Over the years I have found natural compounds to be an integral part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This goes for both patients wanting to optimize their health and also those struggling with long-term chronic conditions. While that’s true, frequently, people take supplements they’ve read about or were told worked wonders for a friend, only to find they have very little benefit. This has lead to much confusion about their use and I often field questions about their efficacy and safety.
1) Are all supplements created equal?
No! Some are higher quality, while others have better bioavailability. This is very clear when looking at different curcumin products, some of which have almost no effect because they are poorly absorbed. Over the last few years, new research has improved techniques of curcumin and other products’ ability to get through the gut, into the blood, and reach cells. Some can even cross the blood brain barrier to work in the brain. Not all products can do that so understanding the differences or working with someone who does, ensures good choices are made.
2) Are supplements effective even though there is less research compared to drugs?
Yes! Drugs are made of compounds that are totally foreign to the body, often with many side-effects, in addition to their benefits. Since there are risks, it’s imperative that they are carefully studied to not only ensure safety, but also efficacy. On the other hand, herbs and natural compounds are substances derived from nature, with little or no consequences when taken. The body understands them, so there is a biological plausibility that they will work. While research is becoming more prevalent, the burden of proof is lower than it is for drug companies.
3) How do I know what supplements to take?
Supplements are not one size fits all. A personalized approach can be utilized, in conjunction with thorough lab testing, to guide treatment. Like a road map, this method can show us where to go and the best way to get there. This is an empowered use of natural compounds specifically targeting the unique needs of the individual. Keep in mind, that works for one person may have little or no effect for another because of their biochemical differences
4) Do I have to change my diet if I take supplements?
Yes! No matter how good the supplements are they can’t make up for extremely poor dietary and lifestyle choices. Nothing can replace eating a diet rich in organic plants, high quality proteins, and fats. Processed foods devoid of nutrition yet high in inflammatory compounds, will continue to deplete the body, perpetuating illness, and actually negating the effects of supplements.
5) Are there any special types of compounds you work with?
Yes! As functional medicine doctors in NYC, we offer certain types of support often overlooked by other physicians. Membrane medicine focuses on improving cellular health by resorting membrane pliability. This is a key aspect to maintaining overall cellular function especially of neurons. Mitochondrial Medicine works by improving cellular energy production. Microbiome Medicine focuses on restoring health to gut bacteria, which in turn bestows health benefits for your body. Additionally, we routinely support deficient pathways with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids, antioxidants, natural hormones, detoxification aids, plus work to remove toxins, infections and pathogens that are harming the body.