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  • The truth about "natural" supplements / treatments vs. prescription drugs:

    I keep seeing so many posts bashing everything from effective prescription medications to cola and lauding "natural" supplements and remedies that I had to create a thread specifically about it. I got sick of refuting every ridiculous post about "natural" remedies - and sick of warning people left and right that "natural" remedies are in NO WAY SAFER and often MORE DANGEROUS than any prescription drug you could take. I'm hoping enough people will read this thread since it's a subject I care deeply about and I worry greatly for all the people convinced this stuff is safe.

    First of all let me repeat what I always say - "natural" supplements/remedies are in NO WAY SAFER than anything else. They are no better. In many cases, they are NO DIFFERENT than a prescription drug. "Naural" supplements are LOADED with chemicals as well. What do people think they're made of - sugar and spice and everything nice? Chemicals, the same as anything else. In many cases, they contain the SAME chemicals as prescription drugs. Know why? Because most prescription drugs were synthesized from natural sources!

    That said, there is NO OVERSIGHT in the "natural" supplement industry. None whatsoever. No one tests them to ensure they're safe. No one oversees the manufacturing process to make sure IT is safe. For all you know Billy Bob could be making the stuff in his dirty bathtub. For all you know, it could have way too much of the active ingredients or none at all! It could be just water, as is the case with homeopathy. OR, it could have things in it not listed on the label - potentially dangerous things.

    Someone recently posted about a "natural" weight loss pill, acting as if just because it was "natural", it was better than others. I did some research, and found the following:

    Yep, I just looked it up and not only does it have green tea but additional caffeine added as well - about the equivalent of 2-3 cups of coffee per serving. Not only that, it has Geranium Flower in it, which contains Methylhexaneamine - also a stimulant and the substance many nasal decongestants you can buy at the pharmacy are made of. It also contains cocoa powder, which has Theobromine in it. Theobromine is a heart stimulant and diuretic that is also used as a prescription drug. And those are only the ones that are listed in the ingredients - apparently there are others listed as only "proprietary blend"......who knows what is in that......
    Look at all those prescription grade CHEMICALS in a "natural" supplement? Doesn't look so wonderful now, does it?

    The following is from another post where people were knocking colas for having "chemicals" in them - I did some research here too and most of the "chemicals" turned out to be the very same things we eat every day from natural sources. Read the excerpt below.

    What extra ingredients? Diet Pepsi contains:

    Carbonated water - harmless
    Caramel Coloring - harmless
    Phosphoric acid - provides tangy taste. found naturally in milk, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and egg yolks.
    Potassium Benzoate (preservative) - Harmless. used in nearly all fruit juices too.
    Citric acid - found naturally in fruits.
    Aspartame - found naturally in eggs, milk, beef, etc.

    So what are all these chemicals you all keep talking about, and where is the danger? Most occur naturally anyway!
    I'll never understand why people are so afraid of prescription drugs and so called "chemicals" (which are no different than the chemicals found in "natural" items), yet are more than happy to fill their bodies with anything that has "natural" on the label. HEMLOCK is natural too, you know? People will take ANYTHING "natural" on a whim without even knowing what is in it and what it does! It is completely ridiculous.

    I hope some of you will read the following articles I'm posting. They go into the issue in more detail, list some of the deaths that have occurred from natural supplements, and describe why there is no oversight (pure greed - it is such a big industry because people are so gullible they don't want their poorly made and usually ineffective trash to be subject to regulation, lest it all get pulled from the shelves for being dangerous). PLEASE, before you take ANYTHING else "natural", do some research - if not from my links from your own - just be sure the info you get isn't directly from someone trying to make money on these "natural" supplements......


    Death By Dietary Supplement - Forbes.com
    What's the harm in herbal remedies?
    What is Herbal medicine, herbology or herbalism?
    Discovery Health "Why doesn't the FDA regulate herbal supplements?"
    The Skeptics Society Forum • View topic - A new book on the herb/supplement industry
    FDA Regulation of Diet & Herbal-Supplement Industry: Fraud, False Claims - Associated Content from Yahoo! - associatedcontent.com
    The Herbal Minefield
    The Dangers of Dietary Supplements
    Science-Based Medicine The Scam Scam

    I can point you to one hundred more articles about deaths and the dangers of these "natural" products - as well as thousands on their complete ineffectiveness. Please stop promoting this rubbish everyone - you're doing a disservice to everyone that reads it and just lining these scam artists' pockets.

