FDA Wants to Jail Sam Girod for 48 Years, for Making Salves People Love

sam products 2

Sam Girod’s three products.

Sam Girod is a Kentucky farmer who runs a small business selling natural skin salves made from herbs such as chickweed, which seem to help relieve a host of skin conditions, including allergic rashes,  psoriasis, poison oak and even skin cancers.

If you look up chickweed on Amazon, you will find pages of chickweed products, dozens and dozens of products, in some cases followed by glowing testimonials from users about how this or that chickweed provided relief from terrible itching, and even cured their skin cancers.

So why has the U.S. Food and Drug Administration picked Girod out from all those producers, and had him indicted by a federal grand jury on a dozen criminal charges that could jail Sam Girod for 48 years? Neither Girod, who is 56 years old and the father of twelve, nor his lawyer, Chuck McFarland, can explain it.

According to McFarland, Girod, who is Amish and has no criminal record, has been selling chickweed for the last 15 years, from his farm in Owingsville, Kentucky and from some convenience stores in Missouri.

Girod says the problems originated a dozen years ago, when the FDA went after him for referring to skin cancer as one of the conditions the salve was effective for. He agreed to remove skin cancer from the label and various promotional materials. He called it “Chickweed Healing Salve”.

Everything seemed fine after that, says Girod. “It was a nice family business.” He had been in construction for many years, and the salve business was something he could do from the farm, and involve his children. “A lot of love went in that business.”

The big problems started four years ago, when a local health department official saw Girod’s products on display in a small Missouri town’s convenience store, and reported them to a state health department official. That agency apparently referred the matter to the FDA, which struck again, seizing products from the store, contending that because Girod included user testimonials at the same store where he was selling the salve, he had to register it as a drug.

According to a 2012 FDA announcement, “FDA requested the seizure….because the products claim to treat or cure diseases but have not received FDA approval, and are not exempt from such approval requirements. Moreover…..the seized products contain ingredients that could cause toxic or allergic reactions in consumers sensitive to these ingredients. According to the federal complaint, Chickweed Healing Salve contains comfrey, which may increase the risk of systemic toxicity, and To-More-Gone contains bloodroot, a caustic, corrosive substance that produces a thick scar that can mask tumor recurrence.”

Obtaining FDA approval for a supplement or salve as a drug requires years of testing, costing millions of dollars, something that is out of reach of most producers. They are content to sell their products as supplements, and not include claims of benefits for specific health conditions. For Girod’s company, it made no sense, since the company never exceeded $200,000 annual sales.

The FDA said in its 2012 announcement about seizing Girod’s products that it had responded “to a consumer complaint regarding the product Chickweed Healing Salve and claims in pamphlets that stated the product helps treat skin cancer. A previous complainant used the product on skin cancer on her leg…..and the product reportedly made her condition worse, requiring medical treatment.” It isn’t clear if the “consumer complaint” was from the local or state public health official who alerted the FDA. Girod’s lawyer, McFarland, said he hadn’t been able to obtain information from the FDA about who might have complained, or the specifics of the complaint.

Girod says he’s never received a consumer complaint, aside from someone saying the salve produced a burning sensation. “I have 50 or 60 written testimonials on how chickweed helped their skin cancer,” says Girod.

The FDA, after seizing product in 2012, filed for an injunction, prohibiting the sale of “Chickweed Healing Salve”. Apparently the FDA objected to the word “healing”. So Girod renamed his main product again, calling it “Chickweed Salve”. (It has since been renamed yet again, to “Original Chickweed”.)

That wasn’t sufficient to the FDA, and it sent two agents to search his farm in Kentucky in early 2013. They all sat on his front porch, and worked out an agreement, as Girod recalls it. Girod’s understanding was that the agents would return to his farm a few weeks later, when he was producing product, and search his production area, with the proviso they not take any photos.

According to Girod, the Amish have an aversion to cameras for cultural and religious reasons. He thought the agents could do their inspection and take notes without using cameras.

The two agents returned a few weeks later, as agreed, and according to Girod, “The first thing they did was pull out their cameras” and photograph his supplies, to see where he obtained his oils. “They had sweet talked me” about not taking photos.

