Supplements, self-coaching and smudges...

science & research Aug 19, 2022
Assorted dietary supplements on wooden spoons surrounded by green leaves, showcasing a variety of health pills and natural wellness options on a white background.

In case you missed the last blog, this is the second blog in a series digging into my take on some of the functional medicine-type approaches. Click here to read it. 

In the first blog, I laid out my biases and disclosures.


Why is this important?

Because we are all human. Humans are biased.

We all view the world through our own set of lenses.

These lenses are adjusted by our life experiences, our background, our environments.

These blogs are written by me…

With my glasses on…

Which quite literally ALWAYS have some smudges on the lenses.

Alas, I am human with biases and many imperfections.

I am also always interested in continued growth and learning.

I have changed my mind on many topics and can guarantee that I will continue to grow and evolve in the coming hours, months, and years.


Let’s dig into a little self-coaching I did on this topic:

 There are circumstances in life.

“I have a patient who spent thousands of dollars seeking care from a local functional med doc who recommended over a dozen different supplements.”


We have thoughts about these circumstances.

“I had a liver injury from supplements”. “I wonder if they know that the doc gets a big commission off of all those supplements.” “That particular supplement can cause X side effect”. “I don’t know what that detox supplement does”.


Those thoughts create our feelings.

For me, anxiety, frustration, sadness, caring ...


Actions result from those feelings and…

When I am in my best frame of mind, I dig in, get curious, look things up, ask probing questions.

When I am rushed or frustrated, I pull away.


Voila! We get our outcomes as a result of our actions.

Generally, option 1 leads to me leaning into a better partnership with my patient.

Option 2- not so much….


So now about a few of the supplements that come up often.

I am going to break them down into 3 categories: those I tend to recommend, some I am ambivalent about, and those that make me squirrelly.

As always, this information is for educational purposes and it is really important to talk about any supplements or med changes with your health care team.


Natural doesn’t mean side effects or interaction-free.

(Hyperlinks in this section are to studies you might find helpful.)  

What on the list are ones that I either use or tend to recommend:

  1. Vitamin D - A lot of us are deficient, those with autoimmune issues likely benefit from taking some. Checking labs can help figure out if you need to take more than a standard recommended dose.
  2. Omega 3 - Data was not as convincing as Vitamin D in the VITAL study. Look to prevent dry eye. Probably more helpful if we eat a diet rich in foods containing these.
  3. Curcumin - Data pretty good in inflammatory conditions and degenerative eye disease. Needs to be paired with black pepper to be most effective (piperine). Can cause digestive distress in some. 
  4. Prebiotics - good data that all the fiber feeds the gut bugs (but it is also relatively easy to get these in our diets)


Ambivalent (which may be due to my lack of experience using, wishy-washy data or lack of data)

  1. Multivitamins - if eating a pretty good diet, likely not needed.
  2. Extra vitamin C - if we are eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies we should be getting lots and we urinate out the extra.
  3. Probiotics - mostly because we are still figuring out the best types, dosage and how to best get them to our colon in order to harness of the power of them.
  4. NAC (n-acetyl cysteine) - I have used this in Tylenol overdoses, just have less experience using it in outpatient practice. The data is mixed as is the case with many anti-oxidants and likely requires nuance in its use. 


The supplements that make me the most squirrely are the ones that get the liver docs nervous, mostly because liver injury totally sucks and yes, I am speaking from personal experience on this one.

  1. Green tea extract (drink the tea instead)
  2. Ginseng
  3. Aloe vera


Here is a link to the full list I have on my blog on optimizing liver function. And more about my personal liver issues in this blog post.


I am curious if you were surprised by anything?

Let me know.


Next up, talking about labs...  


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