How Do I Know What Internet Info To Trust?
Patricia Zifferblatt | January 15, 2004

The September 17, 2003, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association contains a Special Communication titled "Internet Marketing of Herbal Products." The article states:

Passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) in 1994 restricted the Food and Drug Administration's control over dietary supplements, leading to enormous growth in their promotion. The Internet is often used by consumers as a source of information on such therapies. Consumers may be misled by vendor's claims that herbal products can treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure specific diseases, despite regulations prohibiting such statements. Physicians should be aware of this widespread and easily accessible information. More effective regulation is required to put this class of therapeutics on the same evidence-based footing as other medicinal products.

The above advice is not only completely supported by Better Life Unlimited, but also by reputable healthcare providers across the country.

Almost every day, we at Better Life Unlimited get a call or e-mail that goes something like this: "The AMA (American Medical Association) is trying to take away our supplement business. What can we do?" To which we reply, "No, the AMA is not trying to take away our supplement business. The AMA is trying to stop some manufacturers of supplement products from making false claims that cannot be supported by research and science."

Ladies and gentlemen, talk has always been cheap and now we must acknowledge that Internet info is cheap as well. With so many people accessing the Internet, some supplement manufacturers and their representatives will promise just about anything to make a sale. It's essential that you think carefully about which sites and what information are worthy of your trust.

I personally have seen products advertised that restore hair on a bald male head in 10 days; products that help women lose 30 pounds in just two weeks without dieting; and products other than Viagra that can restore a man's sex life overnight. Many of us will hear these ads on the television or see these ads on the Internet and get a big laugh out of them. Others I know take the information given in the ad to heart, purchase the product, and then call Better Life Unlimited when the product either doesn't work or causes unpleasant side effects.

I can also attest to this: when I begin to examine these advertised products, there is seldom, if ever, any research or science quoted to show how the products work or even if they really do work, let alone if there are any potential side effects. Testimonials are used to promote these products, but testimonials are not research and science done on the product prior to marketing and advertising the product! And we know from reports to Better Life Unlimited, consumer groups, and health professionals that some of the people who have taken these advertised products have not had the results stated on the ad, and more importantly, some have suffered serious side effects as a result of taking these products.

I hope that after the above explanation, you as a consumer can better understand why there is concern among many legitimate healthcare providers as well as government officials. The AMA and the government are not trying to take away your supplement business. Rather, they are trying to clean up the misinformation and disinformation by some marketers to the general public. Not everything you read is true, not everything you hear is factual, and not everyone in business is honest and professional.

Who can a person believe when he or she is looking for a supplement or advice that may help improve quality of life?

Here are some suggestions:
  • Check out the companies advertising the products.
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Do they have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau?

  • Check to see if there has been any medical or scientific research on the advertised product. Call the company and ask about the research before you purchase the product. Then check out the research. Remember, a testimonial is not research and science!

  • Check with your doctor before purchasing a product to see if there may be contraindications with other medications you may be taking.

  • If it sounds too good to be true--guess what? It probably is!!!

  • Report any questionable products, advertising, or claims to your local Consumer Affairs Department, the Better Business Bureau, the F.D.A. (Food and Drug Administration) and the F.T.C. (Federal Trade Commission), or the appropriate agency.

  • It's up to you to help keep your supplement program out of the hands of unprofessionals. Check before you buy.
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