Dietary supplements and all-natural over-the-counter treatments are all the rage, and many are less expensive than a prescription or synthetic counterpart would be. There is nothing wrong with using dietary supplements, but it’s important to understand that all-natural doesn’t mean “safe”.
Drugs.com and Keeping Track of Supplements
Drugs.com is a website that allows people to keep track of their medications and search for any negative interactions certain drugs and dietary supplements might have with each other that could be dangerous. There is also an option on Drugs.com to sign up for emails when for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updates and recalls on certain products and medication.
The FDA and Dietary Supplement Disclosure
The FDA doesn’t currently control dietary supplements as medication or drugs, but they do require that all the ingredients in a dietary supplement be included on the label, so people taking medication can ensure there are no negative interactions and so people who are allergic to or otherwise sensitive to any ingredients can avoid the product as well.
Recently, the FDA has pulled several products from the market, and Drugs.com has sent several notices about this out to people who sign up for the free service, to let consumers know there are dietary supplements on the market with undeclared ingredients.
The problem is, these supplements were on the market for months before the exclusions were noted.
All-Natural Doesn’t Mean Safe
Many medications we take that doctors prescribe were originally made from all-natural ingredients. For example, the active ingredient in aspirin was originally cultivated from willow tree bark. Many of our most popular narcotics for pain are made from the poppy plant, opioid based. Just because something comes from nature doesn’t mean it can’t hurt or damage the body.
Hemlock is a type of plant, and it’s all natural, but it’s toxic and deadly for humans to consume in moderate amounts.
The point here is: all-natural ingredients doesn’t mean something is safe. Manufacturers use the words “all natural” to try to make consumers think it’s a better alternative to medication, but that isn’t always the case.
Why Undisclosed Ingredients Matter
When people are on certain medications, taking an all-natural supplement with an undisclosed ingredient can cause serious health problems. For example, there is an ingredient in many male enhancement medications from the doctor that interfere with blood pressure and heart medications. Some men might purchase an all-natural alternative, thinking it didn’t have the same ingredient. However, the herbal supplements in the medication might work exactly the same way in the body.
Medications come with interaction warnings, so when ingredients are disclosed, patients and consumers can compare the ingredients with the interactions to ensure safety. When ingredients aren’t enclosed, that can’t happen and the results could be disastrous, up to and including death.
Are All Dietary Supplements Dangerous?
No, not all dietary supplements are dangerous, and some are quite safe and beneficial. The important part is to consult a doctor or health care provider before starting any medication or dietary supplements, and also consult with a pharmacist—who is likely to have more current information on nutritional supplement interaction than a doctor would be—before starting or discontinuing any dietary supplements.
Check the FDA’s website for any recent recall or bans for undisclosed ingredients, and Drugs.com for updates and interaction warnings and assistance for free before using any dietary supplements as well as consulting health care professionals.