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Sinking Time Between Writing Binges

After numerous false starts, lots of deleting, and a great deal of pacing while reading aloud, I think I've finally settled into the right voice for the stress book.  I want this and the other texts in the series to be conversational and easy to read as well as educational.  I want them to have the same tone as the in-person workshops.

The other challenge is ensuring any discussion of natural substances--vitamins, minerals, and herbs--remains within the parameters set out by the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration.

Y'see, the only substances that can legally treat, cure or prevent disease are FDA-approved drugs, but other substances can make general statements regarding structure and function.  General Mills was one target of FDA intervention for making claims about the cholesterol-lowering abilities of Cheerios.  It's acceptable for Cheerios to claim adding oat fiber to the diet could lower cholesterol; it's unacceptable to tell consumers clinical research showed Cheerios provided specific reduction within a specific time frame.  The validity of the research was of little concern; stating specific results in connection with a specific product is what turned Cheerios from a breakfast cereal into an unapproved drug.

As long as those regulations stand in place, the prevailing disconnect between overall health and nutrient intake will remain, and consumers will get roped into paying high prices for "functional" foods.  (Activia, forex.)  Instead, we will continue with the current system that allows for research into natural substances --hat cannot be used in conjunction with selling those substances--and results in the production of synthetic mimics that can be approved as drugs.

I'm often asked if I would then support FDA approval for supplement claims that would put them on equal footing with drugs.  Frankly, under current standards, that's completely unworkable unless they drop the exclusivity of drug = treatment and prevention.

I grow in my garden coneflowers, oregano, lavender, sage, thyme and parsley.  (Hmm. Why am I missing rosemary?)  Clover, dandelion, thistle and alfalfa pops up here and there.  My neighbor has a willow tree.  I have a pair of pine trees.  All have medicinal properties.  Could I continue growing them if they became approved drugs subject to regulation?  Or could I grow them, but not give them to others?  Or would they only be considered drugs if made them into teas and tinctures, or if I encapsulated them?

What about restaurants that use herbs in bulk?  Would they have to account for every leaf and stem?  Would adding parsley to a platter become a form of practicing medicine?  Good lord, can you imagine having to track salmon sales in order to know who took the omega-3 fish oil drug?

And what about wine (resveratrol) and beer (hops)?  Would the ATF have to hand over regulation to the FDA, or would the two agencies have joint responsibility?

Gah.  Enough of that, Blair.  Get back to work.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 7th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
I have heard that the FDA rejects claims that Vitamin C supplements can cure or prevent scurvy. . . .
Apr. 7th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
It's a convoluted and tangled line. Vitamin C can be said to prevent scurvy--since scurvy is considered a nutrient-deficiency disease--but that label claim must be accompanied by information about that disease's prevelance. Vitamin C can't be said to affect the duration or severity of a cold, either. But it can "support a healthy immune system."

Essential nutrients can make structure/function claims such as, "Calcium supports healthy bones." But you can't say, "Calcium may prevent osteoporosis."

Fosomax, on the other hand, can claim to prevent osteoporosis because the drug inhibts the body's natural process of breaking down old bone cells and replacing them with new ones. Bones do indeed remain thicker. But they are also older on the cellular level. (Imagine what your skin would look like if old cells were never replaced with new ones!) One of the drug's side effects is an increase in the incidence of femur fractures--kinda the opposite of what one would expect from a drug that's supposed to lead to stronger bones.

Apr. 9th, 2012 12:41 pm (UTC)
What (in a strictly non-FDA sense) are coneflowers good for? Besides feeding birds, which is what they do in my garden, that is.
Apr. 9th, 2012 01:47 pm (UTC)
Coneflower's other name is Echinacea. :-)
Apr. 9th, 2012 02:04 pm (UTC)
Oh, ok-- I think I must have had it (echinacea the edible, not coneflower) confused with one of the Australian citronella things. I am familiar with the scientific names for a bunch of the local coneflowers, but since I class echinacea as a tea with other things I'm not convinced should actually be drinkable I'd somehow managed to forget that they were the same thing. Apologies for the silly question.
Apr. 9th, 2012 02:30 pm (UTC)
It's not a silly question! Most folks don't know it's echinecea.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Blair MacGregor

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