Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You'll have to pry my multivitamins out of my cold, dead fingers...

Last night I stayed up late to listen to a radio show which featured a panel discussing the new FDA guidelines on alternative health care.

A summary would be simply that the government wants to control all alternative health care methods, including our multi-vitamins.

I can't help but think yet again that this is all about profits for the health care industry. In India, as an example, homeopathy has become the #1 standard of healthcare because it is inexpensive and effective.

As I have spent more and more time looking into alternative treatments for many things, including high blood pressure and stomach trouble (both of which I have), I'm finding these herbal remedies do work and they are very inexpensive as long as you don't buy them from sheister websites on the Internet. Ultimately, a lot of it comes down to nutrition and providing our bodies with the things they need that we may not get through our daily eating. In other words, supplements.

This proposal concerns me because the more government control there is on these remedies, the more expensive they will become. Low income and poor people will be unable to take advantage of simple health maintenance protocols such as multi-vitamins. Under this proposed plan, a low income person would have to have the ability to pay for a doctor visit and a prescription. It would restrict everyone's access to alternative treatments of all kinds. We will have little choice at all.

Here are a few websites to check out if this topic is of interest to you.

Peter Barry Chowka

and a book:

Alternative Medicine: The Definitive Guide (2nd Edition) (Paperback) by Burton Goldberg

Honestly, the US is beginning to scare the hell out of me. The marginalization of anyone who isn't wealthy is becoming more blatant by the day. The profit motive has gotten to a point of absolute insanity, not to mention immorality. Nothing is sacred anymore, not even human health.




Anonymous said...

I don't know if your country as changed at all. I kind of think that the bottom line was always the point in the US.

I agree that alternative health care is a good idea but I'm not completely opposes to some restrictions either, although the idea does leave me a little queasy. The problem with herbal meds is that there isn't a lot of consistency. And maybe that's not a bad thing, I don't really know.

I've done everything I can think of for my foot, regular medicine and alternative. The best thing that's worked for me is prayer and doing what I like to do best, racewalking. Sounds silly but racewalking for me is a meditation, it soothes me, makes me happy. Giving it up didn't stop my foot from hurting so I figured, what the hell, I'm starting it again. Glad I did.

thailandchani said...

Deb, I agree. What I remember from being a kid here is that there was at least lip service given to certain things. The greed was offset by appeals to a faux-morality. The morality itself allowed plenty of room for market values but it was at least socially unacceptable to be blatant about it.

These days, it doesn't matter. The hyper-greed is expected.

I am reluctant to refer to the US as "my" country. It is where I live, yes, but I share little in common with it. And I won't even be living here that much longer. The idea of getting old in this country is enough to scare the living sh*t out of me!

I am also finding many alternative methods to taking care of my body. Most of it is just good common sense.

Racewalking sounds awesome! I am a long distance walker.. but nowhere near ready for racewalking yet. :)



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Health has increasingly become a commodity in this country. As far back as I can remember, high quality vitamins have been expensive. If the government controls them, they will become completely unaffordable for many people.

I do not believe that our government cares. Presidential candidates give lip-service to improving the situation, but if elected, they are not required to actually do anything they promised while campaigning. This is also terribly cynical and wrong.

Every day, more of our rights are swallowed up, and that is a very bitter pill indeed.

Mary said...


Growing old in America is a frightening thought and becoming more so each year. Keep doing what you are doing. Sounds smart.

Sevenwinds said...

I can see the FDA point of view of trying to regulate the industry somewhat because vitamins are currently labeled 'nutritional supplements', which they are but it also allows many other questionable and dangerous products from being labeled in the same manner.

Coming from an Asian background, I am a believer in alternative health care and treatment, but also have come to see where many unqualified and untested methods have evolved without any type of review process. Many simply hang up a shingle or build a website to promote their magic cures. Unfortunately, many of the users of these alternative methods have little recourse if the treatments don't work and they end up dying.

I think what is needed is a balance where the FDA protects the public from dangerous products without hindering or adding to the cost. But in reality, we all know that is not going to happen. You are absolutely right in that the health care industry is bottom line oriented and not really interested in the general welfare of their customers. Whats the point?...healthy customers don't buy drugs and thus don't add to the bottom line. Its in their best interest that people are sick. Sad but true.

By the way, I also take my multi-vitamins religiously and credit them for my sustained good health.

Pam said...

