Vitamins Yes, Drugs No

Commonly used food supplements include more than 1,000 herbs. Many come from ancient Chinese, Native American or other healing traditions.

by Dr. Larry Wilson — 

Few subjects are as controversial as the value of food supplements. I used to believe, as physicians are trained to believe, that most food supplements are rarely needed, especially if one eats well.

However, after extensive reading, personal experience and reports from thousands of patients, I am convinced of the value of supplements. Before discussing them in detail, here are some basics.

Types of supplements

Commonly used food supplements include more than 1,000 herbs. Many come from ancient Chinese, Native American or other healing traditions. Homeopathic remedies are another common group of supplements. These are very dilute compounds of minerals and other chemicals that may affect the body, often disproportionate to their low concentration. Vitamins, minerals, amino acids, food concentrates and food extracts are another popular group of supplements. They include many tinctures, powders and drinks.

Some supplements are naturally derived, such as dried plants or vitamin E from wheat germ oil. Others are semi-synthetic, such as vitamin C made from corn or sago palm. A few are synthesized copies of natural molecules, such as most B-complex vitamins and some hormones sold in health stores. All are basically naturally occurring molecules that are easily and safely metabolized by the body.

By comparison, pharmaceutical drugs are patent medicines. Simplistically defined, they cause symptoms in the body that antagonize or oppose other symptoms. Drug companies often research herbs and vitamins. However, since these cannot be patented, the company must alter the natural substances in some way, and hope the result will not prove toxic for the body.

Supplements help nourish the body 

From ancient times humans have used special foods, extracts and herbs to nourish the body. These supply not only nutrients, but other kinds of subtle energies to our bodies. We still have much to learn about nutrition and herbology, and new findings emerge daily.

I estimate that 80 percent or more of our food is of poor nutritional quality. Briefly, here is why. The references offer further details.

• Hybrid crops — Our food today is hybridized and often genetically altered to yield the maximum bushels per acre. Crops also are bred to be attractive and easy to harvest. Superior nutrition is rarely a concern of most farmers. For example, we grow more than 10 times as much wheat per acre as was grown 100 years ago. However, the soil does not contain 10 times the amount of trace minerals; therefore the crops are much lower in vital nutrients.

• Pesticides, insecticides and other chemical treatments — Most food is smothered with a number of pesticides, herbicides, growth stimulants, antibiotics and other chemical substances that can alter and even ruin its nutritional quality. Many chemical treatments escape food labels, so you have little or no idea what has been applied to your food.

• Food processing — This major industry is a health destroyer. For example, the refining process for manufacturing white flour removes between 30 and 80 percent of trace minerals and vitamins in whole wheat. Refining rice and sugar have similar nutritional effects. Oddly, the most nutritious part of your meal may be the salsa on your chips or the mustard on your hot dog roll.

• Poor eating habits — Many people do not absorb their food well because they routinely eat on the run, while driving, standing in front of the refrigerator or while working.

Medical schools and the mass media still teach that one need not be concerned about nutritional deficiencies unless one has signs of scurvy, pellagra or beriberi. These are pernicious lies. Deficiency states are far more widespread, and symptoms such as fatigue or depression often are vague. While supplements may help address this enormous problem, they should never be considered a substitute for quality foods.

Supplements for drug and chemical toxicity

Three thousand or so food additives are generally regarded as safe and permitted by the FDA. The reality is that many are not safe. Supplements can reduce the harmful effects of some of these food additives.

Antioxidants and metal chelators, such as garlic and vitamin C, also can reduce the damage to our bodies caused by ingesting the hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines taken by millions of people daily.

In The History of the Crime Against the Food Law by Dr. Harvey Wiley, M.D., the author conducted safety experiments on food additives and drugs with human volunteers. All the additives and drugs caused illness in the healthy volunteers, and the testing had to be terminated. The author also details the devastating corruption of the FDA by food and drug special interests. Today, the situation is probably much worse. The number of additives and over-the-counter and prescription drugs has increased immensely, as have the earnings and power of the drug and food companies.

Supplements for special needs

Supplements may provide added nutrition in cases of “special nutritional needs.” Here are individuals with increased needs:

  • Children, the elderly and anyone under a lot of stress
  • Anyone who is ill, especially those with chronic conditions
  • Pregnant women and lactating mothers
  • Anyone who eats junk food or chemical additives
  • Those who eat in a hurry, eat in their cars or have other eating habits that impair the absorption of nutrients
  • Anyone using over-the-counter or prescription drugs
  • Millions of people, not only the elderly and ill, who have impaired digestion and absorption of nutrients, as certain foods and drugs damage the intestines, reducing absorption.

The members in these groups add up to most of the population of America! Yet virtually no health professionals are taught that almost everyone in our nation and around the world has special nutritional needs.

Supplements are for healing

The use of food extracts, herbs and supplements for healing is ancient and well-established. Here are several examples:

  • Herbs have a long history as relatively safe, gentle and at times most amazing natural methods of healing.
  • Orthomolecular medicine is the name given to the often symptomatic use of vitamins and minerals for healing. The phrase orthomolecular medicine was coined by Dr. Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel Prizes and famous for his advocacy of vitamin C for colds and flu. More than 60 years of experience has shown vitamins and minerals to be very safe, as demonstrated by records from poison control centers around the nation.
  • Many overeat in an effort to obtain vital nutrients from poor-quality food. Supplements may help address obesity and diabetes by reducing food cravings, hence reducing overeating.
  • Homeopathy is a 150-year-old symptomatic science developed in Germany by Samuel Hahneman. It was widely practiced in the United States and Europe more than 100 years ago.

