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Health Supplements #168204 04/10/07 10:59 AM
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Do you take health supplements or alternative / complemetary remedies?

What are your thoughts on the subject?


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Health Supplements [Re: PDM] #168220 04/10/07 01:47 PM
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I think most health "supplements" such as vitamins are mostly a waste of time and this has been studied. There are a few exceptions - such as pregnant women should take folate and most older people esp women would benefit from vitamin D (+ calcium probably).
But I see so many people taking vitamin C, E, and B complexes - and they have never been shown to help and some might even be harmful, not to mention the expense.
The few studies out there on some of the alternative supplements like garlic, echinacea, etc etc show either no impact or minimal at best and the studies are all small and not especially rigorously done.
When I see patients on all these vitamins and supplements, I usually tell them that its alot of money spent on things with no proven efficacy. Furthermore, at least in the US, these meds are not FDA regulated so you have no idea what you are getting in terms of purity and concentration. People are skeptical of traditional medicine, but if researchers thought something actually worked, trust me, it would be embraced by medicine.

There are alot of alternative meds (which I'll characterize as different than daily supplements) since they purport to treat a particular problem - some may (or may not work) but they are fraught with the same problem of not being regulated and many also have dangerous drug interactions.
St. Johns Wort does have some efficacy in depression but there are so many drug interactions that I literally have to look up every medicine when a person tells me they are taking this... and that is when I'm lucky enough to have a patient tell me they are taking it. If you are taking non-prescribed meds and supplements PLEASE TELL YOUR DOCTOR! But there are so many safer prescribed medicines for depression I just don't understand the rationale for taking St Johns Wort.
Saw Palmetto also works for treating an enlarged prostate - but its probably not any better than regular medications available ...
which brings me to the last topic of patients wanting "natural remedieis". I don't even know what that really means since everything in life is made of chemicals, and it all gets processed and made into a pill. I think "natural remedies" is a big marketing ploy that appeals to a certain segment of the population with the goal of getting their market share. Everything in life is made up of chemicals, and whether you find it growing in a field or it is made in a factory - is not an indication of its safety. There are plenty of poisonous berries in the woods, and you wouldn't take them because they are "natural" would you?

Anyways - I'm not saying that certain alternative meds don't work - some may and some may not -but they are not rigorously studied, and if they were highly efficacious then they would be prescribed by physicians everywhere. Physicians are not against "alternative meds", they are against having their patients spend money on meds that are not well studied, do not work, might be dangerous, or have dangerous interactions.

As for alternative remedies that are non-pharmaceutical - like yoga, acupuncture, etc - limited studies have yielded mixed results, and in situations like that it might be worth discussing with your doctor about what would be safe for you to try. I think results vary widely.

Re: Health Supplements [Re: victor] #168680 04/11/07 10:21 PM
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ok i didn't mean to scare everybody off by my ranting and raving about supplements -

Re: Health Supplements [Re: victor] #168693 04/11/07 11:27 PM
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Well Victor,

I was recently discharged by my consultant, even though I was once told that I never would be. I am too well to continue my annual visits for ulcerative colitis. I take lots of supplements. I am as wary of prescribed drugs as I am of supplements. I refuse to take statins, for example.


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Health Supplements [Re: PDM] #168706 04/12/07 12:09 AM
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Well I am always happy to hear good news so I am truly delighted to hear that you are too healthy to be seen!

And you are not alone in taking supplements - I believe I read that 1/3 of patients are taking supplements - and most don't even bother to mention this to their doctor. So I hope you are telling your doctors PDM!!

I am just curious, if you don't mind - which supplements you take and how you came to take them. Was it something you read, or somebody advised you? And why do you feel they are safer than traditional meds, or have they actually worked better? How do you know the supplements are responsible for the upturn in your health? Could it have just improved anyways?

The whole statin thing - I don't know why but that medicine gets more bad press in the lay public than any other med it seems. I have many patients who won't take it - Why is that?
The side effects are uncommon (at least 95% of takers have no problems), and any problems that do occur are readily reversible when the medicine is stopped. The benefits are many, especially for those with heart disease or risks for heart disease or vascular disease. Why is that class of drugs such a hot button??

Re: Health Supplements [Re: victor] #169445 04/13/07 11:18 PM
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Regarding the statins first, there is an increase in people taking them, they supposedly work, yet the incidence of people dying of heart attacks isn't going down. Both my GPs indicated that they wouldn't want to take them either, which was interesting.

There are alternative remedies that I am also wary of, so I wouldn't just take anything. I do take high dose Vitamin C. I used to take high dose Vit E, but only take a low amount now because I have read about possible problems. I take Omega 3, 6, 9 oils. Vit B complex (Vit B6 helped no end when I had post natal depression). Others on my regular list are CoQ10, evening primrose oil or starflower oil. I take other things less frequently, like field horse tail. Recently I have started taking resveratrol, IP6 inositol, linseed oil, magnesium.

I'm keen on nutrition as therapy, so it's also about eating healthily and I have started drinking pomegranate juice and eating lots of brown rice and beans (including soya beans)

I read a lot about this subject and I visit alternative therapists from time to time. Osteopaths have helped my family when the medical profession had given up.

As for telling doctors, most haven't a clue about supplements, so they seem frightened by them and just dismiss them out of hand. Indian doctors, I have found, are more accepting of them.

No-one can believe that I suffer with crohns or ulcerative colitis (tests originally showed both). An ECG a year ago indicated heart disease apparently, but the most recent doesn't indicate anything untoward.

I know that there are con men who try to sell a promise of life tro the sick and who cannot be trusted, but reading up on the subject and taking healthy food and safe vitamins etc must be a good thing, I think.


"The secret of success is constancy to purpose" - Benjamin Disraeli.
Re: Health Supplements [Re: PDM] #169613 04/14/07 09:35 AM
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i agree with victor - supplements are a waste of time. the only place i'd want to pack vitamin pills is on a desert island surf trip where i'm likely to run out of decent food. the only reason there is a market for supplements is because people don't have a clue how to eat properly anymore.


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Re: Health Supplements [Re: PDM] #169665 04/14/07 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by PDM
Regarding the statins first, there is an increase in people taking them, they supposedly work, yet the incidence of people dying of heart attacks isn't going down. Both my GPs indicated that they wouldn't want to take them either, which was interesting.


Study after study show that statins work - preventing heart attacks, increasing survival after a heart attack, decreasing the risk of stroke, decreasing the risk of chest pain, etc, etc. I am not sure what type of numbers you are talking about when you say that the incidence of heart attacks isn't going down. Do you have a reference on that?

I would have to read the reference to comment - but I am telling you that outcomes from a heart attack are so much better now than they ever were. I know for a fact that strokes have gone way down also - I just have to see if I can pull a reference about the incidence of heart attacks. But true or not - you can't blame that on a class of medications.
With rates of obesity and diabetes sky rocketing - it's a miracle that the rate of fatal heart attacks isn't sky rocketing as well. Actually its not a miracle, its just better medications.

I have no idea why your GP would say he/she wouldn't want to be on a statin - I'd have to hear the context of that conversation ... but if your GP had alot of risk factors for heart disease, and had high cholesterol, then I'd like to hear his reasons for not taking it.

Anyways - the omega 3 fatty acids that you take are definitely good for a certain type of cholesterol called triglycerides. But this is an example of a so-called "supplement" that was proven effective, and now is widely embraced and promoted by heart doctors for treating high triglycerides. Is it less appealing now because it is considered mainstream medicine? Was it more appealing as just a supplement? If you had to get a prescription for omega-3 fatty acids, would it be even less appealing?

I don't know much about the other meds you take, but aren't you leary of taking meds that have not been rigorously studied? You strike me as so logical most of the time, that it just confounds me to understand this bias towards unstudied remedies. Any claims that the company makes is made solely to get people to buy their product.

Anyways, I have a feeling that changing a person's mind about "natural supplements" is about as likely to occur as changing a person's mind about the existence of God ... and we all see how fruitful that has been. So I will have to agree to disagree with you on this one - but I do encourage you to get objective data - not small studies with 12 people or testimonials .. somebody is making a profit somewhere whenever you buy these products.

Re: Health Supplements [Re: victor] #175112 04/29/07 01:47 PM
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Enter a Doctors consultancy and see the related advertising material on prescription medicine spread upon the desk (notepads, pens etc ) and ask them about them about there uses and I am sure any educated doctor will start sprouting about this and thats uses and benefits and side effects, ask them about vitamins, protein, creatine, natural remedies even ask them about Chiropractors, and I bet you get another reaction entirely.

In my opinion Doctors are brought into an instituition that solves problems with a knife or with a pill and that is exactly the way every chemist wants it to remain in such a lucrative business why wouldnt they? Can you really tell me you believe: not maintaining a well rounded healthy diet isnt important? Why do you think this is? The food itself is only as important as the nutrients, fibre, vitamins, etc it contains and if you cannot either eat all the required food groups (food pyramid) or the food grade is lacking (incorrect/over farming where size and presentation comes before actual goodness) What should you do? Seek a Supplement - not just any one, research what you choose to supplement your diet with.


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Re: Health Supplements [Re: Vanquish] #175191 04/29/07 05:31 PM
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Vanquish - nice try, but I work for the federal government.
I am salaried -
I get no perks, no incentives.
I get the same amount of money whether I treat my patients or not.
I get the same amount of money whether I prescribe this or that.
I get no pens (I wish - I am always losing pens), no free lunches, no free vacations, nothing.

So you are entitled to your opinion as you say - but your opinion is not necessarily correct... particularly if you apply it to me.

Any fool can tell you a well rounded diet is a good idea - but it is foolhardy to think you can get a well rounded diet in a pill. Just because spinach contains vitamin C and vitamin A, and spinach is good for you, does not mean that mega doses of vitamin C and vitamin A are good for you. Not the same thing friend. Transitive properties of geometry do not always work in the human body.
But good luck with your research.

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