Letters from Dr. Jonas
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Dear Friend,

As the world grapples with the latest health emergency, we are reminded of the importance of working with our health care providers and consulting science-based sources of information like the excellent and regularly updated website for COVID-19 set up by the CDC. Last week, the FDA and FTC warned companies selling products that claimed to treat or prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) but that had not been proven safe or effective.

This can harm your wallet, your health and the health of those around you. According to the FDA and FTC, “Using these products may lead to delays in getting proper diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 and other potentially serious diseases and conditions.”

Many nutritional supplements like powders, gummy vitamins, cannabidiol (CBD) products, and herbs advertise a variety of healing properties. Choosing any of these options may seem like a way to proactively practice self-care, but there’s a right way and a wrong way of adding supplements to your care plan.

That’s because it’s well documented that some supplements can interact with prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs in negative ways and others are just unsafe. However, this does not mean all supplements should be avoided. When used properly, some can be very helpful for conditions including sleep, stress and pain.

What’s tricky is supplements can advertise as a fix for an ailment, but depending on your own unique body’s needs, they may not deliver. Supplements need to be chosen with your health care provider, as they can interrupt (or help) other aspects of your health.

The first step is to jot down the supplements that you are currently taking before your next medical appointment. Include herbal teas, nutrition powders, cannabis derivatives, topical creams and patches, and any over-the-counter pharmacy products as well. Then talk about it with your health care provider. I’ve put together a guide to using supplements that you can share with your health care provider to start the conversation.

This will start a great conversation about the use of supplements for your integrative health plan. If your provider doesn’t know, then it’s time to dig into the research together and teach each other.

Supplements used appropriately can be a huge benefit to your integrative health plan. Just be sure to include your health care provider in finding the best fit for your body.

During these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to have deep conversations with our health care providers and follow the best evidence available.

Be well.
Dr. Wayne Jonas

Supplement Safety

If your integrative health plan does include supplements, it’s important to make sure you’re taking quality types. Look for these things and take these actions when making your purchase:

Using Supplements

There are three main ways to use supplements in your health care plan:

  1. Depletion: This can be from diet or common medications that strip your body of important nutrients. For example, statins lower levels of coenzyme Q; estradiol depletes the body of folic acid and magnesium.
  2. Interactions: Prescriptions and over the counter drugs may cause harmful side-effects when combined with supplements or herbs. For example, fish oil supplements can interact with both oral contraceptives and the weight loss drug orlistat.
  3. Alternatives: Some supplements can be used alone or in combination with fewer side effects than drugs. Patients having issues sleeping might benefit from melatonin instead of sleeping pills. Chronic pain may benefit from a combination of omega-3 fatty acids plus curcumin to help fight inflammation. There may be a reduction of anxiety with the use of ginkgo biloba supplements.
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Samueli Integrative Health Programs · 1800 Diagonal Rd · Suite 617 · Alexandria, VA 22314 · USA