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FDA Outlaws Vitamins: Closer By The Minute


"The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come.
When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin.
When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come.
Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."
                                                                          -Confucius (551 BC - 479 BC)

I've reported on this before, but I doubt that many really see it coming. The FDA, in collusion with Big Pharma and aided and abetted by the liberal media, is systematically taking away our freedom to purchase nutritional supplements and herbs. Are they doing it to "protect us" because these supplements are "dangerous"? They would like us to believe that, but the real problem seems to be that natural, safe and proven effective substances, many of them no more than highly concentrated "health food," are costing Big Pharma big money. Since the FDA is the lap dog of the pharmaceutical industry (and makes a bundle of money by playing nice with Big Pharma), they protect their Golden Goose at all cost --- even at the expense of your good health.

Mainstream media is so dependent upon advertising revenues these days (how many high-priced drug ads do you see during your evening news?) that you really can't count on them for accurate, unbiased reporting. Instead, we get "exposÚs" such as the recent "reporting" by CBS that was essentially an ad for a book written by a reporter which was nothing more that a collection of adverse reactions to natural remedies based on anecdotal reports. Natural medicine, by the way, is frequently criticized for using "anecdotal reports." Why don't the same standards apply across the board?

While bleating out their fearful tales of death and disfigurement resulting from misused natural remedies, they failed to mention the much greater death and misery caused by "properly prescribed," FDA approved, "scientifically researched" offerings of the Big Drug Companies. So how are you to know what's really going on inside the field of medicine, the health food industry, Big Pharma and the FDA?

How the FDA and Big Pharma are Doing a Slow Dance Called "The Creep"

"The Creep" is the FDA's way of slowly and systematically taking away your health freedoms in such a manner that you barely notice. Until it's too late, that is, to do anything about it. Let me give you a couple of prime examples of how sensational and fear-generating reporting can accomplish this.

Ephedra, or Ma Huang, (found growing naturally in the U.S. as "Mormon Tea" --- shh! don't tell the FDA!) has harmed far fewer people than its still-legal drug equivalent pseudoephedrine. A few people stupidly misused the herb (as in: "instead of the recommended two caps, I'll take six"), under terrible conditions (as in the case of the obese, out-of-shape ball player who was working beyond his capacity and was severely dehydrated; his resulting heart arrhythmias were blamed on ephedra). The FDA responded to the media frenzy generated by the resulting death of this young "athlete" and stepped in to "protect" us by banning all ephedra use, yet many "approved" but far more dangerous drugs continued to be prescribed by doctors, acting as drug salesmen for the pharmaceutical industry. Over-the-counter Tylenol is a known liver toxin with numerous deaths to its name, but it is still a readily available pain reliever.

Chaparral, a wonderful healing herb which grows here in Arizona and has long been used by Native American medicine men for everything from foot fungus to cancer, allegedly caused liver problems in a small handful of people who used it (most of whom were later found to have had pre-existing liver problems). The FDA responded by outlawing chaparral. Interestingly, the number of "toxic cases" was so small that a panel of experts, looking at how widespread the use of the herb was and how few people had allegedly been affected (I say allegedly because problems never were actually proven to be due to chaparral), determined that ANY substance would have a few such reactions in sensitive people and that this was not outside the bounds of normal. (Hint: most FDA approved drugs would have similarly affected a much larger number of people for the same number of people using the drug. This is considered normal and expected by the pharmaceutical companies, just a part of "the cost of doing business" to them).

The FDA, Big Pharma, and the media are amazingly skilled in the use of "research" to scare you away from natural cures (vitamins, minerals, herbs) and scare you TOWARD using often-dangerous substances and ineffective drugs.

Case in point: Researchers "proved" that beta-carotene --- a vitamin A-related nutrient--- increased the rate of lung cancer in smokers, even though observational studies show that higher beta-carotene blood levels are protective against lung cancer in smokers. What they didn't tell you is that the study used a synthetic form of beta carotene, NOT the kind found naturally in food or many beta carotene supplements.

The synthetic form of carotene used in the studies was a "racemic" variation of carotene, as similar but different as your right hand is from your left hand. Both hands look similar, but can you super-impose them? No. It has long been known that certain other synthetic vitamins, such as synthetic vitamin E, have a very different effect than the naturally-occurring form.

In spite of this, the researchers, aided by the pseudo-news media, reported that beta-carotene is dangerous to smokers. The REAL punch-line of the story should have been that synthetic beta-carotene is dangerous, does not do in the body what natural beta-carotene does, and should be avoided. See how easy it is to warp the truth?

