300 – What You Need to Know in 2018 – My Opinion – Steve Lankford

 My musings on the state  of the natural products industry

Steve LankfordEvery 100 shows I take time to distill my thoughts on what I have learned or observed since the previous anniversaries. I have a perspective on the health industry that spans over 4 decades and I have seen the growth and the changes. I suggest that you revisit episodes 100 and 200 and read the blogs that I wrote at those times. It is interesting because much of what I covered then remains relevant today.

As always a lot has changed, but much also remains the same. Changes can be challenging to manage but it also means new opportunities. In times of change, one has to understand and adapt to that change. In this podcast, I will give my overview of how my thinking has evolved and how best to move forward.

CBD – Cannabidiol

The biggest game changer in the natural products industry is CBD, cannabidiol. The natural products industry has never seen anything like the explosion in the CBD market. So much so that it has driven a lot of debate and change in the legal status throughout the country. CBD is being discussed and evaluated at federal and state levels including the 2018 Farm Bill and in both DEA and FDA. CBD is treated differently in the 50 states which adds to the confusion. Some say CBD is legal in all 50 states and others say ‘not so fast’. Suffice to say that the issue is not settled as of this writing. Here is a list of all our podcasts on CBD.

Industrial Hemp

Industrial Hemp

One can say that the interest in CBD is unprecedented. There are hundreds of CBD products that are now available and yet there is no quality, safety, efficacy standards that exist. But consumers are flocking to CBD because there are many claims of benefit. There is a lot yet to be discovered about CBD and the endocannabinoid system and there are many benefits to be discovered. The science is emerging slowly but surely, but not all of what you read and hear is true.

FDA recently approved Epidiolex, the first pharmaceutical drug to be approved that contains CBD. So CBD is officially a medicine, at least in this one case. Is CBD also a supplement or a food or both? FDA has not approved CBD as either food or supplement. What will DEA and FDA do going forward is anybody’s guess. If the hemp portion of the 2018 Farm Bill prevails that should remove all industrial hemp products from the CSA (Controlled Substances Act.) Then what? It will be interesting to watch this unfold.

As of this podcast, Canada has just legalized all recreational cannabis marijuana for the entire country. Can anyone say weed tourism?


One of my goals for HealthQuestPodcast.com is to help my listeners understand the challenges in the marketplace and become more discerning consumers. Helping you to understand the distinctions that exist will help you make better choices. Better choices lead to better outcomes. Here are some of the challenges that you must deal with that I cover in this podcast. Your success depends on successfully navigating the changing landscape. 

Consumer Challenges

  • Who can you trust? Doctor, Friends, health food store (mom and pop vs whole foods), internet. You have to discover who can give you guidance.
  • Truth and Lies, mixed bias reporting. There is so much contradictory and conflicting information that it is easy to be confused and misled.
  • Consumers and others don’t know or understand DSHEA. This is the law that regulates and protects dietary supplements. Supplements are regulated by FDA and FTC. Do not let anyone tell you that supplements are not regulated. That person is ignorant or deceitful. It is because of DSHEA that companies cannot discuss diseases, cures or treatments. This is the law regarding supplement claims.
  • Social media and Distributed trust. This is becoming a major force in the dissemination of information. But again you have to discover the knowledgeable and reliable resources like HealthQuestPodcast.com. Not all social media sources are trustworthy.

Independent Retailer Challenges – The demise and reinvention of the independent retailer

  • The independent health food stores are shrinking in numbers. Historically independent health food stores have been the driving force and knowledge base for consumers. But as these stores disappear, where will the consumers learn what they need to know? Will the stores that remain and emerge continue to be source of knowledge and guidance?
  • Amazon (and other online shopping) / Independent Retailer disruption: As in many small businesses, Amazon has changed the buying habits of consumers. This is across many industries and is the new normal for retail both large and small. It makes surviving as a small retailer much more difficult. 
  • Amazon / Whole Foods: It seems that Whole Foods Markets are changing and many consumers are not happy with the new owners. It seems that when good small businesses are subsumed by large business, many of the defining qualities are gradually lost.

