A Consumer Council survey last year found that one out of every five people eating food advertised as a health product has little or no concern about how effective it is. The survey of more than 470 consumers of health foods found that almost half of the respondents regularly and habitually used health foods (herbal medicine and slimming products, for example). Sixty-six per cent of those surveyed said they were satisfied and confident about the products' effectiveness. But 22 per cent, although satisfied with the products, said their health foods were 'not effective or not effective at all'. The survey also sought to find out the health status of the respondents in the previous six months. Fifty two per cent rated their health as 'excellent or good' and 46 per cent 'fair'. Only 2 per cent said they were in 'bad' health. 'This seems to suggest that satisfaction with health food is not necessarily a reflection of the product effectiveness. It might be more of a psychological need, regardless of whether or not the products possess any health benefits,' the council concluded. 'Consumers were led to believe that health food products, among other attributes, are safer than western medicines because presumably they are made of natural ingredients and have fewer side effects. However, 5 per cent of the respondents reported side effects such as diarrhoea, insomnia, dizziness, sweating and extreme thirst. Some of these were attributed to slimming or herbal tea products. Jennifer Walker, a naturopath at wellness centre Zama International in Central, says that although there are many books about detoxing and many spas offer a variety of programmes, misconceptions abound. Detoxification is a natural occurrence in which the body heals itself at a cellular level, Walker says. It's a continuous biochemical and physiological cleansing, involving the cells, digestive tract, blood and lymph.