Supplements Information

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


MORE RESOURCES:

Entrepreneur

The 5 Golden Rules of Goal-Setting
Entrepreneur
In fact, 21 percent of goal-setting, high-achieving organizations looked at in one study were more productive than their counterparts, according to Workboard. From the same source: 69 percent of companies surveyed said that communication business goals ...



WealthManagement.com

Goal Setting Is a Mind Game
WealthManagement.com
Two of the most renowned researchers on goal-setting, Edwin Locke of the University of Maryland and Gary Latham of the University of Toronto, have been studying the goal-setting/getting process for nearly four decades. The following is just a quick ...



Commissioners host second goal-setting workshop
Petoskey News-Review
This is the second goal setting workshop for the county. The first was held in January, where commissioners identified goals like improving year round employment opportunities, public transit, and providing internet access for more residents of Emmet ...



The Enterprisers Project

CIO goal-setting, career paths, and stages of success | The ...
The Enterprisers Project
In this news roundup for IT leaders, we bring you several articles about the CIO's role and priorities that caught our attention this week. CIO priorities: How to set ...

and more »


Cowra Guardian

Jim's five tips for goal setting
Cowra Guardian
1. Be SMART. Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based, with a realistic deadline and clearly defined actions. 2. Break them down. Break down large, long-term goals into smaller sub-goals. For example, if your goal is to ...



mybighornbasin

Goal Setting | Big Horn Radio Network
mybighornbasin
For today's daily wellness tip, I'm going to help you learn how to identify and achieve YOUR goals – because wellness isn't just about your physical health,

and more »


Quality supplier partnerships benefit from goal-setting, growth plans ...
Supply Chain Dive
Market Intelligence company SpendEdge states that streamlining supply chains requires a careful choice of partners to enhance collaboration, CSCMP's Supply ...

and more »


VAS Promotions Ltd Research Why Goal Setting is Vital to Success
Journalism.co.uk
In their most recent seminar, the firm shared their research into goal setting and why all professionals need to set goals if they are to be successful. The 1979 Harvard MBA study on goal setting analysed a graduating class to determine how many had ...



Lexology (registration)

3 Smarter Goal-Setting Tips to Achieve Your Objectives
Lexology (registration)
Authored by: Carl J. Peterson is the general counsel of Mid-Atlantic Business Unit at Titan America LLC. A major part of managing any legal department is managing the people that comprise it — creating an individualized development plan for each ...



Business Mirror

The truth about goal setting
Business Mirror
Two-and-a-half months have passed, and how many of us have faltered with our New Year's resolution? I'll be the first to plead guilty. At least when it comes to health and fitness, I already failed several days into the year. It's not for the lack of ...


Google News

home | site map | ArticleGecko | A ClashX Production 2006
© 2006