Some other examples of FDA intrusions into your freedoms include their on-again off-again bans on the all-natural version of Big Pharma's wildly profitable statin drugs for cholesterol. Red Rice Yeast has a long history of use in Eastern Medicine. Initially, when the FDA realized that Red Rice Yeast was working as well (and often better!) than the synthetic statins (and Big Pharma went crying to them), they banned it, claiming that it contained a dangerous drug-like substance--- uh, like statins! The illogic of this became quickly apparent to the general public, who realized that if natural statins were considered dangerous then the synthetic versions must also be dangerous. The ban had obviously back-fired. In order to say that the synthetic statins were safe the FDA had to concede that the lower-dose natural statins were likewise safe, and they grudgingly withdrew the ban. They still waffle back and forth on whether or not to ban this safer alternative to statins.

Lane Labs found themselves the target of the FDA when it became apparent that they had three products that were a little too popular with cancer patients. MGN-3, made from rice bran, Benefin, made from shark cartilage, and Skin Answer were all products that seemed to be working well for a number of cancer sufferers. Lane labs used this knowledge, and made claims in their promotional materials and advertising that suggested these products "might" be helpful in treating cancer. That was all the FDA needed, and they not only shut down sales because Lane Labs was making unauthorized health claims, they also punished Lane for their audacity by requiring them to refund the full purchase price for every one of these products that they ever sold. Mind you, Lane Labs was NOT driven out of business by any consumer complaint or "adverse event." Note: Did Merck and Co. have to refund money to everyone who used Vioxx after it was found to have lethal side-effects? Of course not!

Androstenedione is a recently-outlawed hormone that was used by baseball star Mark Maguire, though there was no evidence he abused it. (It's not clear that this hormone even CAN be abused). Someone didn't know the difference between this and the synthetic junk that sprinter Ben Johnson was taking. Instead of getting the facts straight, a safe and effective hormone (androstenedione) was outlawed.

Perhaps the realization that this and other bio-identical (natural) hormones are popular, useful, and safer than the synthetic stuff the Big Drug Companies push is the reason androstenedione got banned and other hormones like DHEA and natural (bio-identical) hormones are on the FDA's "hit list." (A real joke considering that breast cancer rates have plummeted since women have stopped using unnatural prescription hormones).

What Does This Mean For You?

The FDA and Big Pharma have long recognized this break-over point between "just enough and too much" and have used it to have all sorts of natural substances banned.

A new power of the FDA, called the "Adverse Event Reporting Act," will mean that if a single person claims to have had a bad reaction to a vitamin, mineral, herbal or other natural substance (even if the supplement wasn't the cause, or even if the person reporting the "adverse event" works for Big Pharma, or even if they are outright lying perhaps for monetary gain...) an onerous cascade of reporting and paperwork will be required from the manufacture. The FDA can then use the "adverse report" to eventually ban the substance. This will be a "fast track" to outlawing your nutritional supplements or requiring a doctor's prescription that will require you to buy your supplements at exorbitant prices. (Remember the "Fish Story" in a recent issue? A $20 bottle of Fish Oil capsules becomes a $200+ bottle when Big Pharma starts selling it only with a doctor's prescription...)

Speaking of Fish Oil, how long do you suppose it will be --- now that Fish Oil has been blessed by the FDA as an expensive prescription drug --- before the inexpensive over-the-counter, health food store versions will be targeted for removal from the market, in order to protect the profit potential of the prescription version?

So, when you hear the dire warnings from the FDA or Big Pharma, or the sensationalizing media that this supplement, or that herb, or another vitamin, or some mineral has been shown to cause whatever frightening problem, do what we do - look into the "research" behind the damning report. Was this a lab rat study, involving gross overdoses or the administration of the substances in a way never intended? Was this a report based on a tiny number of people who experienced a bad reaction out of many thousands or hundreds of thousands who are happily using the substance (as in the case of Chaparral)? Or was this in response to a media-frenzied report of tragedy, as was the case with ephedra?

More importantly, ask yourself what Big Drug offering could have its profit harmed if word were to get out that a natural substance might correct a problem more effectively, safely and inexpensively than a drug counterpart.

When you look at things in that light, the relationships become startlingly clear - statin drug sales might plummet when folks discover that an improved diet or the vitamin niacin (in high, NON-time-release doses) can normalize cholesterol levels handily. What if Prozac sales nose-dived when people found out that the amino acid L-5-HTP is a direct precursor of serotonin, and a safe one at that? Or if the effectiveness and safety of L-5-HTP or St. John's Wort or even improved diet and regular exposure to sunshine is better than the safety and effectiveness "profile" of the popular Drug Company "head meds"? There might be no more profit in the "little purple pill" if it becomes widely known that improving your production of stomach acid and using an extract of the licorice plant will solve your reflux problems without side-effects.

The list is long - natural and effective cures have been around for centuries and the Big Drug Companies would rather you not know about them. So while you're hearing dire stories about dangerous supplements and simultaneously being told that lethal drugs are "FDA approved," you need to look carefully at who is telling you what if you want to safeguard your health.

No matter who does it - Big Pharma, the sensational news media, and yes, even the supplement industry is guilty sometimes too - they are trying to control "what you know," so they work hard to control the "research" and the news releases that prove what they want to prove. It's called "massaging the numbers" and it's well-known in the medical and pharmaceutical industry.

