If It’s Not a Food, and It’s Not a Drug, Then What Is It?

Ladies and gentlemen, please take a moment to fashion yourself a lovely piece of millinery out of some kitchen foil. You’ll need it to ward off the gamma rays, because the guberment is out to get us all!!

The issue of Bill C-51 puts me in the unfortunate position of finding myself agreeing with the Conservative Federal government. But more than I despise conservatives, I detest people who get rich selling green powder and snake oil to unwitting chumps searching for a way to cure what ails them.

In most cases, big pharma has let them down, and yes, yes, yes, no doubt big pharma is in no small part responsible for pushing the government to pass this bill and force “natural health products” to the same standards used for pharmaceuticals. Undoubtedly, the bill will force some small companies out of business – but a lot of those companies will be shysters selling magic powder and a basket of hope to people who have already gone through enough.

The bill would change the wording of the “Food and Drug” act to “food and natural therapeutic products”, and would thus encompass all products that purported to offer health benefits of any kind. Any products claiming health benefits from consumption would be subject to the same level of testing that mainstream drugs undergo.

The natural products industry claims this isn’t fair, as their products are neither food nor drugs, but are “therapeutic products”. But it’s got to be one or the other, no? We eat food for its nutritional benefit, and we take medicine for its medicinal benefit. These products fall somewhere in between, and the government wants the same testing standards to apply.

What I personally don’t understand is – why is this a bad thing???

If your product actually does what you say it does, wouldn’t you want to be able to prove that it’s just as good, if not better, than regular pharmaceuticals? Do you really expect people to believe all those damned testimonials?

But it’s not about the products, see… it’s about the money that can be made from those products.

I knew a couple once, a decade or so ago, who turned to a holistic nutritionist when they were feeling unwell. The nutritionist diagnosed them with a plethora of allergies and was selling them over $300 worth of vitamins, supplement and herbs each month. When the wife of the couple discovered she was pregnant, the holistic nutritionist advised her against seeing an ob/gyn. Instead she sold her more pills and supplements and encouraged her to look at natural birthing solutions. The wife had had a couple of miscarriages before and was distrustful of mainstream medicine, but at the insistence of her family, she finally, with much protest, went for an ultrasound. There was no baby. She had undergone a false pregnancy.

When the couple contacted the nutritionist, they were shocked to discover she had left town – in a huge rush. A visit for both of them to a regular doctor revealed that they didn’t have any of the allergies the nutritionist had diagnosed in them. They had paid her thousands of dollars for nothing, and had allowed her to instill considerable false hope in them with regards to them finally being able to conceive. They were heartbroken.

Now obviously, not everyone in the natural health products industry is like this nutritionist. Many of them manufacture products that work, and genuinely have their patients/customers’ best interests at heart. But it seems only logical that the folks who really do believe in their products, and aren’t just in the industry to scam people, would be happy about having their products on a level playing field with mainstream medicine.

But those who manufacture snake oil, or nutritionists who foresee finding themselves out of work when they’re no longer making a commission off the pills and powders because those products are now available at the regular pharmacy are mighty scared. Once these products are tested and doctors become more knowledgeable in their use, there’s a whole segment of the natural health products industry who will find themselves in the unemployment line.

Maybe, just maybe, that’s their real area of concern.

Note – comments are screened. Tinfoil hat-wearing, government-paranoid, patchouli-scented hippies who feel the need to comment, be forewarned that I will not publish any comments that are either personal attacks, or that attempt to promote or sell your magic beans.