What's some good natural supplements (no matter how exotic)?

I’ve been looking into taking some of those ‘anti-oxident’ herbal potions. I hear really good things about them, anyone know anything about some good herbal supplements that improve ones quality of life?


A good place to start would be Quackwatch’s “Dietary Supplements,” Herbs, and Hormones page, since the whole field of supplements is rife with quackery.

Of particular interest to you will be their page on antioxidants:

Quackwatch is a good site, but so is SupplementWatch. Read 'em both.

Of course, you good skeptics who only believe in evidence-based medicine have some supporting documentation for this statement? You couldn’t be taking what that site says on faith, could you?

Issue with Kava Kava.

Issues with St. John’s Wort.

Issues with Saw Palmetto.

St. John’s Wort may actually be helpful to some people, I don’t really know enough about the others to say if they can help or not. However, just about every site says to Consult your Doctor. And that is the best advice that any of us can give you.

Well, let’s see… that one page I linked to has the following footnotes:

Did you not bother to even look at the page? “Faith” my *ss.

Interesting, a page at the Quackwatch site says:

Quackwatch is on my list of “highly trusted” sites, so I’ll have an open mind, but I tend to believe them.

Those aren’t antioxidants.

Look into folate and neural tube defects and tell me its all quackery.

Folate isn’t an antioxidant either and no one here claimed that anything is all quackery.

Lamar, dear, it’s possible that folate is an antioxidant. I wouldn’t know for sure. However, it’s also an essential vitamin, and one whose role in preventing neural tube defects has been studied - and proven - over and over for years. The same cannot be said for any of the ‘antioxidants of the week’ - studies on them, if you follow the news, tend to be contradictory, and in general they are not shown to be nearly as effective as a healthy diet.

After all, QuackWatch just describes the undocumented claims attached to antioxidants. Surely your logic isn’t so poor as to expect us to believe that documented, confirmed evidence of the effectiveness of one particular vitamin is enough to believe in every other chemical that can be dredged up, sight unseen? If you can come up with scientific studies supporting individual antioxidants, you are well-advised to take them. But I don’t see how a study of folate could have any relevance to the effectiveness of, say, lycopene.

Actually, No. The Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 [DSHEA] requires that the FDA prove that a substance is dangerous before it can be ordered off the shelves. The DSHEA allows a supplement to claim that it may affect a body structure or function, although not that it can treat, cure or prevent a disease.

Antioxidants are coming into their own with recent favorable studies, including the new one for adult-onset macular degeneration, lucein. There’s nothing wrong with taking a daily multivitamin/mineral tablet with a daily antioxidant tablet, such as Ocuvite [sup] tm [/sup] or MaxiVision [sup] tm [/sup]. Recent studies indicate that vitamin C may reduce the severity and duration of colds, and the FDA is considering raising the RDA to 250 mg. a day.

The vitamins you must be very careful with are the fat-soluble vitamins A and D. Because they are fat-soluble, they are not excreted and are stored in the body. Vitamin E (an antioxidant) is also fat-soluble, but I’m not aware of any instances of overdosing on E. Studies with smokers taking betacarotene have shown detrimental effects, but those were smokers.

FWIW (probably not much), I take both a multivitamin/mineral, Ocuvite, vitamins E and C, and calcium supplements.

Maybe not, but it does add to the the awareness that just because something is natural, doesn’t always mean it is good, or even safe.

And just because something is natural doesn’t mean it is useless, unsafe, and quackery, which is what the Quackwatch site assumes. I notice the bio of Dr. Atkins is no longer on the site, he used to be a featured example of quackery.

I think you agree with that paragraph, but you must have misread it. Even though the FDA can’t order “supplements” off the shelves without proof of harm, they can prevent supplement companies from making unproven claims of curing disease.

I don’t know about a bio of him, but his diet is still prominently featured in several articles as a poor way to try to lose weight. And if that’s not enough, you can try Michael Fumento’s site.

barbitu8, I re-read your paragraph, and now I understand what you were saying, but I think that the FDA will allow a supplement to claim that it cures a disease, if there is sufficient evidence that it really does.


Patently false statement, BTW.


*"About 25 percent of prescription drugs dispensed in the United States contain plant extracts or active ingredients derived from plants. Out of a total of 520 new drugs approved for commercial use between 1983 and 1994, 30 were new natural products and 127 were chemically modified natural products. Some prominent plant-based medicines include:

Quinine, the anti-malarial drug, from the bark of Cinchona species;
Morphine, the analgesic, from the opium poppy;
Digoxin, for heart disorders, from Digitalis purpurea;
Reserpine, the antihypertensive agent, from Rauwolfia serpentina, traditionally used for snakebites and other ailments;
Ephedrine, an anti-asthma agent, from Ephredra sinica; and
Tubocurarine, the muscle relaxant, from Chondrodendron and Curarea species, used in the Amazon as the basis for the arrow poison curare.
Microorganisms have also been extremely important in drug applications, ushering in the “golden age of antibiotics”:

Anti-bacterial agents from Penicillium species;
Immunosuppressants, such as the cyclosporins and rapamycin, from Streptomyces species;
Cholesterol lowering agents, such as mevastatin and lovastatin, from Penicillium species;
Anthelmintics and antiparasitic drugs, such as the ivermectins, from Streptomyces species; and
A potential new antidiabetic agent from a Pseudomassaria fungal species found in the Congolese rainforest.
The world’s oceans and marine organisms also represent a vast resource for new therapeutic agents, including:

The pseudopterosins, with significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, from the Caribbean gorgonian Pseudopterogorgia elisabethae;
Manoalide, an anti-inflammatory agent, from the sponge Luffarriella variabilis; and
Ziconotide and other new pain killers derived from peptides from cone snail venom.
Several key anti-cancer agents have been produced from natural sources; more than 60 percent of cancer drugs on the market are based at least in part on natural products:

Vinblastine and vincristine were isolated from the Madagascar periwinkle, Catharanthus rosesus;
Etoposide and teniposide are semi-synthetic derivatives of the natural product epipodophyllotoxin;
Taxol was initially isolated from the bark of Taxus brevifolia in the northwestern United States; and
Several clinically active agents have been derived from camptothecin, isolated from the Chinese ornamental tree Camptotheca acuminata." *

The cite I was looking for is one that will back up your claim that the Quackwatch site assumes that when something is natural it is useless, unsafe, and quackery.


No, obviously not. It just mean it should be subject to rigorous examination for the benefits and risks it poses, as with anything else.

After all, beta carotene supplements have been recently linked to lung cancer in smokers. Useless, unsafe quackery? Of course not. But the effects of these things shouldn’t just be assumed.

Funny thing is, a diet high in these chemicals still appears to prevent cancer. But supplementing them may be a very bad idea. A natural, healthy diet can’t be distilled into a pill.