I’m splitting this topic off into a separate thread since it seems minimally related to the issue of Energy Medicine that is the focus of the parent thread.
There is a lot of confusion generated by the sloppy distinction between “food” and “medicine.” Plants can be foods, and they can be medicine, as can anything you eat, but the issues associated with investigating the health effects of these different uses of plants and other “foods” are very distinct.
In general, individual “foods” are neither good for you or bad for you. They provide nutrients and non-nutrient components which have effects on health status. Some of these effects are fairly short-term and dramatic (think Vit C deficiency=scurvy), and others are long-term and complicated by interaction with many other factors (think dietary fats of various types as risk factors in cardiovascular disease). Eating nothing but Big Macs is unlikley to be a diet which provides optimal nutrition or promotes long-term health. But if you are a protein-malnourished and calorie deficient peasant, Big Macs could very well improve your diet and provide valuable nutrients. Just like “toxins,” the benefits and harms of nutrients and other food components are about dose and interaction with individual constitution, and unfortunately we don’t know how to identify the optimal diet for any individual, or even for broad categories of individuals to the extent such a diet even exists. We’re pretty good at telling people how to avoid the deficiency diseases that ravaged humankind for most of our history. And we’re getting better at identifying patterns of dietary behavior that affect health on a long-term basis as well as identifying individual characteristics that affect the relative risk or benefit of particular dietary patterns, but we have a long way to go and a lot to learn.
The notion that particular foods are good or bad for you is really a myth, then, and it is sustained partly by the confusion between foods as food and foods as medicine. If you ingest a food because it has some chemical in it you think will affect your health (e.g. St. John’s Wort for depression, fatty fish for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease, etc), you are really treating these foods as medicines, as therapeutic or preventative treatments. Determining whether doing so is good or bad for you then requires investigating the proposed effects the same ay you would investigate any medical intervention: establishing plausibility and consistency with well-understood principles of basic science, in vitro and animal model research, clinical trials, etc).
The dietary supplement industry makes enormous profits in the nearly complete absence of any government regulation or oversight by deliberattely conflating the medicinal use of substances also eaten as foods. However, the reality is that the health effects of dietary behavior and nutrition, and the preventative and therapeutic effects of plant and animal components that happen to also be eaten as food, are really different subjects and have to be examined and studied in somewhat different ways.