Keep Your Eyes Open Concerning Herbal Marketing

Besides talking about specific herbs we are growing and blending through Herban, I find that most of the time I am writing about the marketing aspect of herbs and supplements.  In a culture where words can mean whatever the sales person wants them to mean, it is important to be informed and educated on what you purchase.  In some instances you  may just find yourself out of money or left with a faulty product, but with purchasing supplements you also add a risk to your bodily health (and your family’s if you choose so).  There also seems to be a ‘group mentality’ when it comes to health-related ventures now that turn into ignorant cliques that can drag bad information for miles before someone educated comes along and clears the air.  Unfortunately in these situations the group-think may be so strong that relationships and peace are destroyed with the revelation of truth.  It is a messy business to keep relationships when others rely on false facts and choose those over a friendship.   (Do I sound like I have personally felt this?… *ahem*)

So in the news recently Dr. Oz has been sued for encouraging faulty products with false advertising.  I really have no information on Dr. Oz so I don’t want this to be an opinion of his character or knowledge.  I know his daughter is on The Chew, a show I enjoy, but that is about it.    The big point I got from the article was this—-

“Dr. Oz, for his part, noted that he is not paid to recommend the products, he does not sell them, and he does not advocate their long-term use.

But consumers say that’s not good enough, because they claim at least some of the people who have been guests on his show have hidden their ties to the companies they promote. They’re not the only ones upset about the practice. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also been involved.”

(Full article here)

It’s been open knowledge that if you sell a product and claim any type of health-aid that does not happen or does hurt you are open to a lawsuit.  It actually happens a lot.  But to have a lawsuit filed against you for simply entertaining the ideas of these supplements and hosting the sales people/owners of these companies seems new to me.  (If it is not, let me know.)  So at some point being associated and a ‘known name’ can get you in trouble legally.  More reason than ever to stay away from the marketed trends and stick to what information is proven out there when discussing supplements as a professional.

This is the Washington Post article about the ‘green coffee extract’ and how it was sold as a weight loss product on the show.  Apparently the ‘naturopathic doctor’ (which is not a doctor in the medical sense, but in the naturopathic educational sense, similar to ‘doctor of literature’ or ‘doctor of psychology’.) is now involved in a 9 million dollar settlement for ‘manipulating the Oz show’ as simply a marketer for a faulty product.

In the end did most people just loose money and time?  Maybe they ended up stressing more about their health/weight/vitality (enter the epidemic of American disordered eating) with no real results.  Maybe they hocked the product themselves and passed on bad knowledge for months.  Or maybe they got sick.  Maybe it caused their medications not to work.  Maybe they ended up in the hospital.  (Please be careful with ‘extracts’ as many are highly concentrated!!)

And again, in the end, do your research, educate yourself– and talk to other educated professionals and get their opinions as well. An educated consumer keeps professionals (and sales people) in check. Have a great day!

 

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Morphine in Your Syrup & Other Strange Things

I know it has been awhile.  I really am going to try to get better at posting regularly, but I already know I have a few things going against me.  1) School is back in session and so my “extra time” is taken up by homework and labs and practicing and such.  2) I have a serious dislike for sitting at the computer for too long.  I actually start to get a headache.  I am trying to get better at this one….really. 3) My Baker Creek Seeds catalog came in and I get to make one million variations of our herb garden on paper before I decide on the final layout. This is a labor of love, all right. (If you want to see the lovely {limited} catalog sign up for the free one on their website, or put down $10 for the ultimate seed catalog of 2016.)

In news, some herbal company selling an ‘herbal cough syrup’ came under fire from the FDA for having morphine in it.  It was not on the label, obviously.  I’m no friend of the FDA but they handle what they handle, and I am glad they caught this and are making a fuss.  When herbalism goes mainstream as medicinal, you have got to be up to pharmaceutical standards… because that is what you are claiming.  (Basically if you are creating an artificial reaction {drug induced} in the body to get a desired response, you are in the FDA’s radar.  Some older practices of herbalism do not endorse this type of use, but instead aim at nutritionally balancing out the body so it can handle the issues that come into play.   There are many master herbalists that explain this belief better than I do.. I should go into that more another day with resources.)  Anyway, be careful what you purchase.

Another strange trend, using herb balls to “detox your womb”.  Again, your body balances itself out.  Very rarely do you need to use artificial means to balance it out. Your body is smart.  Be smart and give you body what it needs to “detoxify” itself.. like rest, good fresh food, water, and exercise so you will sweat.  Sweating is good.

