Food ? or Drug ?
Never has the answer to this question been made to seem less obvious, nor have the partisans seemed more contentious. Recent editorial writers to the New England Journal of Medicine have lashed out at food supplements as an entire category.
This particular outcry is said to be in response to a few cases concerning people who have had bad experiences with certain herbs, some family made health decisions the doctors didn't agree with, and some supplements thought to be contaminated. Concern for public safety is a valid issue. It is being used by these editorial writers as a weapon to brandish at the entire food supplement industry.
Taken in full context, these particular cries for public safety go too far, are unfairly prejudiced against all food supplements, and ring hollow as the one and only motivation for pressing such an attack.
Self-treating patients are destroying their livers and dying from acetaminophen poisoning regularly 1. Should these writers categorically denounce over-the-counter pharmaceuticals ?
Children, and virtually the entire adult population are being systematically contaminated with mercury released from "silver" dental fillings 2. Should these writers categorically denounce dentistry ?
Patients are routinely suffering severe complications and dying from chemotherapy, multiple drug interactions, drug side-effects, erroneously prescribed drugs, misdiagnosis, surgery, and hospital spread infections 3. Should these writers categorically denounce the medicine they practice ?
Only dietary supplements as an entire category, the over-whelming majority of which are not contaminated, most of which are refined and concentrated food substances already found in the diet, receive the unbounded acrimony of the New England Journal of Medicine.
While the food supplement industry has grown to annual sales of $12 billion, health care as practiced by MDs now represents 14% of our nations entire economy.
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 was hotly debated legislation, heavily lobbied against by the medical establishment, but nonetheless passed into law by the U.S. Congress. DSHEA provides much needed freedom for people who's health views vary from those of the medical establishment.
A growing population of informed patients who no longer put unquestioned faith in MDs, their drugs, and surgery -- who view supplemented nutrition as essential to maintaining good health, is a threat to the power of the medical establishment.
Categorical bashing of food supplements by establishment medical journals, in an apparent push to gain complete control for their own kind, only succeeds in deepening alienation and resentment.
In economics, when only one choice is available, it is called a monopoly. In politics, when only one party's views are tolerated, it is called totalitarianism. American freedom is based on an unfettered competition of ideas and philosophies, with the informed public maintaining the right to choose for themselves.
Medical / Scientific Journal References
1. "Tylenol Extended Relief overdose."; Cetaruk EW; Dart RC; Hurlbut KM; Horowitz RS; Shih R:Ann Emerg Med, 30(1):104-8 1997 Jul
"The epidemiology of acetaminophen (paracetamol) poisoning in Hong Kong. ":Vet Hum Toxicol, 1996 Dec, 38:6, 443-4
"Acetaminophen poisoning in late pregnancy. A case report. ";Wang PH; Yang MJ; Lee WL; Chao HT; Yang ML; Hung JH: J Reprod Med, 1997 Jun, 42:6, 367-71
"Acetaminophen toxicity in an urban county hospital.";Schi¦dt FV; Rochling FA; Casey DL; Lee WM: N Engl J Med, 1997 Oct, 337:16, 1112-7
2."Factors affecting internal mercury burdens among eastern German children."; Trepka MJ; Heinrich J; Krause C; Schulz C; Wjst M; Popescu M; Wichmann HE: Arch Environ Health, 52(2):134-8 1997 Mar-Apr
"Antimicrobial and mercury resistance in aerobic gram-negative bacilliin fecal flora among persons with and without dental amalgam fillings."; Osterblad M; Leistevuo J; Leistevuo T; Järvinen H; Pyy L; Tenovuo J; Huovinen P: Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 39(11):2499-502 1995 Nov
3."Definitive chemoradiotherapy in cervical esophageal carcinoma "; Soto Parra H ; Valente M ; Bidoli P ; Cantu G ; Licitra L ; Salvini PM ; Ravasi G ; Bonadonna G ; Zucali R ; Santoro A : Proc Annu Meet Am Soc Clin Oncol; 16:A929 1997
"Adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Excess length of stay, extra costs, and attributable mortality "; Classen DC; Pestotnik SL; Evans RS; Lloyd JF; Burke JP: JAMA, 1997 Jan, 277:4, 301-6
"Rapid geographic spread of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strain. "; Roman RS; Smith J; Walker M; Byrne S; Ramotar K; Dyck B; Kabani A; Nicolle LE: Clin Infect Dis, 1997 Sep, 25:3, 698-705
"An outbreak of fatal nosocomial infections due to group A streptococcus on a medical ward. "; Ramage L; Green K; Pyskir D; Simor AE: Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol, 1996 Jul, 17:7, 429-31