Being worried about becoming dependent on a supplement is a very common concern. I hear people say this all the time and it’s a fair concern. Our conventional medical approach often dispenses medication that you need for the rest of your life.
A lifetime of almost ANYTHING can feel scary!
So firstly the question we need to address is, ‘can your body become dependent on a supplement?’ The simple answer…yes BUT it depends on what we are talking about. There are ways you can ensure that this doesn’t happen but you need to have a pretty good understanding of body physiology and how to support it’s return to a healthy state.
What you need to know…
What does a “dependent” situation look like?
If you start taking a supplement to address a symptom and after a period of time stop taking that supplement and ALL of your symptoms come right back, then your body is dependent on that supplement. An example of this would be when you start taking a natural sleep aid. Without this sleep aid you absolutely cannot sleep. Sleep is a symptom of a larger issue when it comes to your health. If you don’t want to become dependent on taking something to help you sleep then you need to address why you are having trouble sleeping.
Possible causes of difficulty sleeping can be pain, stress, overwork, blood sugar dysregulation, hormonal imbalance, or toxicity just to name a few. These can all be brought back into balance so that you can get a good nights sleep without the need for a sleep aid.
Constipation is another great example. If you consistently need some kind of laxative (natural or not) to help you poop then your body is dependent on that laxative to get things moving. Not being able to poop regularly is a symptom of dysregulation not the problem itself. You need to address why you have such a hard time going and work on bringing that back into balance.
Possible causes for constipation can be poor bile production/flow, lack of fiber, food sensitivities, parasites, gut dysbiosis, dehydration, stress, overwork, or muscle tension.
How to avoid a “dependent” situation.
Always, always, always seek to address the root cause and NOT just the symptom. If you stop taking a supplement and all your symptoms come right back then the root cause is not being addressed. If you stop taking a supplement and you have a slight return of a couple symptoms but not the full blown situation then it may just be a case of not sticking to your treatment quite long enough.
Is it unhealthy to be dependent on a supplement?
I often say that healing is like a rabbit hole….it depends how far down you want to go. If you are okay with the fact that you are taking a supplement to avoid having a certain symptom and you can say that you feel great…then no problem. If it bothers you to have to take this supplement all the time and/or taking it is only making you feel just okay…then you have a problem that needs to be addressed further.
While it isn’t necessarily unhealthy, avoiding the root cause can lead to other symptoms. While you may have one symptom taken care of with a supplement, others may start to pop up and your situation could become difficult to manage.
There are some instances where you may benefit from long-term or off and on supplementation.
If you know that your body has higher needs of certain nutrients than there may be times where it is beneficial to supplement that nutrient (or greatly increase the foods high in it) for a period of time so as to remain in optimal health.
If you have had a chronic health situation for a long time then you may need long term supplementation of certain nutrients to turn things around.
In my practice I will occasionally give a supplement that will help relieve a symptom periodically BUT the difference lies in the fact that at the same time we also address the root cause of that symptom. This is so you can have optimal health and transform into the best version of you. As opposed to working at only managing all your symptoms.
If you are unsure if you are just managing a symptom vs. treating the root cause…schedule a free discovery call with me to chat about your situation.
Dr. Kim Gowetor
Naturopath Sherwood Park
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