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A Natural Mistake: Why Natural, Organic, and Botanical Products Are Not as Safe as You Think
James MacGregor. James MacGregor, $14.99 trade paper (244p) ISBN 978-1-73338-800-9
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)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/31/2020

Release date 09/01/2019