Monday, September 1, 2014

Supplemental Side Effects

Dungeon Masters Guild
It’s interesting how often I have heard that you should always look for ‘natural remedies,’ because they have no side effects. Or conversely that you should avoid any kind of man made medicine, because it has side effects. This way of thinking is unfortunately terribly flawed. It ignores the contrast between the requirements for reporting side effects for medications and supplements (how natural remedies are classified for regulatory purposes).

If we look at the requirements for reporting side effects of medications we see that it is very wide reaching. Drug companies must disclose all side effects found to be related to the use of the particular drug, basically regardless of circumstances. If anything has ever happened as a result of the drug; regardless of circumstances, frequency or quantity used, or any other factors involved; the drug companies must report it in that long list of side effects. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be a result of the drug itself. For example there is a particular nasal spray that has in its list of side effects viral infection. This is ignoring that such an infection would only result from a less than sanitary state of the bottle (most likely the fault of the individual patient that experienced it).
On the other side the requirements for supplements are much more lax. Actually they are virtually nonexistent. There is no specific requirement to disclose a supplement’s side effects. In fact the only real regulation is more of a suggestion that they not portray misleading information. What more they are only required to remove specific information when the FDA learns that the information has put people at risk and a lengthy investigation finds this to be undeniably true. This is one of the reasons so many natural remedies so frequently can have large sweeping, grandiose declarations and never seem to have side effects listed. Don’t be fooled, any substance would have a list of side effects under the conditions imposed on the drug companies.

In light of this I thought it would be helpful to create a list of the side effects of some things that everyone would agree are actually good for you. That is vitamins.

(The above image should read vitamin E, Sorry for messing that up)
Now before you freak out about this keep in mind that these are the very extreme cases. It is very unlikely you will ever experience any of these symptoms, but these would need to be reported if we were talking about a drug under the same conditions.
My advice before believing any hype about any particular remedy is to consult a doctor first, or at least do a Google search for the side effects. You may be surprised what you find.

-Matt Smith