Jane Hansen, The Sunday Telegraph January 13, 2019 (behind a paywall, extracts follow)
It’s a multibillion-dollar business, and one in three Australians regularly take their products, but health experts are concerned the increasing popularity of herbs and supplements is contributing to a spate of liver transplants.
With more and more people turning to supplements for health reasons, general practitioner Dr Sam Manger warned the industry had become like “big pharma’’, employing the same sales tactics as major pharmaceutical companies and selling hundreds of dollars worth of concoctions to vulnerable people who had little understanding of the effects.
“It’s about money, it’s the new ‘big pharma’,” Dr Manger said. “It uses all the same dirty tricks but with far, far, less regulation and very low standards. It’s the Wild West.”
Dr Sam Manger has warned that the supplements industry is out of control. Dr Manger recently saw a patient who had spent more than $2000 on vitamins, minerals, homeopathic medicines and various tests when simple lifestyle changes would have fixed her ailments.
“She’d spent thousands over a month, the supplements caused a wide range of side effects and she had quite a severe reactive depression as a result, along with who-knows-what other supplement side effects that were interacting, and she had lost much of her savings,” he said. Dr Manger was so shocked he took a photograph of the pyramid of supplements that had been prescribed by an alternative health practitioner.
He also recently saw a man who sought alternative therapy for a carcinoma. “He had been using black salve for over a year at the recommendation of his natural therapist, it had grown to over 15cm long and a deep ulcer, I suspect it would be metastatic now and will be too late for him,” he said.
While some supplements like folate for pregnancy are evidenced-based and recommended by doctors, the supplement industry has doubled in value in the past 10 years, with an explosion of products with dubious claims, like protecting eyes from smartphones and making kids smarter.”
Professor Ken Harvey, from Monash University, said the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had failed in its duty to protect Australians from ineffective health products and dangerous supplements which made unsubstantiated claims.by