“Herbal supplements not what they seem!” “Fish oil does more harm than good!” These headlines and have recently run in leading international and local newspapers where the issues with the quality and labeling of supplements have been getting an inordinate amount of press. Recent studies have highlighted that up to 70 percent of herbal supplements are adulterated and 30% of fish oil potency mislabeled. These are legitimate issues and can be very confusing for consumers.
Despite the sensationalist headlines, these studies have not demonstrated any lack of efficacy with the supplements themselves, but rather the importance of buying supplements from a reputable company with independent quality control and testing. In contrast to the pharmaceutical industry the supplement business is relatively unregulated with inconsistent standards of quality and testing, which puts more onus on practitioners, and ultimately consumers, to be educated on the products that they are using. While these studies and articles might be novel for consumers, ND’s have long been aware of the differences in quality of supplement producers.
When prescribing supplements Naturopathic Doctors have a responsibility to understand not only the active ingredient but also the quality of the formulation. This includes understanding the stated ingredients and what fillers or binders are used and extends to evaluating the legitimacy of the production and labelling. It is not uncommon for ND’s to visit production facilities and research the policies and procedures for independent third party testing. At the Sage Clinic practitioners exclusively use products from companies that we have confirmed to follow best practices.
Vitamin and herbal supplements are repeatedly shown to been safe and effective for a variety of conditions when used as indicated. Using the guidance of a professional will ensure that not only are you using the right product for you, but that the quality is the highest standard.