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FDA Regulates Dietary Supplements

By mbreyno in Op-Ed
Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 11:13:23 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

On March 7th, the FDA proposed for the first time to introduce a new regulation that would establish standards that would ensure that dietary supplements are accurately labeled to truthfully disclose the active ingredients in the products. This is a positive step for the supplement industry and the public. It is also a scary move for our government.


Safer for Consumers

The positive side of this proposal is fairly obvious. If the FDA forces distributors to tell the truth about what is contain in supplements, the public benefits. This is what a government is supposed to do: protect the public. This type of regulation will increase the credibility of legitimate distributors, help consumers make safer choices, and improve the industry as a whole. Consumers will be able to purchase dietary supplements without fear that what they are paying for is not actually what is in the bottle. In today's unregulated dietary supplement market, consumers have no guarantee that what what they are buying is simply water, or if it is something toxic.

Big Brother

The negative side of this proposal is that the FDA may not stop at simple regulations to keep distributors honest. A Kuro5hin member pointed out that we are in danger of losing the right to control our own bodies. Today's legislation might be a simple regulation to make sure we get what we pay for. Tomorrow, these supplements could be banned. Some would argue that this would simply be an extension of "protecting the public" and that substances the our government considers harmful should be banned.

Our Choices

The difference is who is harmed. By regulating distributors and forcing them to truthfully represent what is contained in these supplements, the FDA is doing it's job to protect the public. When our government begins banning supplements that it considers harmful, that is when our rights are challenged. As consumers, we must retain the freedom to choose what to put into our own bodies. This is where we must draw the line.

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FDA Regulates Dietary Supplements | 41 comments (37 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Slippery slope (5.00 / 13) (#1)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:07:02 PM EST

I would say there's a world of difference between truth in advertising and fascist control over vitamin intake.

Keep in mind that "dietary supplements", as they're called--as though anyone really thought they weren't supposed to have "a medical benefit", were already being regulated just a few years ago. But the mystically-minded felt they were being oppressed when called upon to prove that pressing oak leaves to their thighs (or whatever) actually reduced the pain of arthritis.

With any luck, enforced labeling of active ingredients will prove that there isn't actually anything active in some of these "herbal rememdies" (and will spur research to find the few that actually may do something).

Play 囲碁

for the most part, yes (5.00 / 1) (#8)
by persimmon on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:32:12 PM EST

But you can't always narrow the effect down to an active ingredient. "Medicinal herbs" spans a range from nasty alkaloid shit taken in very specific, very small doses that most certainly has an active ingredient to things like alfalfa and nettles, which are mild, nutritive and food-like. Nettles, incidentally, are a great stand-in for spinach. What's the active ingredient in spinach? What's the active ingredient in nettles?

What about interactions between "active ingredients" in the same plant? Both hypericum and hyperforin, compounds found in Hypericum perforatum, have been implicated in its antidepressive action. Are both active, and none of the other constituents? Hypericum is also used as a wound herb, a use that implies a completely different subset of activity.

Enforced labelling of herbs can only be effective to the extent that the effects of a supplement can be pinned to one compound or set of compounds, and to the extent that the actions of the plant contituents in the body are understood.
--
<theantix> I'm not sure why...but I'm sure it's related to the fact that we were all drunk.
[ Parent ]

Active ingredient in spinach (none / 0) (#9)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:37:59 PM EST

The only "medical" claim I've ever heard for spinach is "it has lots of iron". That has been, I assume, "clinically proven" and is therefore not fraudulent to advertise. If nettles have undergone the same discovery process, I have no problem with them being advertised the same way.

In any case, I don't think we should say "companies can say whatever they want" just because it's a little hard to tell what's going on with some particular examples of herb. I'd be happy if they just made the manufacturer's back up their claims with real data.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]

It's false (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by epepke on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:47:41 PM EST

It isn't true.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
effectiveness!=active ingredient (none / 0) (#26)
by persimmon on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:28:29 PM EST

A non-nutritive use for nettles is allergy relief. Drink enough of the tea, or swallow enough little capsules full of freeze-dried nettle leaf, and supposedly it'll relieve some allergy symptoms. This effect could be established or refuted in a double-blind study.

Under your rules in your original post, I wouldn't be able to market nettle capsules for allergy relief  even if they were safe and more effective than placebo, because I haven't identified which component of the nettle leaf relieves the allergic response. Regulating for efficacy based only on an "active constituent" basis means no plants for which an active constituent hasn't been established, or for which the efficacy relies on some other means.

