As a nutritionally oriented physician, I have been accused over the years by a number of self-righteous zealots of everything from fraud to hocus pocus for prescribing various supplements.
My allopathic, more orthodox medical brethren have also called me a “radical” for my preferential use of nutritional supplements and more natural therapies than the more standard FDA-approved latest “wonder drugs”.
This has always befuddled me since the more standard drugs used by the non-nutritional MD’s cause over 200,000 deaths or injuries per year while the number of problems with nutritional supplements is less than 500 reported cases per year and the only deaths are due to massive overdoses of products such as iron.
So okay, the use of supplements is safer but are they effective? Many of us have taken various supplements and failing to see immediate results have decided that in truth these supplements are truly hocus-pocus and my critics are correct! But what is the truth?
First of all there is poor regulation of the health food industry so the quality and the amount of a particular herb or vitamin may vary considerably from one company to another when you randomly test different products available at the health food store. Thus one has to monitor and test every product one takes to insure that you are getting the right amount and type of product – or you need to trust someone else to do it.
As a busy physician, I don’t have the time and money to do this type of testing either but I can select the manufacturers that I know and trust and then offer their products to my patients. Sometimes a new product comes out and I will buy 12 bottles and begin by taking the product myself and giving it to my family to see how it affects us. Many times I have found problems associated with a product based on my simple test. My own body is one of the most sensitive there is for detecting problems with a drug or supplement. That sensitivity is what drove me toward this type of practice in the first place and is why I can relate to the allergic or chemically sensitive patient. After passing my own personal trial, if the product passes my scientific review as well as my examination of the company and its reputation, I may start a patient on it. From then on, I monitor the patient to see how they fare.
Sometimes I do a battery of blood, urine and stool tests before and after a few weeks to assess the patient’s responses carefully. After I have done this on a few patients and see no adverse reactions but positive responses in regard to their health, I begin to use the product in a more routine manner. But I am always watching to see if a supplement gives any of my patients’ problems. If so, we stop using the product with all patients.
The point of this long explanation of how I handle supplements is to give you some level of comfort as to why I sell vitamin supplements in my office. I provide these reliable products through my clinic to avoid the problem of patients going to health food stores and getting supplements that at the least may be worthless.
It is amazing to me the amount of misinformation that emanates from the “medical-industrial complex” about even beneficial supplements. Vitamin E is the latest supplement that has been written up by the American Medical Association’s journal as being bad for you. Thousands of people stopped taking vitamin E when a negative article appeared in that journal a few months ago. Even my patients, whom I told needed to take the supplement, stopped taking it based upon this bogus report.
The truth is that the study was done by a group of pharmaceutical companies that don’t even sell vitamin E! Why would any company study a product they don’t even sell? The answer is to disparage the product and switch people’s thinking back to the use of drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular problems. In this study, stroke and heart attacks were said to be increased by the use of vitamin E, but upon closer examination of the report this was not true and neither was their conclusion that everyone should avoid natural supplements based on their results! Pharmaceutical companies at one time even tried to put me out of business when in the same month they came out with a new drug for strokes, I announced that hyperbaric oxygen was safe and effective for the treatment of acute strokes. That little misadventure cost me, but hyperbaric oxygen continues to slowly gain converts since it is safer and more effective than the standard drugs for stroke (in my many years of experience).
So what gives when studies come out disparaging an herb, vitamin or amino acid that you swear by? The answer is in the quality of the raw materials as well as the others materials in the formula. I have found that scientists who put down supplements that I have found highly beneficial most often didn’t even use the correct product in their studies. There is much variation in the quality of products from manufacturer to manufacturer. The only way to know which works for sure is to have had a lot of experience using a certain product from a certain manufacturer.
The only way to get that experience is by being in my chair where all you do all day is diagnose and treat patients using these different supplements. Yes, going to a doctor like me is more expensive than going to a health food store but in general you get what you pay for. In this case, you get a better quality product and one that should work for your condition better than what you can do at the health food store with only a clerk to guide you.
What supplements in general are good for you? The most important thing you can do is to consume good, wholesome, organic foods that don’t contain sugars, sweets, salts, fat or cholesterol. A good diet will help you more than almost any supplement. Beyond diet, a good multivitamin that does not contain copper or iron which can contribute to the destruction of joints, arteries and the development of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in people over 50.
And, using Stemgevity™ – Stem Cell Mobilizer regularly may help you maintain your good health more than anything else.
Thank you. Dr. Steenblock