Finally! A Good Use for CVS Oscillococcinum! (Valentine’s Special)

cvs oscillococcinum flu therapy by boiron

Oscillococcinum literally contains nothing but sugar, and cannot under any circumstances cure the flu, reduce body aches, headaches, fever, or chills.

After a long and grueling search, a use has finally been found for the CVS homeopathic product known as Oscillococcinum.  No, it doesn’t fight flu.  It can’t–there are no active ingredients.

But it can be used as a stand-in for sugar in icing for Valentine’s Day cookies!

You read it here first!

In this Bad Science Debunked Valentine’s Special, I’ll walk you through the steps but, more importantly, we’ll do a little Kitchen Science, using the dye from our cookie icing to illustrate the scientific illiteracy behind homeopathy and why you, if you’re a CVS shopper, should be deeply upset that a modern pharmacy has this product on their shelves.

Nothing but the Facts, Ma’am
As described in my article “If it Quacks Like a Duck: Oscillococcinum“,1 and confirmed by scientists around the world, there is literally–literally–nothing in CVS’ so-called medicine except sugar, rendering it absolutely useless for treating the flu.  This is the case for nearly all homeopathic medicines.

There are a few exceptions. For example some homeopathic concoctions contain enough alcohol for underage drinkers to get three sheets to the wind,2 while others incorporate toxic plants that can poison babies.3  In 2018, the Center for Inquiry sued CVS for fraud over its homeopathic “cures,”4 but a resolution has yet to be found, and CVS continues to mislead consumers, selling them $36.00 sugar pills potent enough to make dessert icing.

However, the potential for a mistake is all too real.  Walk into any CVS store and you’ll find Oscillococcinum displayed in the aisles as if it were a real medicine–as evidenced by the below photos from a shop in Lexington, KY.  Should the parent of a flu-infected child purchase this rubbish, thinking they were getting real medicine, we could have a youngster being treated with sugar–a potential tragedy in the making.  Over 30,000 people were hospitalized due to influenza during last year’s flu season.5  The flu can kill.  It cannot be treated or cured with sugar.

CVS medicine aisle

CVS Cold/Allergy/Children’s Health Aisle (click/enlarge)

Lots of "meds" to choose from in CVS...

Lots of “meds” to choose from in CVS… (click/enlarge)

oscillococcinum sugar pills at cvs

Sadly, oscillococcinum, mere sugar pills, hides among the real meds at CVS. (click/enlarge)

A Baker’s Quarter Dozen
So let’s make some cookies!  Oddly enough, critics of the plain sugar cookies I bought for this project claimed the they were “GMO,” apparently because they didn’t have the silly little non-GMO butterfly.  One of the dangers of GMO labelling is nobody understands what it means.  There isn’t any GMO sugar, there isn’t any GMO flour, but just to poke good-natured fun at those who won’t take the time to learn any better, I’ve dubbed my cookies “GMO sugar cookies for duration of this experiment.

If facts aren’t going to change minds, you might as well have some fun.

Anyway, here’s the video.  For the not-so-video-inclined, printed recipe and instructions appear at the end of this post.  Feel free to print the web page, clip, and save.  Oh, and while you’re at it, you might want to protest to CVS (cough cough).

 

Mixology
Next, let’s look at how we know that CVS Oscillococcinum has no active ingredient. The homeopathic claim is that they begin with a piece of (supposedly diseased) duck, then dilute, dilute, dilute, with water (hold on, this is where it gets strange), where the water “remembers” the disease, and my Aunt Fanny has a bridge in San Francisco to sell you.

Homeopaths actually believe all of that except for the part about my Aunt Fanny.  Why they don’t like her, I’ll never know.  Anyway…

In this Kitchen Chemistry experiment, we’ll do what homeopaths would call a “5C” dilution on the food dye we used on our cookie icing. The principle is simple, but will leave you rolling your eyes in wonder when you see it in action.

1ml of dye is added to 99ml water and “succinated” (shaken). 1ml of the resulting solution is extracted and added to another 99ml water. Each repetition gives us a “C” (centesimal) preparation. Homeopathic preparations such as oscillococcinum start around 200C, at which it’s mathematically impossible for even an atom any original material, which was supposedly a diseased duck, to remain. Some preparations go even higher. For our demo here, I’m preparing just a 5C solution of dye. Pull up a chair, phone the kids and wake the neighbors, and watch what happens. Does the dye get stronger or weaker?

 

Food for thought:  Because homeopaths falsely believe that water has a memory and that repeatedly diluting a substance makes the water memory stronger, consider what happened to the H2O downstream of the cookies and aspartame in this experiment when I went to the bathroom after the second video.  The toilet water went to a water treatment plant where my waste was repeatedly diluted.