The two agents returned some months later, in November 2013, as Girod recalls it. He was being driven by a non-Amish driver, and spotted the agents about three miles from his farm, being escorted by a deputy sheriff. Several of his older children joined him in following the agents to his farm.

The agents were back to do another search of Girod’s facilities. Based on them breaking their word about the photos the previous time, Girod refused. Besides, he says, they didn’t have a search warrant. The sheriff’s deputy respected his wishes, and, gesturing toward the street, told the agents, “There’s the road.”

The agents left, and haven’t been back since, says Girod.

The episode apparently upset the agents enough that they convinced the FDA to throw the book at Girod and seek a federal grand jury indictment; federal grand juries are reserved under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment for “capital or otherwise infamous crimes.” McFarland, his lawyer, is now reviewing 29,000 pages of discovery—evidence provided by the U.S. justice Department on behalf of the FDA, to Girod, in preparation for a trial now scheduled to begin in April.

The main clues to the agency’s irritation come in the first two counts of the indictment, worth potentially 11 years in prison and $500,000 in fines— related to the unfortunate agent visits. And apparently the rest of the charges, related to selling unregistered drugs in unregistered facilities, were upgraded to felony counts as well—heavy penalties for refusing a search by government agents.

According to the indictment, Girod “knowingly and willfully conspired with others to prevent, by force, intimidation, and threat, FDA Compliance Safety Officers (“CSOs”) N.L.P. and M.D.S. (two investigators) from discharging the duties of their offices, trust, and places of confidence under the United States; and to induce, by force, intimidation, and threat, FDA CSOs N.L.P. and M.D.S. to leave the place where their duties as officers of the United States were required to be performed.”

It adds that “the manner and means used to accomplish the objectives of the conspiracy included, among others, the following:

“Members of the conspiracy, including Girod, physically surrounded N.L.P. and M.D.S. when they arrived to inspect Girod’s establishment pursuant to the injunction.

“Members of the conspiracy, including Girod, obstructed N.L.P.’s and M.D.S.’s attempts to gather information about Girod’s establishment.”

Just for good measure, the twelfth and last count of the indictment, carrying a possible penalty of 20 years in prison, charges that Girod “threatened” a witness who was testifying in the grand jury investigation. It isn’t clear what the threat was.

Girod says he has no idea, either. He said he didn’t try to discourage any witnesses subpoenaed before the grand jury to testify. “I didn’t want anyone to get in trouble.”

The one in trouble is Girod. Looking at a maximum sentence of 48 years in prison is terrifying to him. At his age, he says, “I’ll never see daylight.”

He sees the world as made up of two spirits. “There is good and there is bad. The FDA is from the bad.”

He says that when the FDA seized his products back in 2012, they violated one of the ten commandments, thou shalt not steal. “They are bad. They have stolen products.”

He adds that he used to think the FDA “was part of something good, to make sure our health laws worked. No more. They are full of lies.”

– 151001 Indictment counts 1 – 12

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45 Comments on "FDA Wants to Jail Sam Girod for 48 Years, for Making Salves People Love"

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Sally Oh
February 5, 2016 8:22 pm

Great job, David, thank you so much for telling the story!!! Sam is my neighbor and a hardworking, cheerful, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial human being. His attorney, Chuck, emails me motions and legal docs and I print them out and drive them over to Sam. The Amish don’t use electricity… the scope of that is amazing to this English :) One of the first things I noticed about being with Sam’s Amish family — at Sam’s first court appearance actually, to determine if he was a flight risk (what a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money) — is that they are very social.… Read more »

bora petski
February 6, 2016 11:39 am

these work pretty well http://www.spycrushers.com/

mark mcafee
Mark mcafee
February 5, 2016 10:55 pm

Sally, You are so right. Every time I have ever spoken at an event where the Amish were present, they slowly surround me to listen….then they move slowly away when the listening is done. The fda knows nothing of this ancient and gentle culture that have their own medicines and healing cures. I can say that I too have fallen for the idea that I thought I had first amendment rights to speak of testimonials and make claims based on experience and science. Not so….I paid the FDA $8,000 as a fine for simply posting a consumers testimonial on our… Read more »

