War on Integrative Medicine, Part Two: Eliminate Supplements

Healthy life concept. Woman with vitamins overheadWhy are the attacks on supplements becoming so loud?
By now anyone not living in a cave has heard the message loud and clear: don’t use supplements. Either they are a harmless waste of money, or they’re a harmful threat to your health (note that these points are contradictory). This message has been repeated over and over both in journals and in conventional media outlets. It is, with very few exceptions, junk science. Even in the few instances when it is right, it is wrong.
Here’s an example of what we mean by being right and wrong at the same time. Journals and the media keep insisting on calling alpha-tocopherol “vitamin E.” This is incorrect.
Vitamin E is comprised of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. Too much alpha-tocopherol can interfere with your body’s use of the arguably more important gamma form. Hence studies that supplement alpha alone and call it vitamin E are both inaccurate and doing something that does not occur in nature. In addition, in most instances the alpha-tocopherol being tested is dl-alpha-tocopherol, which is the fully synthetic form, also not something you will ever find in nature.
Similarly, studies suggesting there is a heart risk associated with supplementing calcium are both right and wrong. They are right because calcium needs some essential co-factors to move into the bones instead of the circulatory system. These include vitamin K2 in particular, along with vitamin D3 and other less important factors. This is one reason (among others) why the World Health Organization’s 2010 proposal to put calcium in the water supply was simply crazy.
Another way to be right and wrong simultaneously is to use a tiny bit of a supplement and say that it had no measurable effect. This is spending a great deal of money in order to state what should have been obvious. There is no point studying supplements if you don’t test meaningful doses. To do this, you have to do what researchers least want to do: actually consult with integrative doctors, the people with clinical experience using supplements.
Not understanding co-factors and proper dosages is perhaps excusable. The other tricks used to make supplements look dangerous are really dubious: the intentional cherry picking of studies, most of them with very questionable data, followed by all kinds of “clever” statistical manipulations, among other underhanded techniques.
For example, if you are allowed to see the underlying data (often not the case) and dig into it deeply enough, you find that people using supplements lived longer. But the researchers then “corrected” for lifestyle habits (e.g., diet), throwing in as many factors as they liked, until they could force the remaining data into a weak statistical result that now seemed to say the supplements actually hurt. Why does the researcher bother to go to all this trouble when he or she clearly had already decided on the answer?
Recently, more and more researchers have been going to more and more trouble to find evidence—any evidence, no matter how weak or falsified—to shore up conclusions they have already reached. Why? And why have reporters more or less done the opposite, going to no trouble at all, just parroting press releases? In the latter case, it can’t just be laziness.
This increasing phenomenon of underhanded attacks amplified mindlessly by the mass press suggests that the natural health idea, based on diet and lifestyle, not just supplements, must be reaching people. This seems to be a campaign of push-back, and it is getting bigger and bigger.
There is the old story about how new ideas emerge. First, they are scoffed at: “What a complete joke!” As the ideas advance, the entrenched interests who benefit from the old ideas lapse into a stony silence: “Shh! Don’t let any more people hear about this!” In phase three, there is a very vocal campaign of push-back from the entrenched interests.
Stage three seems to be where we are at now. Do you know how to tell we have reached the final, fourth stage, the stage in which the new ideas are finally accepted? It is when the former opponents of the new ideas say, “Oh, we knew that all along!”
During our current third stage of vocal attack on natural health, one of the oft-heard arguments against supplements is, “Hey, just eat well. You can get everything you need from food.” That seems reasonable. It at least nods in the direction of natural health ideas, because we do believe that diet is vital. But it is wrong, for a number of reasons.
Studies suggest that Americans are short of many essential nutrients. Dr. Bruce Ames, emeritus professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of California at Berkeley, points out that 60% of Americans get too little magnesium, one of our most important nutrients. Magnesium alone is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions, according to the Life Extension Foundation. Dr. Ames estimates that not getting enough of the right nutrients in general is shortening the average lifespan by eight to ten years.
Partly this is because many of us don’t eat well. But there are  numerous other reasons why we might not get sufficient nutrients from food alone. One of them is conventional medical treatment, especially medical mistakes. One of the gravest mistakes of modern medicine appears to be blocking the acid in people’s stomachs in the mistaken belief that this will control acid reflux or stomach pain over the long run.
As we have often pointed out, the evidence has always existed that people lose stomach acid as they age and it is often the lack of acid that contributes both to reflux and stomach pain. Even the FDA has only authorized the use of acid blockers for short periods of time. Yet doctors routinely prescribe them for years.
And what does the lack of stomach acid lead to—in addition to steadily worsening stomach problems for millions of sufferers? Malnutrition, of course (one example of which is vitamin B12 deficiency). How can we properly digest protein and especially minerals without the acid that is supposed to be in our stomachs? And don’t forget pneumonia: lack of acid lets the bugs through and has been shown by creditable researchers to lead to more serious illness and even death. The culprit is often the class of gastric acid-suppressing drugs known as PPIs, or proton pump inhibitors, like Nexium and Prevacid, among the most widely prescribed drugs in the US, with nearly 110 million prescriptions and $13.9 billion in sales in 2010, in addition to over-the-counter sales. In other words, a huge number of Americans are malnourished from PPIs alone.
Think about a doctor who both prescribes acid blockers for years and tells his patient not to take supplements. He or she may be literally starving the patient to death, however many years it takes to play out. Other drugs may also interfere with nutrition in ways that are barely understood, and surgical trauma certainly requires extra nutrients to heal.
In our next article, we’ll cover some particularly egregious recent attacks on supplements coming both from a medical journal published by—who else—the American Medical Association and amplified by the mainstream media.


