Herbal Consumers Show Need for a New Kind of Consumer Education

Wednesday, December 05, 2007 by: Kal Sellers
Tags: medicinal herbs, health news, Natural News

eTrust Pro Certified

Delicious Pin It
(NaturalNews) Nedra Alleman of Afton, Wyoming came up to me holding a bag of supplements that must have weighed three or four pounds. She was not selling me anything, rather she was asking me which of these I would use or recommend.

One by one I went through the bag. Like every natural healer, I have a standard that I adhere to. I have decided what my beliefs are and I only use supplements that meet my criteria. Nedra was just one of literally dozens of people who have approached me over the last year about their supplements. "Which should I use?", "Which are the best?", and "Should I use this, or throw it away?" are some of the common questions I receive.

I have learned to be cautious in my response. I tell them what my standard is and how I feel about each supplement but I only really tell them to throw out the ones that have something in it I believe to really impede good health. I also tell them what supplements I might use instead that would yield similar results without the questionable ingredients.

This problem is far from isolated or new. Actually, since supplements began to be sold as a package in ancient China, a science called “Alchemy” was used to “enhance” nature’s medicines. Bone meal, animal blood, mineral deposits, ground metals, fibrous fillers, along with a whole art and science of manipulating the ingredients with fermentation and heat might show up in your “herbal” supplement and medicine.

Today, we are not much different from ancient (and modern) China. True, you probably will not find bone meal in your herbs, although you might.

When you go to the health food store today, you will find that out of 60 dry supplement products (meaning not liquid) that appear to be herbal (meaning that they have herbs pictured, described, labeled or otherwise advertised on the label), only about 15 are truly plant derived.

Out of 45 herbal supplements commonly sold, about 7 will be plant based (with fillers that are cellulose or millet or rice flour, etc.); about 25 will be laden with preservatives of all types and the remaining 13 are filled with extra stuff that may include preservatives but also includes refined vitamins, minerals, chemicals, amino acids, isolated plant constituents, etc. One of that thirteen will have no whole herbs at all in it, but will only contain some isolated chemical derivative of an herb combined with other isolated nutrients - in other word, they are drugs in herb clothing.

From the list of herbal products in any given herb store, you will find two brands that are consistently herbs only. This will be Wholistic Botanicals (who makes Dr. Christopher Original Formulas) and Nature’s Sunshine. Many brands promoting themselves to be “pure and natural” in fact are neither.

I wanted to discover if this variation in quality was perceived by the herb consumers. I went to the Herb and Vitamin Depot in Hiram, GA to find out.

The kind woman there who spoke with me shared that when customers come in who want a specific standard (i.e. just herbs in a specific milligram quantity), they are the ones who are already somewhat educated in identifying herbal quality and will know what they want. When someone does not know what to get, she usually turns to manufacturer information on various products or to products that she, herself, has gotten good results from to help them decide.

As far as the purity of herbal supplements, the store clerk had very little to say except that they would at least be pharmaceutical grade, meaning that they were free from dangerous impurities. This is a very important customer safety issue, to be sure. She had nothing at all to say about customers coming in with questions about the “other stuff” in “herbal” supplements. Apparently, this is not well enough understood to even draw a question.

The question arises then, does there need to be education on the subject of content or should we just turn to manufacturer statements to determine the usefulness or validity of the products we use?

Of course, the history of that also brought us a very benign sounding product extracted from asparagus, known as aspartame. This miracle sweetener filled health food stores not very long ago as a natural sugar free supplement. The manufacturers certainly had plenty good to say about the product and its value.

So, can we really trust manufacturers or research panels for that kind of labeling?

I approached Traci, of Traci’s LLC, who also recently published Traci’s Transformational Health Principles and who is a strong voice for defining “natural” in a way that protects people. I asked her what her standard was for natural and she told me about a concept in her book called the “natural food filter.”

Traci’s definition of natural is longer than we can cover here, but it revolves around one basic idea: “Something that is truly natural is condoned by nature, meaning nature provides it to us freely and it can be reproduced without the aid of anything that is not found in nature.”

