One thing that frequently strikes me when I look at many natural treatments is how little thought seems to go into creating an effective formula. The fact is, many, if not most, of the natural treatments out there are formulated with ingredients intended more to look good on the bottle than actually bring about results. Simply put, if results were the goal these lists would be shorter and the dosages higher.
This goes not only for treatments intended to fight acne and bring about clear skin, but for basically every ailment out there for which there are natural supplements available. Take arthritis for instance. Glucosamine sulfate has been proven to help alleviate symptoms of osteoarthritis, but you need at least 1,500 mg per day. Now, a dozen other natural supplements may also aid in arthritis relief, but many of them require similarly high doses. No supplement is going to be able to contain enough of all of them unless you’re taking 20+ pills per day.
Common sense would say to simply include a few proven ingredients at doses clinically shown to work. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look as good on the bottle. So instead, what companies tend to do is throw in everything that has ever been shown to help with the problem, all in dosages too weak to actually bring about any effect. It’s not hard to get sales, as it looks great on the website to have all those ingredients with their many benefits spelled out, even when the end product is little more than a placebo.
I’ve recently talked about some of the health benefits related to supplements such as vitamins E and C, and noted that these benefits usually require a significant daily intake to be seen. This is simply a fact of life for most vitamins when it comes to treating a specific ailment. However, with some supplements (most often minerals), small doses may indeed be effective. Here’s the thing to remember about ingredients such as heavy minerals that are often effective in small doses - they usually have to be taken in small doses as otherwise they become toxic and/or result in dangerous side effects. So these ingredients may very well work at minimal intake levels, but be careful not to go too far over those levels, and pay attention to your body, as people can differ in how well their bodies tolerate minerals such as zinc.
In the end, most formulas that intend to treat a specific health problem using a long cocktail list of ingredients simply don’t work. The ingredients that do work in small doses are often harmful in larger doses, so protect your body and your pocketbook by doing your homework first. A number of sites provide in-depth information about supplements and treatment levels. The health-notes section of Vitacost is a good place to start.