  1. I’m glad this information is getting out there. I’m an integrative physician currently going through the process of being re-certified. This business about supplements is starting to get out of control. I get at least one phone call or email a day from a panicked patient who has read a study and now believes they may die from supplements they’ve been safely taking for years. It’s an uphill battle. Glad to have organizations like yours in our corner. Keep up the great work!

  2. Through losing my mother, father and brother to the miracle of modern medicine, I have sworn off any contact with them unless I suffer trauma injury. I take a mix of vitamin supplements, don’t eat meat, pork or poultry and have felt better than ever after changing my lifestyle.
    Healthcare in this country is a racket, like finance is a racket and government is a racket. Remove your support from all of them. You’ll live longer and hopefully the b-s will all implode while you’re still alive to witness it.

  3. The lack of adequate nutrition from the foods we eat is mentioned in your article. Well known as a reason is that soil that constantly is reused for the same crops soon becomes depleted, which is why crop rotation is critical. Also critical is proper fertilization, which the pilgrims learned from their neighboring natives and so added natural fertilizer, dead fish, to the soil they were planting. The new Farm Bill just passed by Congress has, unfortunately, been highjacked by chemical company lobbyists to include fertilizers with high concentrations of flouride, hardly a proper additive for good fertilization…and our “quality foods” guardians at the FDA have colluded in this poisoning plot!

  4. It is known that mainstream medicine is the leading cause of death at least in this country. What right do these people who are causing such incredible suffering to the people of our country have to put down natural health care including supplements? Of course they fear the loss of their cash cow. The concern of this industry is for profit especially in the case of Big Pharma.

  5. Low stomach acids also effect the liver, as do most phamaceutical drugs. Serious business here, as a downward spiral can occur if the liver cannot detoxify the body effectively.
    And yes, “they did know it” all along, except not yet willing to admit this in public.

  6. I support the use of natural food supplements as a patient.
    I was warned that from age 60 I should expect aches and pains, by my brother, a doctor.
    Although I have lives on a wholefood vegetarian diet from age 17, I then started to take various supplements.
    My lifestyle appears to keep me healthy. I only wish that our National Health Service (United Kingdom) accepted qualified practitioners in other modalities than pharmaceutical drugs. Our taxes only support orthodox doctors, who have little understanding of nutrition and are only just starting to emphasize that lifestyle is important.
    My way of life has meant that I have only had ‘flu once as an adult. I have not had a cold for 10 years. Adequate vitamin C and D and other supplements should, I hope, also keep some of the risks of cancer at bay.

