One of the most common misconceptions about the healthcare business is that it’s always there to help you. I find this especially true when it comes to how people think about products labeled “natural,” “holistic,” or “organic,” or any kind of dietary supplement or remedy. The thinking appears to be rooted in the idea that if something is supposedly natural, or not part of the big pharmaceutical scene, it has some kind of moral superiority or honesty attached to it.
Like any business, the goal of supplement companies and every company offering “natural” remedies is to make money. The owners still need to put food on their table and a roof over their head and the only way to do that is by selling and making money. But also like any other industry, you’re going to have quality reputable companies who want to help their customers, and you’re going to have fraudsters that are out there to make a quick buck with little concern about the quality of their product or what they’ll tell customers.
The natural health and supplement industries are full of these snakes. The only way to arm yourself against them is to be smart about whom you listen to, what you buy, and where you get it from.
For example, you may have heard of a man named Kevin Trudeau. He wrote books about a number of unsubstantiated “health secrets” and sold products that were complete rip-offs. Now, he’s paying for it behind bars as a convicted fraudster for making false claims and selling products that were worthless. But prior to his arrest, he was making millions and living like a king.
Before you buy anything, it’s wise to do a couple of essential checks to help you determine if the information is valid and if a product is safe. The first thing you want to do is look at who’s telling you the information. Are you reading it from the manufacturer or an uneducated health blogger who is simply offering an uninformed opinion? Or are you reading it from a qualified person who can show you they’ve got a credible background without any real financial interest?
If it’s an online article, make sure it’s supported by valid sources. Any healing claims should be substantiated by scientific evidence cited in the footnotes of an article. If there are no citations, do a brief Google search on your own to verify the information.
When it comes to purchasing products, make sure you’re aware of the dosage required to get the therapeutic effect. Reading the labels is an essential part of being an informed consumer and many products don’t list appropriate serving sizes on the labels. Know the numbers and make the right choices. You also want to buy from a trusted manufacturer so you can count on getting a high quality product.
Avoid purchasing products from businesses that send unsolicited emails about products you need or where you can get them for the lowest price. Remember, if a company makes claims that sound too good to be true, they probably are. It can be hard to tell yourself you’re being ripped off, but these scammers are professionals and know how to tap into the emotion of the average person.
Finally, remember there is no single cure for good health. It’s about a combination of things—but mainly the decisions you make every day that determine your lifestyle. For most, a healthy diet and some exercise is beneficial to combat disease and limit the need for supplementation and other healthcare products. If you don’t need them, you don’t have to worry about what fraudsters are selling!
Hill, J. & Effron, L., “Kevin Trudeau Found Guilty of Contempt for Misleading Infomercials About Weigh-Loss Book,” ABC News web site, November 12, 2013; http://abcnews.go.com/US/kevin-trudeau-found-guilty-contempt-misleading-infomercials-weight/story?id=20868364, last accessed February 19, 2014.