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You Did It!! Durbin’s Anti-Supplement Amendment Was Killed!!

Thousands of members of the natural health community called and wrote Senate offices between yesterday and today, calling on their Senators to oppose an anti-supplement amendment, Amendment No. 2127, from Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) that would have ridden the coattails of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187), also known as the FDA User Fee bill (S.3187).

And you won!!!

Durbin’s amendment that was defeated today would have created a new law that would have circumvented or ignored: the guidelines outlined even in the fatally flawed NDI Draft Guidance; the facility registration rules already in place under the Bioterrorism Act of 2001; and the over 35,000 product labels already on file with the FDA and the US National Library of Medicine.

The failed amendment would have been a product registration nightmare creating burdensome and unnecessary registration of all safe dietary supplements, moving supplement labeling submission requirements that much closer to drug-like regulations that we see in Canada and Europe today.

Tens of thousands of products would have had to be removed from store shelves in order to be made compliant with new, completely unwarranted 30-day post-market product and label registration requirements.

This legislation was defeated today via a motion to table the amendment by supplements champion Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Our thanks to both Senators and to all of you!!

Our victory today reminds us of how important our health freedoms are, and how extra-vigilant we need to be every day.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!

 

 

Tell Your Senators to Vote NO TODAY on Durbin’s Amendment No. 2127!

By James J. Gormley and Frank Herd, Jr.

Starting at 2:00 p.m. today, May 24th, the Senate will vote on 17 amendments to the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187) –  also known as the FDA User Fee bill (S.3187) – followed by a vote on final passage, including anti-supplement Amendment No. 2127 from Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL].

Call Your Senators Now and ask them to Vote No on Durbin’s Amendment No. 2127!

Sound familiar? It should – you helped us defeat this move last year when an expanded version of it appeared as S. 1310, Durbin’s Dietary Supplement Labeling Act of 2011. Please use the link below to call your Senators right away and urge them to oppose Durbin’s amendment when it’s introduced, and to focus instead on holding unscrupulous food companies accountable to our existing system of consumer protections.

Last year’s S. 1310 was a misguided response to marketing tactics by  unscrupulous food companies trying to circumvent FDA standards – and so is Sen. Durbin’s Amendment No. 2127 to be voted on today.

This amendment would create a totally new law!

Call Your Senators Now and ask them to Vote No on Durbin’s Amendment No. 2127!

That’s right, a new law that would circumvent: the guidelines outlined even in the fatally flawed NDI Draft Guidance; the facility registration rules already in place under the Bioterrorism Act of 2001; and the over 35,000 product labels already on file with the FDA and the US National Library of Medicine.

The product registration nightmare of this new law would require burdensome and unnecessary registration  of all safe dietary supplements, moving supplement labeling submission requirements that much closer to drug-like regulations that we see in Canada and Europe today.

Call Your Senators Now and ask them to Vote No on Durbin’s Amendment No. 2127!

Tens of thousands of products would have too be removed from store shelves in order to comply with new, completely unwarranted 30-day post market product and label registration requirements!!

Leave a voicemail, or a message with an aide saying that you have learned that there will be a vote today on Senator Durbin’s amendment to S. 3187, one that unfairly targets makers of dietary supplements and that your Senator should oppose it.

Please also ask your Senator to focus instead on holding accountable the duplicitous companies looking to circumvent existing regulations.

Keep an eye on your email box and on www.citizens.org for updates as this issue develops.

The FDA’s DMAA Gamble

By James J. Gormley

Courtesy of the SupplySide Community

On April 24th, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warning letters to 10 companies cautioning them, in the strictest possible terms, that their DMAA (1,3 Dimethylamylamine)-containing products may be considered new dietary ingredients for which notifications have not been submitted and, so, would be adulterated products in violation of law and subject to seizure.

And, oh, by the way, since DMAA is a synthetic version of what may or may not be a constituent in geranium, it could not even be an NDI if it wanted to be, according to the FDA.

The FDA is resting its very, very shaky case on a false premise, or misguided hope, that DMAA is not found in geranium and that synthetic analogues of naturally occurring consumables would never qualify as a dietary ingredient. This willful misinterpretation of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) comes directly from the FDA’s NDI Draft Guidance.

For the FDA to assert that no synthesized natural compound could ever be a dietary supplement is tantamount to saying that the vast majority of all dietary supplement products on the market today are adulterated.

