If you’re going to push drugs over natural supplements, at least use a logical argument—but not this doctor. I could not believe his rationale over why natural supplements are worthless.
“Are all those natural supplements necessary?” my father asked the medical director of the joint replacement wing of a hospital after receiving total knee replacement surgery.
The doctor was naming off the natural supplements and prescription drugs that my father normally takes. The doctor’s job was to make sure that nothing on the list would interfere with any post-surgery medications.
The doctor responded, “You don’t need any supplements. Throw’em all out. It’s a waste of money.”
My father looked enlightened. “Really? I thought those were supposed to be so good for you.” They included cod liver oil, garlic, omega-3 fish oil, calcium, coenzyme Q-10 and vitamin B complex.
We’re not talking anything off the wall like shark fin extract, but nutrients that have research to back them up, such as garlic and the omega-3s!
The doctor said, “There’s no research that proves supplements work.” This statement was made around 2007.
Here Are Some Papers that Contradict the Doctor’s Statement
• “Vitamin E Prevents Early Plaque Formation In Arteries” (Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 1998, Jialal et al).
• “Allyl Sulfur Compounds of Garlic Inhibit Cholesterol Biosynthesis” (Food Factors for Cancer Prevention, 1997, Yeh et al)
• These studies used supplements on the subjects rather than foods. Note that they are 20 years old, so you can imagine the reams of replicated findings that have occurred between then and when this doctor told my father that supplements are a waste of money.
“Overall, these findings suggest that intake of omega-3 fatty acids, whether from dietary sources or fish oil supplements, should be increased, especially in those with or at risk for coronary artery disease.”
This statement was made in a report by James O’Keefe, MD, cardiologist from the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City. The paper was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2008.
There are also reams of studies showing that medications “work.” I’d be alarmed if my father quit his statin (he has a junk food diet) and coumadin (he’s at risk for stroke) and if my mother quit Effexor (she’s prone to panic attacks and depression).
But as anyone knows, drugs come with the potential for serious side effects. Luckily, my parents experience none, other than my father’s constipation and chronic dry cough from his blood pressure drug—which I’m glad he takes—because he will not change his diet.
His doctor said, “Why would you be taking cod liver oil, omega 3s and garlic if you’re already on Cozaar?”
Cozaar is a cholesterol lowering drug. So the doctor thought it was pointless to take cod liver oil, omega 3s and garlic, which are cholesterol lowering natural supplements.
“Don’t take the supplements,” said the doctor, “because you’re already taking the Cozaar and cymbastatin.”
Some years ago I wrote an article (reposted on this site) about the most over-diagnosed conditions and interviewed Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist and founder of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers.
“In people without a known history of heart or vascular disease,” explains Dr. Teitelbaum in my article, “cholesterol medications have been shown to essentially be not effective in prolonging life.” H adds, “But with $20 billion-plus in sales yearly, this data is simply ignored.”
My father questioned the need to take coenzyme Q-10. He had read that statin drugs cause the body’s natural production of co-Q-10 to drop, and thus, a statin user needs to replenish that by taking co-Q-10 supplements.
The doctor said, “You do not need to take any co-Q-10 supplement.”
That’s when I spoke up. I explained about the depletion caused by statin drugs.
The doctor’s response? “So what.”
This man completed four years of medical school, then internships and residencies over several more years, and ALL he could respond was “So what.” I was more LESS convinced of his stance than ever.
I then said that it only makes sense that if a drug depletes a body’s natural supply of something, that it should be restored.
Again, the doctor said, “So what.”
Was I THAT intimidating to him? Or did he not take me seriously because I was a woman? I mean, what professional responds with “So what”?
I then pointed out that the findings that my father had spoken of were supported by physicians.
The doctor said, “They’re quacks.”
Wow. What a way for a doctor to try to sound credible: Calling other doctors “quacks” just because he disagrees with them, and saying “So what,” which is a response I’d expect from a fifth grader, not a physician.
The doctor then said to my father, “Let’s put it this way. How long have you been off all these supplements?” My father said two weeks – to prepare for the knee surgery.
The doctor asked, “How have you felt in the past two weeks? Worse? Better? Or the same?”
My father said the same.
The doctor said, “Then there you go. If you don’t feel any different taking the supplements, then you don’t need them. They’re making millions off you.”
The doctor is right: “millions.” And “millions” of dollars certainly does not describe how much money the drug companies make off of people. It’s BILLIONS. For example, in 2012 Big Pharma pulled in $29 billion just for statins alone.
Again, I’m glad my parents take their cardiovascular drugs, but here’s a fact:
The Centers for Disease Control states that about 750,000 Americans every year are rushed to the ER due to serious side effects from prescribed drugs.
The way my father’s doctor was denigrating natural supplements, you’d think that the supplements were the pills with the inserts that list endless possible adverse reactions including internal bleeding and liver damage.
The doctor then pointed out that if supplements don’t make you feel different, this means they’re probably worthless!
According to this line of logic, my father should have also tossed out the drugs! Because the drugs didn’t make him feel any different, either! Except for the side effects of persistent constipation and that damn cough!
The supplements of garlic, fish oils and many others are not designed to make you feel better. Studies say that these products produce favorable changes inside the body, rather than boost energy or make you “feel” better.
- If aged garlic extract capsules are preventing plaque buildup in my arteries, I’m not going to “feel” this.
- If my green tea extract is preventing DNA mutations, I’m not going to “feel” this.
- If smoking makes me “feel” better, then I should be smoking, according to the doctor’s rationale.
How many women take D3 supplements to “feel different”? Last time I checked, D3 helps lower risk of some cancers. If I want to “feel” better, I’ll have chocolate cake, thank you.
I didn’t question the doctor how many hours of his training covered natural medicine or nutritional biochemistry. I don’t have a formal background in these areas either. But I’m the messenger of reams of replicated studies that the doctor turned a blind eye to.