Supplements under attack

Posted on August 29, 2010. Filed under: Health | Tags: |

Consumer Reports wants you to believe that common supplements are poorly regulated and dangerous.

The magazine went as far as to issue dire warnings about kidney and liver damage, heart problems and even a cancer risk from some ingredients.

You’d think they were talking about the millions of prescription drugs people take every day!

But unlike those common and dangerous meds, the supplement ingredients that have Consumer Reports up in arms are actually, for the most part, rare and unusual. Most people have never heard of–much less taken–bitter orange, greater celandine, or coltsfoot, yet Consumer Reports singled them out on its list and distributed it to millions of readers in its magazine and through the media.

Their report inspired frightening headlines like “Report: Dietary supplements pose health risks” ( and “Many dietary supplements are contaminated” (

Really? Many? From Coltsfoot?

This isn’t reporting for consumers. This is fear mongering, plain and simple. But at least it got them the attention they were looking for.

Of course, while all of the supplements on the list are somewhat unusual, not all of them are as uncommon as greater celandine. And in those cases, the magazine offers misinformation and lazy research.

For example, Consumer Reports warns against using colloidal silver. They say it’ll make you turn blue–which is true if you’re careless and use way too much of it.

But the fact of the matter is natural healers have successfully worked with colloidal silver for generations without creating a race of Smurfs. Dr. Jonathan Wright, one of the leaders in the field, says he uses it to treat infections. He even believes that colloidal silver may hold the key to defeating the drug-resistant superbugs created by our overreliance on prescription antibiotics. You can read more about that here.

Consumer Reports also warns of the supposed dangers of the natural relaxant kava, which should come as a surprise to the Pacific islanders who use it regularly. Never mind that kava is far safer when it comes to relieving anxiety and stress than the prescription drugs being given out every single day.

If you suffer from liver problems, kava may not be for you. But if you’re otherwise healthy and need some help dealing with anxiety, talk to your doctor about it–because it might be just what you need.

Consumer Reports also put comfrey root on its risk list– but if you read the fine print, the magazine says it’s only dangerous if you swallow it, and that “comfrey seems to be safe for most people when applied to unbroken skin for less than 10 days in small amounts.”

Guess how most people use comfrey? They rub it on the skin in small amounts to get some pain relief.

The best way to make sure you get what you need–with no surprises–is to choose supplements from a trusted source. And, of course, everyone who takes them should do their own careful research and work closely with a naturopathic physician.

But whatever you do, don’t be afraid to take your vitamins… no matter what Consumer Reports tries to suggest.

On a mission for your health,

Ed Martin
Editor, House Calls


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Supplements under attack « Margot's News & Views…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

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