Why should you talk to your doctor?
An HSI member named George writes: “In light of the fact that the vast majority of MDs know little or nothing about nutrition and supplements, and have a distinct bias against such alternatives, why do you always follow articles about such supplements with the caveat ‘Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement’? You know full well he’s just going to disapprove your advice.”
Agreed: The vast majority of MDs know little or nothing about nutrition and supplements.
But while many in that majority may have a bias against dietary supplements, it’s more and more common to find MDs who are receptive to the use of basic vitamin supplements and even some herbal supplements.
Here’s the most important reason why you should talk to your doctor: Your doctor probably has a detailed knowledge of your family health history, personal health history, and current health status.
Say, for instance, you wanted to try gingko biloba to help improve cognitive function. Even if your doctor is open to giving gingko a try, he might caution against using it if you happen to be taking an anticoagulant drug because gingko thins the blood.
Of course, your doctor may be completely uninformed about adverse interactions between popular herbals and widely used drugs. In that case, it may be time to find a new doctor who’s knowledgeable about nutrition and supplement use. Also keep in mind that pharmacists are often more familiar with drug and supplement interactions than MDs.
And if you have an interest in herbal supplements, your best bet is to consult with an experienced herbalist who can advise you in detail about drug interactions, dosage, side effects, etc.
To find a doctor who’s knowledgeable about complimentary and alternative medicine, visit the website for the American College for Advancement in Medicine (acam.org).