Consider further, dear homeopaths, that the water on this planet has been constantly recycled for over 4.5 billion years.  Imagine all the waste it has diluted.  You really gonna drink that stuff?

Cookie Recipe
For those of you rich enough to spend approximately $36.00USD for enough icing to cover three or four sugar cookies, here’s the full recipe. This is just the cost of the oscillococcinum alone!

 

CVS/Boiron Oscillococcinum flu therapy--actually just sugar pills

The Oscillococcinum used in this “experiment.” Click to enlarge.

Warning: Oscillococcinum cannot cure the flu, mitigate its symptoms, or help with any other disease.  Its only use is as described here: as a stand-in for sugar.  If you’re upset about this, please contact CVS to complain: 1-800-SHOP-CVS (1-800-746-7287).

  • 1/4 cup milk 
  • 1.5 tbsp flour
  • 3 tablespoons crushed CVS oscillococcinum pills**
  • 1/4 cup margarine 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 drop food coloring

1. Heat milk and flour over low heat, until very thick. Let cool and set aside.
2. Cream together sugar and butter
3. Add cooled milk and flour mixture, mix thoroughly until whip cream consistency
4. Add vanilla, and mix thoroughly
5. Spread over cookies and enjoy

**Totally safe to use.  There are no medicines in CVS Oscillococcinum. It is pure sugar.

References
(1) If it Quacks Like a Duck: Oscillococcinum
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2014/10/22/if-it-quacks-like-a-duck-oscillococcinum/
Retrieved 19 Feb 2018

(2) Surprise Ingredient in CVS Medicine
https://www.nbclosangeles.com/investigations/I-Team-Store-Alcohol-Purchase-Drug-Regulations-337551261.html
Retrieved 19 Feb 2018

(3) FDA: Toxic Belladonna In Homeopathic Teething Product (via Forbes)
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/01/28/fda-toxic-belladonna-in-homeopathic-teething-products/#54bea4c140dd
Retrieved 21 Feb 2018

(4) Center for Inquiry Sues CVS
https://centerforinquiry.org/press_releases/cfi-sues-cvs/
Retrieved 12 Feb 2019

(5) CDC: The 2017-2018 Flu Season
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm
Retrieved 12 Feb 2019

Image/Music Credits
CVS Oscillococcinum product image by the author.  Copyright © 2018 Mark Aaron Alsip.  All rights reserved.

Duck image by the author. Copyright © 2014 Mark Aaron Alsip. All rights reserved.

The “Dancing With the Stars/Oscillococcinum” mashup image is a product of the author’s imagination.  The Dancing With the Stars Judges are used used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

The excerpts of the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” and Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it on” are also used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Amazon’s Alexa appears used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

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Josh Axe: Fly On A Windshield

josh axe heavy metals cover

Sitting at a stoplight yesterday, I noticed a fly on my windshield.  It stubbornly held on while I accelerated to 10MPH.  It was still there at 20, 30, then 40MPH.  At 45MPH I admit a cruel streak brought on thoughts of flipping on the windshield washer, but the scientist in me fought off the urge, and so, curious, I accelerated hard and, finally, at 55MPH, the creature succumbed to the inevitable.

Chiropractor Josh Axe is a lot like that insect  Give him a bad idea and he’ll cling to it like a fly to a windshield in a tempest.  Hang on at all costs.  Never, ever, let go, despite the obvious outcome.  No matter how much the right thing to do would be to let go (of your incorrect opinion).

Back in December, 2015, I wrote that Axe was pushing Bentonite clay as a detox agent, even though the product was loaded with the same “toxic” heavy metals Josh claimed would kill you.1  Undeterred, on November 19, 2018, Axe used Facebook to recycle another Bentonite detox post.  Like a fly on a windshield, Josh clings to irony in a hurricane of hilarious gaffes.2  Let’s have some fun.

For reference, below is an analysis of one of the Bentonite clay products Axe was hawking back in 2015.1  I don’t have a breakdown of the bath product he’s pushing in his 2018 Bentonite resurrection, but it’s reasonable to assume the clays are chemically similar:

Chemical analysis of a Josh Axe Bentonite product from 2015

Chemical analysis of a Josh Axe Bentonite product from 2015 .1
Note the lead, cadmium, and mercury.
(click/enlarge)

According to Axe, Bentonite clay is used to remove toxic heavy metals from the body, by either consuming or applying the mud topically.  Quoth the raven, er, chiropractor:

“Heavy metal toxins” usually refer to substances like mercury, cadmium, lead and benzene.”4 — Josh Axe, Ten Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses

Isn’t it ironic then, that Axe’s own chemical analysis revels that Bentonite contains mercury, cadmium, and lead, the very elements he’s trying to remove?1 (See the chart above)

Now, this is the part in our story where Axe defenders leap in to invent a magical chemical matrix that works synergistically to scoop up the toxic heavy metals and channel them safely away.  “Even though they’re present,” (I hear you, David Avocado Wolfe!) “they aren’t toxic.  Their ionic charges are reversed causing them to blah blah blah…”

Go ahead Axe fans.  Make something up, I’ll wait. Then I’ll shoot you down in Axe’s own words.  Time is on my side.

