Question: I occasionally take a natural supplement for anxiety and it has a calming effect. I buy it from a local vitamin shop. Does this pose any risk?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Without knowing what the supplement you are taking is, I really cannot apprise you of any risks you may be taking. Remember that any non-food supplement is a medication, does have a risk/benefit ratio, and may interact with lother medications.
While many prescription medications can be safely taken with supplements, others may become dangerous when combined. You can become just as ill with supplements as with any other form of medication, with the added concern that you are self-medicating without professional guidance. Be cautious, and realize that local vitamin shops exist to sell a product; are usually staffed with sales persons, not usually any trained medical professionals; and are not intended to be used as sources of health advice.
Theoretically, all products available for sale as “natural supplements” are available from food sources. This does not mean they are safe for everyone to use at any dose, as you and I know that a small amount may be harmless and a larger amount may become a health risk.
The real questions with any medication and supplement are:
Why do I need this?
How do I know how much I need?
What advantage does this medication have?
Are these benefits worth the risk of side effects?
Do I know the side effects and interactions of this medication?
If you can’t answer these questions, hold off and seek professional advice first.
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