Saturday Story Time-On the Fringe

Susan Cwik

It’s Saturday, Yay! That means it’s also story time. Working in a health food store, we get a lot of people on the fringe. There are a lot of people out there who prey on your sensibilities to make a buck. This was never more evident than when I was at a natural product convention and a rep asked if I carried any weight loss products. I stated that I did not. Her response, “Well, don’t you want to make money?” Meaning that there is a lot of profit in selling a product that, more than likely, doesn’t work.  I’m just not willing to sacrifice my ethics just to make a buck.

However, the charlatans exist and it can be a struggle to provide correct information without putting the customer on the defensive. There was the older woman who was determined that her landlord was trying to kill her, that her lead pipes were emitting mercury, and Obama was going to release a poison via the entrails from planes. This was to happen after the 4th of July and only affect people over a certain age, I think is was 75. That’s a lot. Please note that every single person who walks through the door is treated with respect, no matter what they start telling us. We will listen, nod, and do our best to redirect.

During Covid, we had all the people wanting massive doses of zinc. Yes, zinc may help boost immunity. Unfortunately, people were hearing that they needed large amounts. The upper limit for zinc to be safe is 40mg/day for a short period of time. People wanted to take 50mg at least twice a day because someone on the internet said it was a magical cure. Not only can that dose be toxic, it depletes your body of copper, reduce your immunity, and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol.

Next up, using essential oils to flavor water. Did you know that oil and water will never mix unless under high temperature and pressure? Just a basic chemical fact from your local chemistry major. Anyway, so many people were told to do this not realizing the harm they could do to their bodies. That little bit of oil is highly concentrated and just sits on the top of your water. When you drink it, you get large amounts of the volatile oil hitting your mouth and esophagus. To put it in perspective, 1 drop of grapefruit essential oil is equivalent to 34 grapefruits. That’s what you’re consuming in the first sip. There was actually a man who owned a health food store in a neighboring city who did this with peppermint oil and had to have his esophagus repaired. Please, please do not put essential oils in your water.

So, when you hear something that sounds to good to be true, or they use lots of high powered language, music, graphics, run, don’t walk, and find a trusted source. My favorite sources are either PubMed or Healthline. Both will offer studies about items and show their sources. Don’t let people take advantage of you based on the hype.

Until next time,

                Have a Healthy Day

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