This authoritative book explains why the belief that natural and organic products are inherently safer and more healthful than those produced using synthetic chemicals and pesticides is erroneous. It shows how this mistake has misguided consumers, legislators, and government regulators, and has led to often-unrecognized serious health issues. Examples of unrecognized health problems caused by dietary supplements and natural products are included and the relative risks and benefits of conventional and natural products are discussed. In conclusion, advice is provided to consumers for more rational dietary and pharmaceutical choices and appeals are made to regulators for provision of more uniform safety standards for dietary constituents, pharmaceuticals, and botanical supplements.
Toxicologist MacGregor issues a buyer beware warning to fans of herbal remedies and diet supplements in this educational if sometimes heavy-going volume. While the Food and Drug Administration (for which he has worked) maintains “rigorous requirements for safety, identity, and impurity content” for the sale of pharmaceuticals, there are “minimal requirements... applied to botanical products” that are widely available in supermarkets and health food stores. MacGregor sounds loud warning bells with declarative chapter titles like “Plants Are Not Benign: Chemical Warfare and Plant Evolution,” which observes that over 100,000 chemicals can be found only in plant species, often with the evolutionary function of defending against plant-eating creatures like humans. While MacGregor shows the notion “that natural products are inherently more safe than synthetic ones” is mistaken, given the presence of toxic chemicals in some plants and the regulatory safeguards in place for many synthetic products, his talk of subjects like chemical spiking in dietary supplements and illegal adulteration sometimes get more analytical and involved than necessary. While he succeeds in making a forceful argument, nonspecialist readers may eventually lose interest. (Self-published)