Truth in labelling needed on all natural medicines – The Okanagan Naturopath –

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I had the good fortune to visit New York City and walk on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

At the time, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is an engineering marvel that spans the East River and links lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. It’s been said the Brooklyn Bridge had been bought and sold many times by hucksters and con artists, selling it to unsuspecting tourists and immigrants. It is a prime example of the oft used idiom, “if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.”

Unfortunately, the same cliche can be applied to the field of natural medicine. There have been more than a few examples of fraudulent scoundrels and scallywags tainting so-called “nutritional supplements” with undeclared pharmaceutical drugs in the name of profit and clinical efficacy.

In 30 years of practice, I have encountered several products that seemed “too good to be true.” I would often look at the ingredient list, scratch my head and wonder aloud why this formula or blend worked so well. However, the product was often mislabeled and was often purposely adulterated with an enhancing pharmaceutical ingredient.

The U Dreams debacle is a classic example of a natural herbal product tainted with an illicit pharmaceutical that was not declared on the label. U Dreams was a popular Canadian herbal supplement that exploded on the health food scene and had a meteoric rise and precipitous fall.

It was touted as “all natural” and “sleep naturally” and it worked amazingly well. It was sold health food stores. My office couldn’t keep enough stock to meet demand. Patients loved it and said it worked surprisingly well and of course it was natural. Health Canada later disclosed U Dreams was found to be tainted with zopiclone and eszopiclone. Then it made sense.

For many years, I used a popular thyroid glandular support formula whose label disclosed it contained 100 milligrams of thyroid glandular extract that was hormone free. The formula seemed to work well, patients liked it and lab tests confirmed its clinical utility.

I was intrigued at how they were able to get the thyroid glandular extract thyroxine free. I did research, consulted chemist friends and contacted glandular supply companies, all to no avail. I could not find an extraction technique or wholesale company that had, or made, thyroxine-free thyroid glandular extract. I was stumped.

At a chance meeting with one the company’s former executives, they disclosed that, in fact, the glandular was not thyroxine-free. I was disheartened to learn that.

An older, well-to-do businessman, who was a client of mine went on to develop prostate cancer. He introduced me to a product called PC-Spes, which was an eight-ingredient herbal formula. The formula was touted as an effective treatment for prostate cancer. He took the product for several years with good results. It reduced and maintained his prostate-specific antigen or PSA at a low level. I recommended the formula to several other prostate cancer patients with good results.

One patient came to my clinic one day with urinary pain and blood in his urine. We sent him for some tests. His PSA reading was over 3,000. We immediately sent him to see an oncologist at the local cancer clinic. The oncologist did some more testing, determined he had aggressive stage 4 prostate cancer and recommended hormone chemotherapy.

He refused the treatment. I told him about some patient’s results with PC Spes. He ordered it and started to take it. Within one month, his PSA dropped from 3,000 to a little over 100. PC Spes was later found to be tainted with warfarin and the synthetic estrogen analogue DES or diethylstilbesterol.

I couldn’t understand how this special herbal formula worked so well. I recommended similar products with saw palmetto and the other ingredients in this formula, but they didn’t lower PSAs like PC Spes. Now it made sense.

Hybrid nutritional supplements can be made to contain a blend of over-the-counter medicine and prescription pharmaceuticals, along with natural ingredients.

Adding a vitamin, mineral or herbal to a prescription might be a good thing. Why not add a blood pressure medicine along with garlic and magnesium for instance? It might be a good idea and it might be more effective than each ingredient on its own. Why not add a little bit of prescription sleeping medicine to some valerian and melatonin? It might be just as effective as a stronger dose of the isolated pharmaceutical by itself. Why not mix arnica with an anti-inflammatory like diclofenac and see how it works?

Just be honest and declare it on the label.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute medical advice. All information and content is for general information purposes only.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

This content was originally published here.

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