 

Ready now?  You see, in his article, Axe confesses that Bentonite clay does not trap toxins.  He acknowledges that lead is present in the clay, and warns that it’s a danger, but only to pregnant women, except when you’re pregnant.  SAY WHAT?  OK, walk through this with me… it’s all from the same article:

“Bentonite clay benefits your body by helping to expel many of these toxins–Josh Axe, Ten Bentonite Clay Uses and Benefits3

 

“Some bentonite clay products contains trace amounts of lead and other heavy metals and may not be appropriate for consumption by children and pregnant women.”–Josh Axe, Ten Bentonite Clay Uses and Benefits3

 

“Some people use bentonite clay as relief for nausea and vomiting by pregnant women–Josh Axe, Ten Bentonite Clay Uses and Benefits3

So Bentonite clay expels toxins, except that it retains them when you’re pregnant (why only then?), so pregnant women shouldn’t use it, except that pregnant women should use it for nausea relief.  And what about the mercury and lead?

Oh God, just shoot me now. Josh Axe calls himself a doctor and he cranks out medical advice like this?

Dear reader, I humbly submit to you that (1) if you wish to eat mud it’s going to taste, well, muddy, but the trace amounts of metals found therein are not going to be of any health concern and, more importantly, (2) you can find far, far better sources of health information than chiropractors who falsely call themselves doctors and make their living selling you bone broth and mud for a living.

Live long and prosper.

References
(1) Axe-idental Poisoning (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2015/12/08/axe-idental-poisoning-josh-axe-debunked/
Retrieved 20 Nov 2018

(2) Ten Detox Bath Recipes
Warning: Not a reputable/scientific article
https://draxe.com/detox-bath-recipes/
Retrieved 20 Nov 2018

(3) Ten Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses
Warning: Not a reputable/scientific article
https://draxe.com/10-bentonite-clay-benefits-uses/
Retrieved 20 Nov 2018

Image Credits
Josh Axe, Redmond Clay, website screen snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Forrest Gump meme used under parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Link to Rolling Stones/YouTube clip is done using tools provided by YouTube/Google, Inc.  Author does this in good faith, believing tools to link and embed are provided for this this purpose, and that videos available on YouTube are displayed legally, with the consent of the copyright owner. Author assumes, and makes no copyright claims to the linked/embedded video.

Josh Axe’s Heavy Metal Toothpaste

josh axe heavy metals alternate toothpaste

Josh Axe brings heavy metal to the stage in an unexpected way with his homemade toothpaste recipe. Unfortunately, he himself calls the mix toxic.

Josh Axe, a chiropractor who fancies himself a doctor and makes a living selling unproven natural remedies for all that ails you, has a particular distaste for heavy metal.  No, not the likes of Metalilica, Iron Maiden, or Black Sabbath.  We’re talking heavy metal in the context of lead, mercury, and, of particular importance to today’s column, aluminum.

Just like the old school conservatives who associate satanic meanings with heavy metal music, Josh Axe seems to see the devil in aluminum, the most common metal in the crust of the planet.  He calls it a toxic poison,1 links it to Alzheimer’s,2 and even demonizes common aluminum foil, tying it to dementia.3

It’s rather shocking then that “Doctor” Axe has published an article in which he recommends an aluminum-based homemade toothpaste:4

“As an alternative to baking soda, you can use white kaolin clay.”–Josh Axe4

You see, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubChem database, you can’t have kaolin without aluminum.  Don’t believe me?  Well, here:5

“Kaolin is the most common mineral of a group of hydrated aluminum silicates, approximately H2Al2Si2O8-H2O.”5 —-PubChem  (emphasis mine)

Here’s a pretty picture of kaolin.  I’ve highlighted the aluminum in yellow:

kaolin josh axe toothpaste

Kaolin, courtesy PubChem. Note the aluminum. When you brush your teeth with Josh Axe’s homemade remedy, this is what you put in your mouth.

