The Practice


What you don't know can hurt you and waste your money. All herbs and vitamins are not created equal. Fortunately and unfortunately the FDA does not monitor supplement and herbs. Many profit seeking, unethical or even uneducated companies are jumping on the bandwagon and producing vitamins. I often have patients tell me I've already tried "so and so" and it didn't work.

Let us look at some differences in quality that you might not be aware of. For example take Acidophilus, a temperature sensitive, beneficial, living bacteria for your gut. Metagenics is one of my main suppliers of supplements. The shipment is refrigerated and Dr. Gustafson’s staff keeps it refrigerated until you buy it. An independent company assays the supplements to verify potency, purity and viability at the time of expiration. Approximately a year ago an independent company went into a health food store and pulled ten different Acidophilus products and assayed them.

They found that none of the ten contained what the label represented. What is worse is that several contained additional bad bacteria, like strep fecalis, from temperature damage. Many companies store their products in hot warehouses and ship them in hot trucks and then place the product in the refrigerator at the health food store. 

Other companies use low-grade processing methods that damage the beneficial bacteria. Then many consumers just buy the cheapest brand and wonder why they don't work. Another concern Dr. Gustafson has is about herbs. Metagenics uses only pharmaceutical grade, organic, wild crafted herbs that have been independently assayed for the active ingredient with scientific research behind it. Anyone could grow St Johns Wort in the back yard, grind it up and sell it. If the herb is grown in leached out soil, harvested at the wrong time, covered with pesticides, or has no hyperforin (active ingredient) in it, then it will not help with depression. The consumer would have no idea what is behind the herb, only that it was "the right price" and that it didn't help. 

There are 5 markers to look for in a quality nutritional company:   

  1. GMP (good manufacturing practices) certified manufacturing facilities
  2. Comprehensive scientific evaluation of ingredients
  3. Comprehensive safety reviews
  4. Human clinical evaluations to document predicted safety and efficacy
  5. Advanced scientific staff and facilities.

Metagenics works diligently to be certified by NNFA (National Nutritional Foods Association), NSF (National Sanitation Foundation), TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association- a pharmaceutical certification for herb quality). There are 5 grades of herbs, the top grade being pharmceutical grade. Metagenics supplements are sold only through doctors in order that their highly potent products be administered correctly.  Dr. Gustfson also uses Nutri-west nutritional supplements. 

He thoroughly researched his suppliers and will only use those that have scientific research to back their claims.  Remember THE MOST EXPENSIVE SUPPLEMENT IS THE ONETHAT DOES NOT WORK !!  If you save $5 on a $15 product and it doesn't work, then you have just wasted $10. Suppose the product was for arthritic relief, you now still have the pain you were seeking to alleviate and the belief that glucosamine does not work