Handling Information & Local Food Enconomy

A worry that many people have when purchasing food that has been packaged and/or processed at a distance is that we do not know who, where, and sometimes how it was done.  In many cases we may not even know if the company handling the food products were using safe practices, or even slave labor.

An example that came up on my Facebook feed recently: Slave-peeled shrimp exported to major U.S. Stores

When faced with the knowledge that cheap food often carries the price tag of cheap or forced labor, what can we do?  Understandably, if the purchaser themselves in a tight bind and can not afford an alternative, what is to be done?  A educated decision must be made for each family personally.

Beyond slave labor there are other issues relating directly with the food.  How many hands touch the food product before it reaches your plate?  How long does it sit waiting to be delivered?  What makes one brand truly different from another?  Ever wonder why when there is a big  E.coli breakout there are many different brands and stores with the same contaminated food product, all under different names?

“Shrimp can mix with different batches of seafood as it is packaged, branded and shipped. At that point, there’s no way to tell where any individual piece was peeled. Once it reaches American restaurants, hospitals, universities and military chow halls, all the shrimp from those four Thai processors is considered associated with slavery, according to United Nations and U.S. standards.

U.S. customs records linked the exported shrimp to more than 40 U.S. brands, including popular names such as Sea Best, Waterfront Bistro and Aqua Star. The AP found shrimp products with the same labels in more than 150 stores across America — from Honolulu to New York City to a tiny West Virginia town of 179 people. The grocery store chains have tens of thousands of U.S. outlets where millions of Americans shop.” – (from the AP article above)

The simple answer to many of these concerns is shopping locally.  If your community has local markets, that is one way to know for sure what, where, and who concerning your food. Of course, the most economical and obvious way to keep track of your food is to grow your own. From a tiny pot on your apartment balcony to a half-acre garden, growing your own food lets you know everything involved with what you are eating… and you will probably find yourself with enough to share.

Easy foods to grow on your own with minimal work:
Tomatoes
Cucumbers
Green Beans
Basil
Cilantro
Kale
Mint

Marketing, The FDA, and Egg-less Mayo

As I sit here procrastinating on studying for my Medical Terminology final I have in exactly 1 hour and 20 minutes, I found this story at the top of my Facebook news-feed.

The FDA has decided that vegan Just Mayo is actually mayo after all

Without getting involved in the vegan-vegetarian-omnivore conversation vortex, as it is easy to do as someone studying holistic health (I mentioned that I only have an hour to procrastinate here), the marketing is really what this is about. And a bit about the FDA, of course.

I’ve had tons of articles pop up for me recently about small companies getting “warning letters” from the FDA about how they do business or how they market.  But I do not have the same feelings about each company and the “big bad FDA” (as proponents of green-washing want to tout) after each read.  Sometimes I am in agreement with the FDA. AHH! Aren’t you a student of holistic health? What is wrong with you!!  No, seriously. Sometimes what the FDA is requiring is within their jurisdiction. Other times it is not. It’s not personal, it’s set regulation.

So the Just-Mayo people were told they were not marketing correctly and that they needed to change their label since their mayo is vegan.  This is interesting, as if I recall Pringles can’t be labeled potato chips (I think they go by ‘crisps’) because they do not have enough potato content. And I know Nutella has had many issues, from not having enough cocoa to be called chocolate spread in Italy, to being sued for claiming itself a “health food”.   And what about the classic, sweet Miracle Whip?  So, who has the rights to the legal definition and labeling of mayo? Apparently the use of the word ‘just’ has to be defined.

From the article, “The new label clearly states that Just Mayo does not contain eggs. And CEO Josh Tetrick tells Quartz it will emphasize the word “just”—not as in “only” but as in “guided by reason, justice, and fairness.”

So this leads us to marketing. And what words mean.  And what companies mean when they use those words. And that really is the most important thing. Our culture wants to tell us what we need. And then it wants to sell it to us.  And we really shouldn’t believe a word of it at face value.  I guess we can say that it is sad to be held accountable, but for all the information out there we should be held accountable.  We can be aware of an awful lot. We can gain a good amount of knowledge on many topics.  So although ignorant purchasing is bound to happen while living a balanced life, if we really are trying to make an informed choice on something, we have the ability to do it.

So ask yourself some questions before buying into a brand:
What is this brand trying to sell me? (Lifestyle/Culture/Clique/Health)
Does it use an Us vs. Them method?
Are they open about their practices and research?
Do they have trusted, educated endorsers?
How old is the research?
Will it disrupt my balance or peace?
Can I separate myself from the brand?