Did you know...there are ways to evaluate information about supplements? CAM Checklist

Editor June 14th, 2011

If you are thinking about using supplements, here are some tips to help you in making the best choices.

1. Talk with your doctor.

Your biomedical doctor or herbalist may recommend you take a supplement for your condition. Make sure they tell you why they want you to take the supplement, how much of it you should take (for example: milligrams, ounces or tablets) and if it interacts with any other medicines you are taking. Your doctor might also recommend a particular brand.

2. Ask.

Talk to the pharmacist, salesperson or see if there is an herbalist on staff. They should know enough about the products they sell to help you make your decision.

3. Read the label.

Supplements or herbs do not have government ‘approval' stickers on the label, but there are some clues on the label that will help you make a decision about a product.

  • What company makes the supplement? Ask a staff person at the store about the company. You can also write the company name or phone number so you can find out more about the company on your own.
  • Do they belong to a trade association? Some companies join trade associations where companies who sell similar products and make decisions about issues such as product quality. By doing a little homework on the trade association, you can decide if you trust their practices.
  • Are you looking for organic supplements? According to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) guidelines on organic products, companies can only use the USDA certified organic seal if the products are at least 95% organic.
  • Does the product have side effects? Some supplements have warnings on their packaging if the product interacts with specific medicines or foods or if it is harmful to people with certain medical conditions.

4. Beware of claims that are too good to be true.

If a product claims to cure diseases like cancer or AIDS, research websites, books and other products that can give ‘proof' of the results. If it seems too good to be true, trust your gut.

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