In early June of 1999 I walked into Grand Union and noticed a brochure on the bulletin board advertising a talk on herbs and natural remedies that had already been given at the Wellness Center at North Country Hospital by herbalist and author, Rosemary Gladstar. I thought what I wonderful idea! As some of you know, medicinal herbs are sold in the US as unregulated dietary supplements, and I have been doing extensive research on them for the last four years. On June 8, I phoned Sue Alward, the director of the Wellness Center, to say that I wanted to give a talk to. Then I wrote her the following letter.
June 8, 1999
As I told you when I phoned today, I want to give a talk at the Center on dietary supplements explaining that they are not regulated or even evaluated for safety by any government agency in the US. I also want to explain that natural does not mean safe. Seeing your flier for the talk on herbs and natural remedies hanging on the bulletin board at Grand Union gave me the idea.
You can read about me on my webpage and also see the report on me that appeared in the May 20, 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Geegee, in the library, will have hard copy. Drs. Trembley and Saporoff know me and are familiar with my material. I can also get references from doctors and scientists in other parts of the country if you require them.
As I told you, I have just given oral and written testimony to an FDA advisory committee on pharmacy compounding. I was also called as a witness for the FDA in a criminal case in Florida. I spent seven nights there, but was never called. FDA won. CNN aired an interview I did with them and my story has been covered locally by John Mahoney and Paul LeFefebvre. Anne Allen of the AP did a story that was reported nationally. I spoke to a group of doctors, including a past and a present editor from the New England Journal of Medicine, in Philadelphia this past February at a conference sponsored by The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.
I assume that your previous speaker spoke of the purported benefits of herbal drugs. I want to tell the other side of the story. I want everyone to know that dietary supplements, which is the legal classification that herbal drugs fall under, can be very dangerous to their health. There have been over 800 serious adverse reactions to ephedra supplements, including deaths. When people decide to use supplements, it is up to them to evaluate the products that they choose to use. To do that they must go to the medical and scientific literature, which is indexed, to see if there are any benefits or risks known to be caused by the particular substance. I will show them how to do that and warn them not to get medical advice from salespeople without first checking the medical literature to see if the promotional claims can be substantiated by scientists who do not have a financial interest in its sale. Even if they can be, since supplements are unregulated, there is no way to know if the product in the bottle is the same as the one studied in the literature since there are well-documented instances in which the wrong herb was in the bottle.
Thank you. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon.
June 14, 1999
Thank you for your informative letter of June 8th regarding unregulated dietary supplements. I was very impressed with the breadth of your information and your dedication in getting that information to the public. I spoke with Dr Trembley who told me how much research you had done and also that you had been featured in New England Journal of Medicine. I am still attempting to find the websites you mentioned in your letter but have not yet been successful.
I do believe there is a problem with dietary supplements not being regulated and believe it is important for everyone to get information from reputable sources. I think it is wonderful that you are willing to work with people to help them to learn how to use the medical and scientific literature to check benefits and risks. I admire people who when they suffer a serious misfortune use their experience to reach out to help others. That seems to me to be exactly what you are doing.
I do not believe, however, that a Wellness Center class is an appropriate venue for the kind of workshop you would like to give. Our classes give information on specific topics and not critiques of one approach or another. Although we try to have a representation of various viewpoints, we are very careful in our selection of instructors so that participants will be helped to make well-informed choices. For example, in the class that you referred to in your letter, Rosemary Gladstar explained that there are 3 classifications of herbs and that she would focus primarily on the first one. She made the point several times that the 3rd classification of herbs (the ones prescription medications are more likely to be derived from) are very potent and can be very dangerous if used without adequate knowledge.
Although I do not feel it to be appropriate to promote what you are wanting to do through the Wellness Center I do urge you to continue to get your information into the media where a dialogue can take place. I would be interested in being on your mailing list if you ever put out a newsletter. Thank you for contacting me.
