16 Aug

Supplements

If you are looking for a profound article describing the meaning of life, then read no further, this is not that kind of article.  I was just reminded recently about the idea of supplements.  In fact, one of the EBTS members, Andrew Walker, recently posted, “A nutritionist suggested some supplements to support [the] brain…”  Now before I go on, you might finish this article and think, jeez, does Chris not like supplements?  I want to answer that right from the onset; my response is a little complex, but ultimately the answer is, “I do not know.”  Let me explain.

In medicine, we are trained to be weary of dietary supplements.  The idea behind this is that these supplements are not researched and approved by the FDA.  This does not mean that they are disapproved, it simply means that that particular drug or dietary aid has not been studied.  Numerous supplements like multi-vitamins, glucosamine chondroitin, and melatonin I actually encourage my patients to take.  While these have not been approved by the FDA, they have stood the test of time.  However, for every one of these effective remedies, many more questionable ones exist.  My mind cannot go away from e-cigarettes when mentioning this.  I know they are not technically a supplement, but many of the ideas are the same.  While, the idea of replacing a ‘regular’ cigarette with a device that delivers nicotine in a different way is a good thought, the problem is that we have absolutely no idea what is in them.  For all we know, e-cigarettes could contain trace amounts of rat poison.  Or it could contain some magical compound that stops smoking.  The point is that we have no clue what is in e-cigarettes or supplements; they lack the research needed to know their contents or effectiveness.

So, in the end, my thoughts on supplements is one of uncertainty.  I have been fortunate enough to be on both sides of the conversation: I have both suggested and been advised to take a certain supplement.

My only advice to you is to be your own FDA, and research and study what you are considering to put in your body.  Part of that research may include asking your physician, in hopes that he/she also has studied the supplement in question and can share their findings and thoughts with you.  Your research may include posing a question to a group like the EBTS (like Andrew).