Are supplements a dangerous waste of money?


Yes they can be!

by Diane Pascoe


Taking "wheelbarrows" full of supplements reached its peak in the 1980's, more was considered to be better! During the 90's the experts in natural therapies and other interested parties realised that giving high doses of particular minerals, elements or vitamins was not a good idea. Consuming nutrients in that form was so far from the way nature intended it caused imbalances with other minerals and elements in the body to the point side effects would occur such as nerve damage, diarrhoea or anaemia.

The direction of recent research and trends have favoured the use of herbs, oils, digestive components such as enzymes and probiotics. These are considered to be much safer and effective as they are whole portions of a herb or probiotic strain, so much closer to nature.

Supplements ought only to be taken when prescribed for a particular issue and under the supervision of a medical or naturopathic practitioner. Remedies are not powerful like pharmaceuticals and need to be part of a plan that addresses all aspects of health.

It is my firm belief that if diet, exercise and emotional well-being are not addressed the good effect of a supplement is often wiped out. A supplement, herb, fish oil or probiotic is only a small part of the picture - this is why a holistic approach is crucial to good health.

When studying other cultures where they age well and live to a considerable older age, otherwise known as the Blue Zones, the intent is to find the fountain of youth, or the secret to longevity. One culture might consume a tea daily that is high in anti oxidants, another will eat very little red meat and or include red wine with a meal.

This does not mean wine is the secret (unfortunately) or the anti oxidant rich tea, it is the diet and lifestyle with the tea or wine or food from volcanic rich soil as a whole that seems to be the answer. All of the factors work together in supporting health and wellness thus promoting longevity, which means diet, activity levels, adequate sleep or naps, a sense of community, environmental factors such as pollution and psychological wellbeing.

This same principle applies to the use of supplements. Taking a supplement while neglecting all other areas is of little benefit. Supplements can do fantastic things in the body - there are categories of ill health where supplements work really well. I was a little disappointed to see a document given to my husband during an appointment with his orthopaedic surgeon basically slamming glucosamine and chondroitin supplements stating they provide no benefit and the "research' confirms this. What sectors of the medical profession, media and health food shop owners need to realise is that SUPPLEMENTS ARE NOT DRUGS! A good quality Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplement taken for 3 months IN CONJUNCTION with an anti-inflammatory diet and in some cases physical therapy can be beneficial for many people who suffer from arthritis.


So when is it advisable to take a supplement?


  • Certain times of life such as when preparing the body for pregnancy, during pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • A probiotic before and after surgery (Murdoch hospital recommends this and provides it for their patients)

  • Magnesium and other co-factors for muscular cramps, tension headaches and eye tics.

  • Iron and its co-factors for anaemia.


These are simple scenarios, so for the more individual and complex types of health issues supplements are often effective for the following.

  • low levels of energy

  • poor immunity

  • hormonal imbalances

  • indigestion

  • bowel issues such as IBD, IBS or just bloating and flatulence.

  • anxiety and depression

  • insomnia

  • arthritis


All of the above often do not respond to a particular supplement alone.  Diet and lifestyle need to be considered and advice heeded to receive the benefits. It is possible that clients could be suffering from a large number of issues, therefore there can be a need for various remedies. The clients that are in this category are under supervision and feel the benefits from taking their remedies.

At Subiaco Wellness Clinic Jeanette and I are using less and less supplements as time goes on. It is very rare, and usually only in response to a hair mineral analysis, that a particular element is prescribed. The use of enzymes, various probiotic strains, amino acids, herbs and fish oils are the most popular remedies prescribed. We believe that the smallest amount should be prescribed and only continued while the client feels the benefit, is responding according to blood tests and other assessments, it is safe to do so, and where there is firm evidence that a remedy has been proven to assist in preventing particular ailments or diseases.  The supplement aspect of our practice is a small component as we find our main focus is on diet, body composition and stress management.


Our top priority at Subiaco Wellness Clinic is our clients' wellbeing on every level,
not sales.