It’s natural (no pun intended) for people seeking help at my clinic to want a natural solution to their problems.  More often than not, they have started that journey on their own with a trip to the local health food store.  After obtaining their health history form and past medical records, I comb through everything before we even sit down to meet.  Something I see in common is that their supplement list isn’t for the purposes of adding nutrients that they aren’t getting through food but instead a ‘natural’ pharmacy looking to treat their symptoms.

The Natural Trap

Big surprise, it’s not working.  That’s why they are coming to see me.  I will say I’m a fan of supplements but not treating symptoms with supplements.

They are taking red yeast rice to lower cholesterol, calcium to build bone density, 5-HTP and tryptophan to regulate depression, and fish oil for pain and inflammation.

What’s wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong is that the patient and most likely the health food store advisor are basing their decisions on faulty premises.  You are trying to replicate the same mechanism with something natural that mimics what the pharmaceutical intervention does.  You assume the pharmaceutical intervention actually works.

You assume things like high cholesterol is the cause of heart disease and that depression is an imbalance of serotonin.

For example: If Lipitor lowers cholesterol, then why not use Red Yeast Rice to lower cholesterol?  It’s safer, right?  The problem is that these people haven’t asked the right questions.  Sure, Lipitor and Red Yeast Rice can lower cholesterol but you never asked if lowering cholesterol actually created a healthy heart.  We have more people on cholesterol lowering interventions, drugs or supplement form, in the history of the world yet heart disease is at all time highs.

Another example:  If Prozac, an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) is used to treat depression by regulating serotonin, then why not use tryptophan and 5 -HTP (precursors) to serotonin to regulate it in a natural way?  Again, you’re basing your natural premise on the assumption that the pharmaceutical intervention is correct.

You are basing your supplementation on the premise that depression is actually caused by a lack of serotonin or some ‘imbalance.’  If this were true, than the astronomical rise in anti-depressant prescriptions would lead to an astronomical rise in happy people.  Instead, as prescriptions for anti-depressants rise, so  does disability associated with depression.

[bctt tweet=”As prescriptions for anti-depressants rise, so does disability associated with depression.”]

I can still hear my JV basketball coach Mr. Z.  “When you assume, you create an ass out of you and me.”  You become an initiator and eventually a victim of the natural trap.  You see a commercial or have a friend taking XYZ for skin, ABC for fatigue, KLM for dry eyes, etc.  Any little symptom has you running off to the health food store to see what you can take in pill form…that’s natural of course.

Then you realize you’re spending a fortune on all these supplements and want to get them cheaper. You start seeing what you can get at Costco, Walmart, and at ‘the corner of happy and healthy.’  Temptation really sets in now that all those supplements are strategically placed in the pharmacy departments.  Your symptoms are really bad so you decide to double up, taking both the supplement and then an over-the-counter formula just in case it gets bad.  “Just this one time,” you say to yourself as you justify the over-the-counter stuff is safer than a real prescription.

The symptoms have lessoned considerably but you realize after a week that if you don’t stay on the drug, your ailments comes back exponentially higher. Before you realize it, your innocent notion of wanting to do things naturally becomes the natural trap that shoves you into your doctor’s office asking him ‘if drug LMN is right for you?’

Before long, you realize you’re just medicating yourself through life and are sicker than ever and want to return to do things naturally.  You go back to the health food store or check online to see what supplement or herb you can take that mimics the same mechanism of the drug you’re taking and the cycle starts all over again.  It’s like a meth addict wanting to get sober by filling the gap with MJ and alcohol because they are ‘natural.’

You may think I’m exaggerating but when you actually sit down and listen to people’s stories, you would be surprised at how many people have a version of the natural trap.  I think I may even start a support group, ‘Symptom Chasers Anonymous.’

Seriously, if you have been chasing symptoms with supplements, stop it.  Take some time to figure out the root of the problem.  If you need help, you know how to find me.


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