Soapbox alert! Normally I write about cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and the like but today I am riled up because of a recently published article in "Pharmacotherapy" titled "Key Articles Related to Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease: Part 1."
The authors reviewed several studies about several herbal or vitamin therapies and their benefits on various conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart failure and more. Many of the studies might have found something positive but the authors ended their summaries with words like, "but more studies will be needed to recommend this therapy," "provides modest support but should not be recommended," " its unique results require confirmation in larger clinical trials," and " although whether these improvements are clinically significant is unclear."
Just give it to them already!
Many of the supplements reviewed were things like: garlic, fish oil, zinc, L-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, dark chocolate, resveratrol, and CoQ10.
What I find as a Naturopathic Physician is that many people put themselves on these supplements because they "heard" they would be good for them, but they don't ever consider the quality they are buying.
If you're going to buy an herb, then buy it from an herbal company that specializes in herbs. If you buy it from a discount big-box store or national grocery chain, then you are going to get discount quality for a reason.
I have had many patients buy a supplement from me (I am very critical of where I buy my supplements from), then buy a "replacement" at a drug store only to tell me the effects wore off and it doesn't work anymore. I respectfully disagree. I think the potency and quality is junk and therefore it's junk in your body.
Last week a patient brought in her fish oil to see if I approved. We cut it open and squished out some of the oil and it smelled horrible! I asked her to throw the entire bottle away. I explained she was putting rancid old fish oil into her body which was doing a lot more harm than good. Another patient brought me her multi-vitamin and asked if she was absorbing it. I had her put the tablet in a cup of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to simulate her own stomach acids breaking it down. She said it took two days to fully break down in the cup. Imagine all the stock-piled multi-vitamins floating around in her intestines!
My point is, vitamins, minerals, and herbs DO work. They work really well in my practice and in the practice of many other providers but you have to see someone who knows what they are doing and use a brand that is good quality and potent. But they can't be rancid and definitely not filled with binders, fillers, and dyes. Who needs red dye in their supplement?