The accuracy of medical advice given by staff at natural food stores is compared to that by staff at community pharmacies based on the balance of available scientific evidence.
Yes, as we've seen, studies have shown over and over that health food store employees, on average, didn’t know what the heck they’re talking about, but maybe nobody does when it comes to supplements. Two North American studies were recently published—one in Canada and one here in the States—comparing the advice gotten from health food stores compared to community pharmacies.
In Canada researchers went in and asked questions like will ginsing give me more energy, beta-carotene help me prevent cancer, shark cartilage help cure my cancer?
What percentage of visits to 192 different health food stores were reserarchers given advice considered accurate, or fairly accurate, based on the balance of available scientific evidence. So 100% of the time? Half of the time? No, 7% of the time.
Pharmacists, did about 10 times better.
In the U.S. study they got actors to walk into pharmacies and health food stores feigning classic symptoms of type 1 diabetes: excessive thirst and fatigue, unexplained weight loss despite overeating, peeing like crazy all the time. They asked the health food and pharmacy staff what they thought they had, what they should take, and whether they think they should go see a doctor?
Given that type 1 diabetes can be fatal if untreated the answer to that last question is yes, they should indeed go see a doctor, and all 8 out of the 8 pharmacists got that right; good for them. But only half, 6 of the 12 health food store employees thought it necessary, and 2 of the six naysayers explicitly advised against going to a doctor, the rationale being that the physician would quote “just give them Ritalin” or miss the true diagnosis, which they felt was something like mold infestation or adrenal exhaustion--which luckily they had just the right supplements for, at a bargain for only up to $200 a month.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.
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This is the final video of a four-part series on the quality of advice given by employees of natural food stores. See Health Food Store Supplement Advice, Bad Advice From Health Food Store Employees, and Dangerous Advice From Health Food Store Employees for the first three. Health Food Store Supplement Advice covered the shark cartilage question, Is Vitamin D the New Vitamin E? mentions beta carotene, and I have yet to do a video on ginseng but will! In the meanwhile, feel free to check out my dozen other videos on Supplement Snake Oil (more on this in tomorrow's NutritionFacts.org video-of-the-day) and the hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand topics.
Please be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Health Food Store Advice: Often Worthless or Worst and Plant-Based Workplace Intervention.