Taking a natural approach to your health with supplements can be an effective and rewarding way of preventing disease and improving wellbeing. Dietary supplements are widely used and can improve health if appropriately targeted to those in need. (1) Here we discuss the benefits of getting a supplement prescription from a Naturopath instead of letting your supplement routine become a retail purchase.
Why Naturopathic prescribing is so important
A Naturopath will tailor a prescription based on comprehensive case taking and relevant test results. Prescribing of practitioner only products (POP’s) occurs after consultation, and qualified natural health providers can only prescribe these types of supplements. POP’s generally contain higher potency ingredients and exclusive formulations. When a Naturopath designs a targeted treatment protocol, they record your prescription and monitor refills, set time frames for the prescription, and track progress and response to the supplement routine. This attention to detail makes personalised treatment much more effective than over-the-counter (OTC) purchases and self-prescribing.
The ingredients in dietary supplements can interact with medicines when patients take them concomitantly. (2) It’s important to tell your practitioner if you are taking prescribed pharmaceutical medication from your doctor or any OTC supplements during a naturopathic consultation. Our Naturopaths will check for interactions to ensure safe prescribing. Correct dosing is another important consideration, and a change in symptoms may also change the need for a supplement. Regular interaction with your practitioner (ideally anywhere from every 2-8 weeks) ensures your script is relevant and remains appropriate.
Potency of Prescribing
Naturopaths use dietary supplements (nutritional medicine) and herbal medicines as natural treatment options alongside diet and lifestyle advice.
Dietary supplements may contain the following nutrient type substances:(3)
• vitamins and pro-vitamins (such as vitamin C and Vitamin D)
• minerals and trace elements (such as magnesium, iron and zinc)
• vitamin-like substances (such as coenzyme Q10)
• fatty acids (such as omega-3)
• protein components, also known as amino acids (such as L-carnitine)
• other ingredients (such as probiotics)
Herbal medicines are plant-based extracts with active constituents that have a medicinal effect. These active ingredients of the plant have a marked, definable physiological effect upon the body. (4) Both nutritional and herbal medicines can have potent effects on the body, sometimes bringing about health changes within days, more often within weeks of starting treatment.
These differ to over-the-counter products in several ways, including:
- • Higher doses for therapeutic effect
- • Type of nutrient used with superior absorption
- • Low excipient formulas (no fillers such as lactose)
- • Specialised combinations (particular ingredients in combination)
- • Compounded combinations (tailor-made medicines)
- • Stringent quality control, for example, testing a range of contaminants including Mercury in fish oil
- • Herbal medicines are often Wildcrafted, Fairtrade and Organic where possible
Prescribing for Prevention is the Best Cure
Inadequate nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies are prevalent conditions that adversely affect global health. (1) Dietary supplements can be applied in these cases, particularly important during different life stages, for example, in children and pregnant women. There are often ‘nutritional gaps’ to fill in these situations, where diet alone may not meet nutrient intake requirements, and nutrient deficiencies are more likely to occur. The full genetic potential for physical growth and mental development may be compromised due to deficiency (even subclinical) of micronutrients. (5) A Naturopath is more likely to identify a nutrient deficiency even when a blood test indicates a normal range – this is what is known as subclinical and helps to address the prevention of developing a nutrient deficiency. This often involves shorter-term and lower dosing while ensuring that only necessary interventions are recommended and is another one of the professional insights the naturopathic industry offers their patients.
On point Prescriptions vs Popular Products to purchase
Dietary supplements can be food grade, such as protein powders or medicinal – such as nutrients prescribed for nutrient deficiencies. The key is to understand the difference between using and purchasing food-grade products and supplements that can be considered medicinal – these are always best prescribed.
Doing things the natural way isn’t always the easy way. Often there is no quick fix. New products are always on the market from the latest antioxidant formula to collagen or a new superfood to try. Health food stores offer an amazing smorgasbord of products to ‘experiment’ with safely. Food grade products are a great way to feel like you are actively involved in taking care of your health.
Taking dietary supplements means that the body may absorb much more of these substances than would be possible by just eating a normal diet. (3) Keeping anything more therapeutic and medicinal for a prescription is what we recommend to give you the best response. Let the professionals perfect your prescriptions, and you are much more likely to be taking less compared to if you were to guess