    Oh, and I just had to add a little something about homeopathy. I truly don't think most people understand the concept behind this foolishness. I think most people see homeopathy as another word for "natural". This couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, homeopathy can be practiced with any drug or substance. The theory behind homeopathy is that water has memory. That's right, they think it remembers. And they also believe that the LESS of a substance is in the water, the BETTER it works. So they dilute drugs or herbs hundreds - even thousands of times - until there is no trace left that anything is in the water at all. They believe that the water "remembers" the substance, however, and that it is MORE effective than the original substance. So when you buy any homeopathic drug, all you're buying is water, plain and simple.

    Now if this were true and water did remember - well - when you think about it the whole theory falls apart (as if it made any logical sense to begin with). There is a finite amount of water here on Earth. Water is neither created nor destroyed. It just changes forms and ends up back on the ground or in the oceans. So the water here on Earth has been here for billions of years. In that time, I'm sure it has touched just about every substance there is in nature. If the theory of homeopathy were true, this would mean it "remembered" all of these substances. So along with your desired "treatment" memory - you'd be getting a thousand other "memories" of poisons and God knows what else. I'll stop there because anyone with a brain, when confronted with the ridiculous truth behind homeopathy, can tell it's a scam.

    I assume it was created originally, like most "alternative" medicine, to scam people. Of course you're going to make money if you sell pure water to people as a treatment for illness - how much cheaper does it get? But then, also like many other nonsensical "alternative" treatments, gullible people started buying it. And then normal people like you and I heard about it, never bothered to research the concept behind it, and wasted our money on this rubbish too.

    The moral of the story is not to believe what you hear unless it is from legitimate, respected scientists, research institutions or publications. Most people that promote this trash are either scam artists themselves or idiots that never bothered to do their own research (isn't your body more important than that and worth spending a couple hours researching something?). Don't be one of those idiots. Always research something before you put it in your body - and ESPECIALLY never promote anything to others without doing even MORE research - from LEGITIMATE sources - not people trying to SELL THE STUFF. If your life and health isn't important enough, at least consider others that may listen to you.......

    Rant over.....if one single person takes this to heart it will be well worth the time spent writing it.......
    Last edited by Cthulhu; 09-26-2011, 02:00 AM.
    Proud owner of a happy pet Cthulhu......


  • #2
    I am now changing my mind and fully supporting your worthwhile endeavor of exposing all these "natural" manufacturers and marketers who are there just for the money. Their products are no better than prescriptions drugs and we should be choosing prescription instead -- at least most of the time -- because these are studied and clinically proven to be safe -- very very safe! And those people who might be complaining of side effects are just a very small minority and should not the basis for our opinions. Some natural products do work but only a few of them do so we have to be careful on the products we are spending our money with. Remember that naturals are no better -- and even more questionable -- than prescription drugs.
    Last edited by AmazingP; 09-21-2011, 05:10 AM.
    I Just Love SmartHealthShop!

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    • #3
      The problem in the U.S. is that natural medicines are considered dietary supplements and are not regulated. Without acceptable manufacturing standards in place, there's no way to be sure what's really in the product, where the raw materials originated from or if the materials were ethically harvested. In my mind, having some sort of regulation in effect -- and I'm not talking about giving the FDA a finger in the financial part of the industry pie -- as there is in Germany, would make these medicines much safer.

      Comment


      • #4
        It is so confusing as a consumer in this arena today! You take supplements thinking you are doing it for your health, only to find out there are unlisted ingredients. Then, there are all of the commercials on television regarding all of the lawsuits for prescription drugs. It leaves the average person not knowing which way to turn! I believe "natural" is a legally defined term within the food industry that does not necessarily mean what comes to mind as "natural." However, I have previously read that herbal supplements are completely unregulated. I have also read other articles about certain herbs actually being toxic. So, thank you for your timely and informative post!

