Unhealthy Items at the Health Store: Four Reasons to Be Wary of Supplements

Unhealthy Items at the Health Store: Four Reasons to Be Wary of Supplements

Who doesn’t want an extra boost to their health that’s as easy as taking one little pill? Although herbal supplements are often touted as a relatively easy way to support your body’s healthy functioning, in reality many of the products that are supposed to increase our quality of life may actually harm. Here are four reasons you should avoid herbal supplements, unless the brand, supplement and dose are specifically prescribed for you by a qualified naturopath or acupuncturist with extensive training in the use of supplements and herbs.

  1. Unseen side effects. You probably picked up your supplement of choice with a specific end-result in mind, like increased attention at work or improved athletic performance. But have you considered the side effects your herbal supplement will cause you? For example, taking a supplement like trimethylxanthine, a caffeine powder, intended to make studying or playing sports easier can also cause seizures, cardiac arrest and even death. Find out what the side effects are of any particular supplement in consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.
  1. Exacerbating pre-existing conditions. The improvements you’re meant to see as a result of taking supplements are usually vague and upbeat. But just like any other drug, how the supplement affects you will be determined by your specific body type and weight as well as your personal medical history. If you’ve had any kind of serious medical condition in the past, it’s possible that your use of herbal remedies could agitate your preexisting condition(s), making it worse.
  1. Outright fraud. Don’t be fooled by official-looking packaging on your supplements; just because a product has been packaged or advertised to look like a federally regulated substance doesn’t mean that it is. In an effort to prove just how unregulated and ultimately unverifiable a supplement production company can be, writers at the popular website Consumer Reports were actually able to make their own fraudulent diet supplement These supplements are not regulated. Be wary of all supplements that are not given to you by a competent healthcare provider with specific training in supplementation, such as an acupuncturist or naturopathic doctor.

 

  1. Interactions with other prescriptions or supplements. Just because you didn’t get your supplement from a doctor or with a prescription doesn’t mean it isn’t a powerful drug in its own right. If you regularly take medicine as prescribed by your doctor, make sure to discuss any supplements you are considering, being sure to name each ingredient in each supplement. It is entirely possible that one or more ingredient will either negatively impact the condition you’re taking the prescription for or cause entirely new negative side effects you’d need a different medication to treat.

Supplements can be beneficial if they are quality products that are prescribed by those who are trained in their proper use. That’s not the super buff guy at the supplement shop. Find a naturopathic doctor or licensed acupuncturist specializing in herbs if you think that supplementation will help improve your health.

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About Constance Scharff PhD