Certain herbal remedies have successfully cured people's ills for centuries. The medical profession has sought to suppress the circulation of these unofficial remedies on the grounds that they are untested. The pharmaceutical industry is now interested in selling them because people buy them. Both the medical profession and the pharmaceutical companies are interested in labelling these ancient cures as drugs; as drugs they could not be distributed or sold freely, but would have to be prescribed by medical professionals. This would result in fewer sales, and help to stamp out the use of alternative medicines.
In 1997, the American market for vitamins, minerals and potions was $6.5 billion and had doubled since 1990.
The UN Alimentation Commission which regulates global health matters, Codex, proposed in 1997 that no vitamins, minerals or herbs could be sold for preventative or therapeutic reasons. No representatives of the natural health industry were consulted about this proposal, and its meetings are not public. The pharmaceutical industry is known to be a player in the proposal. The pharmaceutical companies could charge far more money for these cures as drugs, as only they would be permitted to sell these cures, and the supply would be restricted, giving them a monopoly. The proposed restrictions of sale and therefore increase in price would apply to, among others: aloe vera, bilberry, camomile, feverfew, garlic, ginseng, liquorice, ginger, hawthorn, peppermint, St. John's wort and tea tree. Canada, Germany and Norway support these guidelines, and dietary supplements are sold in these countries at hugely inflated prices.