Today while perusing the latest natural health headlines and abstracts, as I loyally do each morning, I stumbled upon a phrase that I have grown accustomed to: “There is little evidence for the use of dietary supplements.” While it is questions raised from personal opinion that drive science and medicine forward, it is negligent for our medical experts to make a sweeping claim of ‘little evidence‘ in regard to natural health products. This opinion is a contradiction to the studies that I learned from as a student, and continue to read daily.
The particular article I make reference to specifically mentions Ginkgo biloba, Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s Wort), and Vitamin B12 as dietary supplements widely used with little evidence. However, a simple search of Google Scholar for peer reviewed journal articles with titles that include each supplement named above, gave these results:
- Ginkgo biloba: 524 articles
- Hypericum perforatum: 4210 articles
- Vitamin B12: 18,400 articles
While my modest search is basically meaningless for all intents and purposes, it serves to prove a point. If there have already been 524 studies, that Google has indexed, available on Ginkgo biloba, at what point will we determine that something moves from little evidence to adequate evidence–at least in the view of mainstream medicine?
I can think of three plausible explanations for the perpetuation of misinformation:
- Perhaps there is a genuine unawareness of the, in fact large, amount of evidence that does exist? This would deem any such ‘expert’ opinions moot in regard to dietary supplements.
- There is a misunderstanding of what ‘evidence‘ means? No matter the study findings, evidence is evidence. It is just as important to know whether a particular drug (or supplement) does nothing, as it is to know that it does something. Perhaps when studies show a supplement does not work for an intended target, it is deemed to have no evidence–when in fact there is evidence, which suggests it not be used any more.
- Research findings are ignored because of personal bias or opinion? This is the most alarming scenario, where experts decide on their own accord that there is no evidence. Is sitting upon a pedestal of all-knowingness a prerequisite or an indoctrination of the medical field?
Despite whether supplements work or not, there is vast study evidence available. It is very possible that the evidence does say a particular supplement does not work. But there are many examples showing a supplement does work. Mainstream medicine currently teaches the use of drugs and surgeries as the only really effective means of treating disease–it is time for a shift in thought. There are plenty of non-drug options, where the evidence so crucial to determining efficacy shows a strong effectiveness in treating disease. If the ultimate goal of medicine is to have the healthiest possible population, it is time for all branches of medicine to work together and use their specific evidence based treatments. It irks me to see experts who, for whatever reason, act as though they are bigger than the medicine, health, and cure.