 

When will the public catch on and stop buying from this man? I don’t know the answer. But you, dear reader, can help. Spread these stories. Check Axe’s product labels against his own words. I’ve provided the necessary links in the reference section below. Somewhere out there, I imagine a truly ill man or woman considering throwing out their meds and following one of Axe’s nonsensical, hypocritical wellness plans. They’ll be buying the same chemicals he claims will harm them.

Let’s not let that happen.

References
(1) Dangers of Heavy Metals and How to do a Heavy Metal Detox
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/heavy-metal-detox/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(2) Five Gross Grilling Mistakes Damaging Your Health
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/grilling-mistakes/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(3) Alzheimers Natural Treatment
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/alzheimers-natural-treatment/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(4) Six Ways to Naturally Whiten your Teeth (Josh Axe)
Warning: Not a scholarly article. Contains false and/or misleading information.
https://draxe.com/6-ways-to-naturally-whiten-your-teeth/
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

(5) Pubchem Kaolin Clay (CID 56841936)
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/56841936
Retrieved 03 Apr 2018

Image Credits
Intro image is a parody mashup using a base image of unknown copyright status; I believe ©2018 Wallup. Used here along with a cutout of Josh Axe under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Kaolin structure courtesy PubChem.

Thrive Market’s Little (“Carcinogenic”) Black Rain Cloud

thrive market carcinogens

I’ve been a Winnie the Pooh fan for as long as I can remember.  This isn’t always easy for a fifty-five year old man to admit, but there are a lot of important life lessons that come from this innocent, wise little yellow bear.  I remember the episode and quote that hooked me:

“I’m a little black rain cloud, of course”– W. Pooh, Esq.

 

In the cartoon, Pooh, covered in mud and hanging from a helium balloon, floats happily into the upper branches of a tree, where a honey-laden bee’s nest awaits.  Disguised as a little black rain cloud, Pooh naively sings a happy tune, certain that no one will be the wiser as he prepares to make off with a tasty treasure.  Of course, when Pooh arrives at the nest, the bees see through the plan, and disaster follows.

Pooh’s naiveté is shared by Thrive Market and their Lifestyle & Beauty editor, Dana Poblete, who, in “The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding In Your Makeup”1 writes that the compound carbon black is a possible carcinogen that “may increase risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease.”  Like poor Pooh, Poblete’s article disguises a little secret that she and Thrive would rather the bees customers don’t catch onto until Thrive has made away with the honey customers’ hard earned cash.

Yes, unfortunately for Poblete and Thrive Market, there’s a little black rain cloud hanging over their online store.  It’s known as Dead Sea Mineral Soap (Lavender):2

dead sea on thrive market contains carbon black

One With Nature’s Dead Sea Mineral Soap, sold by Thrive Market, contains an additive the vendor links to cancer, lung & heart disease. (click/enlarge)

Remember the carbon black that Dana Poblete and Thrive Market link to cancer?  Unfortunately, just like Pooh’s arrival at the bee’s nest, Thrive’s balloon is burst when we read the ingredients of the above Dead Sea Mineral Soap and compare to Poblete’s list of carcinogenic compounds:1,2

Sodium Palmate (Saponified Palm Oil), Sodium Palm Kernelate (Saponified Palm Kernel Oil), Water (Aqua), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Sodium Chloride (Salt), Glycerin (Vegetable Glycerin), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender Petals), Maris Sal (Dead Sea Salt), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Argania Spinosa (Argan Oil), Carbon Black CI 77266 (Plant Based Pigment), Ultramarine Blue (Mineral Pigment), Citric Acid, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Yes, carbon black.  In a fear-mongering article written by Poblete and published by Thrive, we’re warned to avoid skin contact with carbon black because:

“[It’s a] Possible carcinogen, may increase risk of lung disease and cardiovascular disease” 1

and

“Your body absorbs 60 percent of what you put on your epidermis” 1

Lather up compadres!

There is, of course, nothing dangerous about the goods sold by Thrive.  The problem is that the vendor and its authors, in conjunction with astroturf “research” groups such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), engage in a feedback loop that uses EWG-produced materials to fear-monger consumers into buying Thrive products, with a portion of the proceeds going back to fund the astroturf research and organic food industry.4

As an added bonus (?) customers at organic markets such as Thrive pay higher prices for organic products that are have no demonstrable health benefits compared to their conventional counterparts.  Two for the price of three!

Thrive market is loaded with products that contain the very same ingredients that their lifestyle articles claim can kill you.  Type their name into the search box at BadScienceDebunked.com and do a little light reading.

So please: if you’re into the hippy lifestyle, buy a bar of One With Nature Dead Sea Soap in complete confidence. It’s totally safe.  Shower outside in fresh rainwater, aux naturale, with one or more friends and a unicorn.  Carbon black isn’t going to hurt you (though the unicorn might, if the horn gets misplaced during the shower).