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        • #5
          Excellent post, Cthulhu. You have some really good and important information. I am not one for natural supplements, although I will admit I am a lot more educated on the subject after reading your post. I do agree with the fact people see "Natural" and automatically think "Better", when that is not the case at all.
          Please take a moment to visit my sister, Madeline's blogs - http://www.dr-maddie.blogspot.com/
          or http://www.addictioninformation1.blogspot.com/

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          • #6
            I heart this post. I just thought I should mention this, since it's pretty much the greatest post evar! It worries me that so many people I talk to think they are protecting and improving their health using potentially unsafe products, based on a con job by marketers. I'm far less worried about most people using pharmaceuticals since 1) they probably had to consult an actual medical professional, and 2) there's a much better chance that the medication is being in some way tested and regulated for safety. Even if those regulations are grossly inadequate, and the FDA is extremely underfunded, at least there is some system in place. In the "natural" industry there is no one minding the store. The FDA can't do anything about "natural" supplements until enough doctors self-report side effects of significant seriousness, such as heart failure, liver failure, kidney shut down or even death, to the FDA. Only then can they force these companies to take the product off the market. The FDA can't even force that company to pre-test new products after they've caused permanent damage or death with their previous products!

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            • #7
              I'm glad you're all liking my post. I completely agree with what you've all stated as well. We NEED an oversight system in the supplement industry. I just got so tired of seeing people afraid of prescription drugs, yet more than willing to pop any pill that says "natural" on the bottle with no doctor supervision and little to no understanding of what they're even taking. And people promote them as if they're safe as well. I don't know how many times I've seen someone complain of a minor health issue and other people chime in and suggest 10 different supplements they should take without seeing a doctor! Try this, this, and that........it's scary.

              The sad thing is that some of these supplements could be promising as future OTC or prescription drugs, but the entire industry has become such a breeding ground for scam artists and charlatans that it tends to give all supplements a bad reputation, and for good reason.

              Anyhow, I can't tell you how happy I am that some of you are reading and enjoying this. If it even educated one person on the subject, it was WELL worth the time spent writing it. Thanks all.....spread the word......
              Last edited by Cthulhu; 10-22-2011, 04:57 AM.
              Proud owner of a happy pet Cthulhu......

              Comment


              • #8
                I am not sure what to think of this post. Maybe there is more I need to learn. I myself have a tendency to research obsessively about every ingredient that would be present in a natural supplement that I would buy. If it is not safe I wouldn't buy it. It is just in the knowing which ingredients are helpful and safe and which ones are not.

                I think that is the same of prescription drugs. I would like to learn more about what is in prescription drugs so I know they are safe, too.

                What I am trying to say here is...

                Whether it is prescription or natural you have to know what's in it. I feel I have the right to know what is in anything I take, either prescription or non-prescription.
                Last edited by Jabsfeelanceworld; 11-03-2011, 01:17 AM.
                The J.A.B.'s Freelance World Blog Network

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                • #9
                  I respectfully disagree with the OP's post. I take a lot of supplements for preventional health (quinine for leg cramps.. haven't had once since I started taking it. Cranberry for UTIs.. haven't had one since, etc.) I also take supplements for sciatica. If I go to the doctor, they give me pain meds which are addictive and I actually have more pain. With fish oil, primrose oil, magnesium, etc. I have completely been rid of the pain.

                  The pharma industry is a big scam and chemicals in a lab are much worse (for the most part) than what is found in nature. If you have been what I have been through and seen what supplements Vs. prescription meds did, you might change your mind.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Completely disagree! You cannot base the whole vitamin industry based off of some companies that have scams. For example, if one website online that paid you was a scam, does that make all websites that pay you a scam! NO! Vitamins are healthier as they are natural and have herbs, unlike prescription drugs which have side effects...like for example, a drug to help with your heart and in the fine print says may cause lung failure, an occasional death, etc....