It would be most interesting to know how Ms. Gladstar has determined that there are "3 classifications of herbs" and that one of them contains potentially dangerous substances. I have never heard a pharmacognosist, a scientist who studies medicinal plants, say that. Neither have I heard any other herbalist say it. I believe that only toxicology studies can show whether or not it is true. Toxicology studies must be done on regulated drugs before they can be markedted. They are not done unregulated ones. I don't believe that anyone knows the long term safety of most of the herbs now sold as dietary supplements because they have not been the subject of controlled studies nor of broad epidemiolgical ones either.
After reading your letter of June 14, 1999 I think that you must have misunderstood me. I do not want to present my viewpoints or those of anyone else. Neither do I want to "critique" "approaches". I want to present factual information about dietary supplements and natural remedies for which I will give citations from the medical and scientific literature. I will also show people how to use the medical and scientific literature to evaluate for themselves the claims made for these products as well as for all drugs and therapies. If you are able to access my website, I think this will be abundantly clear. I assure you that I am always very specific when discussing supplements and that I always give references to substantiate my statements so that listeners can check them and evaluate the material for themselves. I believe that the articles on my webpage indicate this and that the Wellness Center is the most appropriate place around for me to give a talk. Please judge my material for itself and reconsider your decision.
Please try again to locate the URL in my letterhead:
If you still cannot find it, do a web search using the terms Rosemary Jacobs, argyria or colloidal silver. The first two bring it up very quickly, but if you still cannot find it, let me know and I will send you hardcopy. Then tell me what specifically you believe is inappropriate for the Wellness Center and your reasons for deciding that it is inappropriate. Be sure to check my articles on botanicals. They are in the index, but I am including the URLs here also:
http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose7.html natural dyes & meds. http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose8.html nature's drugs & remedies http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose9.html granny's meds http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose13.html bibliography http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose19.html Chinese Patent Medicine http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose20.html Indian Medicine
What criteria does the Wellness Center use to determine whether or not an instructor's material will enable participants to make well-informed choices? How did you determine that the material that Ms. Gladstar wanted to present was accurate and would help participants make well-informed choices? What specifically did I say or write that led you to believe that my material will not do that? Don't you think it would be wise to look at the articles published on my webpage before dismissing me?
Who first proposed that Ms. Gladstar give a workshop at the Center? Do you have copies of her books or the material that she presented in her workshop for me to review? Since you obviously feel that her material helps people make well-informed choices and that mine does not, I am most interested in seeing what claims she makes regarding the safety and efficacy of herbal drugs and how she substantiates them. I want to see the evidence that has drawn you to conclude that her material enables people to make informed decisions while mine does not.
If this is not a misunderstanding, I am offended and insulted. I am a retired teacher who has spent my career trying to help people develop the skills necessary to find and evaluate the information that they need to make well-informed choices. I have never attempted to impose my viewpoints on others. I present material and its source so that others can evaluate it for themselves and draw their own conclusions. If they discover that I am inaccurate, I want them to inform me of that and to present the evidence they have to demonstrate it. As I keep telling the silver promoters, if they show me evidence that convinces me that ingesting silver offers benefits that outweigh the risks, I'll endorse their products. So far no one has done that. They do, however, attack me personally and spread nasty, false rumors about me. They say that I am biased, ignorant, a bitter woman sponsored by the medico/pharmaceutical industry and the government. They even claim that I am a fake. Join a silver list on the Internet. Ask John Mahoney. He is my web designer and they send him hate mail too.
Once more, I believe that I have valuable, factual information that I want to present at a workshop at the Wellness Center. Since Americans spend over a billion dollars a year on supplements, I think that the Wellness Center is the most appropriate place to do it. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't a few health care practitioners who would like to hear my talk.
I hope to hear from you soon. I'm anxiously awaiting an explanation as to why you believe that the material that I want to present will not enable people to make well-informed decisions and I am looking forward to seeing Ms. Gladstar's books to see exactly why it is that you believe that her material will do just that.
