Connect with us
Snake oil

Flickr – Wesley Fryer

In today’s society, more and more people are aware of health issues that they have and what needs to be done to control those issues. Although some conditions need a pharmaceutical solution, it’s not always necessary. And often, if the pharmaceutical route can be avoided, it’s best to avoid it. Few medications come without side effects. Additionally, becoming tolerant to a medication that might be necessary later is not ideal.

This has resulted in an increase in non-pharma treatments that can provide people with a helping hand. Many people, for example, have issues of concentration and focus. Although this is on the ADHD spectrum, they might rightly be uncomfortable with stimulants. So instead of going the pharmaceutical route, they might benefit from supplements such as iron or Omega-3.

Similarly, people with depression may find anti-depressants unpleasant. Many find that St John’s Wort or tryptophan work better for them. People with digestive issues may find that they benefit more from herbal teas and supplements than from harsh antacids. All of this has created a strong, competitive market in herbal supplements. Which is certainly a boon on one front, but is it all for the best?

Are Regulations Allowing Dishonesty?

In a majority of cases, pharmaceutical drugs will not come to market until they have been tested extensively. Although some exceptions have slipped through the net, existing regulations catch a lot more. Where the issue seems to be arising for some is in the dietary supplement and health food market. Because these aren’t medicines in the strictest sense, they aren’t regulated in the same way.

That approach is hard to argue with, from a regulatory point of view. Of course, pharma-grade medications need to be seen with a firmer gaze. Doctors will be prescribing them, and there is also a natural extra level of trust that is given to them. There is, then, a gap between what we call medicine and what we use for the good of our health. If this gap is exploited in the wrong way, it can be bad for us.

For the avoidance of doubt, the FDA treats supplements as being in the “food” category of its food and drug purview. This means that supplements pass as “safe” unless they are proven otherwise. However, the FDA will challenge companies that make false claims for their produces.

This is the case for health food and for supplements. The recent Hampton Creek news story is one example of where the FDA has requested that a company change its naming approach. This is a relatively benign example and illustrates how the FDA offers guidance to companies. However, companies that make inaccurate claims for their products will face sterner challenges.

What Does This Mean For Supplement Providers?

Companies who make supplements with purported health benefits do not, strictly speaking, need FDA approval to do so. However, there is an issue of credibility involved in the sale of health foods. Without FDA approval, it is more difficult to widely sell a product with claims for health benefits. Health food stores and companies with a wide reach are naturally going to favor products with this credibility.

In order to gain approval, a provider will need to demonstrate the claims they make are accurate. It may sound impressive to claim that a product gives improved muscle mass in just a week. But if this claim is not provable, the company will not get FDA clearance to say it on the label. Without that clearance, the product is automatically less attractive in the marketplace.

For any company looking to sell foods or supplements with a range of health benefits, then, the choice is clear. You can shoot for the moon with bold claims about what the product will do. This will not be cleared by the FDA and will render your product more of a novelty item. Or you can research the benefits of your product and see what it really can do, and benefit from the regulator’s approval.

How Is That Working Out?

In truth, with the limits that exist on the FDA’s power in the food and supplement market, there is only so much it can do. Without the power to ban companies from making claims, or to take products off the shelves, it has less sway than may be ideal. It doesn’t take much time online to find companies selling treatments with outlandish claims. These can range from boasts about reversing the ageing process to boosting sexual prowess.

The FDA is not in a place to prevent these products from being sold nor to restrict the claims being made. What it does have power to do is withhold regulatory approval. This is why such products end up being advertised online in ways which most potential customers will distrust. People will still end up purchasing them, but in much reduced numbers than if they were widely stocked in stores.

For some people, this will naturally be viewed as disappointing. The truth of the matter is that in a free market, regulators will be limited in their scope. Giving them the power to take products off shelves or to dictate what someone can print on a label is difficult. Many people would see it as a restraint of free trade. So is it better that at least the FDA can have some sort of power to dictate credibility?

In the long run, the supplements that we come to trust are the ones which have been widely used and found credible. While some products will continue to be sold on the grounds of unsupported claims, their reach in the market is at least limited.

