Any time you see a patented or trademarked notice on a product you are buying something that has been altered in such a way or to such a degree that it does not exist in a natural state. That reality extends even to “natural” products, since “natural” does not have any legal definition. As I explained to a client this morning in response to an inquiry about a new “natural” anxiety supplement, “I’m always cautious with patented products-to me, any “patented, standardized” product is a drug, not an herb. It no longer has the balance with which it was created. After all, vodka is just a “standardized” extract of potatoes, and I know people who swear by it for stress relief!”
While most people agree that eating cultured foods like kimchi, yogurt and kefir, and taking probiotic supplements are good ideas, very few know where their cultures come from. You may be surprised to learn that most commercial products in those categories are also patented! In 2011 DuPont acquired Danisco, the largest producer of enzymes and cultures for the food industry. The patented ingredients include a huge list of acidophilus and other cultures, including “starter cultures for color, texture and flavor development and to maintain microbiological quality.” From the Danisco website: “The DuPont™ Danisco® range encompasses the broadest portfolio of ingredients for the dairy industry. Today, every third cheese obtains its well-defined flavor and texture from our leading cultures.” The same is true for many other products-and not just dairy products, to settle the anti-dairy “told-you-so” voices! Dairy and meat substitutes are using the same engineered cultures, and so are supplement manufacturers.
Patented supplement ingredients include more than just probiotics. Vitamins, antioxidants, digestive enzymes, fiber, and phytosterols are also in the Danisco lines. DuPont-the company responsible for fostering genetically modified foods-made big business news with their “New Harvest” Omega Three; it’s selling well on the grounds that it’s sustainable and vegan! They even offer to help companies work with regulatory agencies in whatever country they are interested in doing business to get their products approved.
The solution? Get your nutrients as much as possible from real, whole, organic foods. I have a great kombucha-type culture that generated itself when I kept a bottle of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar near my stove. That is a live food! If you need supplements, generally use herbs rather than isolated nutrients-we were designed to digest plants-from a company that does serious quality control of its own. Be wary of wonder supplements with names you can’t pronounce, and question the source of foods and supplements. Buy local where possible, and support smaller companies who are less likely to use the engineered enzymes and cultures.