“Big Pharma” has so much influence on our lives that even Consumer Reports recently attacked the health food industry. In this case we have Ginger Skinner’s article in Consumer Reports published 11-30-2017 where she states, “Americans spent almost $3 billion on vitamins, herbal remedies, and other supplements in their fight against colds and flu in 2016, according to the Nutrition Business Journal. But research showing that the products work is usually weak.” (Compare this to over $400 billion spent annually for prescription meds and you have a David vs. Goliath. But this Goliath has a lot of money to make a lot of friends.)
The article attacks the use of: vitamins, Echinachia, Garlic, Homeopathic Remedies, Vitamin C, Probiotics, and Zinc. Ms. Skinner uses three arguments: that the natural remedies and supplements are poorly regulated by the FDA; may not contain the ingredients that are stated on the label; and do “sparse research” to support their claims.
The reason pharmaceutical companies and mainstream media are afraid of health foods, natural remedies, and supplements obviously is because they are taking money away from pharmaceuticals. A 2015 consumer survey showed that 68% of Americans take dietary supplements and 84% expressed confidence in the quality, safety and effectiveness of these natural products. According to the latest CDC National Center for Health Statistics, 59 million Americans 4 years of age or older spent $12.8 billion on “alternative” medicines and supplements compared to $54 billion out-of-pocket (after insurance paid ~90%) for prescription medicines. Yes, do the numbers — we now spend over $400 billion annually in the U.S. on prescription drugs.
There are many reasons why people want to use natural products:
1) The first is obvious– because people don’t want to die from taking prescriptions. Because they are natural as opposed to being chemicals formulated in a lab (the Center for Disease Control estimated that 44,000 people die each year from prescription drugs though some estimates go as high as 128,000 deaths vs zero deaths from taking supplements according to the latest American Association of Poison Control Center’s National Poison Data System (NPDS).
2) There are rarely any side-effects. There is no rebound effect. No danger of addiction. No steroids.
4) Fortunately, most natural remedies like garlic, olive leaf, echinachia, Vitamin C, zinc, and probiotics do help strengthen your immune system and really do work to help your body resist getting sick. Hippocrates stated, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Advice that might make us a healthier society not so dependent on pharmaceutical drugs.
For relaxation from the war of Big Pharma and their friends against the health food industry, we take a dive off the Cayman Islands to view this puffer fish hiding under a rock. The little white specks swimming in front of his mouth are fish larvae that recently hatched. The unlucky ones will soon become a meal for this fellow.