NHRI Chicago Symposium Heralds A New Era for Dietary Supplements
By James J. Gormley
The ballroom was packed at the Natural Health Research Institute (NHRI) 6th Annual Scientific Symposium in Schaumburg, Illinois on October 28th, as well it should have been not only considering the event title, which was “Cutting Healthcare Costs Through Prevention: Measuring the Efficacy, Safety, and Cost Savings of Dietary Supplements,” but also given the stellar lineup of world-class experts.
The speakers were:
Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, Department Chair and Professor of Integrative Health Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and Director of Integrative Practice at the Health Medicine Institute;
Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of the American Botanical Council (ABC) and Founding Member of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA)
Allen Dobson, PhD, Health Economist and President of Dobson DaVanzo and Associates;
Artemis Simopoulos, MD, Founder and President of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health; and
Russell Jaffe, MD, PhD, Fellow of the Health Studies Collegium and Founder of PERQUE.
Dr. Jordan, whose presentation was entitled “Let Sanity Reign: The Undeniable Health-Wealth Connection for a Happier, Healthier Society,” electrified the audience with what could have been an indictment of how unhealthy the U.S. is but, instead, pointed the ways we can build a well-being society that takes into account: spirituality, nutrition-food, physical health, social belonging, intimacy and love, financial well-being and occupation-livelihood.
Mark Blumenthal’s talk was entitled: “Review of Safety and Benefits of Numerous Herns and Phytomedicinal Dietary Supplements as Demonstrated by Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses of Controlled Clinical Trials.” Mr. Blumenthal stunned many attendees with the statement that over a 3-year period, the annual number of herbal medicine papers rose from 739 in 1977 to 6,364 in 2007, most of which were scientific reviews and randomized controlled trials. He compared thenumber of studies with the imbalanced, typicaly negative coverage of herbal studies by the mainstream press, especially noticeable in journals that have the highest ratio of pharmaceutical ads, and reviewed the worldwide research on a wide range of medicinal plants.
Dr. Dobson’s presentation, “Discussion of Methods Used to Study the Reduction in Health Care Cost Through Dietary Supplements,” reviewed the billions of dollars in healthcare savings that could be achieved by widespread public-health promotion of a number of nutrients (including: calcium with vitamin D; folic acid; omega-3 fats; and lutein with zeaxanthin). Of great interest to many in attendance, he punched a number of holes in the recent multivitamin and vitamin E studies that have achieved such infamy.
Dr. Simopoulos’ talk was entitled: “Economic and Health Implications of Changing America’s Oil: The Omega-3 Opportunity.” She outlines the many downsides of the dramatic decrease in omega-3 fat consumption over the past 150 years due to agribusiness and food processing and the reasons why it is utterly imperative that we, as a society, significantly increase our consumption of omega-3 fats and decrease our intake of omega-6 fats.
Dr. Jaffe closed out the presentations with a talk entitled, “Evidence of Savings Through Application of Supplements to Treat Dietary Deficiencies.” He explained how by our correcting essential nutrient deficits relating to diabetes alone could save $135 billion each year, and that supplements for other health areas can save America an additional $50-100 billion annually, all while improving quality of life.
With the event having been organized by the NHRI and the American Nutrition Association, the NHRI is an independent, non-profit organization that supports science-based research on natural health and wellness. It is “committed to informing consumers, scientists, the media, policymakers and legislators about scientific evidence on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of diet, supplements and a healthy lifestyle in order to improve health and wellness, and reduce disease, around the world.”