Most dietary supplements on the market today contain synthetic analogues of naturally occurring natural ingredients, including vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, and various amino acids.

In truth, DMAA is a constituent of the geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) plant, having been identified in the oil obtained from the steam distillation of the stems and leaves. This DMAA-containing plant has been used for centuries as a food item (e.g., leaves are infused for teas and added to desserts and confections, flowers are used in salads, while the oil has been used as a flavoring agent). In fact, the geranium plant and its oil are generally recognized as safe (GRAS). In terms of safety, GNC, for example, has sold 440 million servings of DMAA since 2007, with only one reported adverse event.

The FDA is following on the heels of the Defense Logistics Agency, which took products containing DMAA off military base shelves earlier this year based on two cases of death anecdotally linked to DMAA—despite the fact that the Pentagon has acknowledged no link between DMAA and the soldiers’ deaths.

On September 6th, 2011, Barry Lynch from Cantox Health Sciences International issued an open memo in which he stated that not only do published data already exist (Ping et al., 1996) confirming that DMAA does occur in geranium oil, but also that USPlabs (the maker of Jack3d) has obtained new data “from two independent and highly respected analytical chemistry laboratories, utilizing advanced validated […] instrumentation and methods, [that] corroborate the original data published by Ping et al., and further demonstrate the occurrence of DMAA in the geranium plant […] and its edible oil.”

To be clear, the FDA is outrageously overstepping its bounds by using (although not overtly citing) non-binding opinion from a draft guidance document in Warning Letters in order to not only scare the named companies from using DMAA any longer but to also cause a widespread chilling effect in the marketplace where gun-shy companies preemptively pull an ingredient that is attracting the FDA’s attention rather than go to bat for it or join with other companies that are.

We see this happening already. Even companies that did not receive a Warning Letter are reformulating or have already reformulated their products into non-DMAA alternatives.

This is exactly what the FDA wants. Use inexpensive Warning Letters (as opposed to attempting to drag companies into Federal Court or to actually prove anything, which it cannot) to frighten the marketplace into “complying” with a version of the law that the Agency wished were in place but is not.

But no matter, if the industry decides that is much easier, and safer, to just sacrifice DMAA to avoid nasty letters from the FDA and to shield itself from frivolous class-action lawsuits citing non-binding Warning Letters, then it will have conceded defeat without a live bullet having even been fired.

And this is not to be critical of industry firms either, which honestly need to balance legal and regulatory exposure with the perceived or actual value of keeping a now-controversial ingredient in products, not to even mention public companies’ shareholder concerns and jittery insurance company worries.

That being said, the whole ugly mess reminds me of the early years in our current millennium when ephedra’s neck was on the proverbial chopping block. Many of us testified on behalf of this wonderful master botanical and tried to enlist the aid of an ephedra council from which the members had fled as if from a burning house—the San Diego ephedrine scandal did not help things, to put it mildly.

Now we have an ingredient on the chopping block.

It may not be a master herb with thousands of years of traditional use. It is not a full-spectrum botanical. And it has been included in some products whose marketing is not what we would hold up as a shining example of advertising probity and conservatism. But it does represent a line in the sand drawn by the FDA.

If we were to fully cave on DMAA, the FDA will use this as precedent for establishing a beach head on the shore of “nothing synthetic can be an NDI,” and then where will we be and what will we have gained—or lost?

Continue Reading

Getting to the Heart of the Matter With Dr. Ding

QUESTION: Why is it that heart disease seems to affect more women than men?

DR. DING: There are certain social differences as well as inherent biological differences. However, there is need for clarification about the gender difference in heart disease…. Although women have fewer heart attacks than men, women are more likely to die of heart attacks than men. Part of it is differences in diet and lifestyle (e.g., men eat often more red meat and saturated fat), but also that women’s heart attacks are often less obvious, such as the fewer overt chest pains at onset of heart attacks compared to men. Additionally, women also perceive a lower risk of heart attacks than they actually have, which decreases their chance of seeing the doctor. Moreover, even if a  woman knows she has heart disease and sees a doctor, research has shown that women (compared to men) are less likely to receive ECGs, less likely to get angiograms, less likely to get bypass and stent procedures, and less likely to receive cholesterol-lowering medications. Moreover, biologically, drugs like aspirin that strongly prevent heart attacks in men, are less effective against heart attacks in women. And finally, a woman with diabetes is more likely to die of heart disease than a similar man with diabetes. Altogether, these all lead to higher heart disease mortality for women than men.

