Brian Vaszily is the chief editor and weekly columnist of
By Brian W. Vaszily
Let’s make sure that all vitamin and herbal
supplements are clinically proven to do what they claim, and that
they’re safe, before they reach the consumer. Let’s ensure that
their ingredients are closely monitored, and that their labels and
advertisements tell the truth and nothing but, so that their
consumption can be based on informed and confident decisions.
What pretty ideals. Pretty enough, in fact, for
a host of politicians and governments, and the pharmaceutical
corporations that control them, to hide a considerably more ugly
Right now a war is being fought over the
regulation of supplements, with the various battles at different
stages in countries across the globe. The European Union already
passed its Food Supplements Directive in July of 2002, framing it
on the principle that supplements should be proven safe and
effective in the same manner as pharmaceuticals. The UK did not
immediately implement this directive, but will do so come the end
of this month. Australia, Canada, New Zealand and a host of other
nations are involved in their own battles, and here in the U.S.
Senator Dick Durbin’s proposed “Dietary Supplement Safety Act of
2003,” one of the first shots in what will undoubtedly become a
In general, the claim behind these bills and
directives supporting tighter (and tighter and tighter)
restrictions on supplements is that they will make the world a
safer place for us, the consumers. Yeah, and so would military
occupation of our towns and cities. In reality, it will have a
polar effect on our health and safety. And it will be chilling.
Keeping You on the
On a routine basis, Cubans attempt to escape
their homeland on boats bound for U.S. shores. The ocean waters
are certainly not safe, and there are rarely any guarantees
waiting for them here. Nonetheless, the potential, the
possibilities, are a far better option than the dangerously flawed
regime they are trying to leave behind.
This is an apt metaphor in this situation.
Because if one thing is certain it is this: the conventional
healthcare system, our Cuba, is seriously diseased. It is
dominated by industries who are motivated by profit and who
therefore foster whatever will most increase their profits, your
health be damned. For example, processed food is far cheaper to
produce, deliver and store than much healthier whole foods, and so
it’s processed foods that are dumped en masse into our
supermarkets, restaurants and brains. And prescription drugs that
merely treat symptoms versus prevent or cure the underlying causes
are a whole lot more profitable because, well, when they keep you
coming back for more and more treatment, they’ve made a customer
Most people, meanwhile, have been brainwashed by
this conventional healthcare regime. They don’t even realize their
daily habits like eating are the primary part of their healthcare,
and so it’s quite easy for their habits and assumptions to be
manipulated by the regime. Only when they get sick or overweight
does their perception of healthcare, fostered by the
pharmaceutical companies and others on that side of the regime,
kick in: they will go to the doctor to get a prescription to
“save” them. And these days, in almost 70% of all patient visits,
physicians do indeed give them the drugs they crave. But if that
doesn’t work, if things get serious or seriously inconvenient,
they move on to surgery. Of course, most prescription drugs and
surgeries, reflecting conventional healthcare as a whole, have
nothing to do with prevention and addressing the causes of illness
-- they’re all about merely treating symptoms so people can move
on with their unhealthy lifestyles and get more symptoms that need
treating. It’s great for repeat business.
Some people, however, are aware of the deadly
downward spiral of the conventional healthcare system. They are
refugees from an oppressive system, to be blunt about it, seeking
better alternatives to prevent and cure illness, and live longer.
And here is the key point of the matter that’s caused this recent
surge in opposition to supplements: their numbers are increasing
dramatically, and they are finding those better alternatives.
Between 1997 and 2001, there was a 15% increase
in sales of vitamin/mineral supplements. In 2002, the overall
market for the alternatives to prescription drugs, processed and
fast food, and surgery -- that is, natural/organic foods, dietary
supplements and other natural products -- was $37 billion.
Those numbers, that attempt to escape from
conventional healthcare’s stranglehold, is what is behind the
recent worldwide war being waged on the leader among alternatives
at over $17 billion annually, supplements. And it’s those
dictators at the top of conventional medicine, such as the
pharmaceutical companies and the governments they own, driving
this war. You see, all these alternates like supplements are
actually getting people to believe they can prevent illness and
avoid trips to doctors’ offices, and it’s starting to make a dent
in their mega-profits, and threatens to make a much bigger dent.
They want to blockade your passage to
potentially better shores and force you to stay in their Cuba.
They’ll put it in pretty terms of course, try to package it as
something else like “safety,” but that’s what they’re trying to
do, and already in Europe, apparently succeeding in doing.
Let the Deadly
Dictators Do the Dictating?
