Most of the supplements we researched show little or no evidence of benefit when compared with lifestyle modifications. The agents that may show some evidence of benefit (e.g., CoQ10, fish oil, garlic, vitamin C, and L-arginine) may be utilized as adjuncts to lifestyle modifications and conventional medications as long as the patient does not experience any adverse effects or supplement-drug interactions and the patient does not depend on the agents as definitive treatment. These agents should never be used as "safe" alternatives to conventional medications and they should not be used without the supervision of a health care provider. If not properly treated, hypertension can result in significant adverse sequelae.
In addition to efficacy, health care providers must be aware of the potential for drug interactions, contraindications, and adverse effects associated with the specific dietary supplements. Garlic, for example, has the potential to interact with oral anticoagulants and oral antidiabetic medications, among others. It is imperative that health care providers ask patients if they are taking dietary supplements. Patients may often think they do not have to inform their health care provider about these products because they are "safe" and "natural." The public must be educated about dietary supplements and understand the importance of reviewing these supplements with their health care provider, despite their easy availability without a prescription.
Marion Wofford, MD, MPH, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Division of Hypertension, 2500 North State Street, Jackson, MS 39216. E-mail: email@example.com.
© 2004 Le Jacq Communications, Inc.
Cite this: The Natural Treatment of Hypertension - Medscape - May 01, 2004.