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.

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

Metal Shards Found in Mike Adams/Natural News Product? (Video)

Mike adams (the health ranger)

Mike “The Health Ranger” Adams has been a frequent guest here at Bad Science Debunked. We’ve caught the anti-GMO fanatic hypocritically pushing GMO products1 (more than once)2, and hawking formaldehyde3 in pain relief formulas while simultaneously screaming about the compound’s toxicity.

The Health Ranger often relies on the general public’s lack of enthusiasm for science (and, sadly, love of conspiracy theories) to pull off his scams.  No better example can be found in his great “Wheaties Contains Metal Fragments” scare–a video that I won’t link to here, not out of fear of spreading hysteria, but because I can’t:  on March 4, Facebook science/skeptic pages lit up with the news that Adams has, at least temporarily, been banned from YouTube.4,5

Because I believe in free speech, I’ve obtained a copy of the Adams’ Wheaties video and resurrected it–in true Internet “I Fixed That For You” style.  In my video, we use Health Ranger Blood Builder,6 a product I purchased from Mike Adams’ own online store.  The Ranger’s argument is that if a food product is attracted to a magnet, it must be full of metal shards.

With Health Ranger’s own product on the ol’ kitchen lab table, let’s put that claim to the test, shall we?

 

health ranger mike adams blood builder reacts to magnets just like wheaties

I purchased my bottle of Health Ranger MegaFood Blood Builder tablets6 in late 2017 for approximately $30.

Questions and Answers
My video prompted some interesting science questions that aren’t easily answered via multimedia updates. Here’s a summary:

“In both the Bad Science Debunked and Mike Adams videos, the Wheaties (and Adams’ product) only cling to the edges of the rare earth magnet, not the its entire face. Why is that?”

This is due to the way that rare earth magnets are manufactured. You’ll notice that my magnet is cube shaped, while Adams’ is rectangular, and, indeed, the Wheaties only stick to the edges of the both magnets.

The magnets didn’t come by these shapes naturally. According to my magnet’s manufacturer, the element neodymium is literally packed into the desired form during the manufacturing process. The brittle material is later encased in a rust-proof alloy for protection. The end result is a higher density of neodymium along the edges of the respective magnets (which aren’t even magnetized yet–they’re “zapped” with an electrical current at the end).

The higher density of magnetic material results in a higher pull strength at the edges; this is where the tiny ferromagnetic particles in the food products are pulled.

“Is this not just static electricity causing the attraction and clinging? Try a piece of non-magnetic steel to see what happens?”

First just a quick note: the magnet itself isn’t covered in steel; it’s an alloy of nickel and copper. But you might theoretically attract small pieces of cereal, etc. with static electricity. You’d need to build up an excess of electrons first. Because steel is made from iron, and iron is ferromagnetic (though not necessarily magnetized), I’d instead use something like a rubber balloon rubbed on a wool sweater if going that route. Sitting at my kitchen “lab” bench, frequently touching a grounded computer as I did the experiment, I doubt I was able to build up a charge. (I did use a stainless steel kitchen knife to scrape the particles together for photos, and nothing stuck to the knife.)

Finally, as part of my niece’s fifth grade science fair, she did a version of this experiment (yes, a fifth grader can easily debunk the Health Ranger.) Part of my niece’s experiment included a control group of fine-grained non ferro-magnetic materials such as salt, spices, etc. None were attracted to the rare earth magnet. If static electricity was the culprit, I’d expect a response from something besides just ferromagnetic materials.

This article was updated on March 12 to add a questions and answers section.

References
(1) Mike Adams’ GMO Addiction
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2017/01/18/mike-adams-gmo-addiction/
Retrieved 04 March 2018

(2) Natural News, Mike Adams Selling Even More GMOs
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2017/01/16/natural-news-mike-adams-selling-even-more-gmos/
Retrieved 04 March 2018

(3) UnNatural News: The Health Ranger Sells Formaldehyde
https://badsciencedebunked.com/2016/07/15/unnatural-news-the-health-ranger-sells-formaldehyde/
Retrieved 04 March 2018

(4) YouTube Terminated Natural News (via Skeptical Raptor/Facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/skepticalraptor/posts/1760360460707584
Retrieved 04 March 2018

(5) Natural News Banned From YouTube (via Debunking Denialism/Facebook)
https://www.facebook.com/DebunkingDenialism/posts/1544990368947885
Retrieved 04 March 2018

(6) Health Ranger Blood Builder (60 Count)
https://www.healthrangerstore.com/products/blood-builder-60-count?variant=16535372673
Retrieved 04 March 2018

 

Image/Video Credits
Mike Adams/Health Ranger/Natural News video excerpts 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.

Snake Oil intro image 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.

