For many years I believed that the best health was achieved through exercise and a good diet. Within the past few years (I must be getting smarter), however, I have been adding supplements to that protocol. You may be as confused as I was about the efficacy of supplements, with some of the negative press Vitamin E, echinacea, and saw palmetto have received recently. A topical look at these studies seems to indicate they have no value, but a look at the design of these studies paints a totally different picture-the studies are seriously flawed in their design. In the saw palmetto study (for enlarged prostate or BPH), three of the physicians who authored the study received fees from drug companies who make BPH drugs that directly compete with saw palmetto. I question their objectiveness. More than 20 studies support the use of saw palmetto for increasing urinary flow, relieving hesitancy, reducing nighttime urination, and other symptoms. For more info on these studies, go to Dr. Julian Whitaker’s Health & Healing.

You may remember the ephedra crisis a few years ago. Six people died in a year as a result of overusing this plant based supplement. Let’s put this in perspective; last year over 900 bicyclists were killed while cycling, 3600 Americans choked to death on their food, 38 died as a result of using household cleaners, 8800 people are injured by fireworks, and the list goes on. Yet, the FDA threw the book at ephedra, a plant that has been used for centuries for increased energy and weight loss. Heck, if you take too much of anything, even water, it will kill you. The message is “don’t believe everything you read or hear in the news.

Not all supplements are the same-don’t opt for the discount brands or store brands-they have to save money somewhere and it’s usually in the product. For great info on the quality of vitamins and minerals, go to

More on this later.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.