                    Diasgree! Why is this even stickied?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I don't think either of you bothered to read the entire post and the links I provided. Most of the things you're mentioning are VITAMINS, which are well researched and fine to take, assuming you do so from a trusted company. There is no comparison between vitamins and prescription drugs, and I wasn't even talking about vitamins. The supplements I'm talking about are "alternative" therapies and supplements with no research backing them and no safety guidelines.

                      they are natural and have herbs, unlike prescription drugs which have side effects...like for example, a drug to help with your heart and in the fine print says may cause lung failure, an occasional death, etc....
                      If you had bothered to read the entire post and follow the links provided you would have seen multiple cases where people were promoting "natural" supplements that I researched and then posted side effects of........which were just as bad or worse than many prescription drugs. Just because side effects aren't listed on the bottles or packaging of these "natural" remedies does not mean there are none - it is just because, as I said, there is no oversight or regulations requiring them to list anything they don't want to.

                      Many of the same chemicals in prescription drugs are also in "natural" supplements. Each "natural" herb or plant contains tens if not hundreds of chemicals. You have to actually research it to find them, however. Many are the very same chemicals in prescription drugs, as most prescription drugs were synthesized from plants. There is no difference whatsoever between taking a chemical in prescription drug for or taking it from a "natural" source.

                      I never said ALL "natural" supplement companies and products were scams. Unlike you who seem to promote all prescription drugs as unsafe and all pharmaceutical companies as corrupt. In fact, the "natural" industry is far more corrupt and just as big business these days. I am promoting doing research first and being cautious, since it seems people feel a false sense of security whenever "natural" appears on a product. They're willing to take anything without knowing a thing about it just because it says it is "natural". It's ridiculous. You should research a "natural" supplement just the same as you would a prescription drug, since in many cases there is little difference.

                      This is stickied because it is the truth, whether you want to hear it or not.......I can provide countless published cases of deaths, countless peer-reviewed research papers, hundreds of articles from respected publications - which I'm happy to do if you'd like to learn more. But please, actually read the post before arguing.........

                      And belligerent, you know that quinine is commonly given as a prescription drug for malaria, right? It is extremely toxic, even in therapeutic doses.

                      Side effects of quinine:
                      Cinchonism
                      Death (usually by pulmonary edema)
                      Paralysis
                      Constipation
                      Erectile dysfunction
                      Severe diarrhea
                      Fever
                      Hypotension
                      Blood abnormalities mimicking septic shock
                      Renal failure
                      Abnormal heart rhythms
                      Heart attack in those with pre-existing conditions

                      It also used to be given to women in large doses for back-alley abortions in pill form. Some studies have also linked quinine with hearing impairment. In 1994 the FDA banned quinine as an OTC treatment for leg cramps because of several deaths. Doctors may still prescribe it for leg cramps, but the FDA has cautioned patients against using it for this purpose.

                      So I'm not sure where you live, but if you're in the US you're taking it as a prescription drug. If elsewhere, you're using a potentially dangerous prescription-grade drug for off-label reasons. I fail to see how this somehow supports the use of "natural" supplements.
                      Last edited by Cthulhu; 12-22-2011, 04:57 PM.
                      Proud owner of a happy pet Cthulhu......

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Cranberry for UTIs.. haven't had one since, etc.) I also take supplements for sciatica. If I go to the doctor, they give me pain meds which are addictive and I actually have more pain. With fish oil, primrose oil, magnesium, etc. I have completely been rid of the pain.
                        Cranberry, fish oil, magnesium, etc are all well researched and far from the supplements I was referring to.

                        Primrose, on the other hand, has little positive research on it and contains quite a few chemicals. If you had read my post thoroughly, you'd have seen I linked to a thread where I discussed Primrose, an excerpt of which can be found here:

                        Primrose contains the following:

                        Stearic Acid - Used in soaps, cosmetics, and detergents. Also used in lubricants, as well as in the production of candles and fireworks.
                        Palmitic Acid - Also used in soaps and lubricants, as well as being an important ingredient in the production of napalm, LoL. It is also being tested as a prescription medication to schizophrenia. According to the World Health Organization, consumption of palmitic acid may increase cholesterol levels, implying an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
                        Oleic Acid - Used as a major component of soaps. Also used as an excipient in pharmaceuticals and as an emulsifying or solubilizing agent in aerosol products.
                        Linoleic Acid - Used in varnishes and cosmetics.
                        Gamma Linolenic Acid - Used in pharmaceuticals to treat eczema. A form of it is also in drug trials as an AIDS drug. It is being studied for pharmaceutical use in decreasing cancerous tumor size, as well.
                        Alpha Linolenic Acid - Used in mass production of foods.
                        Icosanoic Acid - Used for the production of detergents, photographic materials and lubricants.

