Have you been wondering how to introduce nutrition into your practice? What’s the investment? And how do you know what types of nutritional products to recommend to which patients?
The best way to really learn about nutrition is to attend some continuing education classes focused on clinical nutrition. But in the meantime, here are some tips to help get you started.
Nutritional counseling can make a great deal of difference in the non-responsive or slow-responding patient, in terms of general health and healing (especially the nervous system). Proper nutritional support can slow or prevent osteoporosis and/or arthritis. It can help to slow or prevent colds and flus, enhance male functioning, slow prostate enlargement, increase stamina, dramatically ease menstrual problems and symptoms, improve memory, and many other health conditions.
However, a word of caution: Many nutritional/herbal supplements may interact with prescription medication (either reducing or potentiating their activity). Therefore, never tell a patient to discontinue a medication or to add a nutritional/herbal supplement when taking a medication, without first consulting with the MD/DO in charge, or you could be faced with charges of “practicing medicine without a license.”
If you or your staff are reluctant to “hard sell” vitamins and herbs, you can reduce your angst by saying something like, “I strongly recommend you take XYZ supplement; you can purchase it here at a reasonable price, or you can go to a health-food store and buy it.”
When stocking nutritional/herbal supplements, it should go without saying that you need to buy your products from a company or companies that can substantiate quality manufacturing and the efficacy and purity of their products.
You may be wondering how you should price nutritonal products. First, never charge more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail. Most wholesale prices allow for a 100% mark-up on each bottle; this is about right to make a profit.
Try doing a little “undercover” work. Check out a couple of nearby health-food stores to research similar product pricing. Your charges should be similar or slightly above theirs in order to be competitive. Some retail stores may carry supplements that are nearing expiration dates, and many are not “pharmaceutical grade” (i.e. – guaranteed quantities of ingredients), as opposed to what is usually sold to and by professionals.
Remember that you are the expert; and patients need and want good advice and guaranteed quality supplements. They expect to pay a little extra for your professional opinion, so learn as much as you can about nutrition and make the recommendations.
One way to introduce nutrition into your clinic is to get an attractive, modern, wall-mounted glass case to display the products. Add a prominent sign that says “New to our office”; “Curious about nutrition?… ask Dr. Smith”; “Your Health is your best investment”; or “You are what you eat.”
If you are just starting to offer nutritional/herbal products in your practice, you can start out with a fairly small inventory to test the waters and see how much interest you generate.
The Top 13
You should create a pamphlet that explains some of the products you carry and their benefits; make sure each and every patient receives this information.
Here’s a list of 13 of the top nutritional/ herbal products and the type of explanations you’ll want to provide to patients:
- Anti-oxidants: Anti-oxidants are comprised of a number of vitamins: A,C,E,D and K, as well as zinc and selenium. With specific formulations (combined with herbs), they can help speed healing processes. For 20 years, chiropractors have known of their anti-cancer properties. However, “new” research has not only proved that anti-oxidants can help prevent cancer, it has also shown they can help cardio-vascular problems like hardening and clogging of the arteries, diabetic circulation, skin problems and arthritis. Essentially, what anti-oxidants do is decrease the “free-radical” production in the body, otherwise known as oxidation, which is similar to the rusting of metal.
- Vitamin A: One of the first anti- oxidants to be identified, vitamin A is used to help reduce colds, flu, allergies and skin problems.
- Acidophilus: A beneficial form of bacterial replacement for the GI system, acidophilus can help reduce yeast infections and restore healthy bowel functioning.
- Vitamin C: We’ve all heard about the healing process of vitamin C for years. Everything you’ve heard about it is true. It helps to rebuild and strengthen all the cells of the body. It prevents “scurvy,” helps reduce colds and flu, and can help skin and heart conditions.
- CoQ10: This powerful anti-oxidant has been used in Japan for 15-20 years for heart patients to increase circulation, and more importantly, the oxygen-carrying capacity of the red blood cells.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is good for your whole body. Just some of the things it helps are: skin, hair and nails. It can also help blood vessels stay more flexible and less clogged. Internal (endocrine) organs use it for healthier regeneration. Most importantly, it is one of the primary anti-oxidant supplements for anti-aging and anti-cancer (see “anti-oxidants” description).
- Echinacea: Called “Nature’s Antibiotic,” this herb can help boost the immune system and reduce bacteria and viruses.
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate: This supplement has been used in Europe for approximately 20 years to treat arthritis. Increasingly, the power of this supplement is being recognized in the United States, to reduce the pain and suffering of arthritis.
- Lipoic Acid: Great for diabetics who have leg and hand pain. May also be useful for Parkinson’s disease and even Alzheimer’s. Along with Milk Thistle, it is one of the most powerful liver detoxifiers and regenerators that we know of.
- St John’s Wort: It’s been called the “herbal Prozac.” If you or someone you know is depressed, hostile, or frequently upset, St. John’s Wort may help. With most people, it works fairly quickly. St. John’s Wort should not be taken with MAO inhibitors. It should not be used for more than six to eight weeks if it hasn’t produced positive results; people with serious emotional problems should always seek professional help.
- Valerian Root: This can be used to calm jittery nerves and relax muscles. It’s great for the mild to moderate spasms associated with the common neuromusculoskeletal conditions we see daily. It is non-habit forming and very safe. It should not be used with other muscle relaxers and tranquilizers.
- Yohimbie: This ancient root has been alleged to have curative properties for male impotency (along with saw palmetto, kava, sarsaparilla, capsicum, kola, quarana, niacin, ginseng and others).
- Zinc: Zinc is needed to help build strong endocrine glands. It helps revitalize the prostate gland in men over 40. It’s also great for reducing cold symptoms, especially when used with vitamins C and A.