February 6, 2016 6:42 am

Yes, this is the kind of stuff that angers to no end. The FDA will ignore complaints of (profitable) drugs actually killing people until the death toll is too large to ignore but seem to spare no expense in harassing the small farmer or herbalist who has never harmed anyone and benefited many. I think Mr. Girod’s error was to mention the word “cancer” on one of his labels. That is where the drug cartels have a iron grip on the market and want no one interfering. The FDA are the SS soldiers of the cartel sent in to harass,… Read more »

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 6, 2016 12:16 am

Want a little education on how a grand jury works? Check out this 9 minute vid, which contains some great information. The first minute or so seems a little weird and you might wonder what’s coming, but stay with it and you may learn some things you didn’t know. This is why the FDA will seek out a grand jury to do the dirty work. The whole system is absolutely sickening. http://libertypenblog.blogspot.com/2016/02/video-grand-jury-prosecutors-best-friend.html Judge Napolitano makes some good points, as do some others interviewed for the vid. – – – – – – – – – – – – – Also,… Read more »

February 7, 2016 6:48 pm

D. Smith,

Dr. Christopher’s itch ointment is available now at iHerb, Swanson’s, and Amazon. The product ingredients are
still listed as wildcrafted chickweed herb in a base of extra virgin olive oil and beeswax. The unavailability issue seems to be with the Dr. Christopher’s Herbs website and not with the product itself.

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 7, 2016 7:42 pm

Oh thanks, Lynn, that’s good to know. I usually check amazon (you can get absolutely anything at amazon I think!) but haven’t needed the stuff recently so never gave it a thought. I made up a mixture of my own (but I’m not telling what’s in it). I don’t have skin issues but a lot of people do, especially little people. Between the crud in the air and the crud in the water and the crud in the food, is it any wonder people have cruddy skin? No wonder, at all. It’s almost expected these days.

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 7, 2016 9:24 pm

@ Lynn_M: I guess the one thing I forgot to mention in my last post was that even though it’s still available, the name has definitely changed from when I used it years ago. It was simply called Chickweed Ointment. Now it has to be called “itch ointment”, they cannot use the word chickweed in the name. This is, of course, 1st Amendment vandalism at its finest from our malevolent gubmint apparatchiks.

Sally Oh
February 6, 2016 7:48 am
Sally Oh
February 6, 2016 7:50 am

Here’s the indictment: http://bit.ly/samindictment

Royce Hamer
February 6, 2016 8:23 am

Perhaps Sam Girod should get hold of Karl Lentz and sue the FDA. Karl Lentz
Home Page common-law common law kommon law kommon-law.

February 6, 2016 10:13 am

Although this particular story is new to me, the idea isn’t. The FDA, the AMA and big pharma have a stranglehold on all things medicinal. Medicine and “health care” are an INDUSTRY, and these three agencies have decided that they and they alone can tell people what they may or may not do to heal themselves. I personally know a man in Florida( whose compounds were all made from natural ingredients readily available to the public) who was seized at gunpoint despite never receiving a single complaint from any of the people who came to him. His story inspired me… Read more »

Michael Schmidt
February 6, 2016 10:26 am

The world is going insane.
War ,war ,war against everything farmers try doing to make the world a better place

February 6, 2016 11:39 am

David, I too have to applaud you for bringing this to everyone’s attention!! Without people like you there would truly be no hope for any of us. How “F-ing” TYPICAL!!!! There’s a man in jail in Michigan for doing nothing other than selling jalapeno peppers to the local Mexican grocery. Now this. I was fortunate… I was warned before I started selling my products that this sort of thing could happen. Therefore, I sell them – no one else. IF one goes to the store, and looks at the body-care products, and otc at the pharmacy – and reads the… Read more »

Steve Tallent
February 6, 2016 12:35 pm

It’s just bullying by an out of control agency that is more or less controlled by the pharmaceutical and food industry giants they are supposed to be regulating. After being rebuffed, you can bet that the agents probably tried to get a warrant and were unable to. So when not able to continue getting their ego stroked, by further intimidating a farmer, his family, and local officials, they resort to scorched earth retribution. And why not? It will cause cost and anguish for this man and his family and friends for years. Yet, it costs these men nothing. There is… Read more »

Ken Conrad
Ken Conrad
February 6, 2016 1:56 pm

Steve, it has gone well beyond mere bullying.
FDA official have demonstrated nothing but contempt for free thinking individuals like Sam Girod. They are serial free enterprise predators whose repeated willful deeds are grounded on, unscrupulous and deceitful behavior.

