Pharmacists Versus Health Food Store Employees: Who Gives Better Advice?

Pharmacists Versus Health Food Store Employees: Who Gives Better Advice?


“Pharmacists Versus Health Food Store Employees:
Who Gives Better Advice?” Yes, as we’ve seen, studies have shown over and
over again that health food store employees, on average, didn’t know what the heck they were talking about. But maybe nobody does when it comes to supplements. Two North American studies were recently published –
one in Canada, one here in the States – comparing the advice gotten from health food stores
compared to community pharmacies. In Canada, researchers went in and asked questions like, “Will ginseng give me more energy?
Will beta-carotene help me fight cancer?” “Will shark cartilage help cure my cancer?” What percentage of visits to 192 different health food stores were researchers given advice considered accurate,
or at least fairly accurate, based on the balance of available scientific evidence? One hundred percent of the time? Half the time? No! Seven percent of the time. Pharmacists did about ten times better. In the US study they got actors to walk
into pharmacies and health food stores feigning classic symptoms of Type I diabetes:
excessive thirst and fatigue, unexplained weight loss despite overeating,
peeing like crazy all the time. They asked the health food and pharmacy staff
what they thought they had, what they should take, and whether they thought
they should go see a doctor. Given that Type I diabetes can be fatal if
untreated, the answer to that last question is yes, they should indeed go see a doctor. And all eight out of the eight pharmacists
got that right. Good for them. But only half – six of the twelve health
food store employees – thought it necessary. And two of the six naysayers explicitly advised against going to a doctor, the rationale being that the physician would “just give
them Ritalin or miss the true diagnosis” which they felt was something like “mold infestation”
or “adrenal exhaustion” which, luckily, they had just the right supplements for
at a bargain for only up to $200 a month.

5 thoughts on “Pharmacists Versus Health Food Store Employees: Who Gives Better Advice?”

  1. Common sense shows this study merely proves people should do their own homework on what type of supplements they need. The bottom line is neither pharmacist nor health food store employees know much about what supplements to recommend. (For the most part anyway)

  2. Hey,

    Thanks for these videos. I'm pretty shocked to learn about the employee conduct in these stores, given that my experience of working for one has radically departed from what you've related here:

    1)Our staff has been thread-splittingly precise and vigilent about what we're allowed to let a customer walk away believing;
    2) We are forbidden to offer up any definitive 'solutions';
    3) We ALWAYS urge them to seek medical advice, and strongly discourage mere self-diagnosis;

  3. 4) Before we even begin to hint at the idea that it would be even slightly helpful to make this-or-that nutritional change or to take this-or-that supplement we,
    a) require the 'patient' to be there, and
    b)we're required to get a full profile of the person's medical and symptomatic background.

  4. 5) All of us are encouraged to keep up on the studies, and are routinely trained in with material from Bastyr's nutritional program.

    Anyway, boy are these studies ever eye opening about the norms! Makes me proud of the store I work at; I'm so glad there are exceptions to these general cases. =)

  5. Pharmacists send customers to a doctor cause of liability and cause they want to make the docs feel needed and they want more prescriptions to fill. Pharmacies have cheap vitamins, prescriptions are much more lucrative.

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