  7. PPI’s deplete Vitamin D, which is key to a strong immune system. Low stomach acid makes us more susceptible to pathogen invasions. Why don’t we examine the root cause of excess acid and reverse the problem.

  8. I’ve been taking vitamin supplements for years, which my primary care physician hasn’t always agreed with. In fact, I take supplements, some totally holistic that help keep my total serum cholesterol within normal ranges, without having to take a statin drug with it’s side effects.
    Five years ago, I was diagnosed with osteoporosis, at age 53 – a white, healthy male. I have strong reason to believe that my bone density has effectively been lowered by one of my other prescription medications, an SSRI. Even now, both my psychiatrist and endocrinologist refuse to acknowledge that the SSRI drugs are the main cause of my osteoporosis, not heriditary reasons. There have been very few studies done on long-term users of SSRI’s, of which I am one, and measurements of their bone density. I feel the current medical and pharmaceutical establishments are at least in part to blame for the lack of research being done about this. I have also been taking supplements for my osteoporosis, most notably vitamins K2, D3 and calcium, along with a reasonable exercise program. I am also taking the prescription drug Fosomax.
    My father, aged 79, has been living with a number of medical conditions for many years. He sees many types of physicians, doctors and specialists, but he feels they do not communicate very well with one another. As a result, he feels that he has not received all of the correct diagnoses he should have. Ideally, he would like to find an integrative care specialist who evaluates his overall health and all of his medical conditions and formulates a treatment plan based on their conclusions. However, he has yet to find such integrative care, even in this technological advanced day and age. I can only pray that he finds the care he needs sooner rather than later.
    Thank God for websites like yours. In fact, I just recommended your website to my father. Thank you for all you do for holistic, natural health practices.

    1. Your situation is a perfect example of the huge divide in how we treat disease without supporting our health. When I first started my journey in the healthcare system, I had recurring Kidney Stones and when I asked doctors “Why?”, the answer was “We don’t know.” Well I found out through simple research and began supplementation and never had another Kidney Stone. And that is only one instance of many. I gave my father supplements for 30 years and he lived to 84, and he would have lived longer had it not been for a doctor stuffing PROZAC down his throat for a common Amino Acid imbalance in the brain. But even when my father complained that Prozac made him feel like a zombie the doctor kept insisting the feeling would go away. Well that is not what went away. Funny thing about the wonder drug PROZAC is that my father ended up with Parkinson’s Disease in a short three years and ended up dying from a massive heart attack in a hospital for an unnecessary surgery. Ahhhh the wonders of our for profit healthcare system. We will NEVER have “HEALTH CARE” when banks can make soooo much more money treating disease. Providing the necessities for life cannot be based on obscene profits, otherwise greed steps in and benevolence is kicked to the curb. READ: PROZAC NATION

      1. Big Pharma is intended to make money—-its prime directive is not not restpre full health and vitality. It is incumbent on you as a citizen and intelligent being, to take responsibility, for your own health. These powerful molecules are ineffectual and make you sicker.

  9. I take all the supplements my doctor says are not good for me.
    Vit D3
    Vit B12
    Multi Vit
    Vit E
    Fish Oil/Omega 3
    I get them all at the Health Food Store.

