A recent study in a German Institute has proved that complementary therapies might occasionally bring mild relief but, in most cases they do not help the actual medical condition. The experts also suggest that such therapies may not be safe for all.
The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care suggested consumers to be more critical of health claims made regarding complementary medications. Mild relief in depression and pre menstrual syndrome using complementary medicines don't deal with the actual problem.
According to the Institute, conflicting research results in recent years have caused confusion and controversy about St. John's wort.
St John's wort (hypericum) could help ease mild depression, but it does not help with severe depression. It also probably cannot help with the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
However, calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) might help relieve PMS. On the other hand, evening primrose oil has not been proven to help.
"Consumers need to be more critical of all health claims," said Institute's Director, Professor Peter Sawicki.
"This is as true of dietary supplements and complementary medicines as it is of prescription medicine. Just because a product is made from a plant or vitamins, it does not mean it is necessarily safe in very high doses or for frequent use.
And not all medicinal products can provide as much relief as patients expect."
The growing evidence that high doses of some vitamins and antioxidants can cause cancer or earlier death is an important reminder that dietary supplements are not necessarily harmless.
Patients need to consider several questions before choosing any treatment, including a dietary supplement.
"Doctors and patients need to know whether treatments have been proven to work in enough good clinical trials that measured benefits large enough to matter to the patient," said Sawicki
Whether a medicine is made from a plant or manufactured in a laboratory the same scientific standards apply if you want to know which treatment might be the best for you," he added.