Are Supplements Drugs In Disguise?

I was recently at a medical meeting in Nashville, and I had the opportunity to see Mark Moyad, MD, MPH. Dr. Moyad is a leading expert in dietary supplements and is the author of “The Supplement Handbook.” During his lecture, he said, “If a supplement has an effect, than it’s a drug; if it doesn’t have an effect, than why take it?” He goes on to say that although the FDA does not strictly regulate supplements, many other countries take a different approach.

Most people think that supplements fall out of the “drug” category because they are “natural.” However, some very potent heart and diabetes medications come from flowers. In fact, aspirin was originally derived from tree bark. In other words, the line between supplements and drugs is very blurry.

Here are six tips to guide you on supplement use:

  1. Before considering supplements, examine the basics of your health. Supplements are not a substitute for normal cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight.
  2. Don’t use supplements for general prevention. There is no scientific evidence to support this practice.
  3. Whenever possible, try a dietary source first.
  4. Choose supplements designed to treat a specific condition, with solid scientific evidence to support its effectiveness.
  5. Exercise is the best supplement for your health.
  6. Always ask your doctor about the use of supplements prior to their use.

Just remember: supplements, just like drugs, can make your life better if you need them and worse if you don’t.