To David Christopher, President of the School of Natural Healing, the oldest licensed herbal college in the United States, “…natural means: ‘as nature intended.’”

So I decided to pose a few thinking questions for you, the consumer:

  1. Do you have a standard for natural, or must it only be in a health food store?

  2. How do you define natural?

  3. What supplements are the best and how do you know?

  4. Which supplements fit your philosophy of health (assuming you have a philosophy of health)?

  5. Why do certain supplements fit your philosophy while others do not?

The issue today is certainly not one of what is right or wrong, good or bad, but rather one of: what do you want and why do you want it?

This bit of consumer education is wholly or mostly absent today.

Consumers instead tend to jump from supplement to supplement, having, as Nedra did, almost a suitcase full of supplements, not sure what to use or throw out.

In other words, would you even know if a new product on the market fit your philosophy and what it would cost you to find out? In the case of Aspartame, some consumers were actually crippled because of it and some appear to have developed brain tumors as a result of it. That is a high cost, and yet Aspartame was developed from Asparagus, a natural and healthy food!

This highlights the need for more consumer education that will help them to decide what products they will accept as “herbal” or “natural” and what they will reject.

Many ingredients in a supplement may actually be “natural”, other things may simply come from nature at some point but may not resemble that form anymore.

In an effort to help out with this lacking education among the general public, Aubrey Organics has produced a “Natural Ingredients Dictionary” which they will supply to you for free, in hopes, (I am sure) that you will find their products acceptable once you know what they contain and what those words really mean. I, for one, use Aubrey Organics products myself.

Far more education on the function of different ingredients is needed:

Which preservatives are inert in the body and which ones actually inhibit enzymatic activity in the body as they do in the product? Which fillers are helping and which are merely clutter, diluting an otherwise good product? Which isolated nutrients benefit your body and which, like petroleum-based ascorbic acid, actually increase the rate of tumor growth?

These are questions needing answers. I believe that these questions are important if the consumer is to protect him or herself from everything from wasted money, to weak results, to really toxic ingredients that appeared okay at first. There are a few natural healing schools around today that work to spread this kind of education. I hope to see more materials emerge as the need for consumer health education becomes more apparent to teachers and consumers.

About the author

Kal Sellers, MH currently operates KalsSchool.com and teaches a 2-year curriculum for Natural Medicine, via live teleclasses.
Kal is a Master Herbalist and holds several other certificates and licenses for hands-on healing modalities. He maintains a current practice in the Atlanta area.
Kal and Traci have six children, the last four of which were delivered at home. They live now in Powder Springs, GA where they teach live classes on food and medicine. Kal is also a full time Chiropractic student.

Get breaking news alerts on GMOs, fluoride, superfoods, natural cures and more...
Join over four million monthly readers. Email privacy 100% protected. Unsubscribe at any time.

Have comments on this article? Post them here:

comments powered by Disqus

Take Action: Support NaturalNews.com

Email this article to a friend

Permalink to this article:

Reprinting this article: Non-commercial use OK, cite NaturalNews.com with clickable link.

Embed article link: (copy HTML code below):
Most Popular
Today | Week | Month | Year

See all Top Headlines...


Now Available at ShopNaturalNews.com

O3 Essentials OraJuvenate™
A powerful, cleansing dental cream for maximum oral/dental health.
New Cancer Solutions
Over 3 hours of content covering today’s best cancer tests, how to kill cancer cells and the best diets and exercise routines.
Freeze-Dried 100% Organic Whole Corn
Our freeze-drying method preserves taste, texture and nutrients better than any other food preservation method ever invented.
Fenix TK35 Flashlight
Tough, waterproof, extremely bright and it’s touted to throw an 800+ lumen beam more than 1,000 feet into the night.
Inca Treasure Smoothie Pack
This pack of our four most popular superfoods from South America is the perfect combo pack for smoothie lovers.
Pink Himalayan Salt
This salt delivers significant levels of magnesium, zinc and selenium, with trace levels of dozens of other elements.
Pinhole Glasses - Aviator Style
Pinhole glasses are becoming famous for helping people improve their vision without the risks of laser surgery.
Oxy-Rich Facial Serum
O3 Essentials Jojoba Oxy-Rich Facial Serum is cellular nourishment for your skin. Helps smooth fine lines while enhancing tissue elasticity.
Freeze-Dried 100% Blackberry Halves
Our freeze-dried blackberry halves are grown in Serbia under strict organic standards.

