Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Contains Green Flecks

Tests have shown that store-brand supplements from four major retailers contained none of the herbs that the label indicated. In what some say may be a crushing blow to the herbal supplement industry, nobody noticed. Other research indicates that public concern remains low. In one study, bottle of gingko biloba, a memory enhancer, that were listed as containing no wheat, were found to contain powdered radish and wheat, but no gingko biloba. A significant portion of consumers interviewed could only report that they were pretty sure they'd taken them, but maybe it was the day before.

Other herbal supplements were found to contain only fillers like rice and houseplants. This circumstance had been predicted for years by people who had ever been forced to share an apartment with a roommate's philodendron.

There is, in fact, no requirement to test herbal supplements with the same rigor as the FDA tests pharmaceuticals, and labeling requirements are lax as well. The only mandatory regulation is that the brand name reference either Nature or Mother in some way; but by the time that is added along with a picture of a green leaf, there's no room left on the label for an ingredient list such as "contains marketing, misinformation, rice, and the rubber plant from the factory lobby."

Claims made for these products tend to be delicately worded. One pill is said to "support heart health," and representatives of the industry insist that the product does indeed provide tiny college funds for the corpuscles, and it is not their fault if the majority of supported cells opt for the trades instead.

Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah is a steadfast champion of the herbal supplement industry and has been the chief proponent of exempting it from the FDA's strict approval process. He is widely considered an expert in the field due to the vast amount of information he has been given in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, and he assured the public that the supplement industry could be trusted to pinky-swear they were on the up and up.

The trouble persists in other areas as well. A frizz-reducing hair product that is advertised to contain no formaldehyde has been found to contain formaldehyde, although corporate counsel points out that the portions that do not contain formaldehyde do not contain formaldehyde.

Observers of the market do not believe these discoveries will provoke much of a backlash among consumers. They cite the reaction last year to the news that the urine of Clydesdales suspected of steroid abuse was found to have the sameDNA profile as Bud Lite. Predictions that Bud Lite consumers would abandon their favorite product in droves proved to be unfounded, when in fact they shrugged it off and,  if anything, exhibited a little more majesty in their gaits.

Likewise Walmart, one of the four companies found to have ginseng-free ginseng tablets on their shelves, expects to weather the current storm. After all, they point out, sales of home furnishings have not been affected by the discovery that underperforming Asian child workers have been used as upholstery stuffing. And they continue to refute the rumor that shredded, dehydrated Walmart greeters  have turned up in the store granola bar.

"It is efficiency innovation like the upholstery stuffing that keeps our prices low," a Walmart spokesman insisted. "And as for the herbal supplements, ours have been demonstrated to be no more nor less effective than the industry standard."

For their part, representatives of the herbal supplement industry stoutly vouch for the efficacy of any pills with little green flecks in them.

41 comments:

  1. As long as my herbal supplements are gluten free, I'm good. Most of those herbs are GMO's anyway. The FDA always just looks for trouble. I prefer to just give stuff to my kids first to make sure it is safe.

    I am concerned about the furniture stuffing.

    Funny post, but right on, at the very least random test this stuff.

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    1. Count your kids. You're probably all right in the upholstery department.

      And a note to all: I've been terrible sick for over a week now and don't even have the oomph to comment. Keep 'em coming and I'll get back to it soon!

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    2. ...Maybe you should take some herbal supplements....

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    3. Mimi beat me to it :)

      Seriously, I hope you feel way better very soon, Murr.

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    4. Would taking supplements require (gag) eating?

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  2. But the libertarians will keep telling us there's no need to regulate anything because the market will correct bad practices!

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    1. That's certainly the attitude I take toward my raw meat.

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  3. that shredded, dehydrated Walmart greeters have turned up in the store granola bar.

    They really need to crack down on this. It sounds like it would push the fat content up to dangerous levels.

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  4. Is anyone actually surprised that Walmart nutritional supplements would contain absolutely no nutrition? One only has to look to how they treat their third world manufacturers and their employees. Is it any wonder they also show a blatant disregard for their customer? Anyone who would patronize such a corporation deserves to be bent over a desk and have it rammed up their... oh, my goodness... look at the time! Must dash!

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    1. Let's see, to be fair: also included were GNC, Target, and Walgreens.