QUESTION: What are the most important things a woman can do to decrease her chances of heart disease?

DR. DING: Exercise regularly (30 minutes a day), maintain an optimal BMI of 18.5-25 and don’t smoke.

I rank sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) as one of the worst causes of heart disease. It’s not the sugar per se, but rather liquid sugar intake such as in soda and sweetened juices, because liquid sugar is partially “invisible“ to our hunger control system. Indeed, the difference between liquid sugar and solid sugar is best seen in an experiment between sugary beverages vs. jelly beans (with same number of calories). While jelly bean eaters become full and ate less food later in the day, liquid sugar drinkers were not fully satiated and become hungrier sooner and consumed more calories at the end of the day (compared to solid sugar eaters).

This is why sugary beverages (but not sugar) are inherently dangerous (read my recent piece for more info: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-ding-phd/sugary-beverages-harmful-effects_b_1103758.htm). For the same reason, parents should not give too much SSB to their children.

Inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables is another major cause of heart disease in America. Only a small segment of the population gets 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day — and this actually includes French fries, which nutritionists don’t really consider a vegetable [But how did the starch French fries get classified as vegetable by the USDA? It’s not hard to imagine what industry group had successfully lobbied the USDA for the ‘French fry’ vegetable classification!].

Cocoa flavonoids are good against heart disease: from multiple systematic reviews of dozens of randomized trials, cocoa flavonoids are shown to lower BP, lower bad LDL, raise good HDL, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve blood flow. Recent reviews of multiple long-term cohort studies have also shown benefits of cocoa for lowering heart disease. However, interestingly, the benefits in the trials were observed with doses of around 400-500 mg/day, equivalent to 33 bars of milk chocolate or 8 bars of dark chocolate. Thus, because it is unreasonable to consume all the calories, sugar and fat to achieve these levels of cocoa flavonoids through just chocolate bars alone… supplements with concentrated cocoa flavonoids are helpful for garnering the benefits discovered (supplements available commercially, e.g. CocoaWell supplements in 400 mg.  dosage). The key is getting the benefits of cocoa flavonoids for heart disease while avoiding the calories, and for that, chocolate bars are not the solution – supplements are a better option.

Additionally, beyond SSBs and French fries, generally, high glycemic load refined starches are a cause of heart disease. Therefore look for whole grains instead of white bread, brown rice instead of white rice, and steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal. And avoid mashed and baked potatoes, which have an incredibly high glycemic index and glycemic load, equivalent to almost pure table sugar in spiking one’s blood sugar (and elevating heart disease risk).

Avoid trans-fats at all cost. Many years ago, before the nutrition and medical community realized the dangers, the emphasis had been on avoiding butter — and instead people were recommended to consume margarine instead. However, the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health discovered that trans-fats, high in margarine sticks, were even worse than the saturated fat in butter for increasing heart disease risk. This eventually led to trans-fat bans from restaurants in NYC, and then the rest of the country. Trans-fats are inherently bad for both their ability to increase bad LDL cholesterol, lower good HDL cholesterol, and increase inflammation – all of which increase heart disease substantially.

QUESTION: Is heart disease hereditary?

DR. DING: Only partly hereditary – while over 80% is preventable.  As shown in several large studies at Harvard, a combination of lifestyle factors can prevent 82% of heart disease and 90% of diabetes (a major cause of heart disease mortality).

QUESTION: Can you offer any health studies on natural products/dietary supplements and their proven benefits for Heart/Cardiovascular health?

DR. DING: Emerging studies and systematic reviews suggest that:

–Vitamin D may hold promise not only for cancers but also for prevention of coronary heart disease. As well as potentially diabetes.

–As noted earlier, cocoa flavonoids, from multiple systematic reviews of dozens of randomized trials, are showing great heart health results.  See information above re supplements like CocoaWell.

–Niacin lowers bad LDL, but it causes flushing.

–Potassium supplements strongly lower BP, but be careful of overdosing.

–Folic acid among LOW folate individuals may lower stroke risk, but folate is not beneficial in most people, since the US now has folate fortification in most grain products.

