Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The Wall Street Journal Online Health Blog reported that a third of young doctors (residents and their supervisory attendings) didn’t know that herbal and dietary supplements were NOT regulated by the FDA. I am unsurprised by this. While in medical school and during residency, I don’t think anyone brought up this topic even once. In fact the only reason I know anything on the subject is because of my own curiosity. While presenting at a morning conference, I prepared a slide show about herbals, mainly so I could learn me a little something.

And do you know what I learned? Pretty much what every doctor and supplement manufacturer already knows… they DON’T WORK!!

A little background: The U.S Congress in 1994 enacted the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994, which did the following:
• Removed the FDA’s authority to regulate “dietary supplements”
• Not required to provide research or testing
• Not mandatory to provide proof of effectiveness
• Proof of safety is also not required… the FDA must prove the product is unsafe
• No standards on the accuracy and amount of information that has to be supplied on the label

Why did the Congress do this? Because if the companies who made these products had to undergo the stringent requirements that pharmaceuticals do, including safety trials, then they would have to charge a lot more for their product. Since they are now treated as “food”, they can be sold at much lower prices to a public that wants them. And I one hundred percent agree with this thinking. Because as I said above, these products DON’T DO ANYTHING!!!

How do I know they don’t do anything? Because if they DID do anything, then doctors would be using them. But every hack likes to concoct conspiracy theories, like Kevin Trudeau, a former jailbird who published “Natural Cures They Don’t Want you To Know About”. Who is THEY??? I would love to know about them.

I’ll post part II of this rant tomorrow, including the reason why this blog entry made me so ANGRY!!!.


Anonymous said...

While I agree that most supplements have limited clinical efficacy - I'm more worried about their potential for harm (like the lead contaminated vitamins that consumerlabs has uncovered). I wonder when melamine-like substances will make their way from pet food to supplements as cheap knock off ingredients enter our market from China? Guess we'll just need to wait for the first batch of illness or deaths before we do something?

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