DEAR Dr. Fritz,

Cheers to your day. I hope this finds you doing well. Call me Josie of Sta. Cruz. My friends had been encouraging me to use herbs and supplements. They told me that they are natural and safe, and don’t have side effects. I have also heard some advertisements over the radio about these products. But, I am bit wary. I wanted to know the truth. Is this true? Are there no dangers in using natural products? Is it okay if we take them if we are also taking other medicines?

Thank you and I hope I’ll find the answers. More power.

Josie of Sta. Cruz


Dear Josie of Sta. Cruz,

I am thankful that you are wary. You should be, after all, you are protecting not just anybody else, but, yourself. You should not always believe on things that you hear over the radio. I have heard so much misinformation about their advertisements on natural products and even discouraging people to take medicines. This is dangerous. I knew people who have replaced their medicines with natural products that they heard over the radio with dire consequences. We have a neighbor that ended up in an ICU after a week of abandoning her medicines and died after a week in ICU.

The truth is, some herbs, supplements, and even vitamins also have potential side effects. The problem is these substances aren’t regulated by the government in the same way that drugs are. And, although many claim to be “natural,” this doesn’t always mean that they are safe. And this is the sad truth. You have to remember that ingredients, dosing, and manufacturing processes can vary widely from product to product.

There are natural products or supplements or vitamins that you can take along with your medicines, like vitamin C for respiratory tract infections. But, the sad thing here is, there are some specific dangers linked with natural products. Here’s the list:

1. St. John’s Wort. This herb is used to treat depression. But, the problem is, it can reduce how effective some drugs are. Among the medications which it can potentially affect are some certain cancer medications, immunosuppressants, and antiretrovirals.

Oh, oh, we run out of space for now. So, we’ll continue for the other list in my next issue. Until then!

Dr. Fritz

(Dr. Fritz Legarde Espedilla is an aesthetic dermatologist and surgeon and a clinical sexologist. She is also trained in hypnotherapy and Medical Acupuncture. She has been in the broadcast media for more than a decade and has written a book based on her 15 year stint with her radio program, “Healthy is Sexy Secrets ni Dr. Fritz.” She is also a faculty in a College of Pharmacy. For your questions, you may send them to Dear Dr. Fritz, c/o SunStar Davao Publishing Inc., Ebro-Pelayo Building, Jacinto St., Davao City, (former Department of Foreign Affairs office), across Ateneo de Davao University and beside Holy Child School of Davao, or you e-mail them to If you don’t wish your letter to be published, we regret that we cannot answer them. Thank you for your understanding.)