And what does all this mean for the consumer? Put simply, the decision is yours when it comes to choosing a supplement based on the claims of its manufacturers. We can choose to see for ourselves whether a product does what it says on the bottle. But when there is an option that has already been tested, why risk wasting time and money on something that may be a simple con?

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

Continue Reading
Comments

Health

7 Secrets to Setting Realistic Goals this Summer

Published

on

woman running health

Summer is a great time of year to get motivated. The sunny weather is often inspiration enough and helps you start to feel more positive about your goals. Even though you might be taking a break from your studies or work, or planning a relaxing vacation, you can use the time to reflect on your plans for the future. Learning how to set realistic goals is the first step towards achieving them. Why not spend a bit of time outdoors in the park with your day planner and get a head start this year? Here are seven tips to get you going.

Seek inspiration in new places

Setting goals is challenging if you’re not feeling inspired. Lucky for you, it’s the perfect time of year to embrace the outdoors and seek motivation and inspiration in new places. Traveling is one of the best ways to get inspired. Even if you’re not going abroad this year you can explore hidden gems near you. Try seeing your hometown through the eyes of a tourist or getting lost in areas of natural beauty. You’ll return feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and ready to take on any challenge.

Spend more time outdoors

Spend plenty of time outdoors this summer. Getting in touch with nature can be very motivating and there are several health benefits of being outdoors. It’ll help you gain a fresh perspective and improve your mood. You’ll also get physical exercise which will give you the energy boost you need. You could even try out a new outdoor hobby or sport this year. Enjoy a healthy dose of vitamin D and get yourself in a more positive mindset.

Practice meditation

Meditation involves many useful techniques to help you focus. In order to prioritize and set realistic goals, you need to clear your mind of cluttering thoughts and improve your concentration. If you’re new to meditation you could try listening to a guided meditation. This will teach you the necessary skills you need to practice meditation on your own. You can then do this anytime and anywhere, even outdoors. Here is a guided meditation for goal setting.

Set measurable goals

Now that you’ve got yourself in the right mindset to make a proper plan you can get focused. It’s important to set measurable goals, whether they’re related to your studies, work, or health and fitness. This will help you track your progress and stay motivated. You could try following the SMART goals model. This states that all goals should be measurable and time bound, not to mention specific and relevant to you at the moment. If your goal is to look for jobs, for example, set yourself a certain number of applications per week. Break your goals down into tasks and set a deadline for each.

Be mindful of your health

Be mindful of both your mental and physical health this summer. Stress can get in the way of setting goals and can have a negative effect on your overall well-being. If you are feeling stressed or anxious try to get the root of the problem. If it’s health related you could try speaking to a doctor online about any number of issues from mental to sexual health. You can even order an HIV test kit or other prescriptions. Be proactive about your health and this will give you the peace of mind you need to stay motivated.

Keep your brain active

Even though it’s summer vacation and the weather is nice, it’s important to keep your mind sharp. There are plenty of fun activities you can try even if you’re taking a break from work or studying. Find some interesting new reads or even learn a new skill. You could take on a creative craft or DIY project this summer. There are also fun things you can do with friends such as geocaching or an escape room that will help you boost your problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Get out of your comfort zone

Try something different this summer and get out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s learning a new skill or doing an activity you wouldn’t normally, this can be a great way to boost your self-esteem. Getting out of your comfort soon will help give you the confidence you need to motivate yourself to set and achieve the right goals. You could even try volunteering in the local community. This can be very rewarding and inspiring and will help you gain perspective. Find the activity that works best for you.

Prev postNext post
Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Health

Chronic Pain: How To Regain Control Over Your Life Naturally

Published

on

Chronic pain is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans and is becoming an even more popular condition. Due to our lifestyles, posture, exercise level, and diet, an increasing number of people have started to suffer from chronic pain. In some cases, pain can be minimal and only represent a minor inconvenience. However, in some other cases, chronic pain can take over your life and be so overwhelming that it might prevent you from enjoying even the easiest daily tasks. Depending on the cause behind it, chronic pain can develop from mild to severe. Therefore, while there is no definitive cure, chronic pain needs to be addressed. Here are five non-invasive ways to find chronic pain relief naturally. 

