Are supplements and alternative therapies all they’re cracked up to be?

“When I started work as a doctor, my mentors taught me to recommend cranberry tablets for my patients with bladder infections, to use echinacea as a cure for the common cold, and to dish out fish oil capsules to ease the pain of osteoarthritis. However, over the years our scientific understanding of these products has changed dramatically. Despite being very popular remedies, cranberry tablets haven’t been proven to be useful for preventing or treating bladder infections, echinacea isn’t effective for curing a common cold, and fish oil capsules aren’t very impressive when it comes to treating osteoarthritis.

“Vitamins, minerals and supplements are constantly being studied. When a supplement is confirmed to work, we call it medicine. When there’s not enough scientific evidence to confirm a supplement works, we call it ‘alternative medicine’, ‘complementary medicine’ or ‘fake medicine’.

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