Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Can Supplements Ease My Anxiety?

Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013 10:15 AM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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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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Dr. Hibbert picture
Dr. Hibberd's advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital work in emergency medicine and surgery.
 
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