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Supplements and alternative treatments are often touted to resolve chronic diseases, reduce symptoms or enhance the immune system. Patients are advised to avoid unnecessary supplementation.

In September 2012, the respected Consumer Reports magazine published an article titled Ten Surprising Dangers of Vitamins and Supplements. It makes the following points:

-Supplements are not risk-free.
-Some supplements are really prescription drugs.
-You can overdose on vitamins and minerals.
-You can't depend on warning labels.
-It's surprisingly easy to overdose on some vitamins and minerals.
-None are proven to cure major diseases.
-Buy with cautions from botanicals.
-Heart and cancer protection are not proven.
-To stay safe, get antioxidants from food, not a pill bottle.
-Some 'natural' products are anything but.
-You may not need supplements at all.

"..over-nutrition and its associated metabolic disorders may impair immune function, disrupt the relationship with symbiotic and commensal microbiota, and increase susceptibility to infectious disease "
Nutritional Immunology: A Multi-Dimensional Approach

Excess amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can alter immune function sometimes in ways that may lead to a dysfunctional immune response to a viral or bacterial infection. The dysfunctional immune response to excessive omega-3 fatty acid consumption can affect the body's ability to fight microbial pathogens, like bacteria.
Excess Omega-3 Fatty Acids Could Lead to Negative Health Effects

We recommend that patients continue supplements only if they have certain documented deficiencies, or if the supplements are needed to palliate intolerable symptoms if adjusting all IT medications is not enough.
 
Supplements are part of many alternative treatments for chronic illness and many chronically ill patients are accustomed to taking a variety of supplements. Some of them have an obvious palliative effect, others are needed to replace essential substances and others are merely touted to improve health.
 
The problem with most of these supplements is that their mechanism of action is unknown and they may interfere with Inflammation therapy (IT) while providing little benefit. Most of the body’s healing processes (metabolic shifts, homeostasis) seem to work better unhindered by unnecessary supplementation. The concept of normal levels of body metabolites may not apply the same to chronically ill patients as to healthy people.
 
Adding something it is assumed the body is no longer making can cause dependence or an imbalance in delicate biochemistry and interfere with the body's attempt to maintain homeostasis. This is counterproductive and contraindicated.
 
It may be counterproductive to assume that supplementation is necessary when metabolites are down-regulated by disease. The classic example is supplementing vitamin D because 25-D is low which is actually detrimental to recovery because it can increase inflammatory symptoms.
 
Supplements may be the source of vitamin D even if they are labeled as not containing vitamin D. If 25-D is slow to decrease, supplementation may be the reason.

Many women are taking a second look at the vitamins they take every day after a new study (2011) by the University of Minnesota claimed some supplements could be linked to an increased risk of death. See Health News.

Dietary supplementation
 
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act defines dietary supplements as a:
 
• product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients: a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical; OR
• a dietary substance for use to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; OR
• a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any ingredient described above; AND
• intended for ingestion in the form of a capsule, powder, softgel, or gelcap, and not represented as a conventional food or as a sole item of a meal or the diet.
 
Dietary supplementation is often touted as necessary to ensure health but chronic disease is not cured by diets or supplements.
 
It’s best to rely on real, unprocessed food (food your great-grandmother would recognize) to maintain nutrient balance and adequate calorie intake.If patients cannot get the Recommended Daily Allowance of a necessary nutrient from diet alone, or maintain adequate calorie intake, a supplement may be appropriate.
 
The correct amount of calcium intake (not too little or too much) is important for bone health. See Calcium for details regarding calcium supplementation. See Calcium
 
 
Probiotics
 
Probiotics are supplements containing “friendly” bacteria that are touted to assist in balancing the levels of indigenous microorganisms in the human body. Probiotics are available in various forms such as yogurt and other foods, capsules, tablets, beverages, and powders. Probiotics should not be confused with prebiotics, which are complex sugars (such as inulin and other fructo-oligosaccharides) that are ingested as fuel for bacteria already present in the gastrointestinal tract, though prebiotics and probiotics are sometimes combined in the same product and termed synbiotics.
 
