A Physicians View on Herbal Supplementation
By Dr. Neil
I often get asked “why supplements?” often in the context of trying to avoid “pills” or “herbal medication”. I have a very clear answer – there is a stark difference behind the purpose of supplementation and that of prescription medication. A prescribed medication is designed to address a problem, a supplement, is designed to complement a healthy lifestyle and prevent that future problem.
The prescription medication development and approval process costs millions of dollars and can take over a decade. The purpose of the majority of our prescribed medications is to address a physical ailment. If someone has high cholesterol, a cholesterol medication is designed to decrease your cholesterol. Exercise and diet modification alone may be enough, but that medication was designed to replace those lifestyle changes and fix that problem.
Contrast prescription medications with an herbal supplement. Most herbal supplements used to be naturally occurring parts of a human diet. Take turmeric and black pepper, two naturally occurring supplements that were (and often still are) staple ingredients/spices in Asian cooking for the past two thousand years. Over the past century, as synthetic flavorings replace these naturally occurring supplements, we find our diets deficient. The purpose behind reintroducing these supplements into our diet is to address that deficiency.
Herbal supplements are not designed to replace exercise, sleep, or a balanced diet. The phrase “herbal supplement” describes their function – they supplement your lifestyle. More importantly, these supplements, when paired with a healthy lifestyle can help mitigate the chances of developing illnesses that may in turn require a medication.
Medication has a very clear role in healthcare that is very different from supplementation. Herbal supplementation is designed to complement your healthy lifestyle and bring you back to a more natural and productive way of living.