Do you feel that you take too many supplements? Do you only take the ones you absolutely need? Have you ever made your insomnia worse with supplements? If you’re nodding your head then welcome to my world. In my world – most supplements ruin my sleep even more and cause paradoxical reactions making me feel more poisoned rather than ‘cured.’
I have a mysterious condition that closely resembles adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, dysbiosis and autoimmune issues that leave all doctors scratching their heads. This leaves me to my own devices experimenting with various supplements.
I’ve learned many valuable lessons over the years. Much of it came from other people but most of it comes from my own painful experience. Here is some advice that will hopefully save you a ton of money and sanity.
It Will Work if You Need It
Supplement will only work if you need it. It must address the underlying deficiency which is causing your insomnia or any other health issue. If you are supplementing already ‘normal’ levels it will cause more imbalances. Whatever the effect you will get will be temporary, till your body restores the balance. This is so crucial to ‘get’ because many of us are way over-supplementing with things we don’t need.
The best thing to do before undergoing any supplement regiment is to work with a very qualified specialist who will conduct a thorough evaluation of your health history, dietary habits, toxin exposure, genetic information and order necessary lab tests. Only then should you choose a nutritional intervention based upon the data you collect and analyze.
It Will Work When you Can Digest It
Everything we consume must be processed by our body and when you have weak digestion and poor methylation you’re only poisoning yourself. This has been happening to me for years. I took countless supplements and most of the time experienced paradoxical effects. Only years later I learned that if your gut and your liver are not breaking down supplements properly they turn up in your blood, start being stored in places they shouldn’t be, creates inflammation, freaks out your immune system, creates imbalances in neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, GABA, etc.), overwhelms detox pathways, and causes a host of other issues.
All things in large amounts are a burden on your digestion system. Before supplementing with anything or paying for expensive vitamins we must fix our gut and support the liver. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) teaches that tonifying the spleen (digestion organs) and enhancing liver function can bring an end to hundreds of discomforting symptoms.
Every Thing Exists in Relation to Other Things
Some supplements will only work well in relation to others. For example, both TCM and functional medicine hardly ever recommend consuming single herbs or vitamins. The thinking that so many people employ is: “let’s just take this supplement for this problem.” However, reductionist approaches like this fail to address the complex nature of biochemistry, don’t end up working out and often makes things even worse down the road.
Consuming only one herb or mineral usually does not address the underlying deficiency. The energies of your body work in harmony via complex biological processes that are closely interrelated. In order to fully tackle the disease any treatments must simultaneously address everything going on. TCM has developed and time tested a variety of wonderful formulas to address various patterns where one herb enhances the effect of the other while some fourth herb moderates some warming qualities of the first herb and so on. When it comes to supplements then we know things like Vitamin D is best taken with fats and Vitamin K, calcium is best absorbed with Vitamin D, vitamin C is best absorbed with bioflavonoids and so on.
Bottom line, before taking herbs or vitamins make sure you know something about them and don’t consume any single vitamin alone unless you know you’re addressing a specific deficiency. Use time proven formulas which are generally far more effective and less likely to cause further imbalances.
It Will Only Work in Correct Dosage
You miss the dosage and it’s not effective, you overdose and it is harmful. This is why it’s best to up the dosage slowly and patiently look for the sweet spot. If you take too large of a dose and have a unpleasant reaction you may discard the supplement right away but you may be needing it the most because your body adjusts to deficiencies and a sudden boost of that element will send shock waves through the system.
Because You Needed it Yesterday, Doesn’t Mean You Need it Today
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught myself taking something out of habit long time before my symptoms have subsided or resolved. By doing this not only we risk of building a tolerance to specific herbal formulas or vitamins but could also be causing an excess or masking deeper underlying issues that are being masked by supplements working on the surface.
Take for example TCM formulas for sleep or amino acids like Theanine, 5HTP or Tryptohpan: yes, to a certain extent, they help you sleep better but do not address the imbalances that actually disturb your spirit or neurotransmitter imbalance due to diseased liver or weak adrenals. If taken in larger doses (because in the West we always tend to thing that “bigger and more is better” we can even really screw ourselves up even more. One example is serotonin toxicity from too much L-Tryptophan.
Best advice is to supplement for a while then stop to see whether you still need it. Give it a few days, especially if you’ve taken things like Melatonin for a while. Your body will restore its natural balance in a week or so and if it doesn’t then keep taking it.
Liquid Form is Better Than Pills
There is good evidence out there that liquid forms have higher and faster absorption rate than pills and capsules. In fact, the difference is pretty drastic: only 10-20% of vitamins in solid/capsule form are absorbed by the body while liquid forms have an absorption rate of up to 95%. Also, liquid forms are far easier on your digestion and reach your blood stream much faster. Not only you get a better bang for your buck by absorbing more of the herb you also avoid unnecessary binders, fillers, chelating agents and all this other junk.
It Might Not Work at All – Make Peace With It
Before you blame yourself that there’s something wrong with you for not feeling better on supplements then keep in mind that most large scale clinical studies have shown either no or negative health effects from basic supplementation like a daily multi-vitamin. Is it all nothing but expensive urine? Not quite. The studies that actually showed any positive effects were on people who were pre-tested before trials and found to have very specific deficiencies (i.e Vitamin D). Upon addressing those deficiencies with specific nutrients the subjects showed improvement in symptoms.
Key takeaways about supplements
- Introduce one supplement or formula (never two or more!) at a time and wait for a few days to judge the results. Why? You need to know which one is working and which one is not the right fit.
- Stop right away if you feel worse or sleep worse. This is not the time for “healing crisis”, not when you’re weak. Supplements have to make you feel better or you should set them aside for now. Possible some supplements will make you feel better but then you’ll crash, this means your body wasn’t ready to be stimulated in such away and some other underlying deficiency is stringer than the one you are trying to address.
- It is always best to get our nutrition from food not from supplements that cannot possibly account for the truly dynamic nature of our body and food itself.
- Spend all your money on correct diagnosis before you spend it all on supplements you don’t need.
Does any of this resonate with you or fit your experience. Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear form you.