As the US-FDA and especially Europe start to regulate more intensely herbal formulas, supplements, vitamins, and non-prescriptions, you have to wonder if their efforts are misdirected. Consider these statistics:

Each year, an estimated two million Americans are hospitalized from adverse reactions to prescription medication. And, over 100,000 Americans actually die from these drugs—more than those who die from diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. These numbers are on the rise as the 200 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry continues to be one of the richest industries in the world. Americans are supporting this big business, with the use of medications doubling in the past decade from seven prescriptions on average annually per person to 14. The frightening thing is that we are drugging our children too. In recent years, prescription spending rose faster for children than for any other group. These revealing and troubling statistics come from author and doctor, Len Saputo, in his book A Return to Healing. (

How many cases of people being hospitalized or dying from herbal concentrates are there? What about from supplements and vitamins? Surely not as many as from prescription drugs. In fact, according to

the US National Poison Data System, in 2009 there were no deaths caused by dietary supplements, multiple vitamins, any of vitamins A, B, C, D, E or any other vitamin; and no deaths caused by any amino acid, herb, or dietary mineral supplement. ( [emphasis is mine]

And yet, in the European Union,

what has recently alarmed the advocates of natural medicine is a prospective EU directive on traditional herbal medicinal products that is to come into force on May 1 this year. According to it, all traditional herbal products must undergo the same complex and expensive procedure of clinical and biochemical tests that pharmaceutical products do.  (

Do those “complex and expensive procedures” protect people? If the side effects from pharmaceuticals in the US  are any example, not really. They just protect companies from getting brutally sued.

From what I’ve read, the supplements and natural products industries, at least in the US, have done a pretty good job policing within.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not against legislation that can verify safety, efficacy, ingredients, and sources, but there’s obviously a limit to how much government can do.  And I think we’ve seen that limit with the pharmaceutical industry (100k deaths a year, anyone?). Maybe the regulatory bodies are policing the wrong side of the health products industry…

(Continued in the next post…)