–Magnesium may modestly improve glucose and lower CVD risk.

–Algal oil supplement was shown in a recent meta analysis to lower triglycerides and raise HDL, but it slightly increased LDL.

–Grapefruit enhances the effects of Cholesterol lowering statin medications, effectively requiring less meds to achieve same effects at lower drug dose. But one should inquire with your doctor. And don’t ever drink alcohol with grapefruit.

QUESTION: What research are you currently working on? What kinds of research projects would you most like to do?

DR. DING: I believe in the importance of evidence-based translational medicine…there is so much fluff and false claims in the nutrition world that I want to make sure all claims are justified with a strong body of consistently supported scientific evidence. That is why I enjoy conducting large systematic reviews and meta-analysis (which I have taught at Harvard for the last 6 years). I’m an epidemiologist and nutritionist – so I like to focus on evidence based medicine in the realm of disease prevention… because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Tell the DLA to Reverse Its Decision re DMAA on Military Bases!

Washington, D.C. — At the end of last year, the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) – the military’s largest logistics combat support agency – issued a notification prohibiting The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, as well as GNC retail stores located on military bases, from selling dietary supplements that contain 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). This action was taken following the deaths of two soldiers who purportedly used DMAA-containing dietary supplements, even though the Department of Defense has acknowledged that a link between DMAA and the medical conditions reported has not been established.

Citizens for Health understands the Department of Defense’s desire to protect the health and safety of our military personnel. However, the answer is not to pull legally-marketed products from shelves before an investigation has been conducted to determine whether DMAA-containing products caused or contributed to the medical complications experienced by the soldiers. Rather, DLA made the premature and unsubstantiated decision to ban the sale of DMAA-containing products on its bases, based largely on media reports fueled by competitive interests. While an investigation is currently pending, DLA’s notification currently lacks scientific support and deals with issues that do not properly fall under its jurisdiction.

Please sign the petition now!

DMAA-containing dietary supplements are legally sold in the United States and regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA’s stringent requirements – including the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990, good manufacturing practice regulations, and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act – ensure the safety of dietary supplements.

Moreover, the safety of these products is independently supported by several peer-reviewed scientific studies, which the makers of products containing DMAA have made publicly available. Given the foregoing, we question why DLA’s notification was issued in the first place. The only thing DLA has done is needlessly interfere with the consumer’s right to purchase legal dietary supplements.

Such rights should not be infringed by DLA, especially in the absence of scientific evidence demonstrating a causal link between consumption of DMAA and medical complications. Citizens for Health calls on the Department of Defense to immediately rescind DLA’s notification and reinstate military personnel access to DMAA-containing products.

In the coming weeks, we will provide further updates as this situation unfolds. In the interim, Citizens for Health asks you to join us, the health freedom community, and concerned Americans everywhere in the campaign to get DLA’s notification rescinded and the free enterprise system restored on military bases.

If you agree that the Department of Defense should not interfere with military consumers’ right to purchase lawful dietary supplements, sign our petition now!

Curb Carb Cravings to Reduce Health Risks

By Julian Whitaker MD

Do you get intense carbohydrate cravings? Are there times when you just have to have a snack or can’t resist a cookie? These cravings are not just a road to an expanding waistline – they are also a warning sign. Carbohydrate cravings are often associated with insulin resistance, which in turn is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

In individuals who have insulin resistance, the beta cells in the pancreas make plenty of insulin – the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells – but the cells are unresponsive to insulin’s actions, leading to a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas responds by churning out more insulin, but it may overshoot the mark, driving blood sugar too low and creating an immediate demand for more glucose. This often manifests as carbohydrate cravings.

Unfortunately, when you heed the call, a vicious cycle is set into motion. More glucose demands more insulin, and over time, your body’s blood sugar-regulating mechanisms cannot keep up and signs of insulin resistance become more prominent.

Part of the problem is that chronically elevated levels of insulin, which are characteristic of insulin resistance, promote weight gain. That’s because insulin is the body’s primary fat-storage hormone – it ushers fat as well as glucose into the cells. So the higher your insulin level, the greater your potential weight gain.

To make matters worse, obesity throws fuel on the fire. Adipose tissue (fat), especially in the abdominal area, releases fatty acids that impair beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity, as well as immune cells that lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases insulin resistance and risk of diabetes.

