We would be glad to hear from users of supplements who have good or bad results,
benefits or side effects. We will post these anecdotes anonymously on our web
site for the benefit of others.
you have a general
question about a supplement or general natural treatment options for medical
diseases, my research staff and I will do our best to answer. Partly due to legal reasons
we will not respond to questions that ask for advice regarding how to diagnose or
treat a specific and personal medical condition, what supplements you should take,
the dosage, whether there are
interactions between the
supplements and medications you are taking, or whether a supplement is safe for you. Many
herbs and supplements are potent and can have side effects, especially if taken
in a high dose or combined with certain drugs. Always use a low amount of any
supplement if it is your first time using it, even if it means opening the
capsule or breaking a tablet and taking half of it.
Email Dr. Sahelian and his research staff
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Doctor, which supplements should I take?
the most common questions my research staff and I are asked relate to how often
a supplement should be taken, whether it is safe to use for prolonged periods,
and whether a particular supplement can be taken the same day as another
supplement or combined with prescription medications. There are no easy answers.
It is difficult to give guidelines that would apply to everyone since there
are many factors that influence your need or response to supplements. These
factors include your age, sex, overall health status, your mental status, your
sensitivity to supplements, activity level, climate you live in, diet, what time
of day you consume most of your food, types of
fluids consumed, alcohol, tea and caffeine use, body weight, whether you are
currently on prescription medicines, the dosage of the medicines you are taking,
whether the herbs are whole herbs or concentrated extracts, whether the
supplements are taken with food or on an empty stomach, the time of day they are
taken, the dosage of the supplements, how long the supplements will be used
(days, weeks, months, years) and the quality of the products.
One point I would
like to emphasize: When you take a supplement you have never been exposed to
before, do your best to try it a on day when you are not using other supplements
or medicines. This way you can better tell what kind of effect this new pill has
on you. Also, if you are sensitive to herbs or supplements, at first use a
portion of a capsule or tablet to avoid any potential harmful effects,
particularly if you are taking pharmaceutical medicines or are taking hormones.
If you disagree with any of the information presented
on this website, and you wish to present your point of view, do so in a polite
manner and if possible include published research that supports your position. If we deem
this information to be valid, we will make appropriate changes. We readily admit
that we don't know it all... nobody does. This website is constantly updated and
our viewpoint could change as more research is published or our understanding
becomes clearer. My research staff deletes emails that are disrespectful or have a negative tone. Almost all of the emails we receive are from very nice people who
deserve a response, and these are the ones that are forwarded to me. We don't feel the need to waste our time with the tiny
minority who write to us in a rude manner.
Never completely rely on any nutritional information from any source, whether
this information is on a medical website, major news website, a medical
textbook, official government website, medical university web site, etc., or
even my website. Nutritional research is in its infancy, and many varied
opinions exist. It is impossible to update the thousands of pages on a website
to keep them always current. There could be misspellings or wrong
interpretations. Some sources may purposely provide false information in order
to sell a product or damage the reputation of a competitor (this happens on the
Amazon site). There are no
guarantees that any information written anywhere is correct.
Frequently asked questions
One of the most common questions we are asked is
whether a particular supplement is safe to use. The answer mostly
depends on the dosage. Is wine safe to drink? Yes, if you drink one or two ounces, but not if
you drink a whole bottle or two.
Q. If the data on
dietary supplements is limited, how can one be sure of its positive effects on
human beings. I don't want to take something that's going to hurt me.
A. Data are limited on a large number of vitamins, minerals,
supplements, herbs, medications, etc. It is up to each individual to decide how
comfortable they are with the research regarding the benefits and risks of
anything they ingest.
Q, How is one to tell which supplements to take? There
are literally hundreds of them out there and they all sound good. They all claim
to be antioxidants or have beneficial properties.
A. There is no easy guide or formula regarding supplementation that
will apply to everyone. Research in the
field of nutritional supplementation is very early and many products are on the
market that have hardly been tested in humans.
