Nutraceuticals and their role in chiropractic health management
Chiropractic care has long seen overlap with other alternative and non-allopathic treatments, such as acupuncture and massage therapy. In the last several years, the wave of nutraceuticals has also joined the pack.
Are nutraceuticals like many other evolving trends in alternative healthcare? Or are DCs discovering how nutraceuticals could have a permanent role in chiropractic health management?
This article discusses the potential practice uses of nutraceuticals as complementary care for chiropractic patients.
What are nutraceuticals?
According to Science Direct, a nutraceutical is any substance that is a food or part of a food that provides medical or health benefits, such as the potential prevention and treatment of disease.
Usually, nutraceuticals are referred to as nutritional supplements or simply just “supplements.” The goal of nutraceuticals is to provide nutrients to the body in the form of a liquid, a tablet or a capsule to guarantee the proper amount of ideal nutrients is consumed.
According to the National Institutes of Health, nutraceuticals might aid in recovery and overall health, and some can manage health conditions. For example, calcium and vitamin D can aid in keeping bones strong and reducing bone loss. The same source suggests omega-3 fatty acids can potentially benefit people with heart disease.
They are not meant to be used as the primary diet nor are they intended to cure diseases. Rather, they’re intended to provide the body with the proper nutrition needed to function and heal correctly.
It’s important to note, too, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not responsible for determining the effectiveness of nutraceuticals.
Do nutraceuticals have a place in chiropractic health management?
Nutraceuticals as complementary care? There are several studies suggesting nutraceuticals can benefit overall health, including chiropractic health. It’s suggested nutritional supplements can help patients overcome nutritional deficiencies, boost the immune system and help the body prep against illnesses.
For example, these nutraceuticals could provide the following benefits:
- Vitamin C: It’s suggested this powerful antioxidant can ease pain, minimize inflammation and provide protection against the damages associated with osteoarthritis.
- Bromelain: Extracted from the pineapple plant, some studies suggest bromelain has the same anti-inflammatory properties as some NSAIDs.
- Vitamin D: A crucial vitamin for calcium absorption can promote the growth of bones, support bone health and potentially prevent bone loss or damage.
- Vitamin K: Studies suggest this vitamin, which facilitates calcium absorption, can help prevent fractures by reinforcing bones, increasing bone density and managing osteoporosis.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC): This amino acid contains sulfur and aids in the production of immune cells. It can help alleviate respiratory issues and replenish glutathione.
DCs should discuss nutraceuticals with their patients
Importantly, whether or not DCs are suggesting nutraceuticals to their patients, it’s vital that they routinely ask their patients if they’re using herbs or nutritional supplements. A study published in the National Library of Medicine suggests that chiropractic patients are likely taking herbs or nutritional supplements — with or without their DC’s knowledge.
As such, they could be at risk for potential health risks or drug interactions.
Whether you choose to implement nutraceutical recommendations into your patient’s care or not, it’s prudent to discuss their nutraceutical supplementation just as you’d discuss their current or previous medications.
Are nutraceuticals right for your chiropractic practice?
The choice to include nutraceuticals in your practice is up to you, your practice and what kind of care you hope to provide your patients. Either way, we’re here to provide answers based on your best route forward. Subscribe to Chiropractic Economics for updates on the chiropractic profession, best practices for your practice and helpful tips about managing the evolving trends of healthcare.