Summary of the Effects of Popular Dietary Supplements

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Natural Dietary Supplements

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Alfalfa: Immune-stimulating

Aloe: May interact with steroids, possible toxic effects with oral use

Alpha-lipoic acid: Promising studies in animal model of MS, human studies are underway

Androstenedione: Multiple possible toxic effects

Ashwagandha: Ayurvedic herb that is sometimes recommended for MS, may be immune-stimulating

Asian ginseng: No definite therapeutic effects; possibly immune-stimulating; may interact with steroids; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Astragalus: Possibly immune-stimulating

Barberry: Possibly sedating

Bayberry: May interact with steroids

Bearberry: Also known as uva ursi; possible liver toxicity

Bee pollen: No definite therapeutic effects; rarely causes severe allergic reactions

Beta-carotene: See Vitamin A

Bissy nut: See Cola nut

Black currant seed oil: Contains gamma-linolenic acid; unknown safety, especially for long-term use

*This summary provides limited information about popular supplements. See the index for a more complete listing of popular and nonpopular supplements covered in this book. See the text itself for more detailed information on supplements.

Blue-green algae: See Spirulina

Borage seed oil: Possibly immune-suppressing; contains gamma-linolenic acid; possible liver toxicity; may cause seizures

Caffeine: Improves mental alertness; may irritate urinary tract

Cat's claw: Possibly immune-stimulating

Chamomile: Possibly fatigue-producing

Chaparral: Possible liver toxicity

Cod-liver oil: Possibly immune-suppressing; contains omega-three fatty acids; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Coenzyme Q10: Immune-stimulating; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Coffee: Contains caffeine; improves mental alertness; may irritate urinary tract

Cola nut: Also known as bissy nut; contains caffeine; improves mental alertness; may irritate urinary tract

Comfrey: Possible liver toxicity

Cranberry: Possibly effective to prevent urinary tract infections; should not be used to treat urinary tract infections

DHEA: Variable immune effects; possible adverse effects

Echinacea: Not definitely effective for treating viral infections; immune-stimulating; possible liver toxicity when taken with medications that have possible liver toxicity

Ephedra: See Ma huang

Evening primrose oil: Possibly immune-suppressing; contains gamma-linolenic acid; may cause seizures; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Fish oil: Possibly immune-suppressing; contains omega-three fatty acids; less than 3 grams of EPA and DHA daily is generally safe; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Flaxseed oil: Possibly immune-suppressing; contains omega-three and omega-six fatty acids; greater than 45 grams daily may produce diarrhea

Garlic: Possibly immune-stimulating; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Germanium: Sometimes recommended for MS; no known beneficial effects for MS; may cause kidney failure and death

Ginkgo biloba: Not effective for treating MS attacks; unstudied for other uses in MS; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin); may provoke seizures Goldenseal: Possibly fatigue-producing

Guarana: Contains caffeine; improves mental alertness; may irritate urinary tract

5-HTP: Possible toxic effects

Kava kava: May cause severe liver toxicity and should be avoided; possibly effective for treating anxiety; possibly fatigue-producing

Licorice: Possibly immune-stimulating; may interact with steroids; multiple possible toxic effects Lobelia: Multiple possible toxic effects

Ma huang: Multiple possible toxic effects, including death; may interact with steroids

Melatonin: Possibly immune-stimulating

Niacin: See Vitamin B3

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins: Possibly immune-stimulating Passionflower: Possibly fatigue-producing Propolis: No definite therapeutic effects; unknown safety Psyllium: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved for constipation; should not be used by people with swallowing difficulties

Pycnogenol: Possibly immune-stimulating; safety of long-term use is unknown

Pyridoxine: See Vitamin B6

Royal jelly: No definite therapeutic effects; may rarely provoke asthma and cause severe allergic reactions

S-adenosylmethionine: See SAMe

Sage: Possibly fatigue-producing

St. John's wort: Probably effective for treating depression; possibly fatigue-producing; may interact with multiple medications, including anti-depressants and antiseizure medications

SAMe: Also known as S-adenosylmethionine; possibly effective for treating depression

Saw palmetto: Possibly immune-stimulating

Selenium: Possibly immune-stimulating; greater than 400 micrograms daily may produce multiple toxic effects

Siberian ginseng: No definite therapeutic effects; immune-stimulating; possibly fatigue-producing; may inhibit blood clotting; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Spirulina: Also known as blue-green algae; contains variable amounts of gamma-linolenic acid; safety of long-term use is unknown

Stinging nettle: Possibly immune-stimulating; possibly fatigue-producing; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Uva ursi: See Bearberry

Valerian: Possibly effective for treating insomnia; possibly fatigue-producing; safety of long-term use is unknown

Vitamin A: Chemically related to beta-carotene; immune-stimulating; greater than 10,000 IU daily may produce toxic effects; may increase cancer risk in smokers

Vitamin B3: Also known as niacin; greater than 35 milligrams daily may produce toxic effects

Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine; greater than 50 milligrams daily may produce toxic effects

Vitamin B^: Effective for treating documented vitamin B-^ deficiency

Vitamin C: Not definitely effective for treating urinary tract infections or viral infections; immune-stimulating; greater than 2,500 milligrams daily may produce toxic effects; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Vitamin D: Effective for preventing and treating osteoporosis; greater than 2,000 IU daily may produce toxic effects

Vitamin E: Supplements of vitamin E may be indicated with a high intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids; immune-stimulating; greater than 1,000 IU daily may produce toxic effects; may inhibit bleeding; may interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Vitamin K: May interact with warfarin (Coumadin)

Yohimbe or yohimbine: Multiple possible toxic effects

Zinc: Possibly immune-stimulating

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