News From Norway

(February 22, 1998)

Over here in Europe it is abundantly clear today that the previous practice of accepting sales by both health food supplement producers and drug companies of so called "dual use herbs" (those both having culinary and medicinal properties) is being done away with rapidly and has been replaced by the "if it is medicinal or effects physiological functions in any way it is a medicine and exclusively sold as a drug". The previous promise, that dual use herbs would be allowed to be continued to be sold as a food and also as a herb was short lived and now is a criminal offence. (Same as the sale of other illegal drugs.)

Example: A recent case here in Norway, brought against a supplement company owner the Norwegian FDA pressed criminal charges and requested a drug jail sentence for herbal supplement claims in promotional material. (The products were legal food supplements but the claims made them "drugs" since they had physiological effects and thus became illegal to sell them as a food.

Unexpected by the directors of the manufactures orginizations over here in Europe, the German herbal definitions and practice has spread and is now expected to be forced upon the few remaining "hold out" European countries via the European Unions new "Expert Committee" on supplements (recently being formed). That effectively is the criminalizing, or prohibition of herbs in Europe. That means sales of all herbs which are suspected of effecting the body functions in any manner will not be allowed, except if produced and sold only as drugs. (Vitamins and minerals are likely to be limited to a very low percentage of the RDA, expect ca. 1X RDA.)

The question that is often asked, is why has this not been effectively stopped or at least protested by the public? To put it simply... certain key consumers and trade orginizations which were expected to do that have instead supported this change by promoting a false sense of security, and stifling dissent in their ranks via expulsion of active members who have held to the principal of herbs as foods. Example: here in Scandinavia, Citizens for Health's affiliates, in contrast to the USA several years ago, have actively been promoting and have worked hard for herbs as drugs; NOT herbs as foods and successfully diverted attention from that issue whenever members became aware of it either in their national orginizations or at international meetings, such as the Codex Alimentarius. (Often this was accomplished simply by discrediting, or spreading rumors against the character of, or creating serious doubts concerning the mental credibility of the individual who discovered and opposed their true agenda). I understand that pattern is now being used in the USA.

CFH's top leadership in the USA has always supported the German type of system, even prior to the passage of the DSHEA. While commonly believed by the public and others that they were supporting free access to supplements strictly as foods what appears to now to be a flip by Citizens for Health of supporting the supplements as drugs, is not a change in their position. It seems to be quite consistent with their original intention, previously not well known by the general membership. That was, that the top leadership expressed, prior to passage of DSHEA that their agenda would be, to support and promote a system simular to the German "herbs as drugs" on a global basis, and especially to introduce the sale of herbs as drugs (third category) into the USA.

Ron Birckhead
Founder, NHI (Norway's Health Institute)