Chances are, pretty much everybody who reads this has, to some degree, a health concern. Given the current natural medicine landscape, chances are also pretty good that you have been bombarded with a slew of solutions or, dare I say, cures for that concern. From well-intentioned friends and family to holistically-oriented health care providers and health food store employees to last, but most certainly not least, the internet. I guarantee that one need do little more than approach a few of the aforementioned sources complaining of a given malady to see just how many tablets, capsules, drops or ointments you’d be utilizing were you to follow every recommendation. “Take two of these on an empty stomach”. “And four of these on a full stomach”. “Thirty drops of this before bed, with water”. “And three of those, four times a day, twenty minutes before meals, every other day”. (And I haven’t even gotten to the ointments yet!)
While each and every suggestion sent your way may be terrifically helpful for addressing your concern, it is simply not feasible (or affordable) to try taking them all (just as its name might indicate, the shotgun approach isn’t an overly health-conscious approach). So what do we do? For starters, make sure that the particular vitamin or supplement is specific not just for your symptoms, but for you. Check for interactions with any other medications or supplements you may be taking. Oftentimes taking high doses of certain supplements can either dangerously boost the effects of prescription drugs, or do the exact opposite, rendering them almost useless. In addition, look for contraindications with any other health conditions you may have. For example, while a licorice extract may soothe your sore throat or alleviate gastroesophageal reflux, depending on the formulation it may also cause serious problems if you suffer from high blood pressure.
Ultimately, before buying the latest “all-natural, miracle cure” for what ails you, make sure that it won’t cause more problems than it fixes (or, at the very least, unnecessarily lighten your wallet). Talk to a qualified health provider, who can help put together an effective, individualized treatment plan that’s right for you. Because as lovely a notion as it is, there is no single answer to everyone’s problems, especially when it comes to health.
By Erik Daniel Boudreau, ND