Health Care Professional
Consult a health care professional
If you have looked at the fine print on your supplement bottle lately you may have noticed a number of warnings; “If you take blood thinners, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, if you are on blood thinners or if you have diabetes, you should consult a health care practitioner before taking this product.”
These are new regulations from Health Canada which put supplement labelling on the same level as the labelling of over-the-counter products in pharmacies.
You will also see warnings about limiting your use of the product and you ask “why should I stop my fish oil or my Nutri-Cure anti-inflammatory after 3 months as it says on the label”?
In the first case most of the warnings are actually written by lawyers and not by health professionals. The supplement manufacturer, just like the pharmaceutical manufacturer does not want a chronically ill individual to take their product and then sue them over an incident that may or may not have been caused by their supplement. Most of these warnings are actually ignorant and false. In 99 per cent of the cases there is no chance of any contraindication between the supplement and the diseased condition.
In the second case, it is quite possible that taking an anti-inflammatory like fish oil, or a combination anti-inflammatory and pain reliever such as Nutri-Cure, could mask the symptoms of osteoarthritis or even ligament or tendon damage. In this case Health Canada is making sure that you have a diagnosis of your condition and once that is done, you can take your supplements for as long as you want. It is no different than getting a tube of cortisone cream from the pharmacy which stops the redness and the itch of your skin infection. But you must stop it after 7 days because you may be masking a fungal or bacterial infection of the skin.
Health Care Professionals
This brings me to one of my pet peeves; “why people go into most health food stores and ask the clerk for information about the products”. Just because supplements are natural and derived from herbs and plants does not make them safe. There can be interactions with other supplements or prescription drugs. There can be allergic reactions, since 20 per cent of the population are allergic to some form of plant or grass.
The clerks in the health food store, other than my clerks, receives their training from the supplement manufacturer. There is absolutely zero knowledge of pharmacology, drug/supplement interactions or the merest understanding of different medical conditions or the actions of prescription drugs.
If I was in any other profession, the only health food store I would go to would be B.J.’s Nutrition Centre because of the medical and pharmaceutical background of the owner, Barry Goldman. I find it mind boggling that almost every health food store in Hamilton is staffed by people with little or no medical knowledge. Their goal is simply to help you find your product, or if they have been trained, to upsell you into a wide range of supplements that you probably do not need.
Just recently I visited Goodness Me to buy some vegetables. In fact the broccoli at $5.99 looked so disgusting I left the store and bought some beautiful organic broccoli at Fortino’s for $2.69 a bunch. While I was there, I saw an advertisement for a seminar that wanted people to sign up and learn how to cure cancer the natural way. The success rate of regular medical cancer treatment is now 85 per cent. So why would anyone want to risk their lives swallowing some hokey poky cure promoted to them by a speaker with no medical background? Does Goodness Me not realize that people could lose their life because of that seminar? However, if they had a health professional consultant on staff, like myself, at least the people could make an informed choice.
So many people watch Dr.Oz’s television show and hang on his every word. The reality is that the whole show is a farce to sell and promote supplements. The man is a cardiologist not a herbalist, not a nutritionist. He has been such an insult to his Alma mater, Columbia University, that they have recently removed Dr. Mehmet Oz from his faculty position. This move was demanded by a group of top doctors from all over the United States citing his “egregious lack of integrity” for promoting what they call “quack treatments.”
“Dr.Oz has repeatedly shown disdain for science and for evidence-based medicine,” said a letter the 10 physicians sent to the Columbia Dean last April. They further said that he has “misled and endangered the public.”
Last year, Dr.Oz appeared before a U.S. Senate panel that accused him of endorsing products that were medically unsound. At the time, Dr. Oz acknowledged that some of the products he advised his viewers to use “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”
People like him are the cause of all these warning labels because they distort the facts, which then have to be straightened out and clarified by real health care professionals.
Pharmacists and Physicians
So you decide to pay attention to the warning and consult either your pharmacist or your family physician. What you do not realize is that their lack of knowledge of supplements is profound. These people have no clue as to the contraindications or interactions of prescription drugs and supplements. The pharmacists are usually honest and skirt around the question, but many physicians pretend as if they do know and give out horrible advice. If you have to ask anyone, check with your pharmacist. Some of these physicians are merely pretending as if they know something when they know nothing at all.
Saving Time, Money and your Life
The time for reading the warning on the label should not be after you have come home with the product. Of course, if you buy it at Costco or any health food store other than mine, this may happen. At my supplement store, consumers can get a real treat. I am familiar with all the drugs you are taking. I know exactly what you can and cannot take. For instance, did you know that if you are undergoing chemotherapy you must stop all antioxidants and any supplements that may boost your immune system, because this action will directly reduce the effect of your chemotherapy? A person with high blood pressure may want to buy some ginseng for energy but without anyone to offer advice, that ginseng could cause a heart attack and even death.
Having worked as a pharmacist for over 35 years, I am trained to ask many questions about a client’s medical background before giving out any advice. I am trained to read your blood tests and just from your numbers, I can tell if you exercise, eat too many sweets and if your cholesterol really needs to be treated with drugs.
When you purchase your health care at my store, not only are you saving money, but you may be saving your life.