July Is Herbal and Prescription Awareness Month

Often, spas recommend herbal supplements to clients. It is so important that you also strongly emphasize the need for clients to check with their physician's first before adding any herbal supplement to their medicinal regimen.

Herbal supplements have been credited with aiding everything from digestion to depression--but how much is too much when it comes to your body? According to the Mayo Clinic, these pseudo-medications don’t even require U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval before being put on the market. Sure, you can read the ingredients on the back, but unless “MD” comes after your last name, you probably won’t know what kind of chemical reactions to expect when taking multiple supplements or medications.

Charles Friedman, DO of Pain Relief Centers in Pinellas Park, FL, offers the explanation that, “If a patient is being treated for an ailment with prescription medication, there are already numerous chemical processes going on in that person’s body. Now if the same patient decides to add an over-the-counter supplement, they could elicit a lethal reaction from the chemicals involved.”

Although there are few restrictions keeping herbal supplements off of supermarket shelves, they should still be considered potent drugs. The FDA only requires labels to display the herb’s name, the manufacturer’s information, ingredients and serving size. But for the average consumer, lengthy and complex nomenclature for active ingredients hardly leaves an impression. So how do you know if you’re safe from any unintended side effects?

“It is absolutely vital that you talk to your doctor about any and all of the medications and supplements that you are taking,” urges Friedman. “Your doctor will know how to work with the active ingredients to keep you safe.”

Friedman adds, “Prescription pain medications are notoriously addictive. Any sort of prescription or nonprescription drug should be used as a last resort, and in moderation.” And in the field of pain relief, there are multiple therapies and procedures to reduce or eliminate symptoms. But as far as medication in general, Friedman strongly advises people to “Be conservative. Only medicate if your quality of life is significantly affected and other therapies aren’t working out. Always do this under the supervision of your healthcare provider.”

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