Understand the Underlying Causes

Firstly, it is crucial to understand what are the causes behind your chronic pain. You might have been the victim of an accident, or you might have reported injuries that haven’t healed. Alternatively, an inactive lifestyle and bad posture can also lead to lower back, sciatica, and leg pain. 

In some cases, some chronic diseases such as cancer and arthritis might be the cause behind the pain. Before trying to find a solution for your pain, it is crucial to understand what is the underlying cause. This will help you avoid unnecessary painkillers and move towards a longer-lasting solution.  

Use Meditation and Breathing Techniques

One of the main factors that can worsen your chronic pain is stress. Indeed, stress causes damage to cells and leads to increased free radicals. In turn, these can worsen inflammation and prevent your body from healing. 

Breathing techniques and meditation are mindfulness practices that allow you to focus on your breath, repeat a mantra, or focus your attention inward. This can allow you to avoid additional stress and reduce inflammation.

Aim To Move Your Body Regularly

Regular exercise is essential to allow your body to release endorphins – the happiness hormone! These compounds are the ones responsible for the famous “runner’s high” and act as mood regulators. In turn, this can reduce stress levels and allow you to feel more balanced. Exercise is also essential to help you get rid of any extra weight you might be carrying. By doing so, you can lighten up your body, which takes pressure away from your muscles, joints, and bones. And of course, it can help you reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease. 

Consider a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Studies have proven that whole grain, plant-based lifestyle can reduce fatigue and chronic pain. Indeed, fruits and vegetables are famously filled with the antioxidants your body needs to reduce inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. Speaking to your nutritionist allows you to get started in the right way. 

Try Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been seen to help with certain kinds of chronic pain. If you are affected by severe chronic pain which is impacting your life, or you have an underlying condition such as arthritis or cancer, you might be able to obtain a medical marijuana card. You can learn all about Harvest House of Cannabis and how to apply for a medical card here. 

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Health

Unconventional Ways to Boost Your Health

Published

on

With health tips and diets around every corner, it can be hard to know what the best course is going to be for your body. Between fad diets and finding the best workout gear, it can be overwhelming. Finding the specific rhythm to support what your body needs is going to be a lifelong journey, but there are things that you can do to get off to a good start.

Establish a Baseline

In order to know what specific health goals you need to have, you first need to establish a baseline. It is important to start with the basics and make sure that you are making generally healthy choices before you can start getting more specific.

Even though each person is different and will require different health goals, there are some things that are in common across all bodies. You need to be getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can mess with your health in surprising ways. You also need to be drinking enough water each day. Most people are not drinking enough water. Being dehydrated can cause you to overeat and to be fatigued during the day. You may be surprised to see how just changing your sleep and water intake patterns can give you an extra boost.

You should also make healthy eating choices and try to get some exercise. If you are just starting on your wellness journey, then you should take small steps. If you try to take on too much at once, you will likely not be able to sustain the change.

You can start by adding more vegetables to your meals instead of trying to change what you eat. Even if you continue to eat like normal, but add in more vegetables, you will eventually be able to change your diet more drastically. You can also try switching to only drinking water instead of any other kind of beverage with your meals. This will also help with your water intake.

For exercise, you don’t have to go running, even though that is probably what pops into your head first. You can start by just doing stretches before bed or going for a walk during your lunch break. Start where you are and then build on that.

Talk to Your Doctor

You should make sure that you go to your regular checkups with your doctor. If you have concerns about specific health issues, then discuss them with your doctor. If you are looking for advice in general, you can ask what their biggest concerns are and where your focus should be for improvements. They have insights into your health that can help you on your path to wellness.

Environment Changes

There may be changes you need to make to your environment in order to be functioning at one hundred percent. You should have your home tested for toxins and hazardous gases to make sure that you are not breathing in anything that may be harmful to you. You may also want to be asking questions like, What is the Safe Distance From Wifi Router? Or, does my electrical wiring need to be updated. Making these changes can improve your health if there is something happening that shouldn’t be happening. You may be surprised to find out how your health can change when these silent issues get resolved.

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse

Continue Reading

Trending