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©03 The Media Desk

-or- Seven out of Ten Gullible People Buy Our Product!

       An acquaintance of the Desk remarked that an herbal concoction had to be good for them because it contained all natural ingredients.
       All natural ingredients.
       The Desk looked at the package and wondered out loud what tree 'disodium inosinate' grew on.
       They were not amused.
       When the Desk pointed out that Poison Ivy and Crude Oil are also natural they huffed and walked away.
       Maybe they won't speak to the Desk any more. Oh well.
       But the issue here is the rebirth of the Worship of Nature clan which first frolicked in the sun from the 1800's through the American War between the States and in some cases, adopted Nature as their god (or goddess as the case may be).
       How many TV commercials have you seen touting something as 'All Natural'. The latest craze is 'Organic'. Well, organic in the chemical sense of the word means it is carbon based. So Charcoal is Organic.

       But why do people who do watch too much TV assume that something being pitched as 'Nature's Own' has to be good for you, or failing that, at least not harmful.
       There are several compounds that are as natural as, well, Nature. One of them is nothing more than a crystalline formation of oxygen and hydrogen, with silicon and a couple of metals. It occurs in rocks in the Western US and Canada, and a formation known as Orange Soil in the Eastern US, right up to the outskirts of Washington DC in fact. It is one of the most useful compounds Nature herself ever produced and can be used without problems for years, if processed correctly and used with some common sense.
       You can see it coming can't you?
       Asbestos IS a natural crystal. And certain types of it are far less harmful than others. Chrysotile, white asbestos, is still in wide use in everything from cosmetics to floor tiles (and the glue that holds them down). It is less susceptible to fraying or creating the dust that has caused all the ruckus and resulted in an industry called Asbestos Abatement. That's the guys in the space suits that come in, run everybody off, and haul off every fibrous substance in the place. Crocidolite (blue asbestos) has been basically outlawed for years, the other forms are either less common or not quite as dangerous or whatever. But they are All Natural.

       Well, you say, we're not talking about industrial fibers, we're talking about food. Leafy greens, fruits, whole grains, things like that.

       Dewtry plants produce a fruit about the size of a walnut and attractive white flowers when in season. American Indians and others used it as a medicinal plant and today some homeopaths are experimenting with its virtues. Except there is a problem here. The plant is entirely anticholinergic when introduced into the human system with a combination of four different chemicals. All of them being alkaloid poisons. Symptoms range from a mild case of dry mouth to seizures and hallucination to circulatory system collapse. Oh, by the way, the Dewtry plant is also known as Jimson Weed of the Nightshade family.

       Everybody knows there are poisonous plants out there. Why would you spend all that time pointing one out?

       Because you can buy plant extracts on the market in herbal concoctions that are just as dangerous.

       Kava is a good example. Prescribed by herbalists and taken by some people who self medicate this herb was supposed to treat insomnia and the typical laundry list of minor ills. One of the bad things it did was cause liver failure.
       Pennyroyal is supposed to cure indigestion. Well it can, by killing the patient.
       Indian tobacco (lobelia) is an herb used to treat asthma. It doesn't. It does cause irregular heartbeat and uncontrollable vomiting. Four grams of it can be fatal.

       But those aren't Foods!

       How many foods are on the market that contain Echinacea are there out there? The teas, the 'herbal fortified' ready to eat foods and the like. Overexposure to Echinacea can result in rashes, diarrhea, and liver problems with prolonged use.
       Everybody knows about peanut allergies, you can't even get peanuts on an airplane any more because somebody might be allergic. Well fine. There are also people who have serious reactions to iodine, yet you don't see bright red warnings on things that contain iodized salt or fish oils or other compounds with iodine in them.
       The Natural Cellulose Fiber used in some foods is nothing but Sawdust.

       Let's get away from herbs and things that contain them.

       Dust mites.

       Well, dust mites are most certainly not an herb, and not usually thought of as food either. But they are ubiquitous to the environment and it doesn't matter how neurotic a housekeeper you are or how much you paid for your vacuum cleaner either. If you have any upholstered furniture or carpeting on the floor in your house or apartment. They Are There. And in sizable numbers too. It could be said the more comfortable your house is, the more of them you have.
       And they, rather their feces, is one of the chief causes of respiratory ailments like allergies and asthma in humans today.

       But... Let's do another one before we hear the next objection.

       El Sol is required for human health. Vitamin D is a product of the sun's interaction with your skin. It stimulates parts of the brain and helps curb depression. Lack of sun exposure (as with night shift workers) has been linked to everything from menstrual irregularities to hypertension.
       Yet everybody has been beaten over the head with how bad the Sun is for you.
       And it is true. Too Much sun is actually bad for you.

       And, So What?

       The point here is this…. And it is common sense, but common sense seems to be in short supply. Especially on Cable Shopping Channels, TV talk shows, and those curiosities of modern life- Infomercials and 'Important Update' Commercials that are trying to look like real newsbreaks. Not Everything Natural is Good For You.

       It is easy to believe that something that is Natural is harmless. That it will be a good thing for you to use. That there is some virtue in the fact that it is not man made.
       This is simply a fallacy being ridden to support the profit margins of modern day snake oil salesmen.
       The infamous Snake Oil at one point was actually that, snake oil. Rattlesnakes rendered down into a grease and used for arthritis and various other ailments. Later the term was applied to anything sold by the Patent Medicine Shows.
       Truth be told, most of the preparations, potions, salves, and elixirs were predominately alcohol, some contained various powders and chemicals that may or may not of had some active properties of their own. Like the Iron Powders or the one that was berry juice, but they didn't tell you which berry. And most did little or nothing to cure the ailments they were being touted for. Some may have made you feel better (or feel nothing, such as Laudanum whose active ingredient was Opium) but that was all.

       How different is that from modern herbal remedies that give you a lift, but lack any real curative powers. Or even worse, cause another problem or block the affect of other remedies as is the case with Echinacea and Ginko. The latter of which can drastically change insulin levels resulting in dire consequences for diabetics.
       Even grapefruit juice can alter the way medications (and herbal remedies) work in the body, and in some cases amplify their action to cause sever reactions or even poisonings.

       Also, natural products such as laundry soaps may not work, cause worse allergic reactions, or even damage clothes. Remember lye soap for washing people, clothes, and kitchen things? That was a very natural product. Home made. From pig fat and water that has been turned caustic by soaking wood ashes in it. What's more natural than that? Of course don't use it to wash aluminum pans or certain delicate laundry items, it'll permanently damage them.

       The only point the Desk is making before you get all into something that claims it is natural is this: THINK!

       Pardon the Desk now, it must go see if that order of beeswax nasal spray is ready, it is supposed to cure athlete's foot and stop your hair from turning gray.


Outside links will open in new window. A resource being listed here is not an endorsement of their site by the Desk or vise versa.

For more information than you will naturally ever need check out the Mayo Clinic pages about herbs. Search by topic.

The National Institute of Health has some good information about supplements and herbs.

For the other side of things. See the Herbalist

The American Herbalist

And the Quacky side of things:

The Media Desk Urban Legend and Hoax Page


[NOTE: the Desk does not use any of the products discussed above. It is not otherwise affiliated with any of the organizations linked to. All products and identifying information is trademark of the producers of the product. This article is NOT an endorsement of any of the products or services mentioned or linked to. Thank you ]

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