AFAIK this is the state of knowledge for most herbs under the "dietary supplement" umbrella; those herbs for which active constituents can be isolated and identified are often abandoned in favour of the synthesized version, like taxol, ephedrine, or atropine. This is also part of the debate over medical marijuana--synthetic THC (the "active constituent") is availible by prescription, but medical marijuana proponents argue that it isn't solely responsible for the desired effects of smoking the whole plant.
--
<theantix> I'm not sure why...but I'm sure it's related to the fact that we were all drunk.
[ Parent ]

I realize this (none / 0) (#29)
by DesiredUsername on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:56:21 PM EST

That's why my original post mentioned spurring research and my second one said I'd be happy with effectiveness data instead of an active ingredient.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
Orrin Hatch and how government works (4.66 / 9) (#2)
by GGardner on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 02:38:31 PM EST

The LA Times reported last week how Orrin Hatch, the senator from Utah, co-wrote legislation in 1994, (the DSHEA) to allow supplements to be sold without testing for either safety or efficacy and with no oversight by the FDA. His son works for a lobbying group which was paid $2 million by supplement manufacturers. Hatch's campaign also got an additional $130k from these manufacturers. Coincidence?

What's more surprising is that after the supplement Ephreda caused a high-profile death of a 23 year old professional baseball player, this same Senator critized the FDA for only issuing a warning against Ephedra. Source

What we put into our bodies (4.40 / 5) (#3)
by BadDoggie on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:37:55 PM EST

This'll no doubt earn me a bunch of 1s, but there are already a load of laws which prevent us putting what we want into our own bodies.

Well... there's certainly a bunch of laws that stop me putting what I want into my body.

I'm all for this. I'm sick of the claims these charlatans make with herbs and spices and rocks. At one time, I was contemplating selling my own "mystic semi-precious crystals, held in pure water and energised by the Sun to heal and balance your chakras" (rock chips in water left out in the daylight for as long as it took to get the packaging from the printer). Am I an ass? Sure, but why shouldn't I take the money from the same people who are willing to throw it anywhere but the place it might do any good? I even planned to out myself, which would've probably only brought in more business.

Sadly, buying the vials (phials) now would set me up for an arrest under the current US regime since such small glass vials (with screw-top caps) are considered drug paraphernalia.

My orthopedist wanted me to try "aromatherapy" and "colour-therapy" for my documented hard- and soft-tissue back pain. I have a new orthopedist. There is a special place in Hell reserved for these "New Age" (rhymes with "sewage") medicinalists.

Oh, to be able to put those molecules in my body which I choose...

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." --

Has the new orthopedist helped? (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by Gooba42 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:08:52 PM EST

Or was it reasonable to be trying something other than the run-of-the-mill that has already been tried?

You make it sound like you don't trust anything that could be identified as "New Age" despite the possibility that it might help by way of a mechanism you don't understand.

Read the Physician's Desk Reference and count up the number of drugs you see in there which are considered efficaceous but for which the mechanism of action is unknown.

[ Parent ]

That's kinda the point. (5.00 / 2) (#11)
by NFW on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:40:02 PM EST

As you have pointed out, the establishment will use it whether or not they know just how it works. Thus, if the efficacy can be demonstrated, the treatment stops being "alternative" medicine and becomes "conventional" medicine.

Search a little more, for double-blind, controlled, verified, peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the efficacy of alternative treatments. Or search a lot more, it doesn't matter. If those studiest existed, the treatments wouldn't be "alternative."

"Alternative medicine" is, in this context, synonymous with "treatment ideas that have not been shown to be effective." That could change over time of course, as new studies are done, but the people who put their hopes on such should be aware that they are basically making guinea pigs of themselves. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I do it myself from time to time, but there's enough disinformation coming from vendors that I think this move by the FDA is a step forward for all parties concerned.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Can it be patented? (none / 0) (#40)
by wumpus on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:08:09 PM EST

If not, who is going to pay for the study proving effectiveness. I will also admit, that failure to be able to meet FDA standards for "effectiveness" pretty much means that the product is likely harmfull. The cold medicine industry is notorious for products that provide "epsilon" ammount of relief for a barely measurable "epsilon".

