivation, have made wholesale production possible.
Vitamin Supplement Ratings ? Proof Of Popularity
Vitamin supplement ratings quite clearly show just how popular nutritional care and supplement products have become over recent years. For many vitamin and herbal products, vitamin supplement ratings seem to indicate that consumers are becoming more and more concerned with their health, and increasingly keen to protect themselves against health problems. Many people now combine supplement and vitamin intake with a healthy diet to promote a more natural way of protecting their health and enhancing the body's ability to treat illness.
GABA: An Inexpensive, Natural, and Effective Way to Increase HGH
Suppose you can turn back the hands of time to 10 years ago. You would look younger, have more energy, and be slimmer. HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is a chemical produced in the pituitary gland of the brain. HGH is reported to decline starting at the age of 25. Some of the many benefits of increasing this hormone in the body are:
Vitamin E ? Just the Facts, Ma?am
It is important to understand that we are ultimately responsible for our own well-being and should do whatever is necessary to maintain our health and assist our bodies in resisting and fighting disease. Since health practitioners agree that vitamins are essential for life and health, we must ensure that we receive adequate amounts for our bodies to function properly and to protect us from illnesses. Vitamin E is one of the vitamins to which we should pay particular attention.
How To Choose A Good Quality Vitamin Supplement For You And Your Family Without Getting Ripped Off
As you may have already experienced, figuring out how to choose a good quality vitamin and mineral supplement can be a confusing and time consuming task.
What If You Could Turn Back The Clock To When You Were healthy?
What if there was a solution to protecting and restoring your health. What if you could turn back the clock and return to when you were healthy. You wonder why we have such horrific health problems, yet its right in front of your eyes. You all know that nutrition is important, but do you know why. What if given the right nutrition your body could heal itself of anything, and I mean anything. What if this was true and all you needed to do was give your body the right nutrition.
Coral Calcium: Achieving Optimum Health
The more I study health and fitness, the more convinced I become that the well-maintained human body is a truly remarkable machine. Every small part functioning in its place. Each and every cell working together to sustain the whole. Talk about the Ferrari of nature . . . look no further than the dramatic potential of your own body.
Store Bought Vitamins - Synthetic?
Did you know that most store bought vitamins and minerals are synthetic and are hard on your liver and kidneys? Have you noticed that if you do take store bought vitamins that you switch the brands like switching shampoos?
What Is The Best Muscle Building Supplement Available Today?
What's the best muscle building supplement available today? You might not like the answer.
Nutritional Vitamin Fiber Supplements ? Which One Is For You?
Nutritional vitamin fiber supplements come in a variety of types, and you will find that each of the different types offers a variety of benefits. Despite various fallacies about taking such supplements, fiber is essential to our bodies for healthy functioning, and you will find many articles and much literature that will enable you to learn more about the benefits of such supplement products. One thing to remember about nutritional vitamin fiber supplements ? or any other vitamin supplements such as vitamin C ? is that they should be taken as directed in order to enjoy the maximum benefit.
Using Bodybuilding Supplements To Build Muscle Mass!
OK, first let's get something straight here...
The Effects of Creatine Supplements on Your Body
The skeletal muscle component known as creatine is not only available as creatine supplement. Several other sources besides creatine supplement can benefit us with the effects of creatine. Firstly, creatine is produced naturally in the body through amino acid action, which occurs when food is processed.
|© Athifea Distribution LLC - 2013|