                        Side effects from the use of Evening Primrose have been reported including headache, abdominal pain, nausea, loose stools, seizures, facial adema, convulsions, tender breast tissue, and asthma attacks.

                        Studies have found diets supplemented with Evening Primrose showed no reduction in weight compared to control groups.

                        And that's just what is contained in the OIL from Evening Primrose - the other chemicals found in the plant aren't so readily available and I don't feel like wasting my time when people probably won't read this anyway. But as with many plants - you've got some pharmaceutical grade chemicals in there. And side effects JUST LIKE prescription pills.
                        Primrose is promoted as healing everything from cancer to breast pain to irritable bowel syndrome and more. Not only that, these "natural" companies promote it as a weight loss drug. Unless it is a true wonder-drug and miracle of nature, I think they're lying to you......which is why I promote doing research. Some supplements have promising research on them. This, unfortunately, does not. And that isn't even taking into account that what you're getting may have extra ingredients or nothing at all.......and might be made in Billy Bob's trailer - in his bathtub for all you know. Be sure to find a company you trust, since with the lack of regulation SOME of these "natural" supplement companies are shady at best and quite a few have been outed as being produced in unsanitary conditions and having far different ingredients from what is advertised. And that's the way they want to keep it........

                        I hate to say it, but unless you're taking other supplements not listed, the pain relief you're getting is from the placebo effect - due to your strong belief in them. And no, I'm not an advocate of taking opiate pain meds either - but discussing other options with your doctor would be advisable. If you have a quality doctor, he/she would respect your decision not to use addictive pain meds and find another course of treatment.
                        Proud owner of a happy pet Cthulhu......

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                        • #13
                          The quinine in the leg cramp supplement is a very, very small amount. I know the dangers about quinine and in the states, you can only use a very small amount of quinine in supplements.. I don't even think they use it for prescription meds anymore. The quinine in the pills (which I take around once a week now) isn't enough to do any damage.

                          As far as the placebo effect for my sciatica.. sorry.. you can say that the primrose oil doesn't work or has additional side effects, but I strongly disagree with the relief being only a placebo effect. I cannot explain to you the amount of pain I was in. I could not sleep but a few hours every night because no matter what position I was in, I was in horrible pain. My entire leg felt like something was twisting the inside. I was a 9/10. I could barely walk.. sometimes I would fall to the ground and could not get up, so I would just sob until the pain was at a manageable level.

                          I actually did not even believe that supplements would help, but at that point, I would try ANYTHING. I was surprised that it did work.. so I doubt it was the placebo effect. I have been virtually pain-free for 6 months now but I still have a slipped disc- I just manage the pain by increasing the space between the discs with exercise (yoga especially) and controlling the inflammation (sciatica is just a compression of the sciatic nerve causing it to inflame).. a lot of supplements, foods, and stretches can help with inflammation, so it's not really a tall order. I'm not claiming it cured cancer or anything like that, just that it decreased my inflammation.
                          Last edited by belligerent; 12-22-2011, 07:40 PM.

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                          • #14
                            This was actually a good thread, but nothing that I did not know already. Hopefully people will find it and read it, however, I do have one deep concern regarding it and that is the idea that prescription drugs are more regulated...on the surface it is, but in reality it is not.

                            Doing the research is VITAL but what is even MORE important than that is knowing where the research comes from. Is it coming from a reputable university with well respected scientists etc doing the longitudinal studies? What is the sample size? Is it a company that benefits from the sale of the drug that is actually funding the study? Statistics can be skewed.

                            Also, there is no prescription drug I know of that 'cures' - they manage symptoms that is all as medicine is reductionist. So in medicine's eyes, everything has to be managed...literally bankrupting people because very often one drug taken over a long period of time creates other problems. I have seen it with my own eyes too many times to count and enough times to have made me very cynical.

