Herbs: We are allowed to buy and sell them, but when it comes to what they actually do, the research is up to you.
It’s a sticky business weaving through law in general, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is no exception. Pre 1994 Dietary Supplement and Education Act, there were no specific regulations on supplements. Medicine makers could sell anything they wanted from their apothecaries, farms or factories, using the same regulations that monitor food sales. Luckily, we are still allowed to sell and purchase these supplements, but the FDA mandates that the seller can’t make any claims that the supplement is a treatment, prevention or cure for a specific disease or condition, hence the disclaimer you should be seeing on every bottle of herbs: “This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease” (1)
Of course, it is completely reasonable for laws to be in motion that protect the consumer from manufacturers producing and selling supplements marketed with unproven claims. The unfairness is that anything qualified as a “dietary supplement” is not legally allowed to be claimed as a cure or prevention of disease. But what if a dietary supplement does cure or prevent a disease? The company selling it to you can’t tell you that, and they are at risk of serious legal implications if they do. Pharmaceutical companies, on the other hand, can produce and market whatever they want to prevent and cure diseases. The legal system of medicine is simply set up that way, and it is in starkly obvious favor of pharmaceuticals.
What used to be common knowledge, as far as what your kitchen cooking herbs can also do as healing remedies, has become Orwelian “right think” wrong, and what was once common knowledge is at risk of disappearing. That’s why I’m writing this blog. Why? How many people know the ginger out of your fridge can heal your tummy ache? Did you know there is also scientific evidence out there proving it can cure cancer, possibly even better than modern cancer treatments? Did you know rosemary will heal skin infections? Did you know it can also help improve memory? If I was a doctor or an herbal supplement manufacturer, trying to help you cure cancer, or prevent Alzeihmers, I would not be allowed to tell you that. I couldn’t write it on the bottle, and it’s also illegal for me to tell you that with accompanying materials, (1a) even if there was scientific peer-reviewed evidence that clearly proved them to be cures, I would have to follow FDA Supplement Regulation Law.
What is a Dietary Supplement?
“Dietary supplements”, according to the FDA, are defined as one or any combination of the following substances:
- a vitamin,
- a mineral,
- an herb or other botanical,
- an amino acid,
- a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake (e.g., enzymes or tissues from organs or glands), or
- a concentrate, metabolite, constituent or extract.
Supplement manufacturers are allowed to lay claims toward supporting specific systems of the body, such as immunity or the lymph system. But when it comes to curing or preventing disease, it is up to you to do your own research.
Word on Supplements
Even in stores like Whole Foods, those friendly attendants in the supplement section are at risk of losing their jobs if they provide information on the curing power of herbs. This makes for tricky business, especially if one is following the law to a T, and it is one of the only industries where the producer is not allowed to inform the consumer: Marketing, essential for a thriving business, is not allowed. In a way, it seems fair that it should be this way in the medical field, but why are only supplements given the no-go on info? If it were a just law, then pharmaceutical companies would face the same predicament as supplement manufactures. But they don’t.
I am not saying pharmaceuticals don’t help people. I’m sure many people have been helped, healed and otherwise had improved lives based on them. I’m simply pointing out that it isn’t a level playing field between pharmaceuticals and herbal supplements, when it comes to curing and preventing diseases. The information available to the general consumer simply funnels them toward pharmaceuticals. Even naturopathic doctors have been persecuted for providing herbal-based cures. It is basically illegal for doctors to prescribe anything but chemotherapy as the one cure for cancer. This is why it is crucial that patients (who are also the consumers of medicine) do their own research when it comes to deciding on the correct healing path for their own bodies.
Are Herbs Dangerous?
Then if the consumer really did the research, such as actually reading the peer-reviewed scientific articles, meandering through all the heavy wording and foreign biological concepts, they might be so appalled by the side effects of the “cures,” and so bewildered by how it could be marketed to heal the body when it can cause so many other health problems, that they would not buy the products.
Herbs and supplements, rarely, if ever, have such side effects. They are generally aimed at holistic healing for the long-run, which, when accompanied by changes in diet and lifestyle, can assist the body in healing itself completely. While herbs can also be useful for temporary symptom relief, pharmaceuticals are generally aimed to be symptom-relievers only. If the company sold a product that actually healed the cause, then they wouldn’t be able to sell the symptom-relievers anymore. And since the global pharmaceutical industry makes $300 billion dollars a year, soon to be $400 billion, it’s no wonder they aren’t looking for root-cause cures.
Oh, and did I mention pharmaceuticals also spend over $27 billion per year marketing to the masses (3), nearly twice as much as they do on research on development (4), and doctors get a commission from prescribing them to patients? (5)
Anti-depressants. Can mess a person up psychologically, emotionally and chemically- Whilst on the drug, for a significant withdrawal period, and can often lead to serious addiction to prescription drugs. Suicide is listed among the many potential side effects of an anti-depressant, but with the soothing music, pastel-colored imagery, little cartoon whisps and doilies, and the hope of relief offered to the sufferer hypnotized on the TV- the side effect doesn’t really click. The encrypted message is mitigated by a suite of specialists, doctors, and psychologists pushing drugs for a payout, paid up by the same ones who are paying for the commercial. Its a medical mafia.
Furthermore, the FDA regulates what you can and cannot say about natural healing alternatives, and required state-funded health insurance rarely pays for natural alternatives. The masses, funneled into doctors’ offices, are coerced into taking prescription drugs as the only way out of their pain, and then their government-paid insurance pays the drug companies and doctors!
I know this may all sound very negative, and that’s not at all what Bliss Alchemy is about. I’m simply stating here one of the many reasons to have alternative information sources available for people – a motivation to do your own research. To recognize a problem is to begin a solution.
I’m not saying prescription drugs never have their place – if someone’s life is saved, or if severe pain can be offered some relief, I’m all for it. I’m just saying, when a $300 billion dollar interest enters the medical realm of people’s actual lives- we have a problem.
So… why can’t herbs and supplements be marketed, or even labeled as real medicine?
There’s plenty of scientific research out there available in which herbs and supplements have actually been proven to cure or mitigate diseases. But simply put- there’s a law in place which states that the very people and companies you naturally turn to for such information, are not allowed to give it to you. People have to actually take charge of their own health and wellness. Yes, go to doctors, go to many doctors. Get plenty of opinions, do your own research, listen to your body, and do what feels right for you. Good luck out there.
1. FDA (2015) QA Dietary Supplements
2. World Health Organization (2015) Pharmaceutical Industry
3. Pew Charitable Trusts (2013) Research and Analysis Fact Sheets: Persuading the Prescribers: Pharmaceutical Industry Marketing and its Influence on Physicians and PatientsResearch and Analysis Fact Sheets: Persuading the Prescribers – pharmaceutical industry marketing and its influence on physicians and patients
4. Fierce Biotech (2015) Drug Industry Spends Nearly Twice as Much Marketing than Research and Development
5. ABC News (2010) Pay Dirt: Hundreds of Doctors Earned Big Money from Drug Companies