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Complementary Medicine

Which Supplement Are Considered Useful and Safe?

01/13/2005

Question:

Which supplements (vitamin, herbal, oils--etc.) have been noted to be scientifically viable--and which are noted as being dangerous. Thank-you.

Answer:

This is an interesting question.  There are thousands of herbs and supplements available!  Briefly, there are several supplements that have recently been taken off the market because of their potential danger. For example, Kava Kava was found to be associated with liver failure, and Ephedra caused many deaths from heart attack, stroke, and irregular heart beats.  St. John's Wort (for depression) is still on the market, but its use has been recently questioned because  it has been found to have many herb-drug interactions, potentially interacting with 50-75% of all known pharmaceuticals.  It appears to cause those drugs to be broken down more quickly in the liver, rendering them ineffective.  Imagine how depressed you would be if your anti-depressant herb caused your birth control pill not to work! 

Supplements found to be effective are many, and include Saw Palmetto for prostate problems affecting many men over the age of 50.  Soy has been shown to improve bone density and to lower cholesterol.  Fish oil and other sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, are excellent sources of anti-oxidants and have been shown to lower cholesterol as well as the risk of heart attack, irregular hear beats, and stroke.

For more information on this topic please try these web resources:

Herb Med.org 

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Fortify Your Knowledge About Vitamins - FDA

Vitamins - MedilnePlus

* Learn important new information concerning the FDA withdrawal of dietary supplements containing Ephedrine Alkaloids (Ephedra or Ma Huang)

 

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University