Opinion

SPOTLIGHT ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Drowning in supplements

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

Recently I had a typical new patient appointment in that she brought in with her a large bag full of supplements that she was sporadically taking. There were 16 different bottles varying from vitamins, fish oil, herbs, Chinese medicine, homeopathic liquids, and probiotics that she purchased from a health food store.

These supplements had cost her over $500, yet she had no idea which ones to take or when, that some were expired, how many of each to take in order for it to be effective, which ones she could not take because they were contraindicated with her pharmaceutical drug prescriptions, or that they all contained unnecessary fillers and non-medicinal ingredients. Therefore when she swallowed all of these supplements, she was also taking into her body a combination of Magnesium Stearate, Silicon Dioxide, Titanium Dioxide, Hypromellose, Sodium Stearyl Fumarate, Mannitol, Cellulose, Xylitol, Crospovidone, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dextrose, Stearic Acid, and Silica.

Education with respect to nutrition is key. I reviewed with my patient all pharmaceutical drugs she was on and the nutrient deficiencies that they cause. I then instructed which supplements she had that were a good option for her to take at a higher dosage to replace essential vitamins and minerals, which ones contained too many fillers, and those she could not take due to her drug regimen. Since her different brands of fish oils were never refrigerated nor were they tested for mercury or heavy metal contaminants, I recommended she stop taking these as well.

My new patient appreciated my specifically-formulated naturopathic medicine line of supplements, as they are high potency and do not contain any fillers or additives. At her second appointment, my patient had notably increased energy and was sleeping throughout the night, which was a reduction of two out of her three chief complaints.

At her next follow-up appointment, I reviewed her most recent blood test results and explained how it applies to her current symptoms, as well as what I can do to guide her body back to optimal health.

With respect to supplementation, I target specific areas that a patient needs to take for a short period of time so that they are only taking the supplements their body requires, rather than taking a bag full of supplements their body does not need. Since my patient was feeling much better taking a few supplements, we are now able to focus on treatment for depression with acupuncture and counseling.

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a licensed doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre at 519-862-2338 or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca.