DSHEA

Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senator from Utah, has announced his retirement. When he leaves, the Senate will lose its most ardent supporter of alternative medicine.

Previously, that title was held indisputably by Tom Harkin, a Democratic Senator from Iowa. He is largely to blame for the abomination known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), an organization so worthless that it had to change its name so biomedical scientists would stop mocking it.

If Ted Kennedy was the Lion of the Senate, Sen. Harkin was the Snake Oil Salesman of the Senate. Given that his pet project wasted billions investigating pure...

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Electrocuting your brain, compounding chemicals at your kitchen counter, chewing coffee cubes. These are just some of the examples of how desperate we have become as a culture to obtain an edge, whether it be enhancing memory, attention, motivation, creativity or a combination of these. We are obsessed with boosting our brain power and exploiting its untapped potential.

There is a whole culture of folks devoted to developing and marketing gizmos and gadgets galore to very hungry millennials who are increasingly feeling the...

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Approximately 50 percent of Americans take some sort of dietary supplements whether it's a standard vitamin/mineral mix, herbal or other botanical product, amino acids and proteins or essential fatty acids. The options are aplenty, as there are some 85,000 different dietary supplements in the United States.

Despite their variety, one thing they all have in common is a lack of oversight and regulation, according to a hard-...

We've written many times about the effects of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health Education Act (DSHEA) on the perception of various supplements as almost magical treatments for a variety of ills (see here, for example). One such perception has been that vitamin D can...

SupplementsBecause of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), dietary supplement purveyors can't claim that their products can prevent, treat or cure disease. So they have to resort to "support" verbiage. But we know what they really mean.

Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the case of prostate cancer, as the number of products that purport to support prostate health are legion especially when it comes to prostate cancer. A recent study found, however, that support or not, such supplements don't do...

SupplementsYet another evidence-based study continues the drumbeat of alarms regarding potential risks of "dietary-nutritional supplements." Our nation has a craving for these products despite the dangers of them. The problem is further accentuated by America's lax-to-nonexistent regulation.

Published in the current New England Journal of Medicine, entitled "ER Visits for Adverse Events Related to Dietary Supplements," researchers from the CDC and the FDA (led by Drs. Andrew Geller and Beverly Wolpert) analyzed...

eat-your-vitamins-1329779If you have ever had the displeasure of sitting through all 3+ hours of the movie Titanic there's an iconic moment (no not that one) where the panic of the situation has set in and then, inexplicably, the band starts playing. Passengers are running around in full panic mode while a bunch of...

Calcium supplement pillsLast year a Senate committee dragged Dr. Mehmet Oz over the coals for his promotion of dubious supplements on his TV show. Earlier this year Eric T. Schneiderman, the NY State attorney general, accused several stores of selling mislabeled and adulterated herbal supplements. After that, 14 state attorneys general asked Congress to further investigate the supplement industry.

That s a big request since the basic problem stems from a law, the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act (DSHEA), that Congress and then- President Clinton...

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Last month, the New York State Attorney General (AG) had herbal supplements sold at GNC, Walgreens, Target, and Walmart tested, and found the supplements did not contain the herbs on the label 80 percent of the time, and in many cases contained filler ingredients such as powdered rice, wheat and houseplants. Although some questions have been raised about the reliance on a DNA testing procedure that may not have revealed plant DNA in herbal extracts, the results of this investigation...

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.49.58 PMIt should come as no surprise to our Dispatch readers that we have a real problem with the ever-changing, bogus world of dietary supplements. Although these allegedly non-medicines make cleverly disguised non-claims about utility for just about every human malady real or imagined the most popular of these useless products are for weight loss.

People love their supplements (although not as much as the companies selling them). They are perceived as non-drugs, which, since they are natural can do no harm, can only help. Although all of this is dead wrong, the $30...