Supplements May Not Be The Answer You're Looking For

Have you found yourself trawling through internet articles to find the answers to your healthcare problems?  Have you coincidentally found a page that lists every symptom you’re experiencing, and it feels like the article was written just for you?  Chances are there’s also a small bottled solution to your problems, available to purchase in three easy steps. 

You’re not alone.  Many work to treat their symptoms on their own, and that is an admirable pro-active approach.  However, we too often see patients in our clinic who have been purchasing products that: aren’t making them feel any different, cost a fortune, and aren’t sold in a transparent environment outlining risks and ingredients.

To bring some attention to these too often forgotten factors, make sure you’re aware of these five facts before purchasing another cure-all product:

1.     No one has accountability for results or changes in your health.  This includes if something worsens your condition or symptoms, or you react to the product you’ve purchased in a retail or internet environment.  No one asks about medical history, current medications or other reasons you might be feeling the way you do.  That’s what’s covered in a consultation with a professional healthcare provider!

2.     There’s no way you’re getting the stuff that really works, in part due to fact 1 above!  Health products available in a retail environment are often cheaply made (hence having low absorption of active ingredients), have cheap excipients (AKA extra ingredients to make the tablet), and have low quality and concentration of active ingredients.  This is why all the best, highly therapeutic practitioner only products are not available in a retail environment.  A professional must prescribe them after an in-depth consultation.

3.     Contamination and concentration is a guessing game – you don’t know what you’re getting.  Products purchased outside of Australia are held to no standards for quality. When you purchase supplements from overseas, there is absolutely no regulating body to assess the efficacy or toxicity of the product.  The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) is the regulating body in Australia, and all therapeutics sold by professionals must be approved by the TGA to ensure the patient is receiving high quality, pure, therapeutic products.  Independent studies of health products from China and India have repeatedly shown contamination, and inadequate levels of active ingredients, meaning they are causing you harm!

4.     Digestive problems will affect your absorption of anything!  If you have gut issues, there is a high chance you’re unable to breakdown or absorb tablets!  Without a satisfactorily functioning gut, (which is one of the most common problems afflicting people today, but is so often overlooked), there is absolutely no way that your body can even break down, let alone absorb, more than 2-4 tablets at a time. 

5.     Did you miss important safety warnings?  Herbs are powerful, and if used incorrectly can cause harm.  Through self-prescription, you can end up doing harm to your body by using herbs incorrectly.  The three most common misuses of herbs we see in our clinic are:

  • Kava being used for prolonged periods with no indication of liver health
  • St John’s Wort being used for longer than 8 months at a time, which can change the retina
  • Laxative herbs such as Cascara being used for longer than 6 months, leading to poor bowel tone and dependency on laxatives

Take a step back, and think about what your goals are when it comes to health.  If you have a healthy and nutritious diet with few complaints, you are most likely one step away from self-management of your health complaints.  If you’ve suffered from particular symptoms longer than two months, there’s no supplement in the world that will work better than an individualised consultation, focused on everything you, to get you back to good health.

Emily Banks