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Francine Hardaway: Natural Causes

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I’m reading the new expose of the vitamin and supplement industry, “Natural Causes,” by Dan Hurley. For someone who doesn’t have much faith in the medical establishment, this book is a real bummer. Now I can’t have any faith in the natural remedies, either. Hurley tells the story of the original “snake oil,” and exposes Adele Davis (whose nutrition advice I followed when I was pregnant). According to him, Adele Davis heavily footnoted all her books to make herself look knowledgeable and scholarly. But when a couple of graduate students checked out her footnotes, they discovered most of them had nothing to do with what she was talking about in the main text.

Now Hurley’s on to the more modern herbal scandals such as L-tryptophan, which was banned after its use as a sleep aid caused both deaths and crippling illnesses, and ephedra — which was banned and unbanned after massive lobbying efforts on the part of the supplement industry.

I’m not sure how this is all going to turn out yet, because I’m only half way through the book, but I think I am coming to come away thinking I know nothing. I go back and forth on the subject of supplements personally, because every time I try to take them I end up with GERD. But on the other hand, a naturopath gave me a shot of Vitamin B-12 (something Hurley says we all have enough of in our diet) on the day after I came home from Bangkok, and I never suffered from jet lag.

What has been your experience with vitamins, minerals, herbs, and other supplements?

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