When I first meet patients they often bring in a bag of supplement bottles that they have collected over quite some time. They saw something on Dr. Oz, which they decide to buy. Then at the health food store they were encouraged to get products a, b, and c instead of (or in addition to) the Dr. Oz recommendation. They don’t even know why they take some of the stuff.
But they take it religiously.
Everyday they open the cupboards, take out all the bottles, open them all up, one by one, dispense all the supplements, close the lids and put them back in the cupboard. Over a lifetime that is a lot of time spent!
Often after our consult we are able to streamline things, and reduce them to just the essentials. I don’t believe that humans should have to take a gazillion pills a day.
I prefer using food as medicine.
And yes, I get that there is soil depletion. And yes, some people don’t have a nutrient dense diet. And yes, sometimes digestive systems don’t absorb nutrients. I am very aware of all of these things.
I stand by my claim that I prefer using food as medicine.
However, that being said, there is a time and a place for supplements. When I do suggest supplements for my patients I focus on whole plants instead of isolated nutrients. I do this because I try to mimic what nature would provide as much as possible.
And I believe in the wisdom of synergistic ingredients.
Plant medicine is incredibly smart medicine. For example, beets are an excellent source of iron – especially for vegetarians and vegans. But the body needs vitamin C to be able to absorb the iron. Beets are also rich in vitamin C.
Abracarrotdabra! Plant magic. It is all so well thought out. When I look at a patient’s blood work and see that they could benefit from iron supplementation I suggest a whole food version made from beets. Do you see the beauty in that?
(Please note that iron supplements should only be taken after a ferritin blood test shows one is deficient. I will supplement if a person’s level is below 50. You shouldn’t take it if you don’t need it as it can build up and become toxic in the body so please check with your naturopathic doctor.)
Another common example for me is using a greens powder as a multivitamin. Not build in a lab. Built by nature. Synthetic vitamins aren’t just at clever as what nature offers, and aren’t as well recognized or absorbed. You may have a differing opinion. And you’re totally welcome to that opinion.
I trust nature first.
A greens powder delivers vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant nutrients (hello synergy) to the body on a silver platter – they are super bioavailable. (The only tricky bit with greens powders is one might have a food reactivity to one or some of the veggie ingredients in which case we come back to using food as medicine and eating… gasp… REAL VEGGIES.
I also prefer supplements that are going to actually help the body repair, regenerate, and heal so that it can function better over the long term. I’m not interested in supplements that once discontinued the person feels lousy again. That is palliation, not cure. It is not getting to the root cause of illness.
I am interested in supplements that eventually can be discontinued because the body has shifted back into healing mode (which it wants more than anything to do.)
Again, I believe in food as medicine.
Often I’ll used supplements as a catalyst to get the body back into healing mode. I’m commonly these days using something called biological medicine which actually trains the tissues to function optimally by driving blood, oxygen and (well absorbed food as medicine nutrients) to them. More on that in the next week or two.
I have written about my opinion on supplements before. Check it.
So in those instances where you do find yourself on several supplements I want to share a simple secret to keep them all organized.
You certainly can open each container, spill out your dosage, close the container, and put it back on the shelf. Day in and day out. Like a sacred ritual.
Again, added up over the years it’s a lot of time that you could be spending doing other things, like being in nature (my first true love), or hanging out with loved ones, and/or dancing (my second true love.) Or making art. Or making the world a better place. Or…you get the idea.
Trust me, there is an easier way to organize your supplements. (Tweet it!)
Easier than those weekly pill dispensers. Yep! Easier than that.
Here is what I recommend.
STEP ONE: Get your self a bead or button organizer like this from a craft or dollar store.
STEP TWO: Pour a different supplement into each compartment. Or you can put the same supplement or medication in several of the compartments, just empty the bottle. Make sure you have a bunch in there.
STEP THREE: Using masking tape or some other fancier labeling system write down what the pill is called and the dosage and stick it to the inside of the lid so it corresponds with the sections of the organizer. Don’t want any confusion or mis-dosing, do we? (In case you’re confused the correct answer is NO.)
STEP FOUR: Do this for all your pills.
STEP FIVE: In the morning (or when ever it is time to take them) open that puppy up and take the appropriate number of each type.