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Zero Deaths from Natural Health Products … again

Written by:  Anthony Rees (National Chairman: TNHA)

Our mainstream media regularly publishes alarming articles about the ‘dangers of natural health products’. Such articles invariably exaggerate and misinterpret the studies they refer to. At the same time, the thousands of studies showing how an insufficient intake of vital nutrients and phyto-chemicals (protective and health promoting chemicals in fruits, vegetables and herbs) can contribute to many health problems, and how regular use of science-based natural health products has shown impressive health benefits, are far less publicized. More often than not, such research is virtually ignored.

This is no accident, of course. Ultimately, the reality that the media is hiding from you is that such substances are dangerous only to the profits of the pharmaceutical industry. Pharmaceutical companies fear that natural health products will undermine their lucrative ‘business with disease’ by reducing mankind’s need for synthetic chemical medications.

NO VERIFIABLE DEATHS FROM NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCTS

Supplement Safety Yet Again Confirmed by America’s Largest Database

The United States of America has had the most progressive, light-handed regulatory framework for natural heath products since the historic passing of The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994. As a result it has arguably the largest selection of natural health products on the market in any country in the world. According to two polls conducted by the American Osteopathic Association and the Council for Responsible Nutrition in 2019, between 77% and 86% of Americans had consumed natural health products during that year or took them regularly. It is estimated from this and other survey data that approximately 6 billion individual doses of natural health products are swallowed in America each year. One would expect that out of these 6 billion individual doses, there would be some deaths as a result of acute adverse reactions, yet there are none. This has been the case over many years since data has been specifically collected to record such events.

In the most recent 37th Annual Report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (using 2019 data sets) we find zero deaths from natural health products including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, homeopathic medicines and herbal supplements.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers represents the nation’s 55 official poison and adverse drug reaction reporting centers in the United States.

On page 1508, a single death is attributed to an unspecified “Other Single Ingredient Botanical.” The obvious uncertainly and non-specificity of such a listing diminishes any claim of validity.

On the same page, a single fatality is attributed to an “Energy Product.” It was suspected that the item in questing may have been laced with over-the-counter drugs (illegally adulterated). They are improperly classified as dietary supplements.

This data once again demonstrates the de minimis (low and trivial) risk that commercial natural health products sold within safe dosage guidelines pose to the public at large.

And what about South Africa?

It is no different here in South Africa where we have no verifiable recorded deaths from commercially available food supplements since 2011, when our medicines regulator known then as the Medicines Control Council (MCC), and now the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) added such products to its Adverse Drug Report Forms submitted by doctors and pharmacists, and which are collated at the National Adverse Event Drug Monitoring Centre (NADEMC), situated in Cape Town’s Groote Schuur Hospital and attached to University of Cape Town’s Clinical Pharmacology Division. These finding were highlighted in a recent court case in which the TNHA was involved.

Conclusion

Compared to pharmaceutical medicines and even commercial foods, commercial natural health products are the safest substances one can put in your mouth and swallow.

The TNHA’s mission is to promote access to integrative medicine and natural health products by supporting health freedom projects that educate consumers, health professionals, and policy makers on the value of alternative medicine and natural health products and ingredients. The TNHA also litigates, as necessary, to protect the rights of industry, consumers and integrative practitioners. We rely on public donations and memberships to do this vital work in protecting, educating and empowering the natural health industry, practitioners and consumers across South Africa. Join us today. 

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