June 29, 1999
If I do not get a response to my letter of June 17, 1999 from you by July 9, 1999, I will assume that you are not going to let me speak at the Wellness Center and I will look for someplace else to give my talk. Perhaps your friends, Steve and is it Matty, will let me do it at their Natural Foods store. Or maybe your instructor, Cody Templeton, will let me do it at Shunyata, his "drug free health care clinic". Since they and their customers and patients are the ones who believe in, use and promote the products that I want to present information on, I would guess that they would be the ones most interested in hearing what it is that I have to say. Actually, I was surprised that they never responded to any of my letters to the editor of local newspapers or to the articles by three different reporters that have appeared in the local press about me. Steve was interviewed for two of the articles and mentioned by name by John Mahoney. Mr. Templeton came to the area after the articles appeared although I would guess that he read the letter I wrote to the editor of the Newport Daily Express in response to the press release that was published on their front page announcing the opening of his clinic. I hand delivered the letter along with copies of hard to find references that I cited in it, such as part of the report on Chinese patent medicine submitted to the President's Committee on Dietary Supplement Labels by Deborah Orr and Gregg Jones, pharmacists with the State of Florida's Department on Health.
Once more, I am waiting to hear why it is that you think that the material Ms. Gladstar presents helps people make "well-informed choices" and mine does not. If my information is erroneous, I very much want to know so that I can correct it and tell those who have read it that I was mistaken. I also very much want to know the criteria you use to determine whether or not an instructor's material is accurate and the criteria you use to determine that it will help people make "well-informed choices". As I told you that is the primary goal I have always set for myself as a teacher. Telling me that I have failed to do that is very disturbing. Telling me that I have failed to do that and not explaining what has drawn you to that conclusion is exasperating. It is rather like telling a physician that a drug that he has prescribed for years which he thought improved people's health actually caused it to deteriorate. Can you understand this?
cc: Hospital Administrator
June 30, 1999
Thank you for your letter of June 17th.
I think we may have had a misunderstanding. I have tremendous respect for all the research you have done and for your efforts to translate your experience into positive action.
I regret that the Wellness Center is not an appropriate venue for your lecture. We are not a Forum presenting "one side" and then an "opposing side" of health care issues. You have a strong, undoubtably well-informed position on a health care issue - namely that dietary supplements can be dangerous to people's health. I believe it is one of many strongly-debated healthcare issues and I commend you for bringing it to public attention. However, it is not appropriate for the Wellness Center. We are not a forum for strongly-debated healthcare issues and we would not offer a workshop relating to possible adverse effects of any healthcare procedure or remedy.
Thank you for your consideration of utilizing The Wellness Center and I wish you success in your efforts.
Sue, dear, if you didn't want to open "a forum for strongly-debated healthcare issues", you shouldn't have done it. You shouldn't have invited people in who sell and promote controvesial goods and services. Since you have already done that on more than one occasion, you can't in fairness change your policy now by refusing to let me speak because you think that I will present an "opposing" view. In fairness you should be inviting people with "opposing views" in to present them so that the public gets to hear both sides. If Ms. Gladstar's book, HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN, is any indication of what she spoke about in her workshop, then she presented the supplement industry's side of a "strongly-debated healthcare issue", the side which the public is bombarded with daily. In all fairness to me and to the public you can't suddenly decide that that is against your policy to discuss "stongly-debated healthcare issues" at least not until you have presented the other side of the forum you yourself opened. However, as I keep telling you, I have no intentions of presenting a "position on a health care issue". I intend to present factual information. Judging by her book, I don't think Ms. Gladstar has done that. I want people to evaluate our material and decide for themselves who is correct. Why do you feel so threatened by this? "Actions speak louder than words". If you respect me, demonstrate it. Treat me fairly. Let me speak.
By the time the June 30 letter arrived, I had obtained a copy of one of Ms. Gladstar's books, HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN. When I received that letter, I went to the office of the city manager and asked if I needed a permit to hand out written material in the street. I was told that no I do not. As long as I am not selling anything I am free to do that. To date I have been largely content to send letters to the editors of local papers and to give interviews to jounalists in an effort to get accurate, factual information to the public. But now that I have realized that supplement promoters have managed to use the facilities and resources of The Wellness Center at our local hospital while I am denied the same opportunity, I am going to demonstrate in front of their establishments and at the hospital too.
A friend printed a big orange T-shirt for me. On the front it says, "Medicine or Magic". On the back , "Natural does not mean safe." I will wear it when I demonstrate.