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

Efficacy (none / 0) (#33)
by BadDoggie on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:54:01 AM EST

I used to party to the PDR. The universe is also considered "efficaceous" and its mechanism of action is uncertain, leading to rather interesting arguments.

Back pain treatments I have had:

  • 30 min. TENS: 1-4 hours relief
  • 20 min. ultrasound: no noticeable effect
  • 30 min. hydrocolator: relief only during treatment
  • 150mg codeine: 4-6 hours relief
  • 30mg hydrocodone: 4-6 hours relief
  • 30mg oxycodone: 4-6 hours relief
  • 1000mg Parafon Forte DSC (Chlorzoxazone HCl): 2-6 hours mild relief (not available outside U.S.)
  • morphine: Excessive side effects, can't take
  • Staring at Pantone 2915CVU: waste of fucking time
As NFW wrote, once a treatment has been through double-blind, controlled, verified, peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate efficacy, it's not "alternative". The TENS was considered "holistic" and "alternative" until it passed it's testing, which it did rather quickly. Ther are no discussions or debates about it -- it works and it's been proven to work. Unlike a page of Pantone.

I need to get a portable TENS. The new doc has a TENS and a prescription pad but is rather stingy with the latter.

woof.

"The line between genius and stupidity is very fine indeed, but you're so far away from the line that it doesn't matter." -- Parent ]

There's a sucker born every minute (none / 0) (#14)
by epepke on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:18:58 PM EST

Once I thought that you could sell sand in a bag as a powdered crystal energy pack. These people do it with sugar

Oh, those pesky ethics!


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Good (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by mattyb77 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 03:51:31 PM EST

I think this is a good thing that the FDA is doing more to regulate this industry. To me, this is certainly a case of the government attempting to protect people from the many greedy scam artists out there. The government is simply doing its job.



--
"I bestow upon myself the `Doctorate of Cubicism', for educators are ignorant of Nature's Harmonic Time Cube Principle and cannot bestow the prestigious honor of wisdom upon the wisest human ever." -- Gene Ray, the wisest human ever
Usnic acid -- a deadly supplement (5.00 / 3) (#5)
by GGardner on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:08:30 PM EST

Here is a good story that shows why these supplements should be regulated.

A man named Jerry Parker imported raw materials containing usnic acid from China, had them packaged into pill form, and sold it as a dietary supplement over the internet. (One wonders if he used spam to advertise the pills). Mr. Parker was not a doctor, nor a chemist, nor a pharmacist, nor a biologist. He was a part-time weightlifter, and sells t-shirts for a living. Despite this, he wrote the dosage recommendations himself.

An otherwise healthy woman bought his supplements, took half the recommendation dosage for 17 days, and suffered complete liver failure. She required a liver transplant to survive. Mr. Parker has now taken the pills off the market.

For a real hoot, first check out this web page, from the people who bought you Tae-bo. It tells how they aren't selling usnic acid anymore, probably because of the various deaths and medical problems associated with it. Then check out google's cache of the page, where the company ranted and raved about how usnic acid is "safer than brussel sprouts".

Yep (none / 0) (#7)
by mbreyno on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:11:41 PM EST

I'm with you. I reported on this earlier at this link.

SpinWeb: Intelligent Internet Software
ZenBox: Open Source Alternative Health

[ Parent ]
We really want trustworthy government (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by Alan Crowe on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:57:03 AM EST

We really want to get to the situation in which Mr. Parker offers usnic acid. Miss X checks the FDA website. She sees a frowny face for ineffective and a skull and cross bones for toxicity. She then refuses to buy.

There are two obstacles.

  1. There is a sucker born every minute. Can't do much about this one.
  2. Person don't trust Government. There is a structural point here. The FDA doesn't have to win anybody's trust. You do as it says, or else. This can be fixed buy making the FDA a purely informational agency, and judging the civil servants by the level of public trust.
One basic problem is that once the FDA approve a drug as safe, doctors can prescribe it for any condition, even benign conditions. The FDA naturally insists on high standards of safety. This turns out to be a double problem for patients with rare, life threatening conditions.

First, it makes sense to take risks with dangerous treatments if the illness is likely to kill you, but it is hard to get such drugs through the FDA, because they license it for general use.

Second the testing they require is very expense. Having a rare condition is always bad. You cannot expect much money to be spent researching treatments for rare conditions. The FDA adds to the difficulty. Instead of drugs for rare conditions being less thoroughly tested than drugs for common conditions, they are not available at all.

