You're at the store. You see a bottle with bright colors and in big lettering it tells you that it treats exactly the issues you've been dealing with. Perhaps, you've been having some joint pain. Or maybe you can't sleep well, or your acne is going a little nuts.
This bottle now in your hand promises to fix it. And it promises to do so naturally, with a list of herbs that a quick google will tell you are traditionally known to treat exactly what you're going through.
So, you buy them, start taking them, keep taking them, and nothing happens.
Or sometimes, as in the case of Lori Mclintock, the worst happens.
She was apparently taking white mulberry leaf as a weight loss supplement, (as well as who knows what else), which wound up leading to gastroenteritis, dehydration, and her death in 2021.
One of the tragedies with what I call "google herbalism" is that no matter how many studies market something as a wonderful and beneficial herb, there is too much misinformation on the internet that also completely misses key components such as:
- dosage and safe usage for you
- potential negative reactions with other herbs, supplements and pharmaceuticals you might be taking
- how herbs are combined with other herbs to have a more effective body response
- how and when to use herbs safely for you and your health goals
Again, in Lori's case, I do not know what else she was taking. What I do know is this:
White mulberry leaf, called sang ye in Chinese, is not used to treat weight loss or diabetes, two of the ways it's marketed in the US.
We use it when we want to gently stimulate the lymph system to make you sweat slightly when you have a cold.
It is a relatively gentle herb that often works with other herbs to treat various cold-like symptoms and speed recovery. Like most herbs, it is never meant to be taken long-term.
Let's go back to that little bottle in your hand. You'll notice that so many of these supplements say "not evaluated by the FDA."
This also means not regulated.
Daily, more and more health supplements are being put on the market, which are not created or regulated by licensed professionals. As long as the wording is correct on the bottle, the marketing is used to draw your attention and your hopes for better health.
A large part of what I do as a practitioner of Chinese medicine is educate you on why this bottle isn't working, and how other changes will. I help you regulate what the FDA won't.