The short answer is, yes! Absolutely! Supplements can be a great help in moderation. But know what their role is and what YOUR role is. The role of natural supplements is to give your body what it needs to help repair itself. YOUR role is to stop giving your body what it doesn’t need that blocks its ability to repair itself. There are no amount or type of supplements that can supersede junk food and the chemicals from processed foods. If you don’t change your diet and exercise habits, you might as well go out to the pasture and spray perfume on a manure pile.
Remembering a law of Feng Shui, “Too much Yin becomes Yang and too much Yang becomes Yin”, there are critical considerations to think about before indulging. Such as, ‘What is meant by ‘natural’? ‘What should I take?’ ‘How much can I take?’ ‘How many kinds can I take?’ and ‘Are there side effects or danger of interactions with prescription drugs or with other natural supplements?’
When thinking of ‘natural’ supplements, we must be sure that our definition of natural is the same as the manufacturer of the product. If you asked a wide range of people how much a lot of money is, you would get a variety of answers. To some, a couple hundred bucks. Others, a couple thousand, and still others, tens-of-thousands and so forth. Let’s start with what natural is not. Natural is not a label. Just because it says it, doesn’t mean it is. Kind of like seeing orange liquid in the juice section and the bottle saying, ‘Made with natural real juice!’ And then you look closely at the label and discover it is only 5% real juice and the rest is artificial flavoring, chemicals, and sugar.
Natural is not a chemical, chemically derived, or chemically processed. Many people consider themselves cooking from scratch and eating ‘natural’ when in fact, they are opening boxes and flavor packets, throwing them together and cooking at home.
Food-based supplements are most effective because our bodies recognize them as food and is then able to assimilate them for the intended purpose better than a supplement that it is made with chemicals and preservatives. They can be man-made but in order to be truly natural, they must be without unnatural additives.
But do they really help? My philosophy is, ‘Less is more!” Working in the health and wellness industry, I have seen, again and again, people who look for a pill to fix everything yet are unwilling to put forth any effort themselves. A former client, Mr. Pillman, would come in each week excited to share the progress he was making in his latest health issue or weight problem. Taking a supplement that is designed to address that issue was his definition of progress. One week I asked him to bring in every supplement that he had in his house so we could look at them one-by-one. The following week, he came in with two large grocery bags that held over forty-three types of products (and costing well over $1000).
As I held each one up, he explained what he was taking it for, when he purchased it, and how well it worked. In the end, he determined that most didn’t work or caused some type of stomach reaction – though he was convinced the current ones he was excited about were working. Upon further questioning, he admitted that he didn’t take most of them for more than four days each, yet he was taking ten to thirty supplements at a time and saw no long-term result, yet he was repeating the cycle in hopes of a magical pill that would do the work for him. It is worth noting that many were not truly natural, though they were well-branded names from major department stores. This is common overload, a mistake made by many.
The first rule of thumb is ensuring they are truly natural. Then getting basic vitamins and having good nutrition; a good multi-vitamin, and perhaps a fish oil. Then consider the most presenting issue you would like to address. Sometimes, there is none so there is no need to fish for other supplements. But when there is, for me, I take a supplement or two to address that specific issue. It may be for more short-term use while another may be longer-term use. After a long period of stress, I went through a year of taking adrenal supplements and it made a huge difference on my energy and ability to handle everyday stressors.
Think of your body like a car. When it doesn’t have gas in it, it can’t run. That would be water and basic nutritional needs. When the shocks wear thin, every bump in the road is very jarring and feels like damage is being inflicted on the undercarriage. Over time, there will be. The adrenals are like the shocks. When our adrenals are drained due to a stressful event or repeated stress over time, they can stop trying to replenish themselves because when they are depleted, there is nothing to draw from to restore them. The same is true for any deficiencies. It was cause symptoms in the area of deficiency as well as in other functions which that area controls.
But too many supplements can be daunting and it becomes hard to tell which ones are working or which ones may be causing a reaction. My experience is that the more people take, the more likely they are to give up on them altogether. The last thing most people want to do if their stomach isn't feeling up to par is take a handful of supplements. Most anti-inflammatory must be taken with caution with if one is on blood thinners. A common myth is that if it’s natural, you can take as many as you want and mix it with any other natural supplements or medications and there will be no repercussions. However, many of the chemically processed medications from the pharmaceutical industry are derived from plants and natural sources. Different plants and herbs have different purposes and it’s not a good idea to blindly mix them.
Sometimes one supplement will address multiple issues. Do your best to take the minimum. Their job is to give our body what it needs to heal but we are not meant to be on them forever Our source of vitamins, health and vitality should come from our diets. And while we’re on that subject, it’s our job to take away anything that blocks our body from healing itself; fast food, sugary or artificially sweetened beverages and foods, processed foods, white flour, gluten, etc. I’m a firm believer in herbs and natural remedies. But the real healing starts with what you put in your mouth and how often you get off the couch.