Kelly Brogan, MD: A-Salt With A “Deadly” Weapon (Part Two)

kelly brogan fluoride hypocrisy

In part one of this series,1 it was revealed that Kelly Brogan, M.D., sells an aluminum-laden health supplement while simultaneously (falsely) linking small amounts of aluminum to myriad serious health problems, and fear-mongering the population at large into avoiding safe, effective vaccines.  Here, in part two, we’ll look at a second “toxic” ingredient found in the same Brogan supplement.  It’s particularly important to point out Brogan’s hypocrisy and questionable medical practices at this time, as she’s been named to the advisory board of the popular SXSW Conference, taking place March 9-17, 2018,  in Austin, TX.2,3

At question in part two of this series is fluoride, an anion of the element fluorine.  Kelly Brogan, without evidence, links fluoride to depression, low IQ, labels it an endocrine-disrupting poison, and implicates it in birth defects.6,7,8,9

Sigh. Alex, I’ll take “Products Sold in Kelly Brogan’s Online Store,”10 and make it a true Daily Double:

kelly brogan fluoride real salt resources

A two-image composite of the Real Salt sold by Kelly Brogan via her online store. The salt contains fluoride, which Brogan links to birth defects, depression, and neurological disorders. (click/enlarge)

Real Salt.  That’s certainly better than fake salt!  Allow me to point out an ingredient of particular interest for you (click image to enlarge):11

Kelly Brogran SXSW fluoride image

Kelly Brogan’s Real Salt contains fluoride, an anion she falsely links to a plethora of diseases, even when used in small amounts. Why then is she selling it? (click/enlarge)

Do you see it?  Fluoride! I’ve highlighted it for you (click the above image to enlarge).  Yet wasn’t Doc Brogan just this very moment warning us that fluoride caused health problems?    Now, 0.0193mg per serving (13.8 parts per million) might not seem like a lot, but let’s see what Kelly Brogan herself thinks about the presence of wee amounts of an element she’s linked to birth defects:6,7,8,9

We thought that chemicals were only dangerous in big doses.

An entire burgeoning field of toxicology now endorses the role of the endocrine system in the toxic effects of even small doses of chemicals, which can synergize together to wreak havoc in dose ranges as low as parts-per-billion and which regulators still don’t consider in toxicological risk assessments.” (emphasis mine) –Kelly Brogan 12

 

So Kelly Brogan, Medicine Woman, apparently would agree that the small dose of fluoride in her product is enough to be dangerous.  But wait, it gets worse: when Brogan speaks of “synergy”, she’s referring to the concept that the outcome of mixing two chemicals is greater than the expected sum of their parts.  If you’re into tropical drinks, think of synergy like this… it’s the “lime in d’coconut” moment your tastebuds experience when you realize your beverage is fruitier than either the lime or coconut itself could provide on their own.  If you don’t like lime or coconut, and the purists will forgive me, think of synergy as sort of 2 + 2 = 4½.

Why does synergy matter in this discussion?  Because in this same supplement we’ve already caught Brogan red-handed selling more aluminum than can be found in the vaccines she wrongly demonizes.1 Now she’s added fluoride to the mix. If, according to Brogan, small amounts of aluminum are linked to Alzheimer’s,1 and fluoride to birth defects,6,7,8,9 and synergy comes into play when combining even small amounts of “toxic” chemicals such as these, what are we to say then when we find fluoride and aluminum together, locked in a tender embrace, in aisle three, row five, shelf number four, of her online store?

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that “honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”   In selling her followers a combination of a dose of chemicals (aluminum, fluoride) she claims will  put them at risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine system disorders, and birth defects, while in her own mind believing that synergistic effects could compound the problem, Dr. Kelly Brogan abandons all claims to the aforementioned honesty.  In hosting her on their medical advisory board, the SXSW Festival has thrown Jefferson’s metaphorical book of wisdom onto the bonfire of ignorance.  SXSW draws thousands of journalists and, in 2016, nearly 100,000 attendees,4,5 giving Brogan, an AIDS and germ-theory denier who spreads falsehoods on life-saving vaccines,13,14 fertile ground to spread misinformation that could literally cost human lives.

