Bad Advice From Health Food Store Employees

Bad Advice From Health Food Store Employees


“Bad Advice from Health
Food Store Employees” You’ll notice on foods and supplements
that it’s actually illegal to claim they can prevent or cure disease. That’s why you’ll just see these
so-called structure and function claims, like “supports immunity.” And federal law basically prohibits
people from diagnosing and prescribing without a medical license, yet you can
probably walk into any health food store and get all the claims, diagnosing, and
prescribing you could ever want. And the question is, how
good is that advice? “Health information provided by
retail health food outlets.” What if you go in and pretend your
six-year-old just got diagnosed with Crohn’s disease? 23 stores; 30 different recommendations;
including a myriad of untried and perhaps deleterious treatments. What kind of training did these
health food store employees get? Most got absolutely none, or
in-store training only. It’s no secret that I’ve been very
critical of drug companies biasing medical training — that was
much of what my first book on medical education was about. But what do we think stores are
teaching their employees to say? “Clinic at the health food store?” This one says more about the supplement
industry itself than health food stores. Researchers went in feigning depression,
and most were given St. John’s wort supplements — though at wildly varying
doses — without mentioning the significant drug reactions and
side effects, like photosensitivity. Still, at least they were vaguely
consistent with their recommendations. What was not consistent was the level of
the active ingredient, hypericin, promised on the labels. 90% were wildly off, including two of the
13 they tested that had none at all. In the United States, dietary supplements
are a multibillion industry. That’s probably ten times less than what
we spend on prescription drugs, but still tens of billions of dollars
is no small potatoes. Many of us rightly rail against the
political influence and commercial bias of the pharmaceutical industry, but are
we to assume multimillion dollar supplement corporations are
any less self-interested?