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Alternative supplements: Too much of a good thing?

Illness or disability can be hard to tolerate when it affects the young. Yet one Philadelphia girl’s story reminds us that debilitating conditions may strike at any age. Fortunately, the girl’s condition turned out to be curable.

In this case, taking too many dietary supplements -- more than 80 different kinds, in fact -- may have exacerbated the girl’s medical condition. The girl’s mother had been administering the supplements to her daughter as a kind of home remedy for symptoms the mother believed attributable to chronic Lyme disease. However, it seems that a doctor might never have actually diagnosed the girl with that condition.

The mix of supplements, which the girl had been taking for years, may have resulted in acute pancreatitis, a condition where the pancreas turns on its own tissue. Fortunately, a two-week hospitalization and therapy regime was able to treat the pancreatitis, and the girl made a full recovery.

This story should not necessarily cause readers to discredit alternative therapies and dietary supplements. To the contrary, chronic pain and other conditions might respond favorably to acupuncture or other alternative methods where Western medication and surgical practices cannot provide guidance. Indeed, even the National Institutes of Health have a research team that spent a budget of $233 million on researching such alternative therapies.

When illness or disability strikes, daily activities that many take for granted, such as skills necessary to operate a computer or perform work tasks, may become impossible to perform. An attorney that practices Social Security disability law may know of assistance sources for such individuals.

Source: usatoday.com, “Book raises alarms about alternative medicine,” Liz Szabo July 2, 2013

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