  10. With regard to vitamin E, you should also mention that tocotrienols are potentially hazardous to anyone taking a prescription drug. Unlike the tocopherols, the tocotrienols activate the steroid and xenobiotic receptor (SXR). Activating this receptor up-regulates the drug-metabolizing enyzme CYP3A4, which is the main enzyme that destroys drugs and other molecules not normally present in the human body (xenobiotics). Activating SXR also up-regulates P-glycoprotein, which is the main enzyme that transports drugs and other xenobiotics out of the body.
    Organ rejection has been caused by natural supplements that activated SXR and diminished the effectiveness of the anti-rejection drug cyclosporine. Failure of birth control drugs has been caused by natural supplements that activated SXR. If you do not take any drug and never will, perhaps you would want to take an SXR-activating supplement to remove xenobiotics from your body. In that case, take St. John’s Wort, which is notorious as a very powerful SXR activator.
    On the other hand, if you might get cancer and want the anti-cancer drugs to be effective, you should not take SXR activators like the tocotrienols. P-glycoprotein was discovered during research to understand why cancer chemotherapy eventually fails — most anti-cancer drugs are potent SXR activators, and activation of SXR greatly diminishes their effectiveness after a year or two of treatment. You can satisfy all of your vitamin E needs from the tocopherols, which do not activate SXR at all.
    Some promoters of tocotrienols do not mention this very important risk. These people do not have your health and well-being at heart, only their own profits. You should only buy supplements from people who give you complete information, both positive and negative, so you can make your own informed decision about whether you should take SXR activators like tocotrienols, St. John’s wort, curcumin, and ginseng. The people who sell these supplements are aware of this well-known risk, but not all of them will tell you about it.

    1. Plant material have medicinal properties, as you stated, therefore one must be judicious when it omes to ingesting these molecules.

  11. People need to be in control of their own health and make educated discussions on their own. I support nutrition based healing thru diet and supplements. It’s a personal choice that we deserve to make on our own Government agencies should stay out of the health care choices of the people and stop supporting big pharma. Drugs do not heal, they reduce symptoms and cause bigger problems for those who take them Dr’s need to stop prescribing medications & go back to practicing healing. Stop poisoning people with chemicals It’s all about money and profits and government control. It all needs to stop. Including the processing of foods. We want clean good organic food for our families not this junk market you have created.

    1. If all of you are concerned enough about big farma, big Pharma and wish to keep your supps (as I am and I do…) we should all simply quit using them. Done. As I have.

  12. I’m a healthy, active 83 year old, thanks in part to alternative medicine and nutritional supplements.
    It is big Pharma’s prescription mediicines that scare me, not natural nutritional supplements.
    I buy mine from reliable companies who offer well-researched products, i.e. Life Extension Foundation.
    Please concentrate efforts on improving the safety of pharmaceutical drugs that are one of the leading causes of death in this country. Leave the nutritional supplement industry alone. Natural healing and integrative medicine are very much needed for the future health of our nation.

  13. What’s your hit on the recent FDA threat to prevent Anatabloc from being marketed? The rationale was that anatabine citrate is a natural substance about which the company (Star Scientific) could not say that it was anti-inflamaatory on the basis of mouse studies. Last I heard, it was entering trials for arthritis and Alzheimer’s. My partner and I have both gotten benefits, mental and physical, from taking it. GNC promoted and sold it heavily.

  14. Supplements have their place. I take them, am healthy at nearly 76, list them with my Medical Dr. and my prescriptions with Naturopathic physician. This is supposed to be a free country in which, we the people, are allowed choices. Anything less begs the question that the USA is a democracy.
    No one person has all the answers.

    1. In the history of our great country, powerful money makimg corporations have subverted the Constitution; Monsanto and BigPharma, are the current examples.

  15. Dear Sirs,
    this is the reason I – as a victim of the East German Secret Services STASI (18 months in jail for pilitical reasons; later on (in 1969) sold to West Germany- long for return of communism:
    Communists were interested in healthy people (as long as they did not fight against communism).
    Communists were the first to feed the people Vitamin C; they also were the first – more than 50 years earlier than the Western hemisphere – to feed the people Aronia melanocarpa (this is a fruit native to North America, there on behalf of the Pharma Industry neglected for nearly 100 years).
    There is much more to say !
    Conclusion: As the Pharma wants to make money food supplements will be forbidden – let people die early to increase the Pharma’s profits.
    This means Freedom (but only under imperialist conditions !)

