Sunday, October 04, 2015

Formulators, Stop Making Health Claims.

I know this might not be a popular viewpoint, but here goes....
In the 20 years that I've been working with and making my living from herbs, it has never been legal to make health claims about herbal products.  This is not new.  You are not being persecuted, and there are good reasons for the laws.  When people go ahead and do it anyway, they bring scrutiny on the whole industry and in doing so make everything more difficult for everyone.  So stop doing it!
Think about it... does your physician sell medicine?  Does your pharmacist prescribe?  No.  It is against the law for them to do so because it would make it very easy to take advantage of the sick and desperate for profit. 
Most of us in the herbal community surround ourselves with other herbies.  After a while it seems that the only people we know are involved in some form of alternative healthcare modality, and together we gripe and complain about the restrictions.  We forget about the others.
The "others" are those who haven't been studying herbs (or oils, or massage, or Reiki, or Yoga, or gemstones, etc., etc.), but are looking for a cure.  When we had our shop many years ago, we met them every day.  They were sick, desperate, and would have purchased and used just about anything we told them to get.  Or, having skimmed an article somewhere, they would arrive at the counter loaded down with half a dozen products.
We could have made a killing.  Most of the time we helped them select one or two things to see if they were right FIRST, and put the rest back.  There were a few legal ways we could talk to them about issues, and we did that.  Of course we were there to make money, but our integrity was worth a little more than that unnecessary bottle of elderberry syrup.
Now everything is online.  It's easy to find information.  It's easy to find people who are willing to to share.  The amount of information available is 1000x what it was all those years ago.
And herbal products are everywhere.  Unfortunately, along with those products come claims and descriptions that are blatantly illegal.  Also unfortunately, it appears that the powers that be are narrowing their searches and starting to come down on those making claims.
A huge cry goes up.  Oh no! 
Well stop doing it.
Go to your web site right now.  Are you saying that a product is "for" such and such?  Will it cure something?  Remove something?  Fix something?  Does it repel something? Then remove the description.  Be ruthless.  Do it now.
The answer is education.
When we go to the grocery store, we know that sugar makes things sweet, that flour and cornstarch thicken, that cheese may bind, that prunes help keep you regular, that garlic keeps you healthy in a hundred ways, and that horseradish clears your sinuses.  They don't have labels that say so, you KNOW it.
I'm not saying that I don't wish we could be more direct in our labeling and descriptions.  All I'm saying is that this is the way it is.  Ignoring the laws only put others in jeopardy.  Work to change the laws.  Work to educate your customers.  But if you're making illegal claims, knock it off.
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