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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

But it's all natural! Should we have an instinctive preference for herbal remedies?

By Lauren F. Friedman





JewishWorldReview.com | Imagine you have a choice between two medications. One is advertised as "natural," while the other is a conventional pharmaceutical. Would you prefer one to the other, or would you be indifferent? What if you learned that the two substances are chemically identical, with the same success rates and side effects? Would you consider changing your mind?

Opinions about natural medicine can vary widely among cultures and individuals, but when this thought experiment was presented to a diverse sample of Philadelphians, 58 percent expressed an immediate preference for the natural remedy. Even when those participants were told that the medications were chemically identical, only 18 percent of them adjusted their answer to conventional or indifferent.

If two substances are functionally indistinguishable, with the very same outcomes--what explains the persistent preference for one over the other, just because it's called "natural"? Logically, the two products would seem to be interchangeable, but when we make a decision based on limited information, logic doesn't have much to do with it.

"The way we perceive risk is not just about the facts; it's about how the facts feel," explains David Ropeik, author of "How Risky Is It, Really?" "Natural risks worry us less."



A "natural preference" bias is well-established when it comes to food and persists even when the arguments people use to justify it become moot (e.g., healthfulness). Our trust in the natural world may be elemental, something that cuts deeper than deliberation.

The biophilia hypothesis, introduced by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, posits that humans feel an affinity for other living things.

"We don't see nature as out to exploit or harm us," says psychologist Paul Slovic, of Decision Research.

Paul Rozin, the University of Pennsylvania psychologist who led the Philadelphia experiment, has found that when people free associate with the concept of "natural," almost all of their associations are positive.

"The very word," Slovic notes, "conveys an aura of positive feelings, safety, and wholesomeness. Nature has a very good image."

Once the image of safety and purity has set in, it's hard to shake. Even when an herbal medicine yields adverse results, it's associated with weaker feelings of anger and regret than when the very same damage is done by a synthetic, Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir has shown. Meanwhile, if an herbal remedy and a prescription both lead to the same positive outcome, subjects tend to say that the herbal option was more effective.

The mostly favorable impressions of herbal treatments suggest that in the U.S., natural medicine is not going away. All told, we spend about $22 billion each year on natural products, and herbal medicine has been the fastest-growing category.

Among herbal medicine consumers, naturalness is most often cited as the primary reason for usage, Shafir found, while a third of respondents in a large Canadian survey said that natural products are better than conventional pharmaceuticals because they are natural. The circular reasoning is enough to make one's head spin.

The lure of naturalness is so powerful that it can supersede what might otherwise be more pressing concerns.

"The naturalness and associated perceived lack of side effects were more important than perceived efficacy," concludes a recent study in Medical Decision Making that assessed consumers' attitudes toward sleep aids. Whether or not the medicine actually worked was secondary.

While the study involved in-depth interviews with just 25 subjects, every single one made reference to a product's "natural" or "chemical" source as a factor in their assessment. They perceived the manufactured medications as more effective but the natural sleep aids as less likely to cause side effects; in the end, the latter won out.

For most natural products, safety is a crucial selling point. When Pfizer researchers had people rate the perceived safety of everything from airplanes to cleaners, they found that herbal medicines were rated as very low risk--safer even than coffee and birth control.

Of course, perceived safety and actual safety are different beasts.


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"Although herbs are often perceived as 'natural' and therefore safe, many different side effects have been reported, owing to active ingredients, contaminants, or interactions with drugs," notes a review in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Yet a study of Italian women found that 72 percent of those who used herbal products never told their physicians, largely because they perceived the therapies as risk-free and assumed their doctors wouldn't know much about the products or care.

Part of the explanation for such logical missteps is that we're often forced to make decisions about medications in an informational vacuum: Herbal medicine may be under-tested and almost completely unregulated, but poor labeling means that even drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration can conspicuously lack the information a reasonable consumer might want.

"People are forced to trust a system that they don't understand," says Baruch Fischhoff, a decision scientist at Carnegie Mellon and a former chair of the FDA's Risk Communication Advisory Committee. "It's not a consumer failure; it's a market failure."

In a regulatory environment that often shields consumers from a full, nuanced picture of the risks and benefits of any given substance, it's no wonder we get tripped up, shortsightedly relying on one of our oldest heuristics: If it comes from the earth, it's probably fine. Just steer clear of the arsenic.

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