The Greatest Threat to Big Pharma is the Natural Health Industry
“If people do not use the system the pharmaceutical industry owns, it makes every attempt to eliminate all forms of competition in its pursuits of global dominance.”
For as long as I can remember, while being in the natural health industry, the greatest threat our industry faced was from the pharmaceutical industry. You would think they would be happy since they run the entire show; they educate the young doctors in training at medical schools and continue the relationship once in practice. They heavily lobby all levels of government and as a result most health plans cover all or a percentage of the prescription fees and in some cases, such as vaccines, they have no liability. They get government grants for research while the same luxuries as above are not given to naturopathic medicine which is tolerated but not respected on the same level.
Did you know that most countries outside of Canada, the USA and some Commonwealth Countries do not have health food stores and most products we currently find in health food stores are sold as prescription drugs? There is a section of society that prefer following the non-drug approach concerning their health by eating healthy and taking vitamin supplements. The pharmaceutical industry hates this uncontrolled group: for one, there is no drug dependency, and if the person stays healthy, they lose the potential revenue. If people do not use the system pharmaceutical industry owns, it makes every attempt to eliminate all forms of competition in its pursuits of global dominance. If pharma is successful in claiming a natural health product as a drug, the price will jump anywhere from one hundred to one thousand times the price once patented. But do not just take my word on it; there are many others who see the problem as well. This year, Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote the following in his article: “The pharmaceutical industry wants nothing more than to put an end to one of its biggest competitors – vitamins and supplements. They’ve been trying for years to do it, but now they’re pulling out the stops to make it happen.” This could come in a number of forms: premarket approval for dietary supplements, banning or reclassifying certain supplements or buying up supplement brands.
If you know some of the aspects of my 36 year journey bringing naturopathic medicine to the marketplace, then you know I speak from experience. Nature has given healing to the nations but it is controlled, and of course for your own protection. Health Canada gave us licensing for a product called Tremor Relief—one of the ingredients was derived from the macuna bean known as mucuna pruriens, traditionally used in Ayurveda (a natural system of medicine) to pacify aggravated Vata associated with Kampavata (tremors). It can be used in the formula once the active component, natural form of L-Dopa is removed—as a result the product was never made. Red Yeast Rice, the active ingredient is monacolin K, is another example. The product naturally lowers cholesterol and you may find it in health food stores but the active ingredient is removed and sold as a statin drug while the neutered version on the shelf does little or nothing. These are not isolated cases, the battle for being first to market the amino acid L-Tryptophan is another example.
Let me share with you one of our many success stories: Kava Kava—what a battle royal this license was. Kava has an interesting history; it has been safely consumed ceremonially in the South Pacific and other parts of the world for over 3,000 years. The earliest European knowledge of Kava dates back to the late 1700s, with the journeys of Captain Cook. Today, usage of kava beverages in tropical climates is similar to the use of alcoholic beverages in the West. However, the plant from which the beverage is made also has useful properties for anxiety, hyperactivity, stress, and restlessness.
Many studies have been conducted on kava. Below, we summarize just a few:
In 2009, the journal Psychopharmacology published a 3-week placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover trial that recruited 60 adult participants who had experienced 1 month or more of elevated generalized anxiety. They received five kava tablets per day, which totaled 250mg of kavalactones. The study found that participants’ Hamilton Anxiety Scale scores were significantly reduced; kava was also effective in reducing depression. Participants experienced no serious adverse effects and no clinical hepatotoxicity.
In 2010, the Department of Zoology at Cairo University studied the effects of kava on rats. They found no adverse effects on the liver and kidneys, and suggested that kava might be preferred to treat anxiety, due to the lack of withdrawal and addictive properties.
In 2001, CNS Spectrums published an article examining the effects of 280mg kavalactones administered each day over 4 weeks. No adverse effect differences were found between kava and placebo.
In the 1900s, kava extract appeared for sale in the Sears Roebuck catalog as a “temperance wine”—an alternative to the “demon drink,” alcohol. And, up until the 1950s, Kava products were registered in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia, the official compilation of approved medicines, for the treatment of both gonorrhea and nervousness.
In 2001, the Duke University Medical Center conducted two clinical studies on kava extract. One study showed that kava was safe to use with no stress or damage to the liver. The second study compared kava’s effects to SSRI medication, the medicinal class known as the benzodiazepine class of drugs (Xanax, Valium), trade named Xanex and Valium. The second study showed kava to be as effective as Xanax and Valium for treating anxiety without dependency or withdrawal symptoms.
One week prior to the release of Duke University findings, out of the blue, a European-based report declared – contrary to all previously-known medical science – that Kava had caused liver toxicity in 21 people. Global kava sales plummeted, insurance companies panicked, European health regulators overreacted and Pacific Islander growers were devastated. As a result, the Duke finding lost all merit, and the health benefits for treating anxiety were never embraced or acknowledged. The European report did its damage. To this day, with absolutely no scientific evidence of liver toxicity among kava drinkers, and despite liver safety demonstrated in Duke medical studies, kava still carries the stigma of concerns over liver toxicity. One year later, in 2002, Canada and other European countries banned the sale of kava, citing that liver toxicity may result in death.
I knew kava had been vilified and seen as a threat to pharmaceutical sales and in 2009 I began to remove this stigma; I consulted with kava experts and conducted a detailed investigation and I smelled a skunk. I did a sales comparison: the annual kava sales in Germany before the report were approximately $400,000, and with twenty-one reported liver toxin cases. In the same year, kava sales in the US were over $300,000,000 with zero reported liver complaints. We investigated the money trail: what company would benefit most from the European Report. The German pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche was examined, and their #1 selling drug with 2.3 billion pills sold in 1978 was Valium. It was once coined as being “Mother’s Little Helper.”
