Are you aware that currently no government agency is responsible for testing dietary supplements to assure their purity and potency? Did you know that today over 60% of Americans buy and take one or more herbal or dietary supplements? Would it anger you to learn that you have probably been spending your hard earned money on products that simply don't work? And would you be concerned if you discovered that the American media has expended precious little energy to uncover the truth about these products?
"Natural Causes: Death Lies and Politics In America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry " explodes many of the myths surrounding the multi-billion dollar vitamin and supplements industry. Author Dan Hurley makes a compelling case for tightening the screws on these companies and demanding more regulation and much more accountabilty.
Around the turn of the 20th century the self-treatment movement was experiencing somewhat of a revival in this nation. As Dan Hurley correctly points out the tug-of-war between traditional medicine and natural alternatives seems to be somewhat cyclical. We can all recall images of the "snake oil" salesmen peddling all sorts of elixers and other concoctions from the back of their wagons. These hucksters made all sorts of fabulous claims for their homemade tonics. In response to all of this Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906. The act required that medicines containing opiates and certain other drugs must say so on their labels. Later amendments to the act also required that the quantity of each drug be truly stated on the label, and that the drugs meet official standards of identity and purity. Finally, the government had a handle on the industry.
Fast forward now about 90 years. Once again, interest in "natural" medicine and treatments was on the rise. Seems that there was a huge potential market for new "natural" remedies, treatments and supplements. There was a lot of money to be made. Aided by a number of prominent politicians a group of manufacturers led by one Gerry Kesser somehow managed to convince the Congress to pass a piece of legislation called DSHEA in 1994. Passage of the "Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act" would essentially create a whole new category of so-called "natural" products that were simply not subject to regulation of any kind. Over the next dozen years tens of thousands of new products would flood the market making all sorts of wild claims. We have all seen the ads in newspapers and magazines and on television. And despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of these products fail to produce the promised results the American people continue to purchase them in ever increasing numbers. What's more, testing has shown that many of these products are contaminated with dangerous metals such as lead and that the ingredients listed on the label are frequently incorrect. It is somewhat disconcerting to think that large numbers of Americans have turned their backs on traditional medicine and rely on the advice of a clerk at the health food store to treat what ails them. This is a very dangerous situation that has had serious consequences over the years and Hurley presents numerous examples throughout the book.
At the conclusion of "Natural Causes: Death Lies and Politics In America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry " Dan Hurley proposes a series of 13 steps that would largely correct this situation. This is definitely a conversation that the country needs to have. I found "Natural Causes" to be a real eye-opener. Highly recommended!
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Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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A riveting work of investigative journalism that charts the rise of the dietary supplement craze and reveals the dangerous—and sometimes deadly—side of these highly popular and completely unregulated products.
Over 60 percent of Americans buy and take herbal and dietary supplements for all sorts of reasons—to prevent illness (vitamin C), to ease depression (St. John's wort), to aid weight loss (ephedra), to boost the memory (ginkgo biloba), and even to cure cancer (shark cartilage, bloodroot)—despite the fact that few of these "natural" supplements have been proven to be safe or effective. The vitamin and herbal supplement industry generates over $20 billion a year by selling products that promise to cure or fix, but are produced and marketed essentially without oversight. And while the media has been quick to sensationalize the benefits of supplements, few have taken a hard look at the dangers posed by many of the remedies flooding the market today. Award-winning journalist Dan Hurley breaks the silence for the first time in Natural Causes. From the snake-oil salesmen of the early twentieth century, to rise of the health food movement in the sixties and seventies, Hurley charts the remarkable growth of an industry built largely on fraud, and reveals the backroom politics that led to the passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which effectively freed the industry from FDA oversight. In unprecedented detail, he shows how supplement manufacturers ...