Your letter of June 30 leads me to believe that you are still passing judgement on my work and on Rosemary Gladstar's on the basis of what you think we are saying and not on what we have written. Have you accessed my webpage yet?
I have accurate, factual information that you are dismissing as "a position on a health care issue". Ms. Gladstar's book, HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN, contains, in my opinion, a series of religious beliefs, some inaccurate statements about history, conclusions not supported by the evidence and many unsubstantiated claims regarding herbal drugs which she sells. On p. 230 she tells people to pick their own herbs. On p.236 she explains how she herself, the expert, did this and misidentified the herb in question. This is a very serious problem with herbal drugs. There are documented cases in which the industry has done the same thing with dire consequences. On p. 238 she notes that in testing three samples of comfrey for the liver toxins it is known to contain, pyrrolizidine alkaloids, that "one was negative, the second contained only trace amounts, and the third contained one part per million." Read my webpage. Speak to botanists, toxicologists and pharmacognosists, scientists who specialize in herbal drugs. This wide variation in findings is exactly what they would expect. It precisely the reason that botanical drugs are so unreliable and it is also the reason why the fact that they have been used extensively cannot be taken as an indication that they are safe much less effective. The chemical components of plants vary widely from one to another depending on the soil, growing conditions, time of harvest, method of preparation and type of storage used. This is the main reason why raw botanicals are no longer widely used in medicine. They are unreliable.
Ms. Gladstar recommends chapparal. Check the medical literature. Scientists believe it to be dangerous. She doesn't seem to.
She also recommends pennyroyal tea calling it "totally nontoxic" on p.119. If you do a MEDLINE search you will see that scientists disagree. On p. 253 she states that, "It would take an estimated seventy-five gallons of tea to equal the potentially toxic dose of pennyroyal oil." Ms. Gladstar does not give any citations in her book, but I believe I know who made that estimate. It was Dr. Norman Farnsworth of the University of Illinois. It was reported on p. 421 in THE HEALING HERBS by Michael Castleman. Again, check MEDLINE. I think you will find that Norm, whom I've met, is dead wrong on this one.
I am writing a book. One of the major topics to be covered is the inability of an ordinary person who does not have the financial backing of a huge industry like the supplement industry to get the opportunity to speak to the public. Freedom of speech without public access is a bad joke. People like myself cannot rent halls, print and distribute books, newsletters and magazines, buy ads in newspapers, much less TV, or hire PR experts to have ads printed and aired so that they appear to be news items. Your refusal to even let me speak at our own hospital will be extensively covered in my book. As soon as I get time, I will want to know what exactly the Center's relationship is to the hospital, where your funding comes from and what your written policy and mission statements are. I will also ask for copies of the brochures listing all the programs you have offered to date and the criteria you use to decide just who is an appropriate speaker for the classes you give. Of course, I will pay any expenses incurred.
cc: Hospital Administrator
To the Editor:
Well, I failed miserably. I followed the instructions in the book written by the herbalist who spoke at The Wellness Center in May. I hugged a tree but I didn't hear her heartbeat. I didn't feel her energy. Actually, I hugged two trees and felt nothing but cold, hard wood. Wonder if the neighbors were watching.
The first tree I hugged was an old poplar. I didn't expect to feel HIS heartbeat, but the next was the beautiful white birch with three trunks, the one whose life I personally saved with my own hands. A snow storm at the end of last winter covered her delicate, lacy branches with heavy wet snow, oodles of it. So much that all three of her trunks bent over so far that the tips of her branches touched the ground. I shook them and shook them as hard as I could. The deep wet snow covered my legs and got my pants soaking wet. The snow that flew off Lady Birch landed on me and drenched me from head to toe. I was so wet and cold. Surely she remembers that. Why didn't she let me feel her heartbeat and her energy field? Maybe she did. Maybe she did everything in her power to communicate with me. Maybe there is something very wrong with me. Maybe I should go to the emergency room at North Country. Do they have a herbalist on staff? I'm sure there will be one practicing "medicine", or is it religion, at the hospital soon although probably not in the ER.
