Why nothing beats the real thing! –
In a perfect world, humans would be able to rely on plant-based remedies and in doing so, improve health while reducing reliance on pharmaceuticals. Mother Nature is a brilliant doctor, one whom we’ve relied on for millennia.
Unfortunately, the botanical supplement industry is not so perfect. There is a notable lack of regulation – as in, the FDA has to prove a supplement is not safe before they can remove it from the market – and as such has created an industry rife with shenanigans. That some 23,000 people a year end up in the emergency room after taking a supplement says a lot. (This isn’t to say that all supplement makers are unscrupulous – not at all; but with little oversight, there is room for trouble.)
According to the American Botanical Council, on the top of the list in popularity for 2018 were horehound and echinacea – horehound can be found in Ricola cough drops; echinacea is sold as a single supplement, but is also an ingredient in Airborne. And sneaking up from behind is turmeric, whose sales grew 30.5 percent in the year prior and is now the third most popular botanical supplement.
With all of this in mind, Consumer Reports (CR) decided to put on their investigation hats and test turmeric (AKA curcumin) and echinacea pills for purity and potency.
What they found was disturbing, though at this point, not surprising. They write:
Of the 16 echinacea and 13 turmeric products we tested, we identified concerns with more than a third of them, including elevated levels of lead and bacteria, as well as low levels of key active compounds.
Because of the aforementioned dearth of regulation, the standards that various companies use, if they use them at all, are all over the place.