Every doctor, herbalist, nutritionist, or scientist, is
likely to have a different opinion on what supplements a person should or should
not take and in what dosages. Some health care providers don't believe any
supplements are necessary while others recommend their patients take a dozen or
more. I fully recognize the fact that many consumers want precise answers, but
you have to accept the fact that no such thing is possible. Life is full of
uncertainty. Does anyone know exactly what benefit or harm would occur if you
took, for instance, a vitamin E pill every day for 60 years? No. What about if
you took 20 units compared to 100 units or 400 units? What if you took a
synthetic vitamin E capsule versus a natural vitamin E complex? How do we know whether it
is better to take a curcumin capsule versus resveratrol, grape seed extract,
green tea extract, or the hundreds of herbs or nutrients that are available to
us? Just consider now the countless possibilities of various combinations of
vitamins and herbs in varying dosages. And since many people are taking
pharmaceutical medicines in varying dosages and combinations, imagine the
endless potential interactions that could occur.
The reason I am vague in my discussion on this topic is because I
want to be scientifically honest. I could easily make a list of several
supplements and suggest that everyone should buy these particular products. But
that would not be right or honest. You have to accept the fact that science does
not have such answers at this time and is not likely to have them in the near
future. If you happen to be the type of person who wants exact recommendations,
I am sure there are websites or marketers out there that will ask you to fill
out a questionnaire and then make recommendations for to you to buy their
particular products. It is up to each person and their health care provider to
learn all they can about diet, exercise, supplements, and other lifestyle
factors and then decide which products appeal to them. As a general guideline,
if you are sensitive to herbs, are female, are older, or taking pharmaceutical
medicines, begin with low dosages. One option is to try different supplements by
themselves for a week or two to see how they make you feel. Over time,
experiment with different ones and then you can find a few that you really like.
Once in a while you can add a new one. I actually enjoy the process of trying
out different supplements and I pay attention to how they make me feel in terms
of mood, energy, wellbeing, concentration, relaxation, stimulation, clarity of thinking, vision enhancement, vitality,
appetite suppression or enhancement, libido effect, etc. Much, of course, also depends on whether you are treating a particular
medical condition such as high blood pressure, joint problems, prostate problems,
etc., and this could lead you to particular supplements that specifically
address these conditions.
Some people may not need any supplements, others may do
fine taking 10 or more different ones. However, as a general rule, there should
be a good reason for taking more than 5 to 10 supplements each day (such as
treating a medical condition). Think of supplements the same way as the produce
section of your grocery store. There are dozens of healthy vegetables and fruits
available to you and each one of them has a unique set of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other beneficial
substances. However, this does not mean you should eat them all every day.
A few a day should be fine. Same with supplements, there are literally hundreds of products that have
antioxidant and potential health-benefiting properties. But it is not reasonable to take them all every day.
One way you can tell if you are taking too many pills is if
you notice your heart rate going faster, your body temperature going
higher, feeling overstimulated or anxious, having uncontrolled or restless
energy, and very importantly, if you find your sleep is disturbed. Many
herbs (for instance ginseng, aphrodisiacs, and herbs that increase energy) and nutrients
(for instance B vitamins) can cause alertness. You may have trouble falling asleep or perhaps experience
shallow sleep. Or, you may wake up in the morning an hour or two earlier than
usual. If this happens to you, take a break from these supplements and
resume a couple of days later at a lower amount. Also, keep in mind, that
the effects accumulate over time. If you take a pill on the first
day, some of the effects may last into the next day. So, when you take the
same pill the second day, it is already adding on to some of the remnants
of the first day.
The dosages you recommend for some products
are lower that what is used in actual studies. Why is this?
Many people get bad side effects from high dosages that are used in
research settings since those studies are often done for short periods of time
such as a few days or weeks whereas people take these supplements for much
longer periods such as months or years thus making it more likely for the side
effects to manifest themselves.
Emails from readers
Your reports and advice are like a fresh breeze in the
rank atmosphere of the internet. So much hype out there.
This is the most informative and honest site I have ever found
that details so much about so many supplements! In one hour I've learned alot
about the supplements that I have been taking for years and others I may add.
Thank you for the time that you and your staff have put into the research to
bring this site to the public.
I must say I have the utmost respect and praise
for the wonderful research and contributions you are making to life. It is
people like you that truly are the unappreciated heroes of everyday life. I am
currently finishing my degree with emphasis in BioChem and hope to follow the
Love your website - I have read hours of
materials from many sources. I have to say you are my favorite due to you
exhaustive research and thorough information.
Your representation on the internet is the most
friendly and helpful information about supplements and related issues. Allow me
to thank you for your knowledgeable and respectful approach.