Amen, Chani. Our government's very big boots are walking all over everyone but the well healed. It scares the hell out of me, too.

Julie Pippert said...

Oh Chani, what are you DOING to me. LOL

You are making me sound alternatively like an utter Democrat and then an utter Republican when honestly, I endeavor to be such a centrist (if I must use a label) because I evaluate each situation independently.


But here I go with the Politics again. I suppose I have no self-control.

Okay, I have LONG advocated for the US to follow the example of France (with some improvements) for alternative medicine.

Right now, health care alternative medications can be sold OTC with NO regulations or oversight.

I did an entire research study (and published paper) comparing a French AH product and the equivalent American one (artichoke for digestion as it happens).

We are like the third world dumping ground for crappy formulations here in the US. Honestly. Some of the ingredients, oh Chani, you'd WEEP.

I am a HUGE advocate for alternative health care. Alternative health was my market.

I didn't just study medications within it, but also the various practices within it. I put out educational writings. Once upon a time, I even tried my own health nut blog (still there just...sadly neglected).

I've become an enormous believer in homoepathic medication and holistic approaches to health...not to mention preventive care rather than the current treatment oriented care we have currently.

I also strongly belive that drug manufacturers must have some sort of code and regulation to follow.

Now the current FDA and economic drug model is severely flawed.

However, some OTC AH products are also severely flawed.

I don't want to restrict access, drive up cost (although "inexpensive?" We might have different one multi-vitamin is $40 for a month. I call that very dear, indeed. Then again, I carefully selected a company with ethical and quality manufacturing and chose the formulation *I* needed.)

I'm leery of putting everything into the hands of doctors but there IS a REAL problem.

You've got people mixing OTC and presciption stuff like crazy, causing MASSIVE problems in some cases.

For example, does anyone here take an antihistamine? Do you mix it with a multi-vitamin? Not okay!

Doctors are often unaware of what patients take.

I encourage:

(a) more eduation

(b) better educated consumers

(c) more mainstream medical support and buy-in, as well as better knowledge

(d) better oversight of the OTC AH products on the market to control quality and manufacturing to ensure the public is getting a good and safe product

(e) keep the AH products over the counter, but encourage distributors to provide a "pharmacist" like service

In France...they had a pretty good set-up for this. Not perfect, but pretty good. And in the end? BETTER PRICES!

ARGH cut myself off now but oh my I could go on and on.

Awesome topic.

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. The Asian model? Where your acupuncturist and holistic practioner and herbalist work together? Also good.

Lucia said...

No, no, no! This is all wrong. Why don't they want us to have access to things we can afford that will help us stay healthy. I'm a big multi-vitamin believer. I like cruising the shelves for what I want. This is really depressing. Let's hope it doesn't come to pass.

Tabba said...

Oh, Chani....It scares me too. I agree with Deb that the bottom line has always been the point here too. However, there are a few things to consider: that we now have more tools to find out the information such as this. And also, it seems like the government is becoming more and more bold in their attempts to gain control over everything.
In a sick kind of way, it reminds me of a seasoned serial killer. At first, the thrill is so grand, but yet you don't know who the perp is in the crime. It's covert - despite that fact that it is quite obvious that something is amiss. And then they become so heady with the thrill, the power, and confident in their skill that they become more and more riskier and overt in their actions.
Both serial killers and our government are to be feared.

QT said...

Well, I agree with you that unfortunately profits will become the goal. But I do think they need to be "regulated" as to quality and dosage. Some people have no idea - some of the drug/herb combos can be very bad.

I guess I agree with julie pippert!

slouching mom said...

Hey, Chani, thank you for visiting this topic. It's important. I think Julie's comment was cautionary, too. More and more elderly patients are flooding ERs because they have mixed supplements with the multitude of prescriptions they take, and BOOM! Bad news, at least for some supplements and some prescription drugs.

thailandchani said...

Susan, I have no illusions about the government "caring", either. Their job is to sustain themselves at yours and my expense. In the absence of quiet acquiescence, the iron fist will come out of the velvet glove.

I have no doubt of that. And when you have a government that sees human beings as nothing more than resources for their personal wealth-building, we're on enemy territory.


Mary, that is a large part of the reason for my decision to go to Thailand. It's not just that I think Thailand is beautiful, blah blah blah. It is also to get the hell out of here before it all really comes down.