The answer to the problem is to interrupt this insidious cycle as early as possible. Start with your diet. Sweets, potatoes, bread, pasta, and most everything made with sugar or refined grains – think white foods – have a high glycemic index and load. This means they rapidly drive up blood glucose but may be followed a couple of hours later by reactive hypoglycemia, a compensatory blood sugar dive that makes you tired, sluggish, and so hungry you feel like you could eat anything in sight.

To avoid this very common phenomenon, eat more fiber-rich vegetables and beans and include some protein with every meal. These foods are not only bulky, filling, and lower in calories, but because they cause a gradual rise in blood sugar, they’ll keep you going longer and are less apt to stimulate food cravings.

There are also some interesting supplements that can help control cravings. One of them is saffron, a bright yellow culinary spice that has been used in traditional medicine to tame inflammation and ease digestive woes. Saffron helps raise levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, influences hunger and satiety, and helps put the brakes on food cravings – especially for carbohydrates. This makes saffron a real boon for people trying to lose weight.

Look for saffron supplements in your health food store. You can also purchase my Saffron Snack Stopper by visiting www.drwhitaker.com or by calling 800-722-8008. Aim for the study dosage of 90 mg twice a day with meals. Note: It can take up to four weeks to see results, so be patient.

Another supplement for carb cravings is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). A direct precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP boosts levels of this important neurotransmitter and helps curb carb cravings. This supplement is particularly helpful for people with hormonal imbalances and those eating low-calorie diets, particularly low-protein diets, which may not provide enough of the amino acids required for serotonin production. The suggested dose is 50 to 100 mg, taken between meals. Do not take 5-HTP if you are on an SSRI antidepressant.

The most important tool for reversing insulin resistance (and potential diabetes) is weight loss, and reducing cravings is an important step toward that end. So stock up on fiber-rich foods, eat protein at every meal, and try supplemental saffron and 5-HTP, and you just may be able to keep carbohydrate binges at bay.

About Dr. Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is Director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute and Editor of Health and Healing newsletter that provides important health advice for more than 500,000 people nationwide. Dr. Whitaker graduated from Dartmouth College in 1966 and received his MD in 1970 from Emory University Medical School. He completed his surgical internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in 1971, and continued at the University of California in San Francisco in orthopedic surgery. In 1974, Dr. Whitaker founded the California Orthomolecular Medical Society, along with four other physicians and the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling. Dr. Whitaker is the author of several books including the best-selling Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks.

You Did It Again! Dump the FDA’s NDI Draft Guidance

By James J. Gormley

You made it clear that 10,000 petition signatures in 10 days was only the beginning salvo in American consumers’ call for Congress to demand that the FDA withdraw the misbegotten, supplement-industry- and innovation-killing NDI Draft Guidance. Partly thanks to a stirring video re-mastered by Australian truth rapper Jody Lloyd, aka Trillion, over 12,000 of you signed the petition that we delivered to Congress, the White House and the FDA.

Our next goal was 25,000 signatures by February 25th, and for this truth rapper Trillion came to our aid once again. Thanks to all of you, we met this goal as well.

But, we’re not just setting goals and trying to reach them as some exercise in advocacy; we hand-delivered the first 12,686 signatures to 11 key legislators on Capitol Hill. As a direct result of those meetings we had in Washington on December 2, 2011, Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) sent out a letter to his entire Congressional District outlining the dangers of the NDI Draft Guidance and how this outrageous document represents the very worst of Big Government, over-regulation and of an agency run amuck.

We are going to deliver the next batch of 12,000+ signatures soon, and you know that it is getting serious attention in Washington DC. And the more the petition grows in signatures, the stronger will be the mandate from the American people that this NDI Draft Guidance must not stand!

If you have not already signed it, please do so now and pass along to everyone you know…..your e-mail contacts, your Facebook friends, your Google+ circles, your Twitter followers, your church, temple or synagogue congregation, your town or city council—you name it!

NDI Groundhog Day: Let’s Start a New Day!

By James J. Gormley

25 by 25: 25,000 Signatures by February 25!!

Do you feel like we are all living in some sort of reality that keeps repeating a day until we get it right, as Bill Murray’s character, Phil, learned in the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day?

Well, in this case the FDA is Phil and it needs to learn a lesson here. Please sign the petition!

