~ 021308 Advising Patients Who Use Dietary Supplements

Bimal H. Ashar, MD, MBA, Anastasia Rowland-Seymour, MD Division of General Internal Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Md.


Public use of dietary supplements is quite prevalent, with an estimated 1 of 5 patients using such substances in an effort to maintain or promote their health. Despite their popularity, patients and physicians are often unaware of the limited regulation of these products as well as their potential risks and benefits. Lack of physician knowledge in these areas has the potential to strain the doctor-patient relationship. In this review, we present a 6-step approach to advising patients who are considering use of dietary supplements. Our framework includes a discussion of regulatory issues, efficacy and safety, potential supplement-drug interactions, and monitoring for adverse events and therapeutic effects.

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