There is a growing online protest against Kelly Brogan’s presence at SXSW. If you’d like to join in (politely, please), consider tweeting this article (or part 1).  Suggested Twitter handles and hashtags are:

@SXSW @KellyBroganMD #SXSW #BumpBrogan

 

References
(1) Kelly Brogan, MD: A-Salt With a “Deadly” Weapon (Part One)
https://badscidebunked.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/kelly-brogan-md-a-salt-with-a-deadly-weapon-part-one/
Retrieved 19 Dec 2017

(2) SXSW Home Page
https://www.sxsw.com/
Retrieved 06 Feb 2018

(3) Meet the 2018 SXSW Wellness Expo Advisory Board
https://www.sxsw.com/news/2017/meet-the-2018-sxsw-wellness-expo-advisory-board/
Retrieved 06 Feb 2018

(4) SXSW Facts, Figures, Quotes
https://www.sxsw.com/facts-figures-quotes/
Retrieved 06 Feb 2018

(5) (CNN) South by Southwest Fast Facts
https://www.cnn.com/2013/09/13/us/south-by-southwest-fast-facts/index.html
Retrieved 06 Feb 2018

(6) 7 Facts About Depression That Will Blow You Away
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/7-facts-about-depression-that-will-blow-you-away/
Retrieved 18 Dec 2017

(7) Are You Fluoridated?
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/are-you-fluoridated/
Retrieved 18 Dec 2017

(8) Birth Defects From Contaminated Water
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/birth-defects-from-contaminated-water/
Retrieved 18 Dec 2017

(9) Thyroid Symptoms? Q&A with Dr. Amy Myers
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/thyroid-health-qa-dr-amy-myers/
Retrieved 17 Dec 2017

(10) Real Salt (Kelly Brogan Online Store)
http://kellybroganmd.com/resources/
Retrieved 11 Dec 2017

(11) Real Salt Chemical Analysis
http://realsalt.redmond.life/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/Real-Salt-Analysis.pdf
Retrieved 04 Feb Feb 2017

(12) The Brain Does Have An Immune System
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/the-brain-does-have-an-immune-system/
Retrieved 27 Dec 2017

(13) (Newsweek) HIV Doesn’t Cause AIDS According to […] Kelly Brogan
http://www.newsweek.com/hiv-doesnt-cause-aids-according-gwyneth-paltrow-goop-doctor-kelly-brogan-735645
Retrieved 04 Feb 2017

(14) Immunity: The Emerging Truth
Warning: not a scholarly article.  Contains false and/or misleading information.
http://kellybroganmd.com/immunity-emerging-truth/
Retrieved 04 Feb 2017

 

Image Credits
A small section of the textbook “General Chemistry 101: 607 Pages of Notes Covering All High School and College General Chemistry” by Professor Chemistry, available on Amazon at
https://www.amazon.com/General-Chemistry-101-Covering-College/dp/1979048754/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1513472704&sr=1-2&keywords=chemistry+101, was used in the cover art 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.

Kelly Brogan, MD: A-Salt With a “Deadly” Weapon (Part One)

kelly brogan real salt aluminum vaccines header

The takeaways:

  • Kelly Brogan, M.D. claims aluminum is toxic to all life forms1 and falsely links it to a plethora of diseases.
  • Brogan’s fear mongering re: aluminum includes steering patients away from life-saving vaccines that contain small amounts of the element.
  • Via her online store, the doctor sells aluminum via a health supplement, in amounts that equal or exceed the aluminum found in the vaccines she wrongly vilifies.
  • Ominously, the 2018 SXSW Festival is offering Dr. Brogan a popular platform to further her dangerous and hypocritical “medical” views.

You can’t swing a virtual dead cat on the internet without hitting a doctor who has an online store, and Kelly Brogan, M.D., is no exception.  While Brogan tirelessly campaigns against aluminum in vaccines, foods, and beauty products, ironically, she sells a health supplement that contains as much or more aluminum than is found in the safe, critical vaccines against which she fear mongers.

Dr. Brogan peddles Real Salt2, touted to contain more than sixty essential trace elements that promote health and well being.3  Unfortunately for the good doctor, one of those elements is aluminum, which she falsely links to a wide range of problems, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, neurological disorders, ADHD, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and others.1,4,5,6,7,8,10

In the following images, we can see Real Salt for sale at KellyBroganMD.com,2 as well as an elemental analysis of the salt provided by the vendor.9  Please click each image to enlarge.

kelly brogan resources: real salt, contains aluminum

A two-image composite from Kelly Brogan’s online store highlighting the “Real Salt” sold by the doctor. (click/enlarge)

Kelly brogan sells as much or more aluminum than can be found in vaccines and products she vilifies

Analysis of Kelly Brogan’s Real Salt reveals as much or more aluminum than can be found in the vaccines she wrongly vilifies.  See references for full list;9 this screen snapshot has been altered by the author to highlight the aluminum.  No changes to elements or quantities have been made.  (click/enlarge)

 

It must be strongly stated that the dangers posed by aluminum, and in particular Real Salt, the product sold by Ms. Brogan, exist solely in her mind.  The Real Salt brand is as safe as any item you’d find on your store shelf.

