Watch What Supplements You Buy!
Why am I bringing this up here? Well, I can never forget going to a seminar on Ephedra years ago. And ending up in the bathroom in about-faint sweats. Fortunately, Ephedra was banned soon after. But that didn’t stop the steady stream of bogus promises of slimmer bodies and the equally bogus supplements that hawked rosy but unattainable results. A congressional hearing labeled Dr. Oz supplement statements a sham … one senator stated, “I don’t get why you need to say this stuff when you know it’s not true. When you have this amazing megaphone, why would you cheapen your show?” Another said, literally, “shame on you” to him.
I’ve been leery of herbals for years; that’s why I only use ones I know are purely made and come from good sources. So I’m never surprised when a study like this crops up. Actually, I’m glad it did, because lead study author Victor Navarro, chair of hepatology at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia, makes a case for working with supplement experts to 1) get well-made supplements as they’re not regulated at this juncture and 2) make sure that dosages are correct and that there are no supplement-medication interactions.
Overall, liver injury from supplements is rare, … However, if overused, or used in combination with other supplements, or used for very prolonged periods or in combination with conventional medications, they may become harmful.
The research was thorough …
To assess the scope of liver problems caused by supplements, researchers reviewed data from several previously published studies, much of which was also presented at a 2015 conference sponsored by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. They also looked at 130 cases of supplement-related injuries reported over eight years in a U.S. registry of drug-induced liver injuries.
The study is also prudent to point out that hundreds of prescription medications also cause liver damage, and that liver damage is the primary reason why most medications fail to come to market. I’ve often postulated after over 20 years of working in nursing homes that the multiple medications that many elderly are prescribed cause death faster than actual maladies themselves. Possibly through the liver and kidney injury they might cause.
Steroids accounted for more than a third of issues. But it was difficult to know which ingredients caused problems as these products were made up of multiple ones. I’ve found in my own research and practice that supplements potentiate … adding a bunch together makes each stronger. There’s not a lot of research done along these lines so it’s difficult to know what’s causing the ultimate problem. That’s again why it’s so important when you take supplements to NOT self-medicate as most Americans do (I’m pretty sure that most get their supplement advice from the health food or supplement store clerk … someone with zip or none education to do so …) and seek out advice from an expert.
When I worked in an integrated cancer clinic, the primary doc was kind enough to say, “I know nothing about supplements … that’s why I hired you.” There is so much to consider when suggesting supplements that I sometimes have to consult my colleagues about them. That’s how intricate and individual recommending supplements is. Obviously, you just can’t do it yourself or without a professional intake of medical history. Something a clerk neither knows nor cares to know.
There were many different types of herbals explored along with other supplements. But I wasn’t surprised that most came from Herbalife, a multi-level marketing group that cares more about making money than quality. The rest were mostly weight-loss supplements like Slimquick and Hydroxycut. The bottom line … there IS no magic pill for weight loss … I wish there were one myself.
After years of working with them, I’m convinced that supplements can pay a vital role in your health. They’ve certainly kept me medication-free throughout my 71 years. But they need to be used prudently and … sometimes you need to take a break from them. Especially from herbals. Again … you need an expert to sort out what’s right for you. And your pocketbook.
Navarro sums it up well …
There is no miracle in a bottle that will build muscle, detoxify your system, cure cancer, or cause rapid, long lasting weight loss. At best it is a waste of money. At worst you could die.
Being a supplement expert, I don’t necessarily agree with the statement “a waste of money.” I guess they are if you don’t use them correctly. Most buy them because they read an article or ask a clerk … and they usually expire upon a kitchen shelf you can only reach by step stool. But I do know that supplements work … they just need to be chosen prudently and professionally.