623 A Reality Check – and a Chance to Educate
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Dynamic Chiropractic – March 15, 2015, Vol. 33, Issue 06

A Reality Check – and a Chance to Educate

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

Imagine working in the public relations department of nutrition retailer General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) and reading the The New York Times announce:

"The New York State attorney general's office accused four major retailers on Monday of selling fraudulent and potentially dangerous herbal supplements and demanded that they remove the products from their shelves.

"The authorities said they had conducted tests on top-selling store brands of herbal supplements at four national retailers – GNC, Target, Walgreens and Walmart – and found that four out of five of the products did not contain any of the herbs on their labels. The tests showed that pills labeled medicinal herbs often contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies."1

As a DC, you might be saying to yourself, "Well, what would you expect from Target and Walmart?"You might not even be surprised by the inclusion of Walgreens in this list. But GNC?

Not surprisingly, "[T]he attorney general sent the four retailers cease-and-desist letters ... and demanded that they explain what procedures they use to verify the ingredients in their supplements."

Representatives from the big chains were scrambling to provide an adequate response. The initial replies to media inquiries were either "no comment"or pledging their support to resolve the issue.

This article is actually not about the quality of the supplements offered by the nutrition and herb companies that have long supported our profession. I have visited most of these companies myself and seen firsthand the steps they take to ensure the purity and quality of their products. In fact, several of these companies were quick to send out general press releases emphasizing to the public that these findings are the exact reason why consumers should always purchase their supplements from their doctor.

What this incident does demonstrate is the reality that there will always be someone trying to offer something that pretends to be as good as what you offer, but really isn't. Knockoffs are inevitable for every effective product and service. As the saying goes, it is a perverse form of flattery.

This is not only true for vitamins, but for chiropractic as well. There are no shortages of drugs, machines, physical therapies and the like that profess to be just as effective as a chiropractic adjustment. But eventually, the patient realizes drugs only mask the pain, machines can only do so much and physical therapy is just that: therapy; it doesn't necessarily get to the cause.

While we all know this, it is a truth that bears repeating, particularly to your patients. Now is actually a good time to talk to your patients, as they have likely heard about the accusation by the New York State AG's office and have concerns they may not feel comfortable expressing voluntarily. You will probably be reading about similar actions in other states as well, so this topic is likely to stay in the news – and in your patients' minds – for some time.

Take this opportunity to talk to them about the quality of care you provide in everything you offer. Help them understand the difference between feeling better temporarily versus actually addressing the underlying causes.

It is always a great time to tell the chiropractic story, but some events just seem to open the door a little wider. It is important to step up and have an answer for those who are seeking wellness. We have what they need, but not everyone knows it yet.


  1. O'Connor A. "New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers."The New York Times, Feb. 3, 2015.

Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/wrblog/. You can also visit me on Facebook.

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