Just don’t buy from Thrive Market.

 

References
(1) The 9 Worst Chemicals Hiding In Your Makeup
Warning: Not a scholarly link.  Contains false/misleading information
https://thrivemarket.com/blog/noxious-chemicals-in-makeup
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(2) One With Nature Dead Sea Mineral Soap, Lavender
https://thrivemarket.com/p/one-with-nature-dead-sea-mineral-soap-lavender
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(3) Thrive’s Plethora of Poisonous Powders (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2016/08/25/thrives-plethora-of-poisonous-powders/
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

(4) The Thrive/EWG Connection (Bad Science Debunked)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2016/08/23/the-thrive-marketenvironmental-working-group-connection/
Retrieved 02 Apr 2018

Image Credits
Thrive Market screen snapshots, One With Nature product images are used in strict accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Winnie the Pooh cartoon © Walt Disney Corporation. Author assumes/makes no copyright claims by linking to YouTube video. Linked under fair use/parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Winnie the Pooh/Thrive Market mashup intro graphic by the author.  Produced and used under the parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Naturally Nicole’s Elderberry Flu Treatment Debunked (Part 2)

naturally nicole elderberry syrup

What the heck is “evidence based” proof? Is there another kind?

In part one of this series,1 we began the arduous task of tearing apart an internet snake oil saleswoman going by the moniker “Naturally Nicole.”  Nicole’s claim to fame is selling an unproven Elderberry syrup as a flu medication.2  This alone would be cause for eye rolls and muffled giggles from anyone who’s worked in a pharmacy, but things take a darker turn as Ms. Au Naturale goes on to lambast the safe, #1 recommended preventative for a disease that has so far claimed nearly 100 lives at this writing:3 the flu shot.

Just a quick recap of part one, where we looked at two of three Elderberry fantasy claims:  First, Nicole lied to her audience, saying that a study was performed on human–when it was actually done in test tubes and petri dishes.  She also references a junk science paper whose abstract claimed results that actually came from another study–not the one described.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, Nicole’s second claim was that the flu vaccine was dangerous and ineffective, when in fact the very study she referenced said vaccination was the most effective way to combat influenza.  While the efficacy of the flu vaccine does vary from year to year, 2018’s rate of 36% is better than Nicole’s elderberry rate of 0%.  You do the math.

So now, without further ado, we move on to the conclusion of this series, taking on the third of Nicole’s perjurious claims:

Claim #3
A 93.3% improvement in symptoms in 2 days for elderberry-treated patients vs 91.7% in the control group, and a complete cure rate of nearly 90% in 2 days vs. 6 days in the control group.

Rule #1 for citing a paper as evidence would seem to be: read the damn paper.  I can’t prove the Duchess of Elderberry skipped her reading assignment, but I strongly suspect it, based on the fact the study she quoted is hidden behind a $51/copy pay wall, and she claims the paper looked at patients suffering from a flu outbreak on a kibbutz in the country of Panama.

In reality, the patients studied were in Israel, and the strain of flu virus under investigation was a strain of Influenza B named B. Panama. Nicole’s first clue should have been that kibbutzim are technically unique to Israel.

the outbreak wasn't in panama

From Nicole’s article.  No. Just no.  The outbreak occurred in Israel. The virus was named Influenza B. Panama. Read the damn paper Nicole!

When you don’t even bother to read the abstract Nicole, you’re off to a bad start.  However, I dropped $51 on this pay-per-view Elderberry Extravaganza, and Naturally Nicole would have done herself a great service had she done the same.

You’re welcome:

image

The paper that Nicole didn’t read. When research is hidden behind paywalls, it’s easy to cherry-pick and misquote, even when it disagrees with you.

Most conspicuous in the paper cited by Naturally Nicole is what it doesn’t say.  Presented are nine pages of details on a study that produced a 40% two day “total cure” rate, complete with graphs and exquisite detail on methodology.  However, in the abstract, we find a “significant improvement in symptoms (93.3%)”.  Where did this number come from?  Not from the science described in the nine pages!  Buried on page 367 (this comes from an alternative health journal with many articles) are two small paragraphs mentioning, almost as an afterthought, a separate study involving twenty-seven patients.  Our 93.3% number comes from a different study.   Deus ex machina.5

Meanwhile, Back on the Kibbutz…
Meanwhile, back in the medical literature Naturally Nicole never laid eyes upon, on page 363 of Vol 1, #4, 1995 of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the authors discuss a double-blind study involving 40 individuals living on a kibbutz in Southern Israel. They had fevers, runny noses, body aches, and coughs. Blood was drawn and statistical analysis performed using influenza antigens provided by the World Health Organization to decide whether these 40 patients actually had the flu.