                            Like AstraZeneca that had to pay out hundreds of millions because hey...now ten years later they are finding that people taking mood drugs are getting diabetes and can be tracked back to their drug. Companies are so eager to get the billions rolling in that they do not make the time investment to see what the long-term effects are.
                            And now they have to manage their diabetes...with guess what?...more drugs. Heart problem? Manage it with this. Mood disorder? Manage it with that. Blood pressure? Manage it with the other drugs. How long will I need to take it for? Now this is the motha effa...for life, or non-life. Because if these meds don't bankrupt you, at best they will kill you...at worse maim you.

                            A lifetime of chronic prescription medication equals buying yourself a small island in the long term. Ultimately because there is nothing SIDE about side effects...they are EFFECTS that need the purchasing of MORE prescription drugs to mask those symptoms.

                            Yes, morphine is made from the poppy - but the process that makes it morphine completely changes the structure of the original substance. And morphine is often given to you when you are dying as it is so addictive.

                            Prescription drugs may be legal but they are drugs...and I do have a concern about the abuse of the word 'natural'...but I have a greater concern about prescription drugs - some even outright say that they are not sure about the long-term effects.

                            I worked in a laboratory for two years manufacturing actual tablets and the only one I am okay with is aspirin. My best friends are scientists, doctors and journalists...all dedicated to the truth but doctors specialize in studying illness....not health. Science is a different discipline altogether and one that I respect more, if carried out with ethics.

                            Once one loses health, all they can do is manage it...and often create other problems in the meanwhile, I have seen it too often. People who have all kinds of EFFECTS....not side-effects from prescription medication that just opens the door to more prescription medication. It is like the blind leading the blind...in both arenas, not only 'natural' medicine.

                            I think the author of the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take and do not follow...had the answer when he said that 'food shall be your medicine and medicine your food'. And even with food nowadays, I still do not understand why some people do not read the labels...reading labels is important and I really like the fact that this thread points out that!
                            Live, Love, Laugh

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by belligerent View Post
                              The quinine in the leg cramp supplement is a very, very small amount. I know the dangers about quinine and in the states, you can only use a very small amount of quinine in supplements.. I don't even think they use it for prescription meds anymore. The quinine in the pills (which I take around once a week now) isn't enough to do any damage.

                              As far as the placebo effect for my sciatica.. sorry.. you can say that the primrose oil doesn't work or has additional side effects, but I strongly disagree with the relief being only a placebo effect. I cannot explain to you the amount of pain I was in. I could not sleep but a few hours every night because no matter what position I was in, I was in horrible pain. My entire leg felt like something was twisting the inside. I was a 9/10. I could barely walk.. sometimes I would fall to the ground and could not get up, so I would just sob until the pain was at a manageable level.

                              I actually did not even believe that supplements would help, but at that point, I would try ANYTHING. I was surprised that it did work.. so I doubt it was the placebo effect. I have been virtually pain-free for 6 months now but I still have a slipped disc- I just manage the pain by increasing the space between the discs with exercise (yoga especially) and controlling the inflammation (sciatica is just a compression of the sciatic nerve causing it to inflame).. a lot of supplements, foods, and stretches can help with inflammation, so it's not really a tall order. I'm not claiming it cured cancer or anything like that, just that it decreased my inflammation.
                              I understand - I know you weren't making wild claims. I was just listing some of the outlandish claims people make about it to illustrate a point. I would posit that your relief is coming from the back exercises more than Primrose, but I guess if it is giving you relief and you're not experiencing nasty sides (the sides I listed are well-known effects of Primrose use), it's a positive thing whether placebo or not. I've seen a LOT of studies on severe back pain from various types of injuries that show amazing results with daily stretching and exercise.

                              Regarding quinine, yes, in the States it is only prescribed for malaria - although some doctors prescribe it for off-label use in treating other things like leg cramps. Be careful using it, however, since it is quite hepatoxic even in small amounts. You really should get blood work done every few mon ths if you're taking it to be safe.
                              Proud owner of a happy pet Cthulhu......

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