Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Numerous dietary supplements that promise to help you shed weight quickly are available. The effectiveness, particularly the long-term effectiveness, and safety of these products are often questionable.

Herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals, all considered dietary supplements by the Food and Drug Administration, don't have the same rigorous testing and labeling process as over-the-counter and prescription medications do.

Yet some of these substances, including products labeled as "natural," have drug-like effects that can be dangerous. Even some vitamins and minerals can cause problems when taken in excessive amounts. Ingredients may not be standard, and they can cause unpredictable and harmful side effects. Dietary supplements also can cause dangerous interactions with prescription medications you take. Talk to your doctor before taking any dietary supplements.

Mind-body therapies — such as acupuncture, mindfulness meditation and yoga — may complement other obesity treatments. However, these therapies generally haven't been well-studied in the treatment of weight loss. Talk to your doctor if you're interested in adding a mind-body therapy to your treatment.

June 10, 2015