Talking about lessons, in November, Citizens for Health (CFH) supporters made grassroots history by joining forces to amass over 12,000 “Withdraw the NDI Petition” signatures in 10 days!

Representatives from CFH (Jim Turner and James Gormley) honored that commitment on December 2nd by  meeting with top aides from 11 key U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate offices, where we dropped off the petition along with the 12,686 signatures from many of you!

While we received the warmest reception at the offices of Congressman Darrell Issa (CA) and Congressman Ron Paul MD (TX) — thank you Congressmen and your aides! — we look forward to working with a number of Congressional movers-and-shakers to push for a withdrawal of this misguided Guidance. [You can sign the petition here]

In fact, two of the three original authors of the law that protects our supplement rights, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) met with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a few weeks ago, but  their request that the Guidance be withdrawn was denied.

We at CFH have been calling for the withdrawal of this Guidance since September 13th, and we are pleased that the health-food industry associations are now calling for the Guidance withdrawal as well.

With CFH’s petition campaign signatures now approaching  19,000 even though the official comment period is over, we are going to continue to collect petition signatures and pass them along (in batches) to Congress and the FDA. You can sign the petition here to help us reach 25 by 25!

In the weeks ahead, we will be following up again with the 11 legislators whose offices we visited in order to ask for their support in calling on the FDA to summarily withdraw the Guidance and to hold a public hearing if it is not immediately withdrawn.

You can rest assured that your having made history with this petition will not be forgotten, and we use the power of your signatures, and your commitment, to achieve continued consumer health-freedom victories!

Our new goal is 25 by 25, or 25,000 signatures by February 25, and with your help we can reach it! Sign it today to make history … again!

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Sign the Petition Supporting a Healthier Workplace!

Dear Citizen for Health,

As the Consumer Voice of the Natural Health Community we are committed to preserving and expanding your health freedoms and ensuring that you have access to the resources you need to make informed decisions about maintaining your health and wellness.

It is from that perspective that we bring to your attention this article: The Case for a Four-Day Work Week, by respected technology entrepreneur, Jay Love, based on his personal experience with his company. Hardly a new idea, the “work four 10-hour days with Friday off” model has been implemented in a variety of workplace environments with overwhelmingly positive results.

Workplace stress and dissatisfaction drops while productivity soars; employees have the opportunity each week to deal with domestic responsibilities that couldn’t be addressed during a non-business day; one day less to commute means money and energy saved; and people have three days to spend in the company of family, making it easier to schedule meaningful activities as a group.

Naturally, all these benefits contribute to a happier, more balanced lifestyle and greater overall health.

We at CFH put on our thinking caps and Senior Policy Advisor James Gormley took the idea one step further: “But getting home after dinner and as the children are being put to bed on four days does not compensate for one free day…It should be a 32-hour work-week…It’s all about being rested, having time for family, feeling appreciated, and achieving better work-life balance. A four-day 9-5 (or 10-6) schedule with Friday off would revolutionize the American workplace.”

Indeed it would! That’s why we created a petition to both Congressional Committees on Health Labor and Pensions suggesting a feasibility study by the U.S. Governmental Accountability Office (GAO). We’re urging that the GAO, in consultation with the U.S. Department of Labor, work to ascertain the  benefits to American workers that would result from officially creating an alternative definition of the U.S. work week based on four  days and 32 hours – 8 hours a day with time for lunch – in addition to the  current 40-hour, five-day definition.

If you agree with the available data and believe that everyone would benefit from more time with family, more time to tackle personal responsibilities, and more time to rest and rejuvenate for the week ahead, sign our petition now! 

Sincerely,

Frank Herd, Program Coordinator, CFH

Hostile Bedfellows Assail Vitamins

Part 2 of “Media May Kill Vitamins”  – Submitted as a guest editorial by Suzanne Jenkins, November 29, 2011

Over-the-counter dietary supplements are endangered as evidenced by ongoing attacks reported in the media. Currently Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Henry Waxman are trying a new tactic to discredit dietary supplements after previous legislative failures by asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review adverse event report data for dietary supplements only, excluding the far more dangerous and numerous adverse event reports for drugs and vaccines. Since the media shapes public opinion, individuals and special interest groups that are hostile to dietary supplements will continue to use the media to discredit them and ultimately make them ineffective or unavailable to the public in the over-the-counter manner we enjoy now.

