All posts by Scott Gavura

If you don’t buy this supplement for your child, you’re a terrible parent

The supplement industry wants you to buy their products, and they’re not above using a little parental guilt to make you into a customer. In the photo above, the promoter is my local pharmacy, where the large window display caught my eye: Give your Child The Tools to SUCCEED in School! Who doesn’t want their child to succeed? And if you knew...

/ September 25, 2014

Side effects may include liver failure

“Safe and natural.” It’s a marketing phrase attached to dietary supplements that’s often accepted as self-evident. The marketing works. Supplements have a strong health halo. But evidence suggests that this reputation may be undeserved. Not only are there continued questions about whether most supplements have any health benefits whatsoever, there is also evidence that they can be harmful. We can’t even be...

/ September 11, 2014

Naturopathy vs. Science: Facts edition

This is another post in the naturopathy versus science series, where a naturopath’s advice is assessed against the scientific literature. When you think medicine, your first thought may be “physician”. But the practice of medicine today is a collaboration, as few health professionals, even physicians, can deliver health care completely independently. As a pharmacist I’ve worked closely with physicians, nurses, and other...

/ August 28, 2014

Naturopathy vs. Science: Prenatal Vitamins

This is another post in the naturopathy versus science series, where a naturopath’s medical advice is assessed against the scientific evidence. Today’s topic is brought to you by Toronto naturopath Shawna Darou, who recently published her evaluation of prenatal vitamins. Vitamin supplementation is unnecessary for the vast majority of people. You wouldn’t know this walking through a drug store, where you’ll usually...

/ August 14, 2014

NuVet: Pet Supplement Snake Oil

I’m a dog person. I always wanted a dog as a child, and while my extended family all had dogs, we never had one in our home. I finally got my wish just over a decade ago. My wife and I were referred to a breeder with an excellent reputation for raising healthy, family-friendly Labrador Retrievers. Within moments of meeting a tiny...

/ July 17, 2014

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Separating facts from fiction

One of the challenges to providing science-based medicine is managing debilitating symptoms in patients who lack a clear diagnosis. If a comprehensive workup on an ill patient reveals nothing conclusive, patients and their health care providers are equally puzzled and frustrated. A diagnosis is seen as giving legitimacy to symptoms, and can be the first step towards defining a science-based treatment plan....

/ July 3, 2014

Dr. Oz and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of the most well-known, and possibly the most influential medical doctor in America. The Dr. Oz Show is broadcast in 118 countries and reaches over 3 million viewers in the USA alone. When Oz profiles a product or supplement on his show, sales explode – it’s called “The Dr. Oz Effect”. Regrettably, Oz routinely and consistently gives...

/ June 19, 2014

Don’t supplement users deserve consumer protection, too?

The Canadian Parliament, hypothetically protecting consumers since Confederation. One of the most pervasive yet appealing health myths is the idea that natural equals safe. It’s a statement that’s repeated constantly by manufacturers of supplements and “natural” health products. It’s been the primary argument used, with considerable success, to give these products completely different regulatory structures than exist for drug products. Weaker regulation...

/ June 5, 2014

Beware the Integrative Pharmacy

Imagine a retail pharmacy where some of the medicines on the shelves have been replaced with similar-looking packages that contain no active ingredients at all. There is no easy way to distinguish between the real and the fake. Another section of the store offers a number of remedies with fantastic claims, such as “boosting” the immune system, “detoxifying” the body, or “cleansing”...

/ May 22, 2014

We’re a drug-taking, supplement-taking nation. So how do we do so safely?

Do you take a vitamin or dietary supplement? It’s increasingly likely that you do, as over half of all American adults took some sort of supplement over the past 30 days. Now there’s evidence to suggest that about one-third of all Americans are taking supplements and prescription drug at the same time, which is renewing questions about risks and benefits. The same...

/ May 8, 2014