Medicines & Supplements: Everything you need to know

Medications and supplements
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Did you know that Aspirin was the first synthetic pharmaceutical medication introduced in the year 1897? Since then, the pharmaceutical industry has made tremendous advances in inventing new and powerful medications.

These medications have helped humanity alleviate pain and pathological states. In recent years, supplements have entered the market. Now, there is a huge demand not only for medications but also for supplements.

Medications and Supplements are major players in the field of mental and physical health. There are thousands of medications and supplements in the market that claim to provide relief from physical and mental ailments.

However, there are considerable differences between the effect of medications and supplements. Before consuming any medications or supplements, it is essential to consult with your physician or health care provider.



In simple terms, medicines or medications are synthetic pharmaceutical substances that cure a disease or condition. They are used to treat a medical illness or relieve symptoms of an illness. Medications like vaccines are also used to prevent a disease or illness.

So how do medications work in the body? The way through which a medication enters the body is called ‘route’. The mouth is the most common route through which medications like pills and liquid enter the body.

When you take medications through the mouth, they go through the digestive tract. As the medications go through the digestive tract, the body absorbs the substance and uses it for healing and treatment. 

If a patient cannot consume the medication through the mouth, other routes can be used. Other routes include the nose, eyes and skin. 

Each medication has two kinds of effects on the patient’s body. The two effects are as follows:

  • A local effect
  • A systemic effect 


A Local effect is when the medication does not enter the bloodstream of the patient. For example, eyes drop or a cream you apply on your skin. You can apply these medications directly to the area of treatment like eyes and skin. 

A systemic effect is when the medication enters the blood of the patient. Pills, liquids or injections enter the bloodstream of the patient and work on a specific organ or system of the body. 


Effects of medications

 Medication can have different kinds of effect on the patient’s system. These effects are as follows:

  • The desired effect
  • A side effect 
  • No effect 
  • An Interactive effect
  • Tolerance and dependence 
  • Paradoxical effect 


Let’s look at each of these effects

Also known as the therapeutic effect, the desired effect occurs when the medication is working fine, and the patient’s health is improving. 

A side effect occurs along with the regular effects of the medication. As it is well known, most medications with a systemic effect will have side effects. Most side effects are not serious. They decrease when the patient develops immunity towards the medication. For example, some medications cause you to feel tired or give you a headache. 

Sometimes it also happens that there is no effect. In this case, the patient’s health is not improving nor decreasing. When there no effect, it is essential to contact your doctor. 

An interactive effect occurs when the medication interacts with food. And so, some medications are taken hours before meals and some after meals. Sometimes, an interactive effect also occurs between two medications. One medication may cancel out the other or make the effect of the other stronger. In such cases, it is essential to check with your medical provider for your safety. 

The patient may also develop tolerance towards the medication or become dependent on it. For example, people who take anti-anxiety medications may develop a dependence on them to feel calm. 

Sometimes, a paradoxical effect also takes place where the medication has the opposite effect. For example, if your anti-anxiety medications make you feel even more anxious than calm, it is the paradoxical effect taking place. In such cases, it is essential to consult with your doctor. 


Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements are substances people use to add nutrients to their diet. They consist of essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Although they are not a replacement for food, supplements can be highly effective to maintain good health. Thousands of people around the world use dietary supplements to maintain good health and vitality. 

These dietary supplements come in the form of pills, powders, extracts, and liquids. Many of these supplements contain vitamins, minerals, herbs and enzymes. They also contain essential fibers and amino acids that are necessary for the human body. 

When we cannot absorb all the essential minerals and vitamins from food, they can be accessed through quality supplements. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no real replacement for the nutrients we receive from healthy food. Doctors suggest that you should eat more healthy food before you turn to supplements for help. 

Popular supplements include vitamin D and B12. Iron and calcium capsules are also highly consumed. And natural herbal supplements like ashwagandha and Brahmi help in increasing physical and brainpower. 


Are supplements safe?

There is an ongoing debate about the safety of supplements. Although they do not cause severe harm, consuming too many supplements can be harmful to your health. Even consuming the wrong supplements can be detrimental to your health. For example, too much of vitamin A can lead to toxicity in the body. 

Unlike medications, supplements are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the U.S.). Since the FDA does not deal with supplements, you can use them at your own risk. The FDA only steps in to evaluate a supplement in cases of severe damage to a person. Consult with your doctor or medical health provider before you use any supplements. 


Natural supplements

Natural supplements are more reliable than synthetic supplements. For example, valerian root is an excellent natural supplement. The properties of valerian root help relax your nervous system and give you a good night’s sleep. Natural supplements pose less danger to your health. Even then, it would be best if you took them with caution and awareness.

Research the supplements thoroughly before you decide to consume them. It is essential to consult your doctor if you are on pharmaceutical medications. 


Medications and supplements

Sometimes, medications and supplements react negatively with each other. This reaction may harm your health. For example, if you are taking prescribed medication, taking a supplement along with it can increase or decrease the effectiveness of the prescribed medication. Always consult your doctor to cross-check if it is safe to consume a supplement with other medications. 



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