Dietary supplements such as herbs and botanicals are popular complementary health approaches. A new study in JAMA Internal Medicine, led by Regan Bailey, Ph.D., R.D., and her colleagues at the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to figure out why.
One of the things we learn from this ODS study is that three quarters (77 percent) of supplements are used without advice from a health care provider. This points to the continued need for patients and providers to openly discuss use of complementary approaches, especially for safety reasons such as herb-drug interactions (405KB PDF). NCCAM’s Time to Talk program offers free tools to help conduct those discussions, and you may also find our portal of supplement information helpful.
The authors note a need for increased scientific research efforts to better understand supplements’ efficacy and safety. At NIH, we are working to build this evidence base so that consumers and their providers can make informed decisions about complementary approaches to health care.