Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If you're lucky, complementary med supplements give you really expensive pee (STUDY)

We want to live healthy lives, and be our best every day. But it isn't always easy when we're bombarded by ALL CAPS claims of revolutionary results (!), super solutions (!), and unbelievable outcomes (!). 



In addition to the ads, there's the fact that we just have a billion kinds of solutions on the table at any one time.  #confusing
To make your life at least a wee bit less complicated, at least we can rule this one out. This article in the Journal of Human Hypertension reviewed 23 published papers and 88 scientific abstracts between 2010 and 2014. They were looking for those studies which used Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for the treatment of heart disease and high blood pressure.
The question they were looking for? Do any/some/all of these solutions work? 
You may not recognize the acronym CAM, but you definitely know the supplements that people take, which fall into this category: St. Johns Wort, fish oil, multivitamins, Ginko, Garlic, CoQ10, etc.  (full table is below).
What did this "study of studies" find? You have to read this: 
There are certain CAM products like garlic, CoQ10, fish oil and multivitamins, which may not be very effective in lowering the BP, serum cholesterol or not preventing CVD and HF, but they are safe and can be taken together with conventional medicines, although the evidence for benefit is neither strong nor consistent (ref). However, there are others such as ginseng, St John’s wort, Ginkgo biloba, hawthorn, saw palmetto, dansen and licorice that can cause serious adverse effects through drug interactions or by themselves.
In other words, this exhaustive scientific review concludes that the "solutions" are either ineffective or harmful

This means that the best case scenario is that your pill does no harm and you simple excrete it out. In other words, if you're lucky, all you'll get is really expensive pee. 

For ourselves and our families, we do need to choose from among the myriad choices and voices clamoring for our attention. However, we also have to be careful about non-solutions that may actually do more harm than good. Moreover, I'm not sure exactly what people get out of their commitment to really expensive pee, but I am sure that it's not exactly what they were looking for. 

FROM:
"The clinical significance and costs of herbs and food supplements used by complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and hypertension"
~S G Chrysant

Table 1. Herbs and food supplements used for the treatment of CVD and HTN

Herb/FS
Indication
Effect
Drug interaction
Side effect
Ginseng
CVD, HTN
Equivocal
Antidiabetic, digoxin, warfarin
Hypogly, Dig, tox thrombosis
St John’s wort
Depression, DM
Poss. effective
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Bleeding
Mother wort
Sedative, tachycardia
Poss. effective
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Bleeding
Ginkgo
Demen., CVD, HTN
Equivocal
Drugs affecting CYP3A4
Bleeding
Garlic
Cholest. HTN, CVD
Poss. effective
Anticoagulants
Bleeding
Hawthorn
CVD, HF, HTN
Poss. effective
Glycosides
Dig. toxicity
Saw palmetto
BPH,
Poss. effective
Warfarin
Bleeding
Danshen
CAD, HTN
Poss. effective
Warfarin
Bleeding
Licorice
Peptic ulcer/Chinese
Poss. effectve
Spironolactone
HTN, hypokal

Food sweetener
No longer used

Cardiac arrhythmias
CoQ10
Cholest. HTN, CVD
Poss. effective
NA
NA
Vitamin E
Cholest. CVD
Poss. effective
NA
NA
Vitamin C
HTN
Poss. effective
NA
NA
Vitamin B
CVD, HF
Poss. effective
NA
NA
Fish oil
CVD, HTN
Poss. effective
NA
NA
l-Arginine,




l-Creatinine,




Taurine
CVD, HF
Poss. effective
NA
NA
 Abbreviations: BPH, benign prostatic hypertrophy; CAD, coronary artery disease; CVD, cardiovascular disease; cholest., cholesterol; demen, dementia; HF, heart failure; HTN, hypertension; poss., possibly; hypokal, hypokalemia; NA, not applicant.


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