The Ashwin
The Ashwin is a webzine for ΑΩ Labs' customers -- April, 2015 Edition
Formatted to 820 pixel width in this issue.
Related Link: Ashwin Archives

Official U.S. Position:
"Only Idiots Take Herbal Products"

What the current herbal supplement scare in the U.S.
looks like once you strip off the obnoxiously fictitious
government / Medical Industrial Complex propaganda

Greg Caton -- Meditopia author A few months back, I began to get emails from some of our customers asking for my take on the herbal supplement scare that was going on in New York. If you don't know what I'm talking about, allow me to give you some relevant background:
In late 2013, the mainsteam media began vigorously circulating a story that Canadian researchers tested "44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 companies" and, using a form of genetic fingerprinting called "DNA barcoding," found that a large percentage were "bogus." Not only did many contain useless fillers, but some contained NONE of the herb that was purported to be in the bottle, or even WORSE, the bottle(s) contained herbal material that imparted medicinal effects quite contrary to those one would expect from the herb on the label. Lest anyone reading this thinks I would condone such obvious fraud, let me say before we begin in earnest that such corporate behavior is deplorable and should be punished.
Nonetheless, the story itself soon degraded into a twisted kind of resigned humor. As one associate told me in jest while making reference to this story, "Only major pharmaceutical companies with the financial clout to pay off all of our state and federal politicians should be allowed to rip off the public like that." . . . or as the late, political comedian, George Carlin might have said, "They can't cheat the public like that! That's OUR f**kin' job!" And, of course, the story did become fodder for internet humorists, as well :

Quite predictably, this discovery led to a coordinated government manhunt . . . er . . . herbhunt . . . to go after the offending parties. Out of that effort came an announcement almost 14 months later by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to four of the largest retail vendors of herbal products in the U.S. -- namely, GNC, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Target telling them to drop entirely "herbs such as echinacea, ginseng, and St. John's wort." This AG's investigation found "supplements, including echinacea, ginseng, St. John's wort, garlic, ginkgo biloba and saw palmetto, were contaminated with substances including rice, beans, pine, citrus, asparagus, primrose, wheat, houseplant and wild carrot. In many cases, unlisted contaminants were the only plant material found in the product samples."
Everybody covered this story : Yahoo, ABC, CBS, New York Post, Bloomberg, Forbes, plus consumer protection organizations, like Food Safety News and Consumerist, to even prominent players in the alternative media, such as NewsMax. To find a news story in New York that got more publicity than this, you just might have to go back to another well-orchestrated piece of government theater: 911.
Does the NY Attorney General seriously fine these offending merchants proportionate to the crime and then allow them to go about their business? No, no, no . . . of course, not. That would defeat the purpose of why this exercise was engineered in the first place. Instead, New York's AG coordinates with 13 other U.S. state attorney generals to ask Congress to investigate the herbal supplements industry and consider giving the Food and Drug Administration "broadened ènforcement powers over the industry." After all, who does a better job of protecting the American public against the nefarious activities of the Medical Industrial Complex than the FDA, right?

I've seen a lot in my 35 years in the alternative health care business. And, yes, somehow I have known that certain people didn't take this calling as seriously as I did -- other herbalists included. I remember a meeting I had in Los Angeles in 1988 with one of the biggest players in the health food industry. Two years previously, I had founded a company called Lumen Foods, which made vegetarian jerky (later, the company was to be known as, which we sold in 2007). Among other things we did vertical "form-fill-and-seal" work for other, larger players on a subcontract basis. In any event, at this meeting, my counterpart was bragging that his multi-colored corn chips, which were a huge hit in health food stores throughout the country, would make "corn chip snacking" a healthy thing.
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because they're lower in fat," came the knee-jerk response.
"How is that possible?" I responded without thinking, "Your product is fried, not baked. I can tell by the mouthfeel and the organoleptics that your product is made just like Frito-Lay's corn chips. I don't have to test it. I can taste it." Realizing I was being too candid, I gave a big smile to try and spin my comments in a jovial, light-hearted way. But it was too late. My comments were interpreted as anything but light-hearted.
"You really don't understand this industry, do you?" was the response.
"I'm afraid I don't know what you mean," I replied --- to which my counterpart made a very sad statement that I've never forgotten.
"People don't want to be saved of their sins. They want to be saved in their sins."
Extrapolated to the medicinal herbal business, that kind of thinking would translate into something like, "People don't need herbs that work. What people need are herbs that they THINK will work." That kind of exploitative thinking is why our planet is in the sorry condition it's in today, but the way that governments seize upon it and use it to their own manipulative advantage is the worst cut of all . . . for all of humanity . . . and this story out of New York is a good case in point. It leads to videos like the one below (put out by yet another "pharma shill") that despite thousands of years of successful ethnobotanical use, medicinal herbs have no value at all :

[ As an aside, I take Gingko Biloba personally -- which this narrator trashes, primarily because I notice a decided difference in mental acuity when I don't take it. But, of course, that's just the placebo effect, right? ]

Fake Cansema - Center Panel Back in 2004, I wrote an article for inclusion in the first draft of Meditopia, entitled, Gresham's Law: Its Treacherous Application. In that piece, I explain how the FDA --- the very same diabolical organization that Eric what's-his-name would have regulate all herbal supplements -- secretly promoted adulterated, misbranded versions of our flagship product, Cansema®
As a result of this experience, I came to understand that the FDA has no problems with deceptive consumer practices, as long as it serves its political objectives. As I made clear in my last Ashwin: neither truth nor the law itself have any meaning in the eyes of psychopathic rulers who feel they are beyond any legal constraints that are imposed on the rest of society with such gravity and fervor, to say nothing of the ethical and moral boundaries that are part and parcel of Natural Law.
It is for this reason that only free markets (which do not currently exist in strictly regulated markets like the U.S.) are the only reliable way of weeding out "bad product" in the marketplace. No punishment is greater for bad producers than for consumers to strictly shun their products in favor of superior products that are made by their competitors. This is self-evidence to everyone except the bureaucrats within organizations like the FDA who hide in the shadows while they cut secret deals with large industrial concerns who have no more ethics or morals than they do.
Give these people even more power?
I don't think so.

Greg Caton --- Founder
Alpha Omega Labs
Guayaquil, Ecuador

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