Also on NaturalNews:

Health Ranger Videos
Activist music
CounterThink Cartoons
Food documentaries
FREE Special Reports
Colloidal Silver

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Support NaturalNews Sponsors:

Advertise with NaturalNews...

Most Popular Stories

Flu shot kills 19-year-old, but vaccine industry still has total immunity against lawsuits
Here's a nutty fact: Eating more tree nuts lowers the risk of all-cause death by up to 20 percent
Six important facts you're not being told about lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 now clearly a government cover-up: All evidence contradicts official story
10 other companies that use the same Subway yoga mat chemical in their buns
BLM fracking racket exposed! Armed siege and cattle theft from Bundy ranch really about fracking leases
High-dose vitamin C injections shown to annihilate cancer
U.S. treating meat with ammonia, bleach and antibiotics to kill the '24-hour sickness'
USDA to allow U.S. to be overrun with contaminated chicken from China
Vaccine fraud exposed: Measles and mumps making a huge comeback because vaccines are designed to fail, say Merck virologists
Battle for humanity nearly lost: global food supply deliberately engineered to end life, not nourish it
Diet soda, aspartame linked to premature deaths in women

25 Amazing Facts About Food

This FREE downloadable report unveils a collection of astonishing and little-known facts about the food we eat very day. Click here to read it now...


Resveratrol and its Effects on Human Health and Longevity - Myth or Miracle.

Unlock the secrets of cellular health with the "miracle" nutrient Resveratrol Click here to read it now...


Nutrition Can Save America

FREE online report shows how we can save America through a nutrition health care revolution. "Eating healthy is patriotic!" Click here to read it now...

The Healing Power of Sunlight and Vitamin D

In this exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Holick reveals fascinating facts on how vitamin D is created and used in the human body to ward off chronic diseases like cancer, osteoporosis, mental disorders and more. Click here to read it now...

Vaccines: Get the Full Story

The International Medical Council on Vaccination has released, exclusively through NaturalNews.com, a groundbreaking document containing the signatures of physicians, brain surgeons and professors, all of which have signed on to a document stating that vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children. Click here to read it now...

Health Ranger Storable Organics

GMO-free, chemical-free foods and superfoods for long-term storage and preparedness. See selection at www.StorableOrganics.com

Recommended Resources On:

Natural News trends
Health Ranger news
Natural News GMOs
Mike Adams tracker
Natural News photos
Natural News Global
Natural News in focus
Natural News connect
Natural News shocking stories
Natural News radar
Health freedom
Dr. Paul Offit

This site is part of the Natural News Network © 2014 All Rights Reserved. Privacy | Terms All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing International, LTD. is not responsible for content written by contributing authors. The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms and those published here. All trademarks, registered trademarks and servicemarks mentioned on this site are the property of their respective owners.

eTrust Pro Certified Android app on Google Play

Sign up for the FREE Natural News Email Newsletter

Receive breaking news on GMOs, vaccines, fluoride, radiation protection, natural cures, food safety alerts and interviews with the world's top experts on natural health and more.

Join over 7 million monthly readers of NaturalNews.com, the internet's No. 1 natural health news site. (Source: Alexa.com)

Your email address *

Please enter the code you see above*

No Thanks

Already have it and love it!

Natural News supports and helps fund these organizations:

* Required. Once you click submit, we will send you an email asking you to confirm your free registration. Your privacy is assured and your information is kept confidential. You may unsubscribe at anytime.