Stores are full of various products that are meant to improve our lives. It can be difficult to evaluate which products and supplements are useful and which ones are hype. For medical providers it is often difficult to evaluate what products are helping and which are hurting a patient. Medical providers are taught to look to the function of various products. The marketing people often promote products for specific conditions. This subtle shift in language is very important.
Various supplements, herbs and even pharmaceuticals are essentially tools specific for doing a job. They interact with the body causing specific effects on the body function. A good medical provider who is using a drug or supplement understands what those affects are and how that is likely to affect the health of the patient. Marketing tends to the “this supplement has been successful when used for xyz condition”. One way to look at this is to shift to a different type of tool, like a hammer. If a hammer were a marketed supplement, the advertising information might be “ good for houses, hanging pictures, fixing dents and smashing objects”. To the professional carpenter a hammer is a tool that pounds nails or applies force to a surface, which in turn can be used to build houses and hang pictures.
Physician drug information is like the carpenter’s understanding of the tool. Drug reference guides list the chemical class of the drug, how it affects the body, and how it may be used to treat various conditions. This provides necessary information as to why and why not to use a particular treatment. Many herbalists, nutritionists and other health providers who utilize supplements and other alternative treatments have similar information about the treatments they provide. When asked these professionals can explain how the various products affect the body and how that will in turn help the body change in a healthy way. Many sales people only know the list of various conditions which may be helped by the treatment. This can lead to inappropriate use of various supplements, just as a hammer could be inappropriate for hanging a picture that requires a screw, not a nail.
For the consumer it is important to put your trust in people who not only understand the health products they suggest but also understand how those products will affect you as a patient. There are many people trying to make money selling lots of medical cures. It is important that people understand and be informed about the treatments they use. It is also important to realize that if functional information about how something affects your body is not available, then your physician or other health provider is likely to dismiss its value, not because it is a bad product, but rather that without that functional information it is impossible for the medical provider to determine whether it is an appropriately used tool. The best tool in the world is of no use if it is used for the wrong reasons.