Two thirds of Americans take dietary supplements every day. A significant number of physicians take supplements and recommend at least a multi-  vitamin/mineral combination to their patients. Most supplement takers are well educated and have studied how to use good nutrition and dietary supplements to stay well or improve their health. The skilled choose a healthy lifestyle including a good diet, exercise, stress-reduction and targeted dietary supplements as their first line of defense to maintain and regain health, looking to drugs and the rest of the conventional medical model only when necessary.

Many retiring baby boomers are especially interested in longevity medicine — living healthier and longer by nourishing their brains and bodies in well thought out plans using foods and supplements to prevent or postpone dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. It is the do-it-yourselfers that bypass conventional medicine’s “standard of care” as much as possible that are a threat to drug companies and government control.

The not-so-well-informed are easily frightened by the attacks on supplements. Many people are unaware of the behind-the-scene shenanigans by politicians and their alphabet agencies such as the FDA — entities that are supposed to protect the public. Adding to the confusion is media failure to provide the public with balanced information. What we have is mainstream corporate journalism devoted to official positions that encourage public fear and corporate greed to dominate the health care landscape.

When one sees an assault on dietary supplements it comes from the conventional arm of medicine – the arm that has established itself as the “standard of care” and the only care that is reimbursed by insurance. Of course, education and discretion in the arena of dietary supplements is necessary. One wouldn’t go into a pharmacy and start taking every drug in sight. The same applies to dietary supplements.  A good multi-vitamin/mineral preparation without iron (look for the GMP seal or its equivalent) is a good place to start while one is learning about the benefits and risks of more sophisticated applications.

When it comes to dietary supplements, a quick way for the public to determine which conflicting medical faction is vying for their allegiance is to look at the rhetoric and source of information. This is important because the media takes all of the health-related information it reports to the public from conventional sources, sources which officially promote that Americans get all of the nutrients they need from a good diet.

The ongoing attack on supplements boils down to money and control issues involving a multifaceted mix of players. In the U.S., the powerful pharmaceutical industry uses its money to influence policy. Politicians need money to fund campaigns for public office. News media, both printed and electronic, accepts advertising dollars from pharmaceutical interests, which makes it easier for media to look the other way instead of reporting on the influence of pharmaceutical dollars as a major source of problems in U.S. health care.

The scenario looks like this:

  • Over-the-counter dietary supplements are the primary source of competition for the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Americans spend $27 billion on dietary supplements; pharmaceutical interests want to re-route the money to their bottom line.
  • In order for the federal government and the medical industry to control health care completely, over-the-counter supplements must be banned or reduced to an ineffective dosage.
  • With Medicare spending projected to increase to $900 billion by 2018, the Feds are looking for ways to trim cost and dietary supplements are on the Feds’ radar screen as a cost-cutting measure, thus providing more incentive for pharmaceutical interests to gain control of supplements.
  • DSHEA (Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) presents a problem for conventional medicine. DSHEA gives Americans the right to purchase safe, over-the-counter supplements in useful dosages.
  • The FDA is currently attempting to undermine and re-write DSHEA by re-defining the terms regulating dietary supplements in its new Draft Guidance.  NDI (new dietary ingredients) is a side door which provides an indirect way to decimate the dietary supplement industry by increasing the cost to manufacturers in the name of providing a higher degree of “safety” for products appearing on the market after 1994, resulting in increased seizure of products and driving smaller companies out of business.  The newer products which could disappear include supplements such as the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10, Resveratrol, Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol,  Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl-Cysteine, Green Tea Extract, etc. Details may be found in the FDA’s “Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredients: Notifications and Related Issues.”
  • On the international front, the U.S. signed the World Health Organization’s trade agreement, Codex Alimentarius, which may supersede the laws of the countries signing it. Countries not in compliance are considered holdouts and may not be allowed to trade. Codex has the potential to override our DSHEA if the FDA doesn’t undercut it first.
  • When pharmaceutical interests control the supplement industry, conventional medicine will control health care options.

A take-over of dietary supplements by conventional medicine will destroy the self-care/wellness care industry, reduce the quality of life for many, and result in premature death for people who depend on supplements to survive. This is especially true  where conventional treatments have failed but individuals have found a restorative combination of options beyond standard of care.