The normal human gastrointestinal tract contains hundreds of different species of harmless bacteria, referred to as intestinal flora. When the normal balance of these bacteria is disturbed by illness or antibiotic treatment, the most common effect is diarrhea. Probiotics are supposed to work by colonizing the small intestine and crowding out disease-causing bacteria, thereby restoring balance to the intestinal flora. It’s claimed they may also produce substances that inhibit pathogenic bacteria, compete for nutrients with them, and stimulate the body's own immune system.

Some probiotics have been clinically proven to prevent antibiotic-caused diarrhea, treat H. pylori infection and irritable bowel syndrome, and reduce the duration of diarrhea due to certain infections in infants and young children. Studies using probiotics to treat traveler's diarrhea, however, have not shown definitive results.
 
We have not observed any negative effects from probiotics used during Inflammation Therapy.
 
Deficiencies needing supplementation
 
Thyroid supplementation
 
Do not discontinue thyroid supplementation. The need for thyroid supplements may change quickly so thyroid function should be checked at appropriate intervals after starting Benicar. Supplementation may need to be adjusted downward as the thyroid heals. There is detailed information on thyroid symptoms in our Library of Information.
 
Palliative use of supplements
 
If a supplement is providing needed palliative relief of intolerable symptoms and not known to cause problems, then it may continued.
 
For example, abdominal pain that is relieved by milk thistle or gastric enzymes, or a supplement that helps to achieve much-needed sleep or relieves intolerable anxiety or depression is okay to take.
 
Continue to assess the need for palliative supplements and wean them when symptoms allow.
 
Supplements to avoid list
 
There is no 'list of supplements to avoid'. Our recommendation is to avoid all supplements unless there are special circumstances.
 
OTHER TREATMENTS
 
In general, the use of adjunct treatments with Inflammation Therapy is discouraged. Other treatments may provide some palliation, but they may be counterproductive and they will make is more difficult to asses the effect of Inflammation Therapy. We are often asked about the following alternative treatments.
 
Detoxification
 
Detoxification (detox) refers to treatments, tests, techniques, diets, special food products, fasting, therapies, machines, supplements, enemas, etc, that are commonly used by practitioners of alternative medicine (detoxification therapists) to supposedly 'enhance, activate and assist' the natural body processes that eliminate toxins. Detoxification is based on the principle that illnesses can be caused by the accumulation of toxic substances (toxins) in the body. Some practitioners believe detoxing is helpful to counteract symptoms due to immune system reactions.
 
The liver removes harmful substances (such as ammonia and toxins) from the blood and then breaks them down or transforms them into less harmful compounds. Nitric oxide (NO), and the compounds formed by NO, cause body odors patients have reported as musty or ammonia-like.The release of nitric oxide by dying bacteria may cause a rise BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) during treatment with Inflammation Therapy.
 
Toxins are excreted through the skin and bowel. Nothing extraordinary need be done to promote these normal body functions. Detoxification is not a necessary part of Inflammation Therapy.
 
'Healthy' alkaline environment
 
Acidity and alkalinity of the body is governed by complex mechanisms. It isn't possible, or necessary, to try to alter the pH of the body through diet or supplementation. The pH of the body will be affected during the disease process and recovery process by factors such as bacteria-induced toxins, the release of nitrous oxide and dehydration. As the bacteria are killed and inflammation is resolved, biological processes should slowly return to normal.
 
Summary of recommendations:
 
• Avoid all supplements and alternate treatemtns if possible.
• Eat real, unprocessed food to achieve dietary balance.
• Certain documented metabolic deficiencies should be supplemented.
• Monitor thyroid function and wean supplementation as function improves.
• Supplements may be used to palliate intolerable symptoms.
 
If progress is hampered in any way, re-examine all medications.