newsletter

Are Your Supplements Harming You?

December, 2015

Patients often ask their holistic doctor, "Why should I buy my supplements from you? I can order them online and probably pay less."

It's a good question-and it also has a very good answer. When you order supplements from your trusted doctor, you know exactly what you are getting.  

Recently, my son Adam and I attended an interesting seminar dealing with gut health. One of the presentations was by the sponsoring supplement company, Xymogen, about supplement ingredients and integrity. Xymogen, like other highly reputable supplement manufacturers, tests each batch of ingredients to ensure their purity and to make sure that the sample has the proper potency. These top companies only sell to doctors, and in fact, doctors have to sign a contract stating that they will not resell online or to a third party.

Unfortunately, not all doctors uphold their end of this agreement, leading to these brands becoming available online. This is problematic for a few reasons.

  • When you buy what you think is a quality supplement online, you may not be getting what you think you purchased. A doctor may have resold a batch of supplements to a third party that did not store them properly. The expiration date may also have been changed.
  • Far worse is the possibility that the supplement may be bogus. Companies (especially those from China) may produce a knockoff bottle containing a product that is nothing like what it is supposed to be.

Over the past several years, Xymogen has spent millions of dollars buying back supplements that were sold illegally in order to get them off the market and to prosecute those responsible. The company now places a QR code on each bottle it manufactures so they can be traced.

And what about buying your supplements from a reseller like GNC, Target, Walgreens, or Walmart? Even this is risky, as these companies do not ensure purity of ingredients. Last February it was reported by the New York State Attorney General's office that a number of top-selling store brands of herbal supplements did not contain any of the herbs that were on the labels. For instance, Walmart's Gingko biloba had no gingko, but it did contain powdered radish, houseplants, and wheat (it was labeled gluten-free!). Walgreen's ginseng contained only rice and garlic. Not only are people paying for something they did not get; worse, they may unknowingly be purchasing something to which they are allergic or sensitive.

To put this into perspective, let's imagine that your doctor recommended that you take a ginseng supplement. To save some money, you purchase the supplement outside the office. However, the "ginseng" turns out to be bogus-and you are not responding the way the doctor anticipated. The next steps taken are predicated on the assumption that the prescription was wrong, when in fact you may not have been taking the proper supplement or potency. This really complicates your doctor's treatment (and may end up costing you much more than the original, reputable supplements your doctor suggested).

Once again, my recommendation is to buy your supplements from your doctor. In our health center we only purchase from highly reputable companies that consistently check every batch of ingredients. You may pay a little more up front, but you will be getting what you are paying for.

ALERT: Think Twice Before You Reach Into the Medicine Cabinet

The FDA has recently updated their warning with reference to non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), saying that NSAIDS increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Popular NSAIDS include Aleve, Advil and Motrin. Many cold and sore throat medications contain NSAIDS as well-so chances are, you have this type of drug in your medicine cabinet. According to the FDA, even a few weeks of taking NSAIDS can increase your risk, especially if you have a history of heart attack or stroke.

Depending on why you need to take the drug, it may be wiser to see your complementary health practitioner to find an alternative. Treatment with homeopathy, herbs, acupuncture, laser, etc. may help you avoid the need for an NSAID. If you do take a NSAID, keep the dose as low as possible and limit the duration of use for as short a time as possible.

© 2015, Mark A. Breiner, DDS.

The information presented is for educational purposes only. You should consult a qualified health practitioner for diagnosis and treatment.