Route of administration (e.g. ingestion, injection, inhalation, absorption via the skin) matters in the real world, but you won’t find Kelly Brogan living in such a place.   She’s an equal opportunity alarmist, damning aluminum whether its injected as a vaccine, ingested as an antacid or baking soda, or rubbed on the skin as an antiperspirant.5  Fine.  Let’s play by her rules.  Since vaccines are arguably one of the most important advancements in recent human history, I thought it would be instructive to compare the amount of aluminum found in Brogan’s own product against that found in some of the essential vaccines she wrongly condemns.

Nothing but the Facts, Ma’am
As we can see in the previous table, Real Salt lists an average of 0.1946mg of aluminum per serving in their product,** where a serving size is 1.4 grams (approximately one quarter teaspoon).  By comparison:

  • The HPV vaccine is indicted by Brogan for alleged biotoxicity.6   It protects against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV), and contains 0.5mg/dose of aluminum.11,13  This is equal to just  2.6 servings of Kelly Brogan’s salt.

 

  • Regarding the 0.125 mg/dose of aluminum in the Pneumococcal vaccine,12,13 the aluminum in Brogan’s salt exceeds the vaccine’s by 36%.   That’s right, you’ll get more aluminum from the doctor’s Real Salt than from the vaccine.  Yes, I know it’s ingested rather than injected here, but remember, Brogan damns aluminum regardless of route of administration.5   Dr. B. wrongly links the Pneumococcal vaccine’s aluminum to autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation, and associated neurological complications.7  The vaccine is an important protection against diseases such as pneumonia and bacterial meningitis.
  • Dr. Brogan weaves a very tangled tale in regard to the DTaP/inactivated polio/Hib vaccine, which contains 0.33mg/dose aluminum.13,14  The upshot of her article, which you’ll find linked here and in the references, is that this vaccine is somehow partly responsible for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).10  A terrifying claim, especially when you consider that two servings of her salt, at 0.1946g aluminum each, provides 16% more aluminum than the vaccine.

Good Enough to Eat?
So far, we’ve limited our investigation to vaccines, which are injected. But, as I said, Brogan doesn’t want you ingesting aluminum either.  One of her prime targets is antacids because they contain, (sigh), aluminum.  How much?  Well, according to the Centers for Disease Control, you can find 104 to 208 mg/tablet of aluminum in off-the-shelf antacids.15   Doing our math from earlier, assuming a buyer of Dr. Brogan’s Real Salt used one serving per day, every day for a year, we’d end up with:

0.1946mg Al/serving/day * 365 days = 71mg of aluminum per year

Hmm.  71mg from Brogan falls a bit short of the 104mg minimum from the antacids she eschews.  And you’d think that as the year went on, you’d be clearing some of that aluminum from your body, right?  Au contraire mon frère, says Kelly Brogan:

Aluminum stays in the body for several years” –Kelly Brogan, “Special Report, Vaccines and Brain Health”4 (emphasis mine)

So, by the doctor’s own assertions, the supposedly-toxic element in her product will stick with you, dose-by-dose, for years.   We’d need 534 servings, or just about one and half years (one serving per day) of Dr. Brogan’s Real Salt to reach the “poisonous” (wink wink, nudge, nudge) levels in her ostracized antacid tablet.

As I mentioned earlier in the article, Real Salt is completely safe.  The trace amounts of the elements found therein not at all harmful.  It is my hope that an honest company won’t be held responsible because a questionable doctor tried to make money hawking their products.

You have to ask yourself: is Kelly Brogan really worth her salt?

 

If Dr. Brogan says aluminum is toxic to all life forms, perhaps she shouldn't be selling it to the life forms who follow her on social media.

If Dr. Brogan says aluminum is toxic to all life forms, perhaps she shouldn’t be selling it to the life forms who follow her on social media. (click/enlarge)

 

Oh, if it only ended there.  Not only does the distinguished doctor sell you greater quantities of an element she claims will put you in an early grave, she strongly encourages you to obtain it naturally.

Milk, anyone?

 

“Milk is for babies.  When you grow up, you have to drink beer.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger
When she isn’t busy selling aluminum to her followers, Brogan is hard at work encouraging breastfeeding.17,18,19  This is particularly unfortunate for her anti-aluminum argument.  According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, breastfed infants receive approximately 7mg of aluminum naturally from their mother’s milk during the first six months of life, compared to only 4.4mg from vaccines.13  So, Brogan is directly encouraging the consumption of aluminum (via breast milk).

Babies won’t be directly ingesting Brogan’s salt of course, but I can’t help but compare aluminum in breast milk to the additional amount a new mother would add to her diet if she used just one serving of Brogan’s salt, one serving a day, over six months:

(0.1946mg aluminum/serving Brogan’s Salt * ~30 