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Herbal Medications and Dietary Supplements

Robert Bennett MD

  Many fibromyalgia patients are encouraged to use herbal medications and dietary supplements by well meaning friends, encouraging advertisments and health care professionals. In general the medical profession is now taking a more practical approach to what it refers to as "complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)". Indeed, the government in the form of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a special section to scientifically test the claims of alternate medicine practitioners -  The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) (

However it is important to realize that just like regular drugs, alternate medicines can cause serious side effects (sometime even fatalities).

The reassuring term "natural remedies", that is often applied to herbal and some dietary supplements can be misleading.  The fact is that these alternative remedies are not controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in terms of purity, quality or quantity of contents. To date there have been no controlled studies documenting the usefulness of any alternative medications in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Of course, absence of studies does not mean that alternative medications are useless.

However, before you spend money on such medications, it would be worthwhile to do some homework. In particular check out the side effects of the medications you are taking or intending to take, and in particular look for dangerous interactions with drugs you are already taking.

This information can be found at HerbMed

See Dr. Bennett's literature review on  Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).

Also see Carol Burckhardt's views on this subject

Other useful websites are:

FDA Dietary Suplements
FDA Alerts and Warnings
Reporting a problem or misleading ad.
Facts about Vitamins and Minerals
IBIDS Database









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