Alternative medicines

Which supplements should you take and which should you avoid?
 
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03.Ten potentially effective supplements

Despite the huge complementary medicines market in Australia – estimated to be worth up to $3.5 billion annually – most supplements have not been proven to work. The TGA requires companies to hold evidence of the effectiveness of products, but that evidence is rarely audited and products can be sold simply on the basis of historical precedent for use with certain conditions.

The popular supplements listed in the table below have been shown to be probably safe for most people and possibly or probably effective in appropriate doses for certain conditions. One problem with the current regulatory system is that products with potentially useful ingredients, such as St John’s wort, contain active components that are known to be variable – or are not precisely known at all. So different products supposedly containing the same ingredients at the same dose are unlikely to be equally effective.

You should always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting any supplement; also, most have not been studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women. The list of interactions and side effects in the table is not all-inclusive.

10 potentially useful supplements

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