These are stupid problems. What is wrong with restricted licenses? ie a label that says we are approving dangerous drug X for condition Y, because Y is a killer and we've no other treatment, but not for condition Z, because X is more dangerous than Z.

The fundamental problem is that the FDA doesn't has to fix stupid problems, because its rulings have legal backing. If it were purely informational, it would have to fix problems in order to safeguard its reputation, and then the vast majority of persons would follow its recommendations unquestioningly.

Compliance could actually go up. Why go abroad to get a quack rememdy, if you actually trusted the FDA when they said that it didn't work.

[ Parent ]

What we have is a conflict of interest. (none / 0) (#39)
by wumpus on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 07:03:43 PM EST

The FDA exists to protect the profits of pharmacudical companies (presumably their insurance as well). Since rare conditions aren't profitable, they really don't matter to the FDA.

Trust has nothing to do with it.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]

Important discussion (5.00 / 2) (#12)
by anon868 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 04:40:57 PM EST

as a user of St. John's Wort, I know the issues in this article all too well. On one side, St. John's Wort has shown in many cases to be as good an anti-depressant as many prescription drugs, without the side effects (and it's way cheaper and can be had without a prescription). That being said, when I go to the health food store, it's a crap shoot, wether the bottle I'm buying has St. John's Wort in it, or sugar or tree bark. All I have to depend on is the manufacturers "voluntary testing" and the testimonials of others.

So I'm strongly in favor of suppliment companies having to prove that they are selling what they are advertising, but I think any legislation needs to be strongly defined- maybe a seperate class of 'drugs' which only have to prove what's in them and that they don't have dangerous side effects, and leave it to the consumer to decide wether they're actually a benifit or not.

On one hand regulation would help me, becuase I would know that I am getting what I am paying for. On the other hand, there are some drug interactions it can cause (see quote below) so once the regulation ball gets rolling, it's a likely candidate for being heavily restricted or banned and then I'm SOL.

"Although evidence is growing on the effectiveness of Hypericum in mild to moderate depression, and its safety has been established in double-blind, randomized clinical trials, pharmacovigilance is needed for all herbal medicines, and a tighter regulatory framework is desirable. Regulatory agencies in the United States and Europe have already issued warnings about Hypericum drug interactions. PM Biffignandi, AR Bilia. The growing knowledge of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L) drug interactions and their clinical significance. Current Therapeutic Research - Clinical and Experimental, 2000, Vol 61, Iss 7, pp 389-394Address Biffignandi PM, Soc Italiana Attivita Farmaceut, Corso Re Umberto I, 44, I-10128 Turin, ITALY
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.

eh (none / 0) (#22)
by SilentNeo on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 08:45:09 PM EST

So if these "drug interactions" turn out to be in some cases, life threatening, you don't think the FDA (or whatever government agency is involved if its not the U.S.) has an imperative to regulate it?

[ Parent ]
response (none / 0) (#25)
by anon868 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:12:56 PM EST

I don't know that that's necessary. Certianly more testing needs to be done, but if it's causing dangerous interactions with prescription drugs, shouldn't doctors be screening for this before prescribing those drugs? Shouldn't the consumer be educating themselves on the side effects? On this point, I'm on the side of people who call for less regulation- up to a certian point it's up to the consumer to make an educated decision, otherwise where do we stop? Certianly more people are likely to die of a heart attacks from eating Big Mac's every day than of drug interactions between St. John's wort and prescription drugs.

That being said, as I said before, it'd be nice to know for sure I'm buying St. John's wort and not sugar pills. It really is a slippery slope.
Open a window. No, not that one! One made from actual glass, set in an acual wall, you dork.
[ Parent ]

Not really (none / 0) (#41)
by hollo on Wed Mar 12, 2003 at 03:45:50 AM EST

There are some foods that have drug interactions too. In particular there are certain antidepressants  (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) that interact really badly with cheese, wine and chocolate, and grapefruit juice has been reported to increase the toxicity of certain drugs too. Alchohol also reacts with some drugs, either making you feel really unwell, or dangerously drowsy, or increasing the toxic effects of the drug.

Unless the FDA intends to regulate grapefruit juice, alchohol, and chocolate then regulating herbal remedies because of interactions does not make much sense. Doctors need to warn patients about interactions when they prescribe the drug to them, and the information leaflets that come with them need to do the same.

