We received a WARNING LETTER from the Federal Trade Commission, Washington, D.C., dated April 16 and delivered by email. It was addressed to Blessed Maine Herb Farm regarding unsubstantiated claims for Coronavirus prevention. They took issue with the posting of my Preventive Care article on my website specifically. The letter said that “It is unlawful to advertise that a product or service can prevent, treat or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including where appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. For COVID 19, no such study is currently known to exist…you must immediately cease making all such claims.” I was advised to remove the article from my website, and to contact a certain official within 48 hours to describe the specific action taken to address their concerns. Both of which I did.
I was shocked to be contacted about the Preventive Care article because no claims were made regarding any products, no products were mentioned in the article at all. The original article, posted on my WordPress blog, Way of the Wild Heart, was shared on my website, where I do also sell herbal products. THAT was the problem. This, in itself, is perceived as making product claims. Guilt by simple association.
At 9am yesterday morning, I called the official I was directed to contact and spoke at length with him. I explained how I perceived this situation and questioned the wisdom of making an issue of sharing preventive health education at this time. Here’s a synopsis of what we discussed:
I began with the five thousand-year history of herbs being safely used as medicine and especially as preventive care. Herbs are nourishment. They nourish specific organs, systems of the body. This is well known and there are countless studies to prove it as well as empirical evidence gathered down through the ages.
More importantly, we’re in the midst of a frightening global pandemic. We are being offered nothing but hand washing, masks and staying at home as prevention. We need much more! And there is much more available to us. We need to know what that is.
There certainly could be nothing suspect about attempting to educate a growing-desperate populace about what measures they can take on their own, and at home, to enhance their chances of staying well and resisting illness. Our health care system is overburdened. We want to avoid visits to the hospital. Using common herbal home remedies is a time-honored way to build strength and vitality to resist infection. Should we become ill, a few well-chosen herbs and prayers may help prevent the progression to the point that we would need to go to the hospital and further over burden the system.
My work is centered on guiding people toward healthy life choices! Educating them about the safe, simple, effective, time tested herbs they have available to them for support. Letting them know there is help, that they are not totally alone with this. People need some guidance, some information regarding what to do to protect themselves and at the same time protect the health care system, and our health care workers by not getting so sick we need to be hospitalized.
Moreover, (I couldn’t resist), I reminded him that our non-medical professional president is on national television repeatedly touting the use of an unproven, dangerous drug and advocating opening the country back up way too soon!
So, exactly what are we expected to do here? You want people to get back to normal without providing anything more than a mask to help protect them? Oh, you know it, I went on and on. To his credit, the official listened. He really did.
He admitted to being confused. I actually felt sorry for him, a little. I can only imagine the stress these officials are under, and from so many sides. My heart literally burst for the man. But, and this is what gave me courage, I have all of you to consider, so wanted to defend, not only my right to educate and share helpful information at this critical time, but your right to have access to it. Access to plain spoken, time tested herbs and remedies, so you can make wise choices, so you have some defense.
As I told the official, we have very little to go on here. Nothing from the medical professionals. Herbalists are stepping up to share what we know. We must be allowed to do so.
But. And this is the most important part I want to share…We cannot connect this information in any way to product, not even by association. So, if you’ve got a remedy for this thing you are advertising, you probably ought to change the name, at the very least. We have to protect each other here. Please don’t attract the attention of the “rulers” at this time…we want and need to avoid any confrontation or shut down of free flow of information. If you’ve got any information on your website, that also sells herbal products, mentioning any kind of herbal approach to this pandemic, other than hand washing, etc., you are expected to remove it. That, unfortunately, is the rule and it is being strictly enforced. You will provoke attention, not only to yourself, but to our work as a community of herbalists and herbal educators and medicine makers. We’ve got to be smart. We’ve got to continue to do what we do, and we must do it carefully. With great care and consideration of each other.
Please Note: We still have free speech. There is no danger of the articles posted on this blog, or anyone else’s, being removed. If you copied my work to your hard drive yesterday, as was suggested by someone on facebook, please remove it. The information is under copyright. You do not have my permission to copy it to your computer. This information is not to be used in any other way than for which it was intended. I do grant you permission to print it out, if you wish, and also to share it with others, with full attribution to the author.