Time went by. Corn grew higher and the wind came sweeping down the plain. Patients were treated with elderberry extract. Then something not so incredible happened…

Forty percent of the patients were determined “completely cured” within two days.

“Complete cure was observed after 2 days in 40% of patients treated with SAM and 16.7% treated with placebo.” — J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4)p.366 (emphasis mine)

But wait! Incredibly, even though a “complete cure” was claimed within two days, page 365 reports that fever persisted for four days in the group being treated with elderberry syrup. Explain to me, please, how you’re completely cured in two days if your fever runs for four?

And, very important: how long had the flu sufferers already been infected before they presented themselves for the study?  It’s easy to claim a total cure in two days if you’ve already been sick for five to twelve before you present yourself for the study (the flu normally runs its course in one two two weeks).

Oh, By the Way…
It’s interesting to note (but doesn’t affect the results of the study) that the lead author of the paper reviewed here is the pro-vaccine author of Nicole’s second study: Professor Zichria Zakay-Rones. He’s the Chief Science officer of Theravir Management Ltd., a biotech startup company that develops vaccines.6 I mention this only to point out that the scientists who wrote the papers enshrined by Nicole are not as vehemently anti-vaccine as she is.

So we’re left with three papers whose bodies don’t at all support what’s claimed in the abstract, and, in one case, openly lie about it. They’re presented by a fervent anti-vaccination advocate who somehow didn’t notice (or care) that the lead author of two of the papers is the chief science officer of a company that produces vaccines, and openly advocates vaccines as the best defense against the flu in one of the studies she uses to sell her products.

The last paper cited by our saleswoman came out nearly fifteen years ago. As serious a problem as influenza is, are we to believe major pharmaceutical companies are looking a gift horse cure in the mouth and rejecting it?  Sorry, I’m a bit skeptical.

Last but not least: Nicole, B. Panama is a virus, not the country Israel where a medical study was performed.  Please, the next time you quote a study to prop up your product sales, please and least read the abstract–and consult Google Maps first!

Image Credits
Map courtesy of and ©2018 Google Maps.  Used under terms of service provided via link attached to map.

Naturally Nicole screen snapshots and product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Photograph of partially visible pages of “Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama” is presented as proof the author actually purchased the article.  As provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law, small portions or extracts of a copyrighted work may be used for purposes of citation and review.

References
(1) Naturally Nicole’s Elderberry Flu Treatment Debunked (Part 1)
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2015/10/21/naturally-nicoles-elderberry-flu-treatment-debunked-part-1/
Retrieved 18 Feb 2018

(2) Evidence Based Proof, Elderberry Syrup Is Better Than The Flu Shot
From Internet Archive
https://web.archive.org/web/20160205185840/http://naturallynicolexo.com/evidence-based-proof-elderberry-syrup-is-better-than-the-flu-shot/
(Author has moved/deleted post)  Archived 02 Oct 2015
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(3) Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report (CDC)
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index.htm
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(4) Interim Estimates of 2017–18 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness — United States, February 2018
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6706a2.htm
Retrieved 20 Feb 2018

(5) Deus ex machine (Merriam-Webster Definition)
https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deus%20ex%20machina
Retrieved 19 Feb 2018

(6)  Inhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama.
J Altern Complement Med. 1995 Winter;1(4):361-9.
Zakay-Rones Z1, Varsano N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M.
Article hidden behind paywall.  Purchased October, 2015.

(6) Zakay-Rones Profile (Bloomberg)
http://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/person.asp?personId=30559942&privcapId=6085242&previousCapId=6085242&previousTitle=Theravir%20Management%20Ltd.

Pesticide Found in David Avocado Wolfe Tooth Treatment

David Wolfe neem oil pesticide header image

In this artist’s depiction, a Moms Across America stormtrooper charges across a field of GMO “Bt” corn armed with a bottle of David Wolfe’s neem oil pesticide/tooth treatment.  Moms Across America members are prone  to running through corn fields in unnecessary protective gear.  Scientists are still trying to understand the phenomenon.

David Avocado Wolfe has never met a pesticide he likes, even going so far as to trump up a charge against a plant derived chemical for allegedly causing premature death of fruit flies.1,2,3 Oh, the humanity!

For a man who has essentially proclaimed “no pesticide shall pass these lips!” it seems rather odd that Wolfe is selling a tooth polish made with a pesticide:4

longevity warehouse neem oil--a pesticide

A 15ml bottle of Neem Enamelier from David Avocado Wolfe’s store. (click/enlarge). Neem oil is an organic pesticide.