The side effects of medication like Valium are numerous; when the Valium high peaks, there can be a period of withdrawal—experienced as a comedown or crash. The mellow feeling begins to disappear. As the brain rebounds and speeds up from its drugged state, it produces other undesirable effects, such as anxiety (sometimes more intense than the original anxiety), irritation, fever, rapid heart rate, stomach cramps, depression or seizures.
Most addicts counteract the crash with more Valium or another drug to slow down the body and once again produce the sluggish, happy feeling. The danger of continually taking Valium, however, is that the body quickly builds a tolerance that makes it harder and harder to reach the euphoric state with the same amount of Valium, so the user will need to take increasing doses—upping the risk of severe addiction and overdose. The compulsion to take ever-increasing amounts of Valium is one of the signs of addiction.
In 2012, after summiting 3.5 years undisputable safety evidence to Health Canada, Life Choice® was granted the first product license for kava, with the label claim “calmative and sleep agent”—a far cry from the prior warnings “may cause liver toxicity or death.” All licensed kava sold in Canada is in direct response to Life Choice challenging the false claims, uncovering the truth, and removing the negative stigma associated with quality-sourced kava. After all our hard work other copycat companies began flooding the market but they do not have to adhere to high standards Life Choice does for being first to the market; they extract the herb differently and may use leaves, stems, and immature roots that are often being produced using a toxic alkaloid that can contaminate kava products. Life Choice only uses 5-year roots of Noble origin sourced from Vanuatu in the South Pacific, both safe and effective.
In addition, in 2014, after examining island natives who were both regular kava drinkers and heavy smokers, it was discovered that those people had a very low incidence of lung cancer. The University of Minnesota conducted a placebo-controlled study with mice, giving a cancer agent without kava to half and the cancer agent with kava to the other half. The results were astounding: a 98% rate for lung cancer prevention. So, for smokers, kava may be the best option available for preventing lung cancer.
Kava has a positive side effect for women, producing aphrodisiac effects: allowing the brain to become calmer and less agitated. Kava is even a great product for designated drivers, as they get similar effects to drinking alcohol but without the side effects: kava does not negatively influence driving abilities, when taken in moderation. It is a win-win solution for those wanting to be social while abstaining from alcohol.
Is kava a safe, cost-effective, natural treatment for the hundreds of millions of people who are suffering from anxiety? Is it negatively stigmatised as a direct threat to pharma? We leave the decision to you.
Every day, in my prayers I offer my gratitude for the privilege of being able to offer the people a natural choice in how they treat their bodies, providing a natural alternative to the monopoly of pharmaceutical drugs. I do not take this responsibility lightly, this is my journey and the reason why I am here: to heal the nation one person as a time. The best of health, my friends!
As Congress takes up FDA oversight of dietary supplements, a lobbying showdown looms: https://www.statnews.com/2022/05/17/dietary-supplements-reform-fda-oversight-lobbying/Another Way Big Pharma Is Seeking to Take OverAnother strategy the drug industry has been using to gain a monopoly over the supplement industry is by simply buying up supplement brands. Nestlé Health Science, for example, has acquired Garden of Life, Vital Proteins, Nuun, Pure Encapsulations, Wobenzym, Douglas Laboratories, Persona Nutrition, Genestra, Orthica, Minami, AOV,Klean Athlete and Bountiful.Bountiful, in turn, owns brands like Solgar, Osteo Bi-Flex, Puritan’s Pride, Ester-C and Sundown, all of which are now under Nestlé’s control. The Bountiful brands alone generated net sales of $1.87 billion in the 12 months ending March 31, 2021, so the$5.75 billion agreement to acquire a majority stake, signed in August 2021, didn’t necessarily burn a big hole in Nestlé’s pocket. According to J.P. Morgan analyst Celine Pannuti, quoted by Natural Products Insider: “Through the acquisition of The Bountiful Co., Nestlé can build a ‘leading position’ in the ‘fragmented category’ for vitamins, minerals and supplements, which ‘has delivered the highest and most consistent growth in consumer health care over the past 10 years.'”Vitamin/ Nutrition/ SupplementBrands Bought Out by Pfizer:
Connor, Kathryn. et al. 2001. Adverse-Effect Profile of Kava. CNS Spectrums, 6(10), 848-853. doi:10.1017/S109285290000167X
Connor, Karthryn and Davidson, Jonathan. 2002. A placebo-controlled study of Kava Kava in generalized anxiety disorder. International Clinical Psychopharmacology, August 17(4):185-8. DOI:10.1097/00004850-200207000-00005.
Leitzman, Pablo et al. 2014. Kava blocks 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone-induced lung tumorigenesis in association with reducing O6-methylguanine DNA adduct in A/J mice. Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa.) vol. 7,1: 86-96. doi:10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-13-0301. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3888881/
Sarris, J et al. 2009. The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum. Psychopharmacology 205,3: 399-407. doi:10.1007/s00213-009-1549-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19430766/
Eldon Dahl, Doctorate of Natural Medicine, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Life Choice Ltd.
Eldon graduated as a naturopathic doctor in 1988; his pathway towards natural medicine was a result of witnessing family members struggle with cancer and recognizing that environmental toxins and nutrition correlated with the disease process. Eldon has more than three decades of experience in the naturopathic and natural healing industries. He spearheads all health-related research into medical conditions—specifically anti-aging and chronic disease treatments. Eldon’s philosophy is simple: educate and provide therapeutic medicines that work equally to allopathic drugs…without the side effects.
His mission statement of “Healing the Nation, One Person at a Time” really says it all.