[ Parent ]

the FDA can prop up BigPharms quite easily... (none / 0) (#24)
by zzzeek on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:11:16 PM EST

as the companies that distrubute supplements like St Johns and SAM-E are not nearly as huge as an Eli Lilly or GlaxoSmithKline, they can be very quickly weighted down with crushing regulatory hoops designed to put them out of business.  They are already not covered by prescription drug plans, and an increase in their price (already high, particularly for SAM-E) can affect them extrmely quickly.

As the supplements are not generally patentable, big pharms have no commercial use for them and they are merely competition that must be removed by whatever means.  The unpatentable manic-depression treatment lithium, despite its incredible and quite obvious effectiveness, was blocked from use in the USA for many years for this reason.

[ Parent ]

Additional fears: (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by mscholz on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:16:09 PM EST

for those of you who are willing to indulge a little  "big brother"/"Big Pharma" paranoia, pick up a copy of When Healing Becomes a Crime by Kenny Ausubel.  It talks about a lot of the issues that can be raised by the FDA having any control over herbal remedies.

Basically, if the allegations laid out in the book are true, then the FDA is mostly the lackey of big pharmaceutical companies, and the "big pharma" companies would like nothing better than to put a stop to the sales of herbal remedies.
-
you are a shining light streaming up through a hellish, smoking chasm of stupidity. - webwench

I'm of two minds on this (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by pyro9 on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 05:46:08 PM EST

On one hand, solid enforcement of truth in labeling is a good thing and will drive the cheats out of business. This need go no further than the rules for food lables.

On the other, the FDA has never been very friendly towards even the most upstanding suppliment makers. I fear that any regulation will lead to wildly excessive regulation. One reason that 'food suppliments' have become more popular is that people who can't afford the pharmacy can often afford herbal remedies. Excessive regulation will drive the price up out of the reach of those who have no other options.

I would most prefer that the regulation be restricted to if it's on the label, it's in the bottle and vice versa. If safety is allowed to enter the picture, it's an open invitation to regulate all suppliments out of existance by sophistry (well, if 5 tons of it fell on you, you might die, so it's unsafe). In other cases, there might be legitimate safety concerns (I don't want any foxglove tea today thankyou) but where a warning would do, overzealous regulators won't be satisfied until it's banned.

These suppliments have become the medicine of choice for a small but growing minority of people (myself included). For others, they are a last resort now that all other options are too expensive.

Ultimately, I question the U.S. government's right to decide for me what I may or may not take for my own health (or any other reason for that matter). If it didn't have such a long history of trying to do just that, I wouldn't be worried about the new proposal.


The future isn't what it used to be
Interesting situation (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by Matt Oneiros on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:25:03 PM EST

Normally I'm totally against government regulation, like the FCC in general or even the FDA in general. I have a profound disliked for laws that work to protect us from ourselves.

This does not restrict the sales of certain products, it forces research to be done on potentially helpful compounds which could bring them to a wider audience. This does not protect us from ourselves, it gives us the information necessary to protect ourselves.

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real

I'm in favor of this... (none / 0) (#20)
by Kasreyn on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:31:16 PM EST

...mostly because I distrust corporations (ie., among which are the makers of dietary supplements) even more than I distrust the government.

I think consumers should have a legal right to know *exactly* what they're getting when they put down their hard-earned money, and this sort of thing is a step in the right direction IMO.

And personally, I see no indication that the FDA is wanting to take away our control of our bodies. They don't strike me as an extremely power-hungry group.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
I don't see the slippery slope worries (none / 0) (#21)
by Delirium on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 07:33:03 PM EST

The FDA is simply proposing that they require the manufacturers to accurately label what they're selling. I don't see how this can lead to fears that they'll ban it; requiring them to be truthful is certainly reasonable, and something we require of nearly everything else (including, say, peanut butter manufacturers).

Indeed, there isn't really any good reason to ban most of them. Even the most skeptical of "traditional medicine" proponents generally conclude that these supplements are completely useless, essentially the same as taking a sugar pill (any positive effects being entirely the result of a placebo effect). There's nothing then really dangerous about them, unless they keep people from seeking traditional medical help that might work better (a concern that can't really be addressed, since banning supplements will just lead to people conocting their own "folk wisdom" remedies out of common household herbs). So unless there's anything actually dangerous about them, which there generally isn't, there really isn't any motivation for banning them.

pretty vague allegation (none / 0) (#23)
by zzzeek on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:04:05 PM EST

who are these people you are citing as "generally concluding" that "these supplements" are "completely useless",  and which supplements are you referring to ?  the range of herbal and natural supplements is vast and you are making a blanket statement without any factual basis.

