I'm glad to see someone talk about these "hypes" that are going on in today's market for no other reason than to get your money, with virtually no return on your investment. As a practicing Optometrist of 35 years I have seen many such "hypes" sold to supposedly cure cataracts, glaucoma, nearsightedness and many other visual problems. And so far not one of them has ever cured or prevented a thing, all they've done is given false hope and drained pockets.
The discussions you are having lately about the "empty" energy drinks and now the "near worthless" herbal cures are excellent. People buy too much hype for too little reason! Keep up the good work!
I love a good cigar to help forget all the loopy beliefs out there(such as a 6000 year old Earth). I guess I should accompany the smoke with a glass of green tea.
Dave, I agree with you that there has not been enough scientific research in the US on the effects (positive and negative) of herbal, dietary, and other alternative and complementary medicines. As you say, the lack of regulation and accountability has led to some unscrupulous or ill-informed practitioners prescribing ineffective or even harmful treatments. But this is not the fault of the herbs themselves! Rather, because full-plant herbal treatments cannot be patented, there's not much money to be made from them. The pharmaceutical industry prefers to identify "active ingredients" which can be isolated, patented, and sold at a hefty profit.
Solid scientific research has been done on herbal medicines in Europe. The German and British herbal pharmacopeias are reliable and comprehensive. Interestingly, both Germany and Great Britain have universal public health care systems that strive to provide effective treatments while keeping costs down, rather than a for-profit system like we have in the US.
From a holistic perspective, there is support for the belief that the full "natural" complement of chemicals present in a whole plant preparation will be more effective and have fewer harmful side effects than a refined single substance. Remember that plants and animals, including humans, have co-evolved over billions of years, and that humans have been using herbal medicine throughout history. This is not to say that modern chemical pharmaceuticals (90 percent of which are derived from plants or synthetic analogues of phytochemicals) are bad. If you have an acute infection, see your doctor and take antibiotics. But for the prevention and management of the sorts of chronic illnesses that are caused by our unhealthy modern lifestyle, herbal medicines are often more effective than more refined pharmaceuticals.
(P.S. Neither your blog post nor my response seem to have much to do with astronomy.)