The GP Show podcast – Supplements

The GP Show podcast

16 December at 17:01 · 

This photo is from a patient who came to see me during the week. They walked in and said “I am here for antidepressants”. I asked why. They said one month ago they saw a natural therapy practitioner. The natural therapy practitioner did a skim history, but ordered a raft of private lab gut and heavy metal testing and put them on all these supplements. The cost? $2000. Eventually thousands more $ over a month. The patient used their savings. The supplements caused a wide range of side effects. And ironically little attention was paid to their diet, weight, social support, movement or anything else lifestyle related. They now had quite severe reactive depression as a result, along with who-knows-what other supplement side effects that were interacting, and had lost much of their savings. The patient had a printed out book of reports and results given to them which we went through over 30 minutes with open-minded curiosity. The document was far more ideological than it was logical… There were skerricks of logic and science, connected by rafts of ideological and unintelligent assumptions and supplement sponsored product recommendations. This is a story I see with increasing frequency – most days.

How is this natural? How is this good evidence and rational practice? How is this ethical?

Ironically in many ways the natural therapy system has become everything they hate about what they think the medical system is and in fact – worse.

What I term “big suppla” – The supplement industry is a $180 billion/year industry, they are not morally driven more than any other industry. Its about money… It is the new “big pharma” and uses all the same dirty tricks but with far far far less regulation and very low standards. It’s the wild west. These supplements ARE NOT NATURAL, they are not naturally sourced, naturally made, in natural doses, taken at natural intervals. They are unnaturally refined/purified/contaminated/manufactured, often from the most horrible of sources, often with severe environmental impacts. The studies supporting them are often tiny. They are BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE, meaning they have effects (some positive, hence why I have used them though very selectively), side effects, interactions and hence should be treated sensibly as such i.e. DRUGS (definition = a substance which has a physiological effect when introduced into the body).

I acknowledge, as do many doctors I know – Medicine is by no means perfect – I know some people are not satisfied with the answers they get from medicine and sometimes for very good reason.

Hence this is not a “mine is better than yours” type of post, there are good and bad in all professions, rather it is a reflection of deep concern I have and a call of necessity so that we can have a sensible evolution of all types of healthcare.

Good news is we started a lifestyle related program – weight loss, diet changes, regular movement, follow up and support and stopped all of these supplements. They are better. And all bulk billed.

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