De-mystifying the natural products industry

De-mystifying the natural products industry

Hello and Happy New Year!!!

As we roll into another exciting year, we should reflect on our wellness and how it can relate to our daily productivity. This is very evident by the last few years, maybe even the last decade and how the natural product industry has grown. And for the people who most likely are not aware of the inner workings of it--this is one of the only industries to grow in 3 recessions. During the 1980s, when the supplement industry was just a fraction of what it is now, people found it empowering to be able to have access to compounds that when used properly, can help change their lives and the lives of those they cared about.

Fast forward to a pivotal point in time for the industry in 1994. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced what would be named The Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act of 1994.This was actually piggy-backed onto a previous act formed in or around 1936-38 named the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Which later was re-evaluated and turned into DSHEA-1994. Its linked here---


This bill allowed companies to use terms and phrases to help with their marketing and education of products. Personally, I think this was an important step to have in the industry as this is when it started its first wave of growth. Many larger companies started paying attention to these small, local, seed to shelf companies. This led to many other variation of the bill and in 1997, congress introduced the Food and Drug Modernizing Act which allowed companies to make health claims. And in 1999 FDA regulations started requiring that a "Supplement Facts" label be on all dietary supplement labels. Sidenote, this is why when you read a bottle of fish oil or your multi, it will say supplement facts--not drug facts or nutrition facts. However, if you pick up a bottle of a homeopathic product like Arnica Montana 30c or any other homeopathy item, it will state Drug Facts on its label. This is due to the provision of what is call the Homepathic Pharmacopia of the United States or HPUS. Which goes back to the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1936-38.


There is a lot of misinformation by supposed experts who make claims that supplements are not regulated and that must mean that everything that is considered a supplement must be in some way shape or form, dangerous or invalid. Of course this is usually followed by another statement or redirect to the pharma industry. Since they are tested, studied and valid and of course are completely safe. That's of course sarcasm. But in reality, pharma does not have to be transparent and objective about their products they push to market. And as we have witnessed with Covid, can throw safety protocols out the window with big business knocking at the back door. That has nothing to do with wellness. That is pushed by different motives that we can explore later. Here's a fact most consumers are not aware of. A good portion of popular categories of common prescription and OTC drugs are mirrored after naturally occurring compounds. Example, Digoxin is a type of drug used for blood pressure. It can be used under the name Lanoxin or sometimes straight up Digitalis. Which is the family of plants named Foxglove. The genus for this plant is Digitalis Purpurea. Or that the insect fungus known as Cordyceps, which has gained popularity over the past 20 years or so is what pharma companies based the prescription Cyclosporine-A after. And most commonly known, white willow or Salix Alba is what the cheap OTC anti-inflammatory drug called Aspirin is based upon.

There also is a great deal of companies who have paid so much attention to these growing supplement companies that they have been acquired by large pharma guys. I won't go into details but here's a link--


You can make of that story what you will but when I heard that, I knew there were a lot of things going on in the industry that were not up for public discussion. This is just one example. There are plenty of times I have heard of another company with good intentions and honest core beliefs get acquired then force those same people who started it out the door. Its more common than you could believe. I do know that some of these big companies are still operating under the same principals that started them and some are actually still under the same ownership. After I saw the expansion of private firms and companies that have no business being part of an industry that actually guides people to wellness, I knew that its a great example of how most other industries work in the US. I thought for the longest time that the two extremes could not or would not want to be near each other in any way. But when you have an industry that can grow when recessions start, stocks fall, rates rise and other types of companies have to close their doors or outsource, something has to give.

I used to feel good about defending the industry when I started out just working in health food stores. I felt great just to be around these items that I knew could actually change lives. I mean once I read about how to use them effectively, they helped changed my life. Why couldn't they help others also? They can. And when used properly, they will. Period. No matter what the media says, no matter what some guy with an opinion with letters after or before his name says. They will work. And as someone who has been as far down both hallways of Industrialized medicine and science or Allopathic medicine, whatever you want to call it--and been down the alternative, complementary, integrative, all natural side. I know what I have seen. I can only share my experiences personally and the experience of those that I have helped introduce item that have helped change people's routines. Which changes lifestyles. Which changes perspectives. Which changes beliefs. Which changes generations. Which changes history.

These are just my thoughts on what I feel is the largest growing industry in the last 20 years or so. You cannot say that about any other trade or commerce area in the US right now. The natural products industry is for the most part, one of the last industries that is still based in the states. And a lot of consumers of those products are in other countries where they are not as widely available.

I would also like to share some thoughts on how people should exercise caution when looking at purchasing items for wellness. Not all are made with the same approach. And just because one is more widely distributed does not make it better. Here's an example of what I mean----,%2C%E2%80%9D%20and%20%E2%80%9CMens%20Maximum%20Energy

There is a difference between the drug store brand and a brand that has done the work and has the backstory that can lead people to wellness. When I first attended some of the larger tradeshows like Expo West a long time ago, it was exciting! It was like going to the Oscar's for someone who used to read the pamphlets from the rack in the back of a dusty healthfood store. Having the ability to meet and talk to the companies I admired was really inspiring for a young man who just wanted all the info that was available. But over the years , I noticed something. I started seeing different faces at these events. I started seeing more corporate based themes. I then started seeing the copy cat products down every aisle. When I would ask what made one company different from another, I got the same answer. This was appalling. I was actually upset by this. These companies should not be allowed through the front gate let alone be allowed to set up booths at these massive tradeshows telling people they are the next best thing. And to add to it, most of the people working for them had no real interest of background in the industry at all!!! I met previous used car salespeople, cellphone plan providers and even retired doctors!!!!

All of this made me think that there is a reason so many people have turned to this industry for guidance. Because in one way or another that's what they are doing. They want or need guidance on how to change something in their daily life. Everything from needing to fit into that dress for the upcoming event or attempting to increase their telomere function. This still makes me appreciate and understand that one cannot put a price on health. That will always be a fact no matter who acquires who or what new claim is on social media. One thing that I learned back in the day was that if you use your intuition, it usually will lead to the right path. I would advise you to do the same if you are serious about your wellness.


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