One of the basic responses we should have to anything that makes us bleed, whether it be a knife, a nail, or a supplement, would be to take it out of our environment so that we stop bleeding.
But, while a knife and a nail are pretty straightforward, a supplement causing us to bleed can be confusing. Supplements are inherently “good for us” in the same way that many other things used to be good for us. If you read between the lines of supplement advertisements, all supplements can do is make you feel better. And if a little bit makes you feel better, then a lot should make you feel a lot better.
Supplements get this reputation because they fall into an odd blind spot in modern healthcare. No one taking a prescribed drug would think that swallowing the bottle would be a good idea. We respect the power and potential dangers of drugs. But a patient asking her doctor about a supplement will usually get either, “that doesn’t work,” or a shrug, “I don’t know anything about that.” The doctor thinks the patient won’t use the supplement without a recommendation, but the patient has just heard it might help from the manufacturer and it probably doesn’t work from her doctor. A common conclusion is that it is much less powerful than a drug and she’ll be safe using it even in large quantities.
In the absence of medical guidance, the patient will rely on the recommended dosages printed on the bottle. Most manufacturers are understanding that a patient may not want to spend her day swallowing pills, so they will limit the recommended dose to two or three tablets a day. But some recommend much more.
Standard Process is a very good manufacturer. I want to be clear that they jump through far more hoops than most and I’ve been impressed by the rigor of research behind their Mediherb brand. But, they are the most outrageous offenders when it comes to supplement dosage.
For example, individuals taking SP cleanse will consume seven capsules three times a day. And that is one of four different supplements they are expected to consume daily during Standard Processes’ twenty-one day cleanse. For a company that was founded on whole food as the basis for healing, that seems like a lot of supplements.
Admittedly, most Standard Process supplements only list one capsule per meal, but they are sold by practitioners who often prescribe much more. The practitioners are encouraged by Standard Processes’ own tapes to use the supplements in quantities that would be equal to if a patient was eating that organ meat or consuming that herb. That’s a lot of supplements.
My own difficulty with Standard Process began when I was researching Mad Cow Disease, and I wanted to know if Standard Process tested their products for prions. In response, I was told that Standard Process uses restaurant grade meat, which wasn’t terribly reassuring. I don’t know of many restaurants that intentionally add dried cow brain and other glands to their meals. When I checked again on the issue, Standard Process is still standing behind the recommendation of the USDA and doesn’t undergo any separate testing. My concern in this area was mirrored by many other manufacturers who took the step of only using glandular tissue from New Zealand. We in the U.S. do not live in a Mad Cow free zone, and in my research I’ve found disturbing reports of other prion diseases similar to Mad Cow.
But let’s get to the specific issue at hand. Standard Process has a glandular mix they call Symplex F, which they introduced in 1965. (page 109 of the product guide) That’s over fifty years on the market. But there have been no studies done. I’m not even asking for a human study, a rat study would do. After fifty years we have no idea what this complex does to human patients because Standard Process does not collect or publish any response to the compound.
Standard Process produces a proprietary mix of four glands, so we have no idea how much of any gland is involved. The idea of a proprietary secret patent formula is very prevalent in Chinese medicine, but in the U.S. more recently introduced products will list out the amounts of each gland. Let’s pick on the bovine ovary gland bit, because that the part of the mix is likely to cause bleeding. Since the quantity and activity level of the gland will vary from batch to batch, we wouldn’t know the activity level even if they listed out the exact amounts. Keep in mind that cows also go through dramatic hormonal shifts, particularly when transitioning from pregnancy to lactation. As far as we know, Standard Process is grinding all of those stages up together, but changes in the herd may alter the composition dramatically throughout the year.
If you look for bovine ovary online, you will see it being used to grow breasts, grow bottoms, and as a support for the transgender community. So doubling or tripling one’s dosage might be a very poor idea unless one is looking to alter one’s metabolism. But patients will take triple the dosage if it prescribed by their Standard Process salesperson. Most practitioners use muscle testing to prescribe, which is complicated in its results (separate post here). More appropriate blood testing is not commonly done.
Beyond simply avoiding taking too much supplemental bovine ovary, patients need to aware that other deficiencies can profoundly alter hormonal balances. Here in Maine we have a common Vitamin D deficiencies that can modify how the female hormones relate to the body. And essential fatty acids form both the basis of and the cushion for female hormonal metabolism in the body.