Heck, herbalism didn't work for my granny or her granny or hers either, but let's try again. A quick reading of one of the herbalist's books gives me the impression that she thinks we should worship plants because it is part of our female cultural heritage. Granny, what would you think? You were terrified of hospitals and told all your children to stay away from them because patients never left them alive. If you were fifty years old and alive today, would you still believe that? Would you think that I was betraying my culture and showing disrespect because I disagree with you? Would you tell me not to use a computer because neither you nor any of our ancestors had? After all, our ancestors exchanged their quills for pens before you were born. Would you want me to worship a dead culture or attempt to help a living one continue to improve and grow?
If you have the impression that I'm just a little angry, you bet I am. I don't think that a public hospital should have speakers who preach religion, be it the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, New Age or Old Age Pagan kind. A church, a temple or a hospital with a regligious affiliation is the place for that. Now I am not certain that the herbalist was preaching. All I have to evaluate her material on is one of several of her books which appears to me to be a series of religious beliefs, some inaccurate statements about history, conclusions not supported by the evidence and many unsubstantiated claims regarding herbal drugs which she sells. Since the book does not contain any references, it is impossible to check her statements for accuracy. Having studied botanical drugs for some time now, I am especially concerned by her biggest omission. She doesn't point out the most serious problem with botanicals. Mother Nature doesn't standardize them. The purity and potency of the pharmacologically active ingredients of raw botanicals varies greatly. You will find articles on my webpage, with citations, on this.
I am also extremely disturbed that The Wellness Center won't let me give a talk on unregulated drugs, aka "dietary supplements", a category that includes medicinal herbs. I guess I should just be grateful that FDA and the New England Journal of Medicine haven't gone Pagan yet too. FDA paid for a trip and a hotel room for me in Florida so that I could speak at a conference they sponsored for HIV patients. NEJM published a report on me that included a photo with Marsha Schwartz taken by Chick. As my grandfather, an NY State assemblyman at the turn of the century and a detective for the Kings County DA's office for 37 years, always said, "Paper refuses no ink." Maybe our good neighbors at The Wellness Center don't realize that anyone can write a book in the US, but it is very difficult to get published in NEJM. It is peer-reviewed and one of the most prestigious medical journals, if not the most prestigious medical journal, in the world. They have very high standards regarding the accuracy of the information they publish. So does FDA. They both look for verifiable facts as opposed to systems of belief which may very well be true, but which cannot be verified independently.
Sorry, I can't give you details in a letter to the editor. You can find them on my webpage.
And if you see me in the street, do ask me about it. I really do want everyone interested to hear my side of the story and I want you to ask the hospital theirs.
Now if anyone has facilities where I can give a few talks, I'd like to have a VCR to show a video called "Herbal Medicine - Mystery in a Bottle" and a computer with Internet access to show you how to access the medical literature which is indexed. If only my doctor had done that, I wouldn't be gray today. Reviewing the medical literature enables you to check out for yourselves the claims made for drugs and therapies - the scientific kind that is. Maybe a herbalist can tell you how to check out the spiritual ones. I sure can't. Why I can't even hear the heartbeat of a tree. Oh, my!
(Granny, are you listening? I'd probably be dead today if I hadn't had a lumpectomy and radiation in a hospital to treat my breast cancer in 1984. See Granny. I came out alive. The world has changed. It continues to grow and we continue to learn from our mistakes.) I know my granny understands and bet yours does to. They want us to move forward into the next century not backwards into the last.
What follows is the hand-out I am giving out at the hospital.
Medicine or Magic?
Old Wives Tales or Accurate, Factual Information?
You be the judge!
© Rosemary Jacobs 1999
In early June 1999 I saw a brochure from the Wellness Center at North Country Hospital on the bulletin board at Grand Union in Newport, VT advertizing a talk that had already been given at the Center by herbalist and author, Rosemary Gladstar. I contacted the Center and said that I too wanted to give a talk. Sue Alward said no. You can see our correspondence on my webpage:
Since 1995 when I learned that the drug that had injured me decades ago is now legally sold as a "dietary supplement" even in Newport, I have done extensive research on supplements - the legal category that herbal drugs are sold under in the US. As such they are, for all practical purposes, unregulated by any government agency. Manufacturers do not even have to present evidence that they are safe before they sell them.
