Stop taking pills, get charged with supplements, and see what will happen to your body after six months.— That is what they say when promoting supplements as a core of overall well-being.
Prescription (and OTC) drugs are scientifically proven, tested and FDA-approved, while supplements lack testing, and there is no scientific evidence that they work.— NIH.
That is what they say when convincing you to follow the mainstream health care guidance with its “pill-can-do-everything” agenda. Let’s be realistic. There are two different concepts of healthy living: one of them is driven by “official”, modern medicine, and another one by an alternative paradigm of keeping your body healthy with supplements? Let’s be honest. There are also two markets that often compete and, sometimes, complement each other. You need an outside point of view to weigh all pros and cons of both drugs and supplements. We hope our summary of the advantages and disadvantages of both paradigms can help you make a decision on what suits you.
Healthy Living and Well-Being
Living healthy includes not only medical factors like screening your health and taking actions when there is an issue but also “the practice of health-enhancing behaviors” as Government of Canada says, such as a healthy diet, playing sports, healthy sleep, non-indulging in bad habits, and so on.
Altogether, it means maintaining your vitality in different ways. If to expand the concept beyond the limits of just physical health, it will embrace also experiences of happiness and social factors. So, let us see what contributes to your well-being more, drugs or supplements.
Prescription and OTC drugs are a fix but not prevention. If you are taking them, that is because you are sick, which means you have failed to keep healthy. Supporting your body with supplements is a part of preventive health practices while taking medicines is a treatment of what has already happened.
From this perspective, supplements are better friends of healthy living, in case they are effective. The matter is not even whether you may take dietary supplements but how to take them to avoid the possible issues. That is why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gives some guidelines on using dietary supplements safely (learn more in this guide).
Can Dietary Supplements Improve Our Health?
That is a question that is always brought about when supplements are discussed. People who use them do this for the following reasons:
- Improving physical and mental performance;
- Boosting the immune system;
- Enhancing well-being;
- Improving digestion;
- Supplementing diet deficiency;
- Gaining weight;
- Losing weight.
All of the above perfectly matches the idea of healthy living, and if you manage to reach your goal, you certainly have better chances to be a healthier and happier person. That is one of the pros of taking dietary supplements. The main contra is that, in reality, nobody knows if you can reach the goal with supplements as they are not sufficiently studied, according to the majority of medical sources.
Well, a lack of research does not mean that supplements are bad and useless. If you do not know how the heart keeps you alive, it does not stop beating. In fact, modern medicine is successful but a bit narrow-minded: it rejects everything that has not been proved according to its criteria. But every system has own criteria of what is a success. Well-being cannot be measured, and if people claim that supplements make them better you cannot acсuse them of lying. Further, we are giving some examples that supplements and drugs are not contradictory and can live together.
When Supplements Can Do, and When Drugs Serve Better
Helping your immune system
It is widely believed that vitamins and some herbal supplements (e.g., elderberries, some kind of mushroom, astragalus, etc.) can boost your immunity, which results in fewer respiratory illnesses. So, courses of vitamin and herbal complexes can do well for maintaining your health. If you got sick and have a fever and other symptoms, you better see your doctor and get some medicines that will help you recover fast and without complication.
Improving your sexual life.
Today, the dietary supplement market offers a huge number of choices for men to improve sexual performance. Some of them are rather popular and getting many positive reviews. At the same time, when men have a real problem with erection than not be cured with any herbal supplements and home remedies, they go to sexologists and get a prescription for one of scientifically proven and medically approved medication.
Viagra and Cialis are most likely to be the first-line medications, however, it all depends on the severity of erectile dysfunction. In some cases doctors would recommend food supplements to improve general health of the user. The thing is that interaction of some components can cause aggravation instead of relief. Therefore, it is better to read the instruction carefully and consult a specialits in case of doubt. The Guarana, Carnitine, Tribulus and other natural supplements are not contraindicated for the use alongside with drugs against erectile dysfunction and other male health problems.
When You Got a Disease
If you have a serious medical condition, there is no point in taking supplements. You have to visit a doctor and got a prescription. Treating acute and chronic diseases is a domain of doctors and drugs.
Media produces a lot of loose talks about how bad antibiotics are and how many side effects they have. But after they had been invented, many infections that caused mortality in the past are routinely treated by antibiotics with a high rate of success. Modern drugs have reduced the rate of deaths of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and HIV. With non-curable diseases, medications help to reduce pain and other disturbing symptoms and improve the quality of life in people with chronic diseases significantly. For severe and chronic diseases, choosing modern drugs is not an option but a must.
Conclusions and Tips
Both dietary supplements and drugs contribute to healthier living. Supplements are not medicines, though they can regulate some minor issues and enhance your overall well-being. When you are sick, it is better to follow your doctor’s advice and take medications as prescribed.
Dietary supplements are not under medical regulations and are regulated by the FDA as a category of food only. The manufacturers of supplements compared to drug companies do not need to prove that their product is safe and effective before marketing it so that you are free to choose them on your own, but it pays to ask your physician for recommendations. Here you can find some tips on how to choose supplements safely:
- Read the ingredient list and browse for possible side effects of the components. Some herbs may have quite serious adverse effects.
- Choose trusted brands and shop on trusted websites to protect yourself from low-quality products.
- Do not take supplements if you are pregnant or nursing unless it is recommended by your doctor. Some of them can have contraindications.
- Follow the instructions on the label and take supplements as directed.
- If you have a treatment and take some prescription drugs, inform your doctor that you use or want to use supplements to check if they are suitable for co-use.