Any time I find out a new (or existing) patient is taking supplements not prescribed by me; I ask that they please bring them in on the next visit. I want to make sure that the supplement(s) are not detrimental to the patient in any way. And ideally, that they are in fact beneficial. A supplement can cause a problem for a number of reasons. Namely: 1) they contain (known or unknown) toxic fillers or contaminants, 2) they contain poor “forms” of the nutrient (e.g.: calcium carbonate vs. calcium citrate), 3) they are unnecessary and create an extra burden on the liver and/or other organs, and 4) they are completely inappropriate and actually exacerbating problems the patient has (or may develop).

Normally, my approach is to use a measurement of the nervous system such as applied kinesiology manual muscle testing, pulse rate, and pain threshold to possibly determine if the supplement is “good, bad or indifferent”. I simply have the patient ingest the nutrient, and then take one or more of those measurements to see if a change is elicited. Your nervous system responds (whether you realize it or not) once you taste something. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t perceive the taste in the first place. If you are not convinced, simply think of the reason some schools don’t allow peanuts to even be brought into the building. Children with peanut allergies can respond dramatically to even the slightest exposure. The same goes for shellfish allergies. A potentially fatal reaction (if untreated) can occur if a person with a shellfish allergy simply puts it in their mouth. Digestion and absorption does not always need to occur for shellfish to cause a reaction in an allergic individual, which demonstrates the immediate responsivity of the nervous system. I’m not saying the changes in the nervous system from ingesting/tasting a supplement will cause such a profound effect as that in a person with a severe peanut or shellfish allergy; however, subtle changes can certainly be detected if your practitioner knows how to look for them.

I would say that about 70-80% of the time, the supplement(s) my patients bring in have either no beneficial effect or a detrimental one. By the way, many times I don’t even need to “check” their supplements because it clearly contains toxic ingredients listed on the label. Below are some ingredients that were listed on a patient’s supplements bottle. There were two supplements; a multivitamin and a calcium supplement. I won’t mention the brand name.

Multivitamin (and multi-toxin) — Titanium Dioxide (color), Polyethylene Glycol, Sucrose, Corn Starch, Dextrose Monohydrate, Glucose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, FD&C Yellow #5 Lake, FD&C Yellow #6 Lake, FD&C Blue #2 Lake

Calcium supplement — Titanium Dioxide (artificial color), Polyvinyl Alcohol, Polyethylene Glycol, Talc, Polysorbate 80

I have no idea why “they” decided to include these ingredients. Why are artificial colors in there? Do you really care if your supplement is a “pretty” yellow or pink color? – probably not, unless you’re wearing it as jewelry. Also, I’m not sure why forms of alcohol or sugar (the -ose words) are necessary either. In fact, they must be unnecessary because many supplements work very well and don’t contain them.

A few things about these ingredients you need to know. If you’re not sure, hydrogenated soybean oil is a trans fat which has gotten a lot of press for its ill effects not long ago. NYC has gone as far as banning its use in restaurants. Some of the ingredients listed may be food allergens or sensitivities, such as soy and corn. And here’s some info on talc. More terrible news… According to, polyethylene glycol can have numerous side effects including: “bloating; dizziness; increased thirst; nausea; rectal irritation; stomach cramps; tiredness; vomiting”. Preservatives like Polysorbate 80 is another example of ridiculousness in my opinion. reports its potential side effects as: “constipation; cough; diarrhea; dizziness; headache; muscle, joint, back, or stomach pain; nausea or vomiting; pain, swelling, irritation, redness, or bruising at the injection site; unusual tiredness or weakness”. Check the link, the side effects don’t stop there. I’ll stop there though and feel free to search the rest. By the way, there were other suspect ingredients not mentioned.

I recommend supplements from many different companies that are (supposed to be) only sold to healthcare professionals, although they seem to be getting more and more accessible to consumers directly. Ideally you want supplements that have undergone third-party testing. I’ve been told by people who have private label supplements made that you and I can go out tomorrow and contact a supplement manufacturer with specifics of what we want in the product(s). We’ll then receive a certificate of quality assurance from the manufacturer themselves. See why a third-party certifier can be important?

The supplement industry is not tightly regulated. Personally, I feel this is good and bad; and do in fact prefer that it never becomes regulated (by the “wrong people” at least). Good because the manufacturer can decide the ingredients and the amount thereof. Bad because “no one” (except high-quality manufacturers themselves) is making sure that harmful ingredients are left out. So it can be a double-edged sword. Remember, regulation will not always assure safety anyway. All prescription drugs are regulated and if you’re not sure of the outcome of Vioxx and some hormone replacement medications, I encourage you to look it up.

Be careful, and as always I suggest you consult a qualified, licensed healthcare professional before taking supplements. Ideally someone who is well-versed in nutrition and can spot potential toxins on the ingredients. AND, if you are using someone who solely relies on others muscle testing you… I hope they know the “ins-and-outs” of it. Assumptions need to be left aside. For example, people with strong detox capabilities and sufficient nutrient stores may not show a potentially detrimental nervous system response to the toxins mentioned. That still doesn’t mean it’s not causing harm, and in fact it probably will if they continue to consume them on a daily basis. I’ve seen muscle testing “abused” time and time again from lay people AND practitioners who have a preconceived notion of the outcome. The most common example I can think of is when people claim that EVERYONE “weakens” (or shows an aberrant nervous system response) to sugar. This simply is not true. If a person has healthy blood sugar metabolism, they (should) may not respond negatively to it on one simple exposure. This may result in your muscle tester “finding” false, forced outcomes of a muscle test. The late George J. Goodheart Jr., DC, DIBAK (founder and developer of applied kinesiology) used to something like this: “Your patients should be able to go to Coney Island and have and hot dog and a beer and feel fine…just don’t do it everyday”.

In conclusion, I am not claiming that all the supplements I carry will “strengthen” (or show a beneficial nervous system outcome) on everyone. If you don’t need something, or it’s causing improper stimulation or inhibition of an organ or gland, you very well may “weaken”. Be careful — and click here one last time to see why [I’m especially referring to the “leaded” (meaning the toxic heavy metal) women’s multivitamin from a popular health food store)! And by the way, I’d like to stress this point mentioned in the first paragraph; simply because a supplement contains what the label says and doesn’t have any contaminants or toxic fillers does not mean it will be good for you. One of the most common ways consumers get duped by supplements is when the form of vitamin or mineral is poorly absorbed or utilized (it’s usually a very inexpensive form, comparatively). A few examples: magnesium oxide vs. citrate; dl-alpha-tocopherol vs. d-alpha tocopherol; calcium carbonate vs. calcium hydroxyappatite; etc.. Then again, even if the form is acceptable, in that it can be absorbed and utilized well – who’s to say you don’t need magnesium lactate vs. magnesium citrate?

Dr. Robert D’Aquila – NYC Chiropractor – Applied Kinesiology

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