A recent study claims to have found that, using DNA barcoding (a technique involving the genetic analysis of plant species) the contents of a significant number of botanical products on the market did not match what was claimed on the product labels.
The DNA barcoding technology utilized in the Guelph study might offer more specific testing in the future, but it is as yet not a validated tool for botanical identification. One reason for this is the small number of verified plant species that are available in genetic databanks. For the University of Guelph researchers, their currently available gene databank only contains genetic information for 100 plants, compared to the 18,000 or so botanicals on the market. Other databases might contain more, but there are likewise questions about the validity of their data. As stated by the authors of this study, DNA barcoding is also unreliable for identifying specific components in highly standardized extracts that contain little DNA. Finally, secondary plant metabolites and plants that contain complex mixtures of compounds can also interfere with DNA analysis.
The Pharmaceutical Industry has been trying to take down the herbal and nutritional industry for a long time. This study which American Herbal Products has claimed is flawed, will be used by the Pharmaceutical Industry/FDA to try to pass more stringent regulations on herbs and supplements. Ultimately they do not want the public to be able to purchase them without a prescription. They have tried to pass bills twice in the past to take them off the market for over the counter use.
The fact is that we do have a problem with poor quality nutritional supplements and herbs. We also have a problem with companies selling items that are not what they claim to be. When you look at where many of these products originate often it is from China. Much of the ingredients in our herbs, and nutritional products are coming from other countries and China and India are making many of them that end up in the USA. However, the same can be said for drugs, animal food and even human food.
It is well known in the herbal/nutritional industry that you need to be watchful and wary of ingredients coming from some countries as you can end up with heavy metals in them or agricultural chemicals that are outlawed in our country. However, it is not just herbs and nuetraceuticals. We also have issues with food and drugs from other countries. Currently, there are dog owners trying to figure out why they have sick or dead dogs from eating meat leather-like treats from China. Although, we have a lot of problems with contaminated products from other countries, we also need to admit that our own country has a continual problem with infectious organisms in our food supply. We also have our share of dishonest business owners.
What I am trying to point out is this problem is not a problem of the herbal/nutritional industry. It is a problem of purchasing food, drugs, herbs, nutritional products coming largely from outside of our country, but sometimes from our own US of A. I would also go one step further to say that you should really get to know the company you are purchasing from. Buy from a local maker of herbal/nutritional products. If you don't have any local ones, then educate yourself about the companies on the market. Where are they? Do they have third party certification for being organic, GMO free, do they test for heavy metals when they bring raw ingredients in from countries known for heavy metal contamination? Do they test for any pesticides or herbicides? How do they authenticate the product that they purchase? Some companies actually grow their own herbs on their own farm in the USA. Others buy it from China. Which one do you think has more control over their product?
You are usually better off also if you purchase your herbs in whole form rather than processed. It is less likely the company will try to pass off one herb for another. It also helps if you take a local herb class and learn something about medicinal herbs and what they should look like. Learn which foods have the nutrients in them that you have been purchasing and consider getting your nutrients via your food.
If these ideas do not work for you, at least learn a little about what you are purchasing. Learn about the company selling the products you are purchasing. I like to give my money to my friends who own businesses, to other local merchants and to people/companies who are honorable. Folks who are spreading good-will and who have good intentions. I spend a few hours every week looking into the background and current activities of companies I do business with. This helps me to know I am supporting the flow of good-will with the money I spend. I also end up with healthier products for myself, my family, animals and my farm. I know many of you already do this also. If we can get everyone to do it, our world would change tremendously in a very short period of time. We are the ones we have been waiting for to save us. Use your purchasing power to alter the world.
If you do not know of a herbal company that is honorable, I have a link to one that is here in my local community. When I owned an herbal manufacturing company, they use to buy product from me. I know from my interactions with them in the past that quality is important to them. I do want to disclose that they donate 15% of all purchases you make for 30 days to my herbal educational center when you make the purchases after clicking on this banner. If you want to see our center receive the 15% after those 30 days, you have to come back and enter their site through this link again.
Other reputable/honorable herbal companies in my area are Oregon's Wild Harvest, and Pacific Botanicals