Thomas Moore, a senior fellow in health policy
at the George Washington University Medical Center, estimates that
prescription drugs -- those reviewed and approved by the FDA --
contribute to 100,000 U.S. deaths each year. One prominent reason
for this that I’ll visit in an upcoming article is that the entire
research and approval process for new drugs is a hoax -- in short,
drug makers now pay private for-profit companies to do the
clinical studies establishing safety, and the drug companies have
a major say in what is and is not reported. Meanwhile, who knows
how many deaths they indirectly contribute to by veering people
toward an over-dependency on their quick “fixes” and away from a
preventative and curative approach to health?
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On another front, the overweight/obesity
epidemic, fed by other giants profiting heartily on their thrones
in the healthcare motherland, is now directly linked to 300,000
deaths per year.
Sure, everybody’s “gotta’ go sometime,” but the
numbers above -- only a very partial list, mind you -- are far too
many going far too soon because they are trapped in the
conventional health paradigm. Meanwhile, even Senator Dick Durbin,
in his 03/26/03 press release promoting his Dietary Supplement
Safety Act, states that “scientific reports have linked ephedra
and similar dietary supplements to 117 deaths and more than 17,000
other health related problems.”
You do the math. In fact, go ahead and play
devil’s advocate by assuming that the number of deaths resulting
from conventional health are overblown -- perhaps it’s only a
couple hundred thousand yearly total -- while those from
supplements are too conservative -- perhaps it’s actually several
hundred yearly total. And then do the math.
Where does the real problem that needs
It is precisely those at the heart of this
problem that want to “regulate” supplements.
Pardon me for stepping out of the party line,
but why would I possibly trust them to make the supplement
industry “safe and effective” when I see the monster they’ve
created with conventional healthcare? Why would you?
Should You Be Swallowing?
None of this is to say, “So trust everything the
supplement makers tell you and consume, consume, consume!”
There are a lot of exaggerated claims,
inconsistent ingredients between supposedly like products, and
other confusion surrounding supplements. I’m sure you wish you
could walk into any old store, or log onto any Web site, and know
for certain that when an herbal claimed it could help prevent
disease, restore youth, and repel rude people, those claims would
be backed by solid clinical evidence. But you can’t.
For that matter, I’m sure you wish you could
trust the big businesses and governments to fairly and honestly
test vitamins and herbals so we could make more informed and
confident decisions in this respect. But then you learn things
like this: a major study undertaken to discredit the herbal St.
John’s wart in 2001 received “unrestricted funding” from the
pharmaceutical company Pfizer. St. John’s wort, an
anti-depressant, has sales of over $400 million per year, cutting
a niche into the profit of Pfizer’s prescription anti-depressant
Zoloft, and Pfizer doesn’t like to lose profit. It’s not the first
or last time a supplement was discredited in an “independent”
study that received major pharmaceutical company dollars. Of
course, such knowledge (and there’s a lot more of it to be had)
entirely shoots down any trust in the conventional healthcare
And so all that’s left is reality. And reality
is, you must trust your judgment more than any other person or
institution when it comes to your health. That means doing
whatever you feel is necessary to trust a supplement enough to try
it -- researching its claims and source, or finding a source you
trust to recommend the proper supplements to you.
I have worked with
Dr. Mercola for some time
now, editing his newsletter and website and researching a wide
body of information from other health experts across the U.S. and
world, and his advice makes exceptional sense: use supplements
sparingly, focusing first and foremost on
to obtain the nutrients your body needs.
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The full article can be read on Dr Mercola's
When doing your own "due diligence" to research
a supplement, it's obviously worthwhile to obtain third-party
information about the product, such as the research and evidence
offered for Vitamin K above, versus just being inspired by the
claims on the product package or advertisement. A host of other
supplements may be necessary for those with certain conditions,
and it’s worth searching this site by inputting the name of
whatever condition you are interested in to find more information.
To conclude, there are two choices today: the
main choice, the conventional healthcare paradigm, and the
alternatives, which include supplements. The main choice, being
rather deadly, is really no choice at all. Meanwhile, some of
these alternatives are indeed pure nonsense, others are
questionable, and some have already been proven as sound and
worthwhile. But the point is, we all have the capacity, and at
least some of us still have the legal ability, to choose from
among these alternatives.
The bills and directives across the world to
“regulate” supplements are being pushed by the same powers-that-be
that turned conventional healthcare into a sick joke for their own
greedy ends. With “regulation,” they would be the ones controlling
the alternatives... and so go the alternatives.
Or to put it back into the Cuban metaphor, it’s
as if Fidel Castro himself announced to all those trying to escape
his oppressive regime that he will now be running a refugee
ferryboat service to the shores of Florida. All aboard? Me, I’ll
take my chances swimming.
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