Here's our promise to you: we won't massage the truth. When you read something here, you can be sure that we have backed it up with cold, hard facts. We believe that people who think for themselves are far less likely to die a fool's death.

In Health and Honest Medicine,

Dr. Dana Myatt


1.) Is US health really the best in the world? JAMA. 2000 Jul 26;284(4):483-5. Summary: Conventional medical procedures and drugs are the third leading cause of deaths in the US, accounting for at least 225,000 annual deaths.

2.) Healthcare in need of a fix. Unless there is systemic change, the system is like the Titanic, headed for an iceberg. Mod Healthc. 2002 Apr 8;32(14):27. Summary: The title says it all.

3.) Confronting the brutal facts in health care. Am J Med. 2006 May;119(5):371-2.

4.) U.S. TO PROHIBIT SUPPLEMENT TIED TO HEALTH RISKS. The New York Times, December 31, 2003. Summary: The FDA bans ephedra due to 155 reported deaths. Does this number sound huge? See reference #8 below and reference #1, above.

5.) Efficacy and safety of ephedra and ephedrine for weight loss and athletic performance: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2003 Mar 26;289(12):1537-45. Epub 2003 Mar 10. Summary and comment: Ephedrine and ephedra promote modest short-term weight loss (as much as many far more dangerous "diet drugs"). The article states, "Use of ephedra or ephedrine and caffeine is associated with increased risk of psychiatric, autonomic, or gastrointestinal symptoms, and heart palpitations." So why didn't we outlaw caffeine?

6.) Herbal ephedra/caffeine for weight loss: a 6-month randomized safety and efficacy trial. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 May;26(5):593-604. Conclusion of study: "In this 6-month placebo-controlled trial, herbal ephedra/caffeine (90/192 mg/day) promoted body weight and body fat reduction and improved blood lipids without significant adverse events."

7.) A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial of a product containing ephedrine, caffeine, and other ingredients from herbal sources for treatment of overweight and obesity in the absence of lifestyle treatment. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Nov;28(11):1411-9. Summary: Ephedra use resulted in weight loss even without diet and lifestyle changes in this study of 108 obese subjects. No adverse events were noted.

8.) Risk of cardiovascular events and rofecoxib: cumulative meta-analysis. Lancet.2004 Dec 4-10;364(9450):2021-9. Conclusion: "Our findings indicate that rofecoxib should have been withdrawn several years earlier. The reasons why manufacturer and drug licensing authorities did not continuously monitor and summarize the accumulating evidence need to be clarified." Dr. Myatt's Note: An estimated 88,000 to 134,000 Americans died as a result of this FDA APPROVED DRUG (Vioxx) before it was withdrawn from the market.

9.) The safety of low-dose Larrea tridentata (DC) Coville (creosote bush or chaparral): a retrospective clinical study. J Altern Complement Med. 2001 Apr;7(2):175-85. Summary: This study finds chapparal intake safe except possibly in people with liver disease.

10.) Herb Industry and FDA Issue Chaparral Warning: Experts unable to Explain Possible Links to Five Cases of Hepatitis. The Journal of the American Botanical Council. 1993;28:38. Summary: Five (that's right, 5) cases of liver toxicity are allegedly due to chaparral, although numerous medical experts doubt the correlation. The FDA bans chaparral sales due to this huge number of possible associations.

11.) Reactions of beta-carotene with cigarette smoke oxidants. Identification of carotenoid oxidation products and evaluation of the pro-oxidant/antioxidant effect. Chem Res Toxicol. 1999 Jun;12(6):535-43. Summary: This is the study where they found that beta carotene increased rates of lung cancer. You have to read the entire medical article to discover that they used a synthetic form of the vitamin for this study.

12.) U.S. District Judge Issues Permanent Injunction Against Lane Labs-USA, Inc. and Orders Firm to Refund Money to Purchasers of Illegally Marketed Unapproved Drugs. FDA News, July 13, 2004. Summary: Notice they call the outlawed supplements "drugs." The manufacturers never called them drugs (they are herbal supplements), but by calling them drugs, the FDA could they say they were "unapproved drugs," making their sales illegal.

13.) Cholesterol-lowering effects of a proprietary Chinese red-yeast-rice dietary supplement. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(2):231-236.

14.) Xuezhikang (Red Yeast Rice) decreases serum lipoprotein(a) and C-reactive protein concentrations in patients with coronary heart disease. Clin Chem 2003;49(8):1347-1352.

15.) Red yeast rice (Monascus purpureus). Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health (website). From the website: "Red yeast rice extract has been sold as a natural cholesterol-lowering agent in over the counter supplements... However, there has been legal and industrial dispute as to whether red yeast rice is a drug or dietary supplement, involving this manufacturer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pharmaceutical industry." Dr. Myatt's comment: note that the dispute isn't over safety, it is whether or not the Red Yeast Rice is dipping into drug company profits.

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