Ah, yes, neem oil!  Made from a tree common to India, neem is praised for its alleged ability to keep your teeth, gums, and mouth healthy.  Oh, and its proven ability to kill insects.  Perhaps David Wolfe needs to visit his local gardening store more often:5,6

Pesticide (Neem Oil) sold by Lowes.

Neem Oil, a broad spectrum pesticide/fungicide/miticide sold on Amazon. Click to enlarge.

Pesticide (Neem Oil) sold by Lowes.

Neem Oil pesticide sold by Lowes. Click to enlarge.

In addition to not knowing what’s in his own products, David Wolfe doesn’t seem aware that organic farming uses pesticides, if you believe the false words that spill forth from his keyboard like Noah’s Flood.7  Or, maybe he just doesn’t care.  Here at Bad Science Debunked, we’ve lost count of the products sold by Wolfe’s Longevity Warehouse that contain the same chemicals he falsely claims will kill you.

Now, it is possible to process neem oil to remove azadirachtinone, one of the more irritating chemicals,8 but processing an all-natural product would go against everything Wolfe believes in and, in fact, I contacted the manufacturer of his tooth enamelizer and they confirmed that indeed, it comes to you, the end user, straight from the tree, untouched and unprocessed in any way.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center (a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), neem oil can be slightly irritating to skin and eyes, but its component azadirachtin, which I mentioned previously, can be very irritating to the skin and stomach.8  And you’ll find it in every bottle of Wolfe’s enamelizer.

Over the lips and through the gums David Avocado!

“There’s a sucker born every minute” — attributed to P.T. Barnum

#DontCryWolfe

 

References
(1)  These 4 Fruits Have the Most Toxic Pesticides. Avoid Them!  (David Wolfe)
https://www.davidwolfe.com/4-fruits-pesticides-avoid/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 11 Feb 2018

(2) Wash Pesticides Off Your Produce
https://www.davidwolfe.com/wash-pesticides-off-your-produce/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 04 Mar 2018

(3) This Popular Artificial Sweetener Is Actually A Powerful Insecticide
https://www.davidwolfe.com/artificial-sweetener-insecticide/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 18 Mar 2018

(4) Longevity Warehouse Neem Oil Enamelizer 15ml
Warning: Not a healthcare product.  See FDA disclaimer on package.
https://www.longevitywarehouse.com/longevity-warehouse-neem-enamelizer-15-ml
Retrieved 09 Feb 2018

(5) Southern Ag Triple Action Neem Oil (Amazon.com)
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004QJ33AA/
Retrieved 10 Feb 2018

(6) Lowes Garden-Safe Neem Oil Extract 16 fl oz
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Garden-Safe-Neem-Oil-Extract-16-fl-oz-Organic-Garden-Insect-Killer/1000344111
Retrieved 10 Feb 2018

(7) Warning: Why You Should Never Buy Produce Labeled with the #8 Sticker
https://www.davidwolfe.com/what-the-numbers-on-your-produce-tell-you/
Warning: Not a scholarly or scientific article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
Retrieved 18 Mar 2018

(8) Neem Oil General Fact Sheet (National Pesticide Information Center [NPIC])
(NPIC is a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html
Retrieved 11 Feb 2018

 

Image Credits
The lead image of an irate “Occupy Monsanto” member running trough a cornfield was used under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Similarly, the image captures of David Wolfe/Longevity Warehouse’s Neem Oil product, and Lowe’s Neem Oils Pesticide, are used under provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.

Vani Hari Declines to Reveal Heavy Metal Content of Flagship Truvani Product

truvani vani hari banner

Speak of no heavy metals, see no heavy metals, hear of no heavy metals… and there will be no heavy metals: right? Well, maybe. It would be helpful if Truvani would release the lab report they claim to have.

For a company that prides itself on complete ingredient transparency,1 Vani Hari’s Truvani line is off to a poor start.  In spite of her January 3, 2018 Facebook post boasting of a “clean” glyphosate and heavy metals test,2 Hari has spent the past two months ignoring repeated requests to release lab results backing her claims.

I’m one of several interested parties who have made multiple requests through the official contact numbers and addresses listed by Truvani.3  Truvani’s physical address is actually a mail drop located in a strip mall in Las Vegas, sandwiched between a beauty salon and a dry cleaner.  Her phone line is an unmanned voice mailbox.

Unsurprisingly, all of our inquiries have been ignored.  This alone does not mean Hari has something to hide.  However, the discovery of even trace amounts of heavy metals in this company’s products would be damning to the “Food Babe”, who has gone on record saying there is no safe amount of any chemical to ingest, and has made a career out of disparaging trace amounts of chemicals in competitors’ products (while selling those same ingredients in her own online store).