Steve Tallent
February 6, 2016 2:40 pm

I’m expecting some day that they will shut down our business. We’re just trying to hold out for as long as we can, share as much good information as we can, and help people get as healthy as possible in the meantime.

February 6, 2016 12:46 pm

I am pondering how to gently require my customers to speak in terms that are very general, and cannot be misconstrued as healing. Its not an easy road, and one that will slow my company growth down a great deal.

D. Smith
D. Smith
February 6, 2016 1:37 pm

@ David: I made a post here yesterday but it’s not showing up. Is there a reason (re: content) it didn’t show up or did it get lost? There were a couple of links in the post, but nothing bad . . . I did have to re-enter the blasted security code letters/numbers three times, however, so it may have ended up in cyberspace.

February 6, 2016 2:34 pm

I pray that he continues to make the salve, and passes down the recipe. Pharmacai has taken from herbs hte substance that works but forgot that the rest of the plant is necessary to offset the negative reactions.

Leon Moyer
February 6, 2016 2:24 pm

The really sad thing is that Sam Girod is using an attorney. This means he is already losing–money–even if others will be donating to the cause as they did in the Ken Miller case, (Millercase.org) where the gov’t and Mr. Miller’s attorney discovered a “cash cow”. Mr. Girod should simply speak for himself, and use the assistance of others who do pro se (latin for “self representation” in court) work for themselves and sometimes others who are going into court without an attorney. Also, if Mr. Girod would divest himself of all finances and become poor, then he would qualify… Read more »

Gordon S Watson
February 6, 2016 5:29 pm

except that Sam Girod – professsing to be an Amishman – cleaves to a religion in which one of the main tenets = is : separation from the world. ; if he’s exchanging his product for Notes of the Federales, then he’s engaged in commerce …thus his business falls under govt. oversight. He cannot have it both ways If he can compromise his conscience so as to hire a state-licenced driver to transport him in a newfangled horse-less carriage, over public highways, then the simple solution to his problem, is : contract with an inter-mediary to broker his product,

Bora Petski
February 6, 2016 9:59 pm

Leon, where you moving to? I might want to also. Costa Rica seemed nice and they don’t have a military

February 6, 2016 5:08 pm

But Big Pharma can knowingly sell products that they KNOW will possibly kill people, with NO Warnings etc., yet a person that is simply using what nature provides and is seldom, almost never in trouble for selling their goods. Not fair!

February 6, 2016 7:04 pm

This is a witch hunt plain and simple. In my life anywhere have I read that comfrey is nothing more than an herb to help with certain conditions, not kill people ANYTHING can kill people if they MISUSE IT! This is a witch hunt and it needs to stop!

February 6, 2016 9:28 pm

This is just absolutely chilling.

February 6, 2016 11:01 pm

typical gov tyranny..big pharma poisons ppl everyday..fear tactic/intimidation to suppress natural methods b c they want ppl to use only their drugs.. same old story back in the days of witches who were natural healers. the church n state burned them at the stake!$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!

February 6, 2016 11:04 pm

at least i hv to say, the sheriff did the right thing in kicking the feds out,its his duty to the ppl of his county. and he has the right..

February 7, 2016 9:24 am

if it was wrong for him not to let them back on his farm with a search warrant and the police made them leave shouldnt the police be charged also for making them leave. they are the ones who made them leave and they are the law who knows the rules!!! and the law right

February 7, 2016 2:26 pm

All government agencies tend to pick on person to focus all their distaste on. Does not matter whether it is religion, beliefs, culture or whatever else you can think of, if for some reasons they get their gander up they pick that eternal fight. I say eternal for it does not end until the citizen backs down or has more power than the agency. Non one should EVER think the FDA or CDC are our friends. They should question everything that is put out and argue. We as a country have let this go on way too long. I send… Read more »

Gordon S Watson
February 7, 2016 11:12 pm

food safety news spends a page gloating about Organic Pastures Dairy recalling a certain batch of product after in-house tests raise a flag. . No illnesses reported. Now a decade into this political movement, Mr Marler et al. are proving to be slow learners = the more they advertise their bogeyman, the more people learn the truth about REAL MILK and go looking for it