Supplements are everywhere and patients take them to the tune of billions of dollars per year. But are they safe and/or effective? Where to go for the most up to date information on supplement safety and efficacy? Many of the existing drug guides we have reviewed on iMedicalApps do contain some information on natural supplements. Both Epocrates and Lexi-Comp, for example have a natural medicines section if you purchase their more expensive options. Here on iMedicalApps we reviewed Epocrates as well as Epocrates alternatives. However, I have found the information in Epocrates and Lexi-Comp lacking the detail needed for patient care. The primary issue being that neither resource contains significant information on the actual commercial products patients are taking which frequently contain multiple ingredients not just one or two. Instead they contain information only on the “generic” primary ingredient such as “milk thistle” or “glucosamine”. What we need is an app that has information on the actual product the patient is taking.
Previously on iMedicalApps we reviewed the Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Guide published by Elsevier which is geared towards patients and covers over 400 herbs and supplements. It is a great resource, but still not comprehensive enough for the primary care provider when patients have literally thousands of supplement options.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database contains information on over 1,100 supplement ingredients and thousands of combination OTC products. The website is produced by the Therapeutics Research company who make a number of outstanding products including the Pharmacist’s Letter and the Prescriber’s Letter.
They have now launched a National Medicines Comprehensive Database app that provides information on the efficacy, safety, drug-supplement interaction and whether or not the product is verified by the United States Pharmacopeial Convention (USP).
You are in the middle of a busy clinic and have several key decisions to make regarding prescriptions for a patient newly diagnosed with Type II diabetes. The patient really needs several medications to include metformin, lisinopril and atorvastatin, but the patient is interested in using fish oil to lower their A1c and niacin for their cholesterol and Black Tea for their hypertension. What would you tell the patient? Any risk of interactions? Let’s take a look at Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database in action.
Evidence based medicine
The app contains evidence summary on over 1,100 ingredients as well as a unique rating system for products and information on which products are USP verified. Although the quality of the evidence for many supplements may not be the strongest, the app does a great job of providing the current state of the evidence for each ingredient/product for numerous conditions.
What providers would benefit from the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database App?
Students, nurses, PA, NP, Primary Care physicians, pharmacists and any provider who prescribes or sees patients on natural medications and supplements.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
- $14.99/month which includes access to website and app. Institutional and volume based subscriptions also available.
- Contains thousands of high quality monographs and product descriptions.
- Evidence based terminology and detailed including rating system.
- Subscription includes access to all website content.
- Numerous built-in calculators.
- Available for Android
- Sometimes confusing to navigate between ingredients and products.
- Some brands/products not in app.
- Subscription fee may be too steep for some.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database app is an indispensable medical app for natural medicines with abundant information on safety and evidence based efficacy. The medical app will benefit a wide range of medical providers and will help guide patients away from unsafe and unproven treatments while providing quality information on supplements that could benefit patients. The various built-in calculators on interactions, effectiveness and nutrient depletion are genuinely helpful and highlights of the medical app.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
Simple, to use though with over 1,100 monographs alone and thousands of products in the database, it can be a bit overwhelming at first.
- Multimedia Usage
The app is updatable with new information added monthly plus helpful calculators built-in.
Reasonably priced as the subscription packages give access to the mobile app and website.
- Real World Applicability
This is a medical app I use in clinic several times per week. Likely even more patients could benefit from providers using the app if we simply did a better job of getting complete medication lists from our patients that included all OTC meds. The app could save a patient’s life by getting them off of an unsafe supplement or recommending one that has evidence of efficacy.
- Device Used For Review
iPhone 6S running iOS 9.3.1
- Available for DownloadAndroidiPhoneiPad