If you’d like to add your voice and call for the same transparency that Hari demands in the products of others, the company phone number is:

(980) 292-0438

This is a voice mailbox in Charlotte, NC.  There’s no human manning the phones, but you can leave a message.  Ask that the full lab report for Truvani’s turmeric heavy metal analysis be released publicly. Please be polite.  

Sending physical mail to Truvani’s legal business address is an exercise in futility.  Listed as “848 N. Rainbow Blvd, Unit #8187, Las Vegas, NV 89107,”3 the address is nothing more than a mail drop in a small strip mall in Las Vegas (photo, below). You can send a letter, but don’t expect a reply.

Truvani's "corporate headquarters"

Truvani’s official business address is a “Mail Link” franchise,  wedged between a dry cleaner and beauty salon in a Las Vegas strip mall. Don’t expect a reply if you send mail. (click/enlarge).  Photo © 2018 Google Maps.

Finally, you might try (as we did) emailing Truvani and asking for the release of the full lab report.  We received no response, but perhaps if the outcry is great enough… The listed email address is:

support@truvanilife.com

If you’re lucky enough to get a response, I’d love to hear from you here at the blog or via the Bad Science Debunked Facebook page.  There may be nothing to see, but it rings hollow that Hari, one of the loudest voices shouting for transparency in the food industry, refuses to disclose lab reports that she claims to have in hand.

Suggested Twitter hashtags if you tweet this article:

#FoodBabeArmy  #FoodBabeWay  @FoodBabe

Bonus Coverage: Chemicals in Truvani Turmeric
Vani Hari dances around the issue of chemicals in her flagship turmeric product by saying there are no “added” chemicals.  Well, added by who?  As we know, everything is a chemical, and it matters not where the chemical came from.  While we wait on Vani’s lab reports, I thought I’d show you some of the chemicals you’re buying with every bottle of Truvani turmeric.

“Major phytoconstituents of turmeric are diarylheptanoids, which occur in a mixture termed curcuminoids that generally make up approximately 1–6% of turmeric by dry weight. Most crude extracts prepared from turmeric, and even some refined “curcumin” materials, contain three major compounds”4  — The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin
(Journal of Medicinal Chemistry)

 

Curcumin, found in TruVani’s product  (Click to enlarge).   Courtesy Pubchem. See references.

 

Bisdemethoxycurcumin, also found in TruVani's

Bisdemethoxycurcumin, also found in TruVani’s product.  (Click to enlarge).   Courtesy Pubchem. See references.

 

Demethoxycurcumin, another chemical found in TruVani's [todo]

Demethoxycurcumin, a Truvani offering.  (Click to enlarge).  Courtesy Pubchem. See references.

 

 

Curcumin, a major component of TruVani Turmeric, is loaded with chemicals

Curcumin, a major component of TruVani Turmeric, is loaded with chemicals (click/enlarge)

References
(1) Truvani Mission Statement on Ingredient Transparency
Warning: Not a scholarly or educational link
https://www.truvanilife.com/
Retrieved 17 Mar 2018

(2) Vani Hari Heavy Metals Claim on Facebook
Warning: Not a scholarly or educational link
https://www.facebook.com/thefoodbabe/photos/a.208386335862752.56063.132535093447877/1789015851133118/?type=3&theater
Retrieved 17 Mar 2018

(3) Truvani Contact Information
https://www.truvanilife.com/contact
Retrieved 17 Mar 2018

(4) The Essential Medicinal Chemistry of Curcumin
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry
2017 Mar 9;60(5):1620-1637
Kathryn M. Nelson, Jayme L. Dahlin, Jonathan Bisson, James Graham, Guido F. Pauli, and Michael A. Walters
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5346970/
Retrieved 21 Nov 2017

(5) Curcumin (Compound Summary for CID 969516)
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/969516
Retrieved 21 Nov 2017

(6) Demethoxycurcumin (Compound Summary for CID 5469424)
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/5469424
Retrieved 21 Nov 2017

(7) Bisdemethoxycurcumin (Compound Summary for CID 5315472)
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/5315472
Retrieved 21 Nov 2017

Image Credits
Curcumin image Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society, from an open access article published under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial No Derivative Works (CC-BY-NC-ND) Attribution License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article, and creation of adaptations, all for non-commercial purposes.

Curcumin Image (Compound  CID 969516) from PubChem, https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/969516

Demethoxycurcumin Image (Compound CID 5469424) from PubChem,
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/5469424

Bisdemethoxycurcumin Image (Compound CID 5315472) from PubChem,
https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/5315472