[ Parent ]
I meant in the worst case (none / 0) (#27)
by Delirium on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 09:48:36 PM EST

Even the people most strenuously opposed to herbal supplements generally make claims no stronger than "herbal supplements are useless"; certainly no allegations that'd make them worthy of being banned.

As for prevailing opinion amongst doctors, my general estimation is that they consider most supplements to be relatively useless, but acknowledge the efficacy of some in treating at least some types of diseases.

[ Parent ]

I don't know where you've gotten your information. (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by Vellmont on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:45:58 PM EST

But many supplements are potentially harmfull if missused. Ma-huang is essentially ephedrine, which if taken at too high of a dose can lead to heart problems. Kava Kava is suspected of causing liver failure in several people in Europe, and has been banned until further information can be found. You seen to be saying that herbs and supplements can all be thrown into a general category of being at worst harmless, but that's not true at all.

[ Parent ]
herbal supplements and remedies (none / 0) (#37)
by mikelist on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 06:44:52 AM EST

Folklorish dosages and delivery systems tend to be pretty safe, a problem occurs when people begin concentrating their active ingredients, examples are                 coca leaf>cocaine>crack/freebase,
mah huang>ephedra>ephedrine.
There's a reason why herbalists and shamans were always a short commodity, the less careful ones probably quite often had their careers cut short.

[ Parent ]
harmful ingredients (none / 0) (#30)
by alizasmurf on Mon Mar 10, 2003 at 10:43:19 PM EST

You know, if consumers bothered to follow instructions and read warning labels, this wouldn't be an issue that many people seem to be riding the wave on. Personally, I've been taking ephedrine containing supplements according to the label, and the only "side effect" I've dealt with has been repressed hunger. While I agree with you that the individual needs to draw the line, surely our government exists to protect us smartuns from the stupid dolts out there who do not read the labels...Oh wait, an idiot kills themselves since they took a handful of cocaine for a headache; what is the problem there?

We think therefore we are, therefore, are we what we think? ewwww
Part of the problem (none / 0) (#38)
by mstefan on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 11:53:23 AM EST

I think one of the real issues with herbal supplements is that it can be difficult to know exactly how much of the "active ingredient" you're actually getting. Two different brands, say the same thing in terms of dosage, etc. but are completely different in terms of the amount of the drug (ephedra, whatever) is getting into your system. A universally accepted, regulated standard and crystal clear labeling would probably go a long way in preventing people from accidentally poisoning themselves.



[ Parent ]
Heh. Shameless diary self-plug. (none / 0) (#32)
by bjlhct on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 01:51:59 AM EST

Simply Amazing

*
[kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
argument ad verecundiam (none / 0) (#34)
by pla on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 03:43:59 AM EST

As a certified herbalist...

I belive this means pretty much nothing.

At best, we will have accurately-labelled suppliments, possibly a good outcome.

At worst, people will learn how easily they can make their OWN suppliments. The hardest part about making a tincture (not the only, or always the most effective, way to take an herbal suppliment, but certainly the easiest) consists of properly identifying the herb. If you only take one or two suppliments, consider this a breeze; if you take more than that, consider cutting back. ;-)

Of course, this has the potential to turn into yet another branch of the War On (some) Drugs, which our own (if you live in the US) FDA has sponsored (the DEA gets its authority from the FDA). We could see simple possession of St. John's Wort or Echinacea turn into a felony. I don't seriously expect it to come to that, however, but if it does, on the bright side, it will greatly lessen the already-weak credibility of this once-useful government agency.


ObDilbertQuote (none / 0) (#35)
by Rogerborg on Tue Mar 11, 2003 at 04:11:18 AM EST

  • Dilbert: But it's not a drug, it's just a combination of fruits and vegetables that makes you feel happy.  You can't outlaw good nutrition!
  • MiB #1: Yeah, that wouldn't make sense.
  • MiB #2: Ignore him, he's new.

"Exterminate all rational thought." - W.S. Burroughs

FDA Regulates Dietary Supplements | 41 comments (37 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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