NCNM Responds to Recent Report on Dietary Supplements

All Supplement Use Should Be Discussed with Your Primary Care Provider

PORTLAND, Ore. (Nov. 16, 2011) —This week Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Alert introduced a recent report from the University of California, Berkeley. The 2011 report, “Dietary Supplements: Your Complete Guide to Making the Best Choices,” suggests that “advertising for ‘alternative medicine’ is often filled with hyperbole,” and that the Wellness Letter report on dietary supplements can help consumers make better-informed choices. The National College of Natural Medicine encourages a thoughtful analysis of the use of supplements, while reminding patients of the need to consult with a primary care provider before beginning a supplement regimen.

Naturopathic physicians believe that promoting healthy food, moderate exercise and a healthy lifestyle should be the central focus of primary care. Doctors look for and treat deficiencies only in patients with illness and disease.

“Supplementation is appropriate for patients who are not able to obtain needed nutrients from food,” said Dr. Carl Hangee-Bauer, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians president. “Deficiencies may be clearly identified on patient intake, especially in at-risk subpopulations such as vegetarians, vegans, athletes, pregnant women and the elderly. In these cases, nutrients should be supplemented to avoid severe deficiencies capable of causing disease. That is true preventive medicine.”

Unfortunately, consumers are under-exposed to the many published medical studies that establish a benefit from dietary supplements. This lack of parity makes it difficult for consumers to make fully informed decisions about their health. All contemplated supplement usage should be discussed with qualified primary care providers, such as naturopathic physicians, who are the only group of medical providers trained in herb-drug and herb-nutrient interactions.

Naturopathic doctors are general practitioners who are experts in natural medicine and integrative therapies. They train at four-year, post-graduate naturopathic medical schools that are accredited by an agency of the United States Department of Education. Sixteen states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands regulate naturopathic medicine.

Founded in Portland in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America and an educational leader in classical Chinese medicine. A nonprofit college of natural medicine, NCNM offers four-year graduate medical degree programs in Naturopathic Medicine and Classical Chinese Medicine, and a Master of Science in Integrative Medicine Research degree. Its community clinics offer low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area, and along with the campus-based NCNM Clinic, practitioners attend to approximately 33,000 patient visits per year. NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute conducts rigorous evidence-based research to advance the science of natural medicine and improve clinical practice. Until July 2006, NCNM was formerly known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine.

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