    1. I agree with everything you say but your conclusion. Pharma wants you hanging onto life by a thread for as long as possible for max profits…

  16. Yes! Big Pharma has been allowed to test drugs on the population since their inception, harming and withdrawing and throwing pittance settlements out with gag orders and now they want to “standardize” the natural supplement industry? You can see how the FDA is stepping up attacks on supplement companies with over reaching regulations that hold them accountable to a standard that the pharmaceutical industry has never been held to. FDA police site and fine companies for not having quality control managers in every segment of production, and that is done with the intent of weeding out the small company that cannot afford such expensive regulations. The more regulations that are put in place the more political the system becomes. Degrees, licensing, lobbying. High costs = high salaries. And still supplement companies are NOT ALLOWED to help the public understand the potential uses of a product as it is a CLAIM of healing. But if your company sells some useless product that does nothing to heal, you are allowed to make all the claims you can afford on national television? I am so tired of hearing medication commercials!
    The banks run everything. They have taken our jobs, our homes and are whittling away at public assistance for the poor and needy. They are behind big INSURANCE and have installed a faceless company in place of our doctor and they are now in the process of completely controlling access to healthcare. Just think about the BAIL OUT they received. AIG, MORGAN STANLEY…the others! They engineered failure to continue to make money on all sides of the scam. The “MONEY CHANGERS”! Greed and Profits are their Gods and it will be their undoing.
    READ – Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System (which focuses on the money and banking system itself), and Forbidden Medicine, which traces the suppression of natural health treatment back to the corrupting influences of our financial system.

  17. About 6 years ago I over heard a conversation of someone in their 60’s saying :
    “My doctor said taking Vitamin C is just expensive urine”.
    That person died 2 years later.
    Case closed.
    I take a ton of Vitamin C powder everyday and can clearly see the benefits.

  18. Unfortunately some niave people are going to believe the media press that supplements are bad. I’d rather take supplements then take pharmaceuticals.

  19. A fantastic source of info is from the German-trained biochemist Walter Last, who quit the medical establishment and went off to find natural and alternative modalities. See http://www.health-science-spirit.com.
    One of his significant reports is on the calcium hoax and the role of Boron in calcium metabolism (why isn’t it on the list of needed minerals?). He has an excellent article on the use of borax as a supplement to relieve arthirits and other calcium problems without needing calcium supplements. He says calcium supplements contributes to aging. There is a global conspiracy against borax. http://www.health-science-spirit.com/borax.htm Borax is less toxic that NaCl–table salt. (Its LD50 is around 30% higher.)
    People are quickly getting fed up with being kept sick for years on end for a profit. The FDA needs to replaced by a consumer advocacy body made up of a variety of specialists including naturopaths, chiropractors, bioelectromagnetic therapists as well as MDs that understand integrative medicine. Big Pharma will be broken up and killed off in the long run. They can only play this restrictive game so long before EVERYONE will turn on them. Power to the People.

    1. Yes, all drug companies should be put out of business. All they care about is killing people and getting rich. But with greedy politicians and government agencies that care more about their own financial gains. things will keep getting worse. I have gotten better by using safer supplements instead of drugs with deadly side affects. The FDA, the AMA, and the drug companies must never be allowed to take away our right to have any freedom of choice.

  20. This is about money. Conventional medicine is more profitable than supplementation. Conventional medicine does not have to work. It just needs to relieve symptoms. A doctor who uses conventional medicine can make thousands of dollars treating sickness with conventional medicine. This is MAJOR conflict of interest when a doctor has to decide if he wants his medical practice to make money or to cure patients.
    91% of all sickness in America is attributable to nutrient deficiencies and lifestyle decisions. That means that roughly $2.7 trillion dollars per year can be saved by focusing on nutrient deficiencies in Americans.
    The key is to expose the corruption of doctors who have been bribed indirectly by the drug companies. The key is to expose the corrupt politicians who pass laws which allow the health care industry to get away with the legalized murder of over 4 million Americans who die early annually.
    How much is it worth to the health care industry to eliminate supplementation and alternative medicine? $2.7 trillion per year.
    There are NO laws or bills in Congress to address this fact. Perhaps this is the place where this should start.

Comments are closed.