April 4, 2017 – Supplement Help


Anchor lead: Do supplements really help your health or is it your belief they will? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Ginseng supplements, which have been shown to help fatigue in people with cancer, really didn’t show any benefit relative to placebo in folks with HIV, a recent Johns Hopkins study led by Adriana Andrade shows. Andrade interprets some of the placebo effect to magical thinking.

Andrade: In the complementary and alternative medicine world I think sometimes there is a lot of this magical perception that something that is natural will have an effect on your symptom and your life.  :11

Andrade says that such studies as this are helpful in informing people making decisions about supplement use.

Andrade: I think it is important to show when something doesn’t work. Number one because people should not be spending money and some of these dietary supplements are very expensive, if it’s not going to generate the effect they’re looking for.   :12

Andrade notes that another potential danger of supplements is their interaction with other medications, so both a need and a benefit for taking them must be clearly established, and she also advocates for their FDA regulation. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.