In the U.S., conventional medicine’s “standard of care” for health care is based on detecting disease, NOT on preventing it. Conventional doctors are trained to focus on symptoms, identifying and naming the disease, trying to match the drug to the name, and if drugs alone fail, then combinations of surgery, radiation, and drugs may be employed.

In conventional medicine, if there is no insurance code for a health issue, insurance will not pay. Insurance covers very little, other than prescription drugs, surgery and/or radiation, for a recognized health problem. Conventional medicine is a closed system wherein billions of pharmaceutical dollars influence doctors, osteopaths, pharmacists, hospitals, nurses, dietitians, nursing home facilities, insurance companies, research institutions, med school curriculum,  physicians continuing education, Medicare, government regulatory agencies such as the FDA, professional associations such as the AMA, National Cancer Institute, American Heart Association, etc., and politicians who set up the system and allow it to operate in the current manner.

Dietitians also want part of the action. In the state of Texas, registered dietitians (RD’s) petitioned the courts to recognize RD’s as the only legal source for dispensing nutritional information. So far, RD’s have lost their bid for exclusivity but the turf war is also flourishing in the field of nutrition. Fortunately, dietitians are beginning to question the influence of junk food purveyors and the results of overuse and abuse of pharmaceuticals experienced by their clients. You will know dietitians are making progress when foods in hospitals, nursing homes, and public schools are nutritious, delicious, and build health rather than destroy it. Up until recently, dietitians told the public there is no such thing as a bad food, only bad diets.

Quackwatch, an American non-profit organization, has the stated aim of combating health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies, and misconduct, according to Wikipedia. Most alternative treatments, including commonly used dietary supplements, are considered quackery on this site. Google “CanLyme, Quackwatch Founder Loses Major Defamation Trial in Hometown” and “Quackwatch Review” by Dr. Ray Sahelian, M.D.

An entrenched medical model built around disease is more profitable for those in control of the system, but it only represents half the deck. Limiting options places a strangle-hold on treatment plans available to the patient, especially in a hospital setting where malnutrition and acquisition of hard-to-treat super bugs like MRSA and C-Diff are common.

Conventional medicine is at its best in acute illness or trauma but doesn’t work well in treating complex, chronic disease because its primary focus is not on understanding the drivers causing the disease and working with reframing how the biology works, using raw materials that build health and removing impediments to good health. However, there are doctors who are becoming more open to modalities outside conventional medicine’s “standard of care” but it may take many years for a discovery to be accepted into clinical practice. People who are seriously ill do not have many years to wait for their physician’s enlightenment or for the system to reinvent itself.

The best health care option is called functional medicine, a patient-centered, science-based health care approach that integrates the best of both traditional Western and alternative or integrative medical practices. Functional and conventional medicine use the same concept of science but the difference is in the details and the application. Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease using the continuum concept. There is a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalance to serious dysfunction to disease. Intervention and reversal of the process can occur anywhere along that continuum, but the sooner it is addressed, the better.

Functional medicine creates a focus on prevention through nutrition, diet, and exercise; use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques. In the case of inflammation, conventional medicine would suppress it and functional medicine would focus on finding out why inflammation is happening in the first place and change the trigger causing the problem. For example, if an individual has a problem with gluten, a gluten-free diet would be used.

Practitioners of functional medicine look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal and external factors.

Functional medicine is a whole-system medicine; a GPS system that connects the the patient to the whole story of medical science by looking for and addressing upstream causes of downstream disease processes before they become debilitating or life threatening. Combining everything that works increases the likelihood of optimal patient outcomes at a lower cost to the system and the individual.

No American wants to be without conventional medicine’s crisis intervention in acute, life threatening situations but it shouldn’t be the only choice for chronic health problems that are managed best by an integrative approach.

The media needs to question conventional medicine’s obsession with the risk of taking supplements rather than with the value supplements provide to the knowledgeable consumer. Today, 50,000 Americans have no insurance to pay for U.S. health care, which is the most expensive and fragmented health care in the world. People need access to diverse, not restricted, health care options.

High tech medicine is only about 100 years old. Compare that to other cultures which have thousands of years of historical controls involving the use of diet, plants, and herbs to ameliorate health problems. Conventional U.S. “standard of care” health care is not the repository of all wisdom. For the media to allow itself to be used in the scheme to eventually deny the public access to safe and affordable supplements is a blow to wellness care and freedom of choice.