I am a retired teacher not a writer. I interact with my audience. I don't lecture. I want the opportunity to present the information that I have gathered to the public and believe that The Wellness Center is the most appropriate place to do it. My information is accurate, factual, verifiable and vital for everyone who uses supplements or has loved ones who do. Please check my webpage and my citations and bibliographies.
Judge for yourself. If you have evidence showing that I have made mistakes, show it to me so that I can correct them.
I have asked The Wellness Center what criteria they use to determine whether or not instructors will give students the kind of accurate, factual information needed to make well-informed health care decisions. As yet they have not responded. I want to know why they believe that Ms. Gladstar's material will do just that while mine will not. I have asked to see copies of her books or any written material that she used in her class so that I can review it and see how she substantiates her statements. The Center has not provided this. I have obtained one of her books, HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN and suggest that you get a copy on interlibrary loan to see what kind of material a center housed in a hospital that gets public funds believes will benefit the public and help them make "well-informed choices". In case you do not have time to do that, I am including some excerpts here.
QUOTES from HERBAL HEALING FOR WOMEN by Rosemary Gladstar:
The best possible way to learn about each herb is to experience it. If, after you've read about it, the herb seems like one that is appropriate for your situation, try it. The taste, the smell, the effect of the herb on your being is the best laboratory you have for determining its effectiveness. p. 230
Look in your own backyard or neighborhood for these treasures. You'll find half of the plants mentioned in this Materia Medica growing abundantly there. p. 230
When I lived in the mountains of the Pacific Nordhwest, I was excited to find myself surrounded by a sea of "wild chamomile." You can imagine my delight as I brewed up a cup of this abundant wild herb. But after one sip of that extremely bitter tea, I knew I had the wrong herb. I was lucky: dog weed is only mildly toxic. p. 236
In every culture throughout the world you will find a great body of folklore concerning the indigenous plants of that region and the wise women who used them. For thousands of years women collected plants from meadows and woodlands and used them to create healing medicines. They gathered herbs by the waning and waxing of the moon, artfully created preparations, and developed herbal formulas. Through an intuitive communication with the plants, women learned the healing powers of these green allies. Their wisdom developed over countless years as remedies were tried, proven, and passed on. The best of these remedies were added to the lore, and the wisdom was transferred from mother to daughter, from wise woman to apprentice for countless generations. This is the legacy we have inherited. Healers, wise women, simplers-these women were the center and source of medicine and healing for their communities. They understood the cycles of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the universe, the sun, the moon, the stars, and the natural rhythms of their bodies. p. 19
Alchemy and magic are integral parts of herbalism and healing. p.24
If a plant has been found safe and effective for a thousand years of human use, it may be wise to question the validity and applicability of the scientific tests now being used. There is genenally some unidentified magic in the plant in the form of another chemical or an innate natural wisdom that allows the medicine, when taken as a whole, to function in a safe and beneficial manner. p.25
There are several exercises I love to do with students to help them develop their intuitive skills with plants. I believe that this kind of information is as valuable, if not more so, than all the book learning and educating we do. One of my favorite exercises is very simple, but so profound. Go for a walk. Find a tree that beckons to you. Put your arms around it and hug tightly. Pull yourself close to the tree and allow yourself to smell it, feel it, hear its heartbeat. Trees have very strong energy and you will feel as if you are well supported, that you can surrender and let go. Often people feel they can tell the tree anything and it will hear them and help them. Trees also have strong voices and it is easy to hear them singing back to you. When you walk into a woods, have you ever thought you heard the trees talking? They probably were! p.27&28
I think herbs act in a particularly impressive way on women's health because there's a natural affinity between women and the plant world... They seem to heal on a cellular level. p.23
Rosemary Gladstar has taught herbology extensively throughout the United States and has lead herbal travel adventures worldwide. Her experience includes 20 years in the herbal community as a healer, teacher, visionary, and organize of herbal events. Currently, she runs Sage Mountain in East Barre, Vermont where she-teaches and sponsors workshops and sells herbal preparations. Rosemary lives in East Barre, VT. BACKCOVER
Now please check my webpage and see if you think that I have anything of value to give to the public.
