Health supplements – a brilliant graphic. Are they interfering with YOUR medication?

Some supplements can be extremely helpful for conditions I follow in my practice, while others may harm. Go to this constantly updating link to enlarge a brilliant and very useful bubble graph “like painting with data.”


Their image is a “balloon race”. The higher a bubble, the greater the evidence for its effectiveness. But the supplements are only effective for the conditions listed inside the bubble.” Try it!


When you click to the right of their active link to select a medical condition, it will suggest a supplement that has been shown to help. Then return back, below the graphic to check on cautions and toxicity that importantly is not mentioned in their work.


As explained for the graph, “This visualisation generates itself from this Google Doc. So when new research comes out, we can quickly update the data and regenerate the image.” The Google Doc is a spreadsheet of references from large human, blind, placebo-controlled trials only, sourced from PubMed and Cochrane that publishes leading medical research.


CAUTION: Toxicity is still important. For example, even though licorice is helpful for coughs, it may seriously increase blood pressure. Valerian may help sleep but may be toxic to liver and may have a withdrawal syndrome.


Make sure you check here to review the benefits and toxicity to see how supplements may alter your chemotherapy or medication for heart and blood pressure. Another review here: Use of Herbal Products and Potential Interactions in Patients With Cardiovascular Diseases.


The paper lists several common common drug-herb interactions: Grapefruit juice can be especially risky, increasing your dose of statins and calcium-channel blockers by slowing the metabolism of those prescriptions. St. John’s Wort raises blood pressure and heart rate;  garlic and ginger increase the risk of bleeding in patients on blood thinners. Soy milk and green tea can decrease the effectiveness of warfarin. Ginkgo biloba, ginseng, echinacea, aloe vera and licorice are also discussed.~


A recent multi-center, double blind, randomized trial of Ginkgo Biloba involving 3,019 subjects over a median of 6.1 years showed that it fails to help memory. Further, a new report in the Journal of Natural Products summarizes beneficial uses but also discusses toxic effects on heart and brain due to the ginkgotoxin. The authors recommend that sales should be restricted. Toxicity to the heart may occur from heart block, ventricular fibrillation and death. And it may lower the seizure threshold in persons with epilepsy. The toxin depletes vitamin B6 in the brain, impairs glutamate metabolism, and triggers seizures via an imbalance in neurotransmitters: high glutamate and low GABA. It has been shown to induce metabolism of epilepsy medication, thus dropping blood serum levels below therapeutic range further increasing risk of seizure.


Remember to ask your doctor how these may interact with your medication.


Check here on Vitamin D, a steroid hormone that is anti-inflammatory. Vitamin D is one of the hottest topics in kidney research and hypertension today, as discussed here. And hypertension is important. The latest research on Alzheimers Disease in the last two years from Columbia University Medical School in NYC tells us that risk factors for Alzheimers Disease are the same as for coronary heart disease: exercise, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, smoking. And research suggests that low vitamin D increases risk of cancer of breast, colon, prostate among many other functions. “Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with suboptimal health.


The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and

is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.


For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!



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