- Dr. Bill Gurley has spent decades researching the safety of herbal supplements.
- He personally takes three supplements a day: turmeric, tea tree oil, and a multivitamin.
Bill Gurley has spent decades researching all kinds of different supplements, from St. John’s wort to milk thistle to ginkgo biloba.
It’s part of his work as principal scientist at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research, where he researches the safety of herbal supplements and their interactions with modern medicines.
His own medicine cabinet, however, is quite sparse.
“I take dietary supplements,” Gurley told Insider, “but I don’t take many.”
Gurley shared the three supplements that he thinks are really worth taking and that he personally takes every day.
Turmeric has gained popularity as a treatment for indigestion and may also help with other ailments, such as reducing inflammation.
“I take turmeric daily,” Gurley said.
Gurley, 63, said turmeric has some “general anti-inflammatory properties” thanks to its active ingredient, curcumin. One study found that curcumin can alleviate joint swelling, pain, and morning stiffness in patients with osteoarthritis.
However, it is important to be careful when purchasing turmeric supplements. Some supplement manufacturers do not take care in formulating their products, which can lead to supplements containing contaminants that increase the likelihood of dangerous health problems, such as liver damage.
Gurley takes Thorne brand formulated turmeric and specifically likes their curcumin phytosome supplement. He said this specific formulation allows the product to be “absorbed much faster and not metabolized as extensively.”
Tea tree oil
Gurley also uses tea tree oil daily to keep her skin healthy.
Tea tree oil is an extract made from the Australian tea tree and can help with a variety of skin conditions, including acne, dandruff, wound healing, nail fungus, Candida infections and skin allergies.
“Tea tree oil is great,” Gurley said. “I formulate a tea tree oil product and use it every day on my feet.”
For those who want to try tea tree oil, Gurley warns that some companies will replace tea tree oil with cheaper products, such as eucalyptus oil, without the consumer’s knowledge.
“Not all tea tree oil is created equal,” Gurley said. “Eucalyptus oil is much cheaper and has a similar smell,” Gurley said.
Finally, Gurley said she takes a good old-fashioned multivitamin every day.
Multivitamins are formulated with a variety of vitamins and minerals and can be helpful for common vitamin deficiencies.
Gurley said her multivitamin is from the brand Pure Encapsulations.
However, not everyone needs a multivitamin. The best way to determine if you have a deficiency is to see your doctor.
Be careful where you buy supplements and talk to your doctor first
Gurley said it’s important to do your research before purchasing any supplement. Some supplements end up contaminated with ingredients not listed on the packaging, including prescription medications. Sometimes this can lead to dangerous health problems, such as liver or heart damage.
To avoid this, Gurley recommends purchasing products certified by USP or NSF Sport.
Additionally, Gurley said it’s important to consult your doctor before trying new supplements. Some supplements can interact with prescription medications or other supplements in potentially dangerous ways.
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