As a practitioner of Integrative medicine, the majority of patients I attract prefer herbal remedies to modern medications. When my patients come to see me initially, I always ask them to bring their supplements. I do that so I can see which ones they are taking and which brands.

Most patients bring their supplements in huge shopping bags. One of my colleagues had a patient who brought in a shoebox overflowing with bottles of vitamins and all kinds of things. He told her that she was either going to have to eliminate some of the bottles or buy bigger shoes.

Needless to say,  the lion’s share of those who prefer herbal remedies are probably overdoing it on many levels. It makes me very uncomfortable, because we do not have any way to tell if the supplements contain what they say they do and if they are free of contaminants. This is especially true for those that come from China.

It is my experience that most patients take supplements to get more energy and to ease their aches and pains. The majority of those I see would prefer to take the supplements rather than get what they need from food. I always try to emphasize that it is far better to get vitamins and herbs in their natural state such as food or tea, than it is from a pill. Pills do not often digest for starters, and they usually cost a lot. So, you might end up with expensive toilet water and sewage.

Finally, natural does not mean safe. It is possible to become toxic from supplementing too much of a vitamin such as those stored in the liver (Vitamins A, D, E and K). Herbs can be dangerous as well and can interact with each other and modern medicines causing serious problems. As an example, St. Johns Wort, commonly used to treat depression can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills.

Fortunately for you, dear reader, I have an amazing resource on my website at If you go to the homepage, you will find three icons that you can click on from Natural Standard-Therapeutic Research Center a highly regarded organization. When you click on the pictures you can review hundreds of different herbs and supplements. They are given  grades as to how well they work for different ailments. There is also a discussion of interactions and dosages for each of them.  I highly recommend checking it out before you try anything.

Go over everything you are taking with your doctor. Know that there are certain brands that are better than others. The ones I prefer are Integrative Therapeutics and Standard Process. Take a hard look at which supplements you are taking and why. Usually, once I get people eating a healthy diet and exercising, the need for their supplements goes way down and their wellness quotient goes way up.

Remember the wise words of Hippocrates: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”