Industry Challenges – The challenge of high quality, innovative companies

  • Big Multi-National Companies are gobbling up top-tier companies. Just a few examples (there are many more).
    • Garden of Life – Nestle
    • Renew Life – Clorox
    • New Chapter – Proctor & Gamble
  • What happens when big multi-national companies purchase innovative health companies? My belief is that they buy our products, and they buy the profits, but they do not buy the philosophy that drives our industry. Product quality invariably begins to suffer as profits become the primary concern. Where are the bright minds that understand the science and develop companies and products that are on the cutting edge? AND how do they convey those products and benefits to consumers?
  • Transparency and certifications are critical: Good companies are struggling to find ways to communicate with consumers. The transfer of knowledge has historically taken place in independent health food stores. Now companies are embracing the concepts of transparency and third party certifications to bridge the gap being left behind by the shrinking independent retail environment. This also targets the ways that millennials evaluate companies.

It’s not what we don’t know that bothers me; it’s what we think we know that ain’t so. (famous quote?)

You must be careful about accepting the conventional wisdom. Think of all the health information that everyone accepted as truth, because it was preached to us with such certainty. What should you care about and pay attention to? Here is a distillation of what I consider some of the most important guidance, I can give.

  • Learn to be discerning, learn to be skeptical. Ask for the evidence for claims. Don’t believe everything you hear or read. You should even question conventional wisdom. This can be hard if it leads you to being contrary to what others have accepted as true. How many myths have fallen and how many remain to fall? Think eggs are harmful, coconut oil is harmful, vegetable oils are healthy, drugs make you healthy and so on and on.
  • Drugs are not nutrients and nutrients are not drugs. Don’t confuse the two. Drugs treat disease, nutrients do not treat disease. Nutrients nourish the body, drugs do not nourish the body. Either way good nourishment is foundational.
  • Consider your lifestyle and nutrition/diet. If you have health issues, you must try to put right in your life what is going wrong. If your foundation is of poor quality, you will never rebuild health. No matter what you do. Drugs will not correct a poor foundation. Nutritional supplementation can help but it cannot do what you won’t do for yourself in putting your lifestyle and diet in order.
  • Follow the science, but not exclusively. There are many sources of reliable information. There are many more unreliable sources to seduce you as well. Develop resources that you trust for guidance. Do your own research and learn as much as you can. The more you know the better choices you will make. Better choices lead to better outcomes.
  • Learn about the NNT (Number Needed to Treat), NNH (Number Needed to Harm), RRR (Relative Risk Reduction) and ARR (Absolute Risk Reduction) for your drugs. These are statistical numbers that reveal the true benefit or lack thereof for drugs. Americans are highly over medicated. You must learn to evaluate the risks and benefits for the drugs you take. Do not expect doctors to tell you this. They don’t follow it themselves. The simple but disturbing truth is that most people will not benefit from the lifestyle drugs they take. This is very hard for people to accept but it is critical if you want to choose medications wisely. This is not a blanket condemnation of drugs but rather the ineffective application of excessive drug medication with little or no long term benefit. To learn more listen to our podcast and visit theNNT.com.
  • Find companies you can trust. It’s work, at first. Once you are committed to scrutinizing a company, it becomes easier to discern the distinctions that set them apart. There are many levels by which you can judge a company. You choose what is most important to you. Here are a few to consider:
    • They make high quality products using trademarked, branded, clinically studied ingredients.
    • They have a positive reputation on national and international levels.
    • They do not make disease claims or claims to cure or treat any disease. This is illegal.
    • Good companies by law make structure/function claims. These are allowed. This is also right because it causes us to look to the ways nutrients actually work. 
    • They have received certifications and awards recognizing their quality.
    • There are others, but these are a good start.

HealthQuestPodcast.com – 300th podcast

What I have distilled for you in my 300th podcast are the concepts we discuss in most of the podcasts we do. The purpose is to convey that there are great products, wonderful science, committed companies and brilliant researchers who give consumers the opportunity to manage, maintain and restore health. Our goal is to help our listeners become better and more knowledgeable consumers.

Thank you for listening. Please share our content with your family, friends and social networks. Your recommendation is our highest honor. Together, through sharing, we can help improve the health of others, one listener at a time.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 JIM LABOMBARB October 24, 2018 at 10:55 pm

Thank you Steve for what you have done to help people be more knowledgeable about natural supplements! Thank you also to Pam, Barb and Linda for their help with my questions and their expert advise! They are awesome ladies!


Jim LaBombarb


2 Steve Lankford October 25, 2018 at 8:50 am

Thank you Jim, for your kind words. It means a lot to us to hear from others when they benefit from our efforts.
Good Luck and Best Wishes.


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