The goal of healers everywhere has always been to ensure the well-being and relative comfort of the afflicted. Since Asclepius’ legend of snakes coiled around the scepter and even before in the Ayurvedic traditions of healers, healers have used natural plants as medicine to console the afflicted. Natural remedies and medicines are an integral part of not only health concerns, but of many long standing and ancient traditions of spirituality and culture. But a new bill could heavily regulate alternative medicines in a big way.
How could a health bill effect cultures other than those grown in a Petri dish? The “Dietary Supplement Safety Act” (DSSA) is one that could injure the alternative medicine industry as well as thousands of holistic medicine practitioners as well as cultural practices. The DSSA is under strong criticism and scrutiny from practitioners who consider it not only an irresponsible violation of rights, but also an affront to alternative healing and even culture. Critics of the bill suggest it is more about making profits for pharmaceutical companies than protecting or benefiting the populace.
Currently, dietary supplements are not classified as drugs, and therefore not necessarily regulated by the FDA. With pharmaceutical companies often making great profits on synthesizing low overhead chemical substitutes, they have a great amount of competition with those who have dedicated their lives and studied the plants and supplements that could heal ailments, or had them passed down from generation to generation. For the millions of those in the United States who regularly use herbal supplements as an alternative to expensive and, according to many experts, sometimes even detrimental pharmaceuticals, this move would be a major change in lifestyle that would be difficult to cope with.
Section 420(f) even suggests that new alternative cures would be difficult to discover by researchers as they would be banned unless they had a longtime consistent history of having no adverse effects. As dietary supplements have been labeled simply as food up until this point, it is additionally suggested that the bill could result in food being labeled just as unsafe as pharmaceuticals and carry long lists of potential side effects along with the labels.
“Knowledge has always been at the forefront of holistic medicine,” says Brian, who did not wish to include his last name but has sold supplements for years, “Those who seek it out will research it to no end. That’s part of the healing process, and part of the process of taking a more active role in your own health.” Brian has worked for forty years providing holistic knowledge that has been in his family for years, and never changed. “Some people find it helps,” he went on, “And others don’t, but everyone is always curious. They want to know more about their health. They want to take the power back.” When asked what he would do if DSSA was passed, Brian said he would likely be unable to keep his shop open, but would continue to use his own knowledge to help his own health.