Sevenwinds, while I understand what you are saying about regulation, I would ask you this: How are we supposed to trust any government that supports market values above human values?

Sorry. I'd rather take my chances. I don't trust them to make any decisions on my behalf. If I screw up, I screw up. I don't want greedy, heartless bipedal animals making choices about my life when their only concern is their own bank accounts.


Pam, I believe we have good reason to be scared.


Julie, I will take a look at the French model. I don't know much about it. What I do know is that when profit is at the heart of decisions made by those who are supposed to "protect" me, I find it hard to swallow.

I would agree to regulation by another oversight organization ~ but not one with profit as a central motive for approving or disapproving something.

You may have heard this already but Thailand has very reasonable health care costs. People are flocking there for surgery and other health needs. It is low because there is no malpractice insurance. I believe Thai people accept that there are risks in this life. Something might go wrong.

People trust their doctors and other health professionals because the motive for service is different than it is here.

I would be *terrified* if I got seriously ill here. I'd get to Thailand if I had to *walk*!


Lucia, they don't want us to be in charge of our own health because healthy people are not as profitable as sick people.

Imagine if health information was disseminated with the objective of *keeping* people healthy or teaching people how to make healthier choices?

Ain't gonna happen. They'll push health clubs (which no one needs to be healthy) because it's a fad and because someone can get rich off of it. They'll push organic foods that are overpriced instead of teaching people how to grow vegetables in their own backyards.

And, yes, it's very wrong.

It's pathetic and sad to have to be on guard all the time, never knowing the truth from lies because motives are in question.


Tabba, Jack London wrote a book many years ago called "The Iron Fist". In it, he speculates about what a fascist, corporatist takeover in the US would look like.

These days, it reads like a guidebook.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen the worst of it yet.


QT, I'm all for education on these issues, teaching people how to make good health choices. As long as someone's personal wealth is involved, I can't find it an acceptable resource.

There is so much information available on the Internet and at (gasp) the library that anyone who truly wants to learn.. can.


SM, I'm all for education on this to keep people out of danger. But who will be the teachers.. and the regulators?




jen said...

Human health hasn't been sacred in a long time.

It's obvious why they'd want to control this gigantic and somewhat new industry. The interesting part will be to see how they choose to do it.

I predict:
fear (people die from alternate therapies)
media campaign (show us how unsafe it is)
control (prove to us they can care for us better and alleviate fear)


thailandchani said...

Jen, one of your predictions has already come to pass. Remember the pet food contamination stories on the news for days and days? Over the past few days, they are saying that multi-vitamins might be "tainted".

You're right on target.

Social engineering in the US is all about the alleviation of fear.




Caro said...

I believe everyone should have access to the basics that are condusive to optimal health. I think the first step anyone can take to achieve that is by eating three HEALTHY meals a day. I would love to be able to afford organic food for instance but forget it. You are right, nothing is sacred anymore...

Laurie said...

I agree with you, Chani. We are in (as my dad would say) "a heap of trouble" here in the US.

MsLittlePea said...

I'm definitely going to check out those websites. I've heard of homeopathic medicine but don't know a thing about it. It all sounds interesting and I'm open to it.

I agree with caro-three healthy meals a day and excersize are the best things we can do for ourselves. I don't always practice that but...I try.

flutter said...

why did this make me cry?

KC said...

As a physician who has seen people go into liver failure or similar horrible conditions due to unregulated herbal supplements, I am totally in favor of FDA having a regulatory role. I don't believe it's about profit. It's about public health.

There is NO oversight- a supplement can include whatever it wants- the ingredients aren't tested, they can lie about what they include, it is an absolute nightmare from a physician's standpoint. There are no regulated safety studies before these supplements are out on the market.

I really do think it's the other way around.

Suzy said...

If so many people think we're going to Hell in a handbasket, what are they doing about it? It's not enough to wring your hands and worry about fascism. Speak out! Speak out where it might not feel as safe to do so, at your job, within your church congregation.

Penny. said...

I'm all about the herbs. Education, people. Educate yourselves before and after you see your doctors (who have little comparable preventative training), and before and after you see your herbologist. Read. Learn. Study. And own your own body. And, be smart. But, soley trusting American corporations and the medical establishment is just stupid.

Yes, we must have a watchdog. Yes, the FDA is important. But, watch them, too. Some of what they let in and keep out, seems ridiculous.