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  5. We are much dumber than we think. No sympathy here. News to me about Orrin Hatch!

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  6. Placebos generally give better results than most nutritional supplements. How did we manage to survive as a species for all those thousands of years without little capsules of powder? Even I, the biggest skeptic on the planet, have tried some nutraceuticals. I thought,"maybe they are doing something, or not." When I stopped I noticed that I had more money in my pocket and felt much better, concluding that they work best when I stopped taking them. Think I might go into the snake oil business.

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    1. I rarely give them a whirl, but I gave glucosamine a pretty good trial for a couple of months, and noticed no difference.

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    2. That was the one. I still needed my knees replaced.

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  7. I have this new supplement, "Placebo Plus". It's really great. It has the placebo effect, PLUS an extra placebo, in case the first one doesn't work.

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    1. I've seen magazines (now that I think of it, I think they were sex magazines, but whatever) that boldly advertise "genuine placebos" in the back pages. Accept no substitutes!

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  8. The part I find most exasperating is that naturopaths recommend these things. Especially for chronic conditions such as pain, and little understood medical problems such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, whose sufferers are desperately looking for relief. Not only do they not get relief, they can end up with something else they haven't bargained for. The thing I find next-most-exasperating is that pharmacies sell this stuff. That puts a stamp of approval on them that lulls those sufferers into thinking they are taking something safe and effective.

    I seem to be ranting. Ach, Murr, you've done it twice in one week! I might be turning into a cranky person. Should I take something for that?

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    1. I promise to have a post on underwear soon to give you a rest.

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    2. Oh, and I'd like to add here that my medically challenged (to say the least) sister relied on an herbal potion guru for the last years of her life (as well as her regular doctor and anything else she thought might help) and at the end of her life she was suffering horribly from what was probably thrush, a vitamin B deficiency. "Couldn't be," I told my nutritionist friend who suggested it. "She took gobs of vitamin B." And my friend said there was a spectrum of B vitamins and if one predominates it throws the balance off and makes the others entirely ineffective. She was dying of something else anyway but that was about a year of completely unnecessary agony that kept her from getting food down. A pox on that guy.

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  9. Dr. Harriet Hall, the "SkepDoc", has written extensively on this stuff. There are many natureopaths, including one homeopath, on my route and I'm afraid of coughing or sneezing near their offices in fear of being inundated with remedies.

    "The only worse liars than quacks are their patients."- Benjamin Franklin

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    1. I have a friend with whom I keep conversation deliberately neutral for fear she'll bombard me with cures for my spiritual ills.

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    2. This made me laugh because - completely off topic - I trained myself to NEVER say "How are you?" to my late mother-in-law. If you ever accidentally asked, she would tell you. At length.

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    3. Did you substitute "how're they hangin'?"

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  10. And this is why I get my herbal supplements from my garden. mint, lemon balm, sage, oregano, (the parsley died) and the rosemary is as tall as I am, but they're natural herbs, not bought in pill form from supermarkets.

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    1. Exactly! You don't know what kind of stuff they put into a pill... but you can either grow or buy the actual herb and make a tisane or a tincture yourself (it's easy, although not AS easy as popping a pill), and then you always know that you are actually taking what you intend to take.

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    2. Ooo! I want to make a tisane! I've always wanted to make a tisane! What's a tisane?

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    3. Basically, it's a tea, only made with herbs, more for therapeutic purposes than for drinking with scones.

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    4. Hercule Poirôt drinks them all the time. Of course, he's only fiction, but that's where I first heard of tisane. I didn't know they actually served a purpose though. Must investigate...

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  11. I feel ripped off!!!! Can't trust anyone nowadays.

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  12. I could never persuade my MIL that she was just wasting my husband's inheritance on that refrigerator door-ful of bottles of kelp extract, St. John's wort, and parsley leaf capsules. Of course, she's still cranking away on her own at 86, not a damn thing wrong with her but failing eyesight and arthritis, so what do I know?

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    1. My uncle never ate a green vegetable or a salad or anything but steak and potatoes for his whole life, and sure enough he keeled over at 92.

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    2. I'd been wondering what to cook for dinner tonight. Steak and potatoes it is.

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  13. but, you can always depend on Irish whiskey.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. I suppose it's true. I have to be awfully cold and wet to try it.

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