Supplement legislation

Food supplements in the United States are protected from excessive FDA regulation by the Dietary Health and Supplement Education Act of 1994. Though it has been amended, this law essentially classifies supplements differently than drugs as “foods for special uses.” Drug companies and their cronies make every effort to regulate supplements out of existence, as supplements often directly compete with their profits.

The most recent attempt is a law just passed in both houses of Congress, led primarily by Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Rep. Henry Waxman, all Democrats. The bill requires supplement companies to comply with the same adverse reporting requirements as drug companies. The cost of implementing this bill could drive many smaller supplement companies out of business, which seems to be the unspoken goal.

The adverse reporting bill was pushed through the US Senate at 3 a.m. a few weeks ago. It was first defeated earlier the same night, but another vote was held two hours later when the bill’s proponents realized that most of the opposing members of Congress had gone to bed, believing the bill had been defeated.

The Codex Alimentarius is a second push by drug companies to regulate the supplement industry into oblivion. It will reduce the allowable over-the-counter dosages of all vitamins and minerals to levels so low that producing the products will be worthless. Food supplements often provide 10 to 100 times the recommended daily allowance of a nutrient and must do so to offset the poor absorption and extra needs of thousands of people. The Codex rules have already become law in parts of Europe and are scheduled to take effect in the United States in 2009.

If we value our freedom to choose and our health, these and similar efforts must be stopped. I am saddened that the Democrats in our state and federal legislatures tend to support drug-company-sponsored supplement regulation far more than the Republicans.

Understanding the drug industry 

Although the following is not intended as a criticism of drug companies, most people — including doctors and even hospital administrators — have little idea how the drug industry works. Otherwise, we would see an immediate move away from their products.

One needs to know the truth, regardless of how unpleasant, in order to make wise choices, both individually and as a nation. Several books listed in the references contain details about the following points:

  •  Most drugs are patented. Once approved by the FDA, drug companies mark up their products by thousands of percents, something that supplement companies cannot do, thanks to competition.
  • When a drug patent expires, a new drug often is marketed aggressively so that profits can be maintained. Many times the older drug is as good or better than its replacement.
  • A new “adverse drug effect” was just reported by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Tests show that synthetic drugs persist in our water and are contaminating our drinking water (see references).
  • The drug industry spends billions of dollars on advertising to doctors and patients. Brainwashing might be a more accurate term for the drug ads that blanket television, radio, newspapers and, most sadly, medical journals. Recently, several scandals surfaced regarding the fact that prestigious journals such as The New England Journal of Medicine and The Journal of the American Medical Association are supported by and closely tied to drug companies. The concern is that they may respond to pressure by their drug advertisers to publish studies favorable to them, while rejecting articles that do not favor their drugs.
  • Drug companies spend millions on lobbyists in Washington, D.C., and in every state to pressure insurers and state medical plans to reimburse for their products but not for nutritional supplements.
  • Drug companies pay off as many people as possible within the agency that regulates them. A recent study showed that more than half of FDA scientists received money, stocks or other perks from drug companies. Armies of lawyers are retained by drug companies to defend them against lawsuits that arise due to the harmful effects of their products. Paying off litigant relatives of the dead and otherwise handling the many lawsuits is just another cost of doing business for them.
  • Sadly, a number of supplement companies have sold out to drug companies, who then often lower the quality and raise the prices of their products.
  • Government medical laboratories funded by your tax dollars often work closely with drug companies in patent-sharing arrangements that pay the scientists and others well.
  • Efforts are underway to have our federal government take over our healthcare system. This would further entrench the drug companies, who do very well in Europe and Canada where healthcare is government-operated and forced on the public.

As one better understands his or her food and the food supplement and drug industries, it becomes clearer why obesity, cancer, diabetes, mental illness and other conditions continue to increase each year. Change is needed — and is available to us. Let us not allow selfish special interests to stop the growing movement in America toward more nutritious foods and more natural, time-tested healing methods.


Many books and Web sites provided documentation for this article. Listed below are just a few of them:

  • Fitzgerald, R., The Hundred Year Lie, Dutton, Penguin Group, New York, 2006.
  • Hall, R.H., Food for Naught: The Decline in Nutrition, Vintage Books, New York, 1974.
  • Illich, I., Medical Nemesis, Bantam Books, New York, 1976.
  • Jensen, B. and Andereson, M., Empty Harvest, Avery, Penguin Putnam, New York, 1990.
  • Pfeiffer, C.C., Mental and Elemental Nutrients, Keats Publishing, New Canaan, Conn., 1975.
  • Schmidt, M., Smith, L., and Sehnert, K., Beyond Antibiotics, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, Calif., 1993.
  • U.S. Department of the Interior news release, “Drugs in River Water,” Nov. 6, 2006.
  • Wiley, H.W., History of a Crime: How Could It Happen?, Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, Milwaukee, Wisc., 1955.

Useful Web sites include, and Other articles by this author are available at


Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for over 25 years. His books include Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, Legal Guidelines for Unlicensed Practitioners, Healing Ourselves and Manual of Sauna Therapy and The Real Self. He also co-authored Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease and contributed to The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. or 928-445-7690.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 1, February/March 2007.

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