In addition to writing my webpage I have to date:
Perhaps you too would like to know what criteria The Welllness Center uses to determine who they will permit to give talks. Perhaps you too would like to know how they decided that Ms. Gladstar's material is appropriate and mine is not. If so, ask them and let me know what they say.
email: firstname.lastname@example.org webpage: http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/ http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/rose3.htm
Next is the hand-out I'm giving out in front of places that sell and aggressively promote unregulated drugs. Interestingly enough, all the ones I know about are commercial establishments, not religious ones. I definitely consider this to be the "opposing side" of a "strongly-debated healthcare issue". It is not the material that I had intended to present at a workshop at The Wellness Center. However, in light of all that has happened I now think that it is something that should be brought up at the Center. In fact, I suspect that the other side of the issue may already have been presented there more than once.
My ancestors and many of yours crossed the ocean to escape persecution and oppression by the wealthy. They founded a nation that guaranteed her citizens the right to free speech at a time when that meant standing on a soapbox in the town square and speaking your mind.
When I discovered in 1995 that the drug that had disfigured me is now legally sold as a dietary supplement in the US and that all kinds of fraudulent claims are made to promote it, I tried to warn the public but found out quickly that while free speech may still be a guaranteed right, access to an audience is not. Soapboxes are as outdated as candles and stage coaches. To get access today you need money. Lots of it. You need money to get air time and space in the print media. You need money to get a microphone. You need money to write and distribute books or to hire others to do that for you. You need money to rent halls, buy computers and setup webpages. You need lots of money, especially if you are up against a billion dollar industry like the dietary supplement industry. Free speech without access to a large segment of the public is a bad joke.
When in June 1999 I discovered that people who promote supplements were giving workshops at the Wellness Center at my local hospital, North Country in Newport, VT, I asked permission to do the same. My request was denied. You can read all about it and read my story on my webpage:
If you do not have Internet access, your public library may. Ask the librarian if she can show you how to log on and access my URL. Sorry I can't afford to print and distribute a newsletter.
These are some things I want to tell you:
©Rosemary Jacobs July 1999
Rosemary Jacobs email: email@example.com http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan/ http://rosemaryjacobs.com
What follows is the hand-out I am giving out in the street.
I look this way because when I was a child my doctor believed the claims for the safety and efficacy of the silver drug that he prescribed for me. He never investigated. Worse yet, he believed the fraudulent ads from the drug MANUFACTURER. If he had read the articles in his medical journals instead, he would have known that the drug was dangerous.
You can read the details of my story on my website:
and see the report on me that appeared in the May 20, 1999 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. Every hospital library should have a copy. It is also available online:
If you do not have access to the Internet, your public library may.
My doctor was a good person guilty of being terribly naive. I don't know if anyone even told him what happened to me. If they did, he would have been devastated, but that may have prevented him from harming someone else. This happened to me before the Thalidomide tragedy made scientists realize the extensive studies required to determine if the benefits of a drug outweigh its risks and caused governments in industrialized nations to tighten up drug regulations to prevent future tragedies.
The one lesson I have learned from this is never to trust an "expert", especially not one with a financial interest in the sale of the drug he is promoting, recommending or selling. I look at the evidence and want the opportunity to show you how to do the same. In my opinion people who prescribe drugs should never be allowed to sell them.
The drug that disfigured me is now legally sold as a dietary supplement. As a result, I have extensively studied supplements. You can find some of the information I have gathered on my webpage which is extensive and continually growing. Look at my index:
It contains citations and bibliographies so that you can check my references for yourself. If you use unregulated dietary supplements and "natural" remedies, I think you will want to see what I have to say about them.
I would love to have the opportunity to talk with you at The Wellness Center at North Country Hospital, but they have refused me permission. Our correspondence is posted on my webpage. If you have a chance, please look at it. I am a retired teacher who talks and interacts with the audience, not a writer who communicates well with a keyboard.
Rosemary Jacobs email: firstname.lastname@example.org webpage: http://homepages.together.net/~rjstan http://rosemaryjacobs.com © Rosemary Jacobs July 1999
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