Consumer Reports, usually a reliable guide on what to buy, is dishing some dubious advice in its September issue on “The 12 Most Dangerous Supplements.”
The magazine identified 12 supplements “to avoid” and 11 “to consider’” based on research and case studies from Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database.
As a physician who works with supplements and FDA approved prescription medications I would like to tell readers there are several facts to bear in mind before they swallow the Consumer Reports story. The supplements “to avoid” are all herbs. Herbal supplementation is difficult at best for the western world to comprehend. Herbals have been used for thousands of years in Eastern cultures and also in homeopathy.
The science behind them is not as clear as most other supplements so it is no wonder they are on the warning list. We need more time and more science to know enough about these products before we can truly commit to their value. I believe that FDA supervision – advocated in the article - will not help.
Supervision by the FDA while it may give some people a sense of comfort doesn’t really assure safety. Howmany drugs are constantly approved by the FDA only to be proven unsafe and then taken off the market?
I find that it is of utmost importance to work with a qualified physician, nutritionist or health care practitioner
when choosing supplements and herbs. Although they are freely available without prescription, they are as powerful as medications and they interact with them making it even more important for the user to have professional guidance and know what they are taking.
The solution is to become and informed consumer and not a fearful victim. The problem with the article in Consumer Reports is that it is a bit sensational and has missed its mark.
Consumer Reports is about helping us choose the safest products. In this case the advice should be to find a practitioner who knows how to help you find the best supplements for your condition and maybe temper our overwhelming need to stuff a pill in our mouths every few minutes.