Health guru Gary Null, nutrition author and marketer of dietary supplements including Gary Null’s Ultimate Power Meal, filed a lawsuit against a manufacturer claiming that he nearly died after taking his own supplements.
Null claims that after consuming two doses of his Ultimate Power Meal each day for a month as directed, he experienced severe kidney damage and “excruciating fatigue along with bodily pain” as well as bleeding “within his feet.” Null claims that the manufacturer, Triarco Industries, put 1,000 times the correct dose of Vitamin D in his product. According to Null’s attorney at least a half-dozen other consumers also became sick from the tainted supplement.
Alternative medicines, herbal remedies, and dietary supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because they are not marketed as drugs. According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 , “The dietary supplement manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed… Generally, manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements. Manufacturers must make sure that product label information is truthful and not misleading.”
Indeed, there is no requirement that these substances be scientifically tested for safety or efficacy, and many have in fact been proven not to be effective for the conditions they are used. Supplements often contain doses and ingredients wildly different than what is indicated on the labels, as this case demonstrates.
The vitamin and herbal supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar business, and lobbied hard to keep their products from being regulated by the FDA. As a result, the FDA can only step in when something goes wrong, after people have been injured or killed by natural herbs. That happened in 2004, when the FDA banned ephedra, an herbal remedy used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Millions of consumers took the herb, on the belief that it was natural, safe, and effective—until the supplement was linked to over 100 deaths.
Ironically, Null and his customers would likely not have been poisoned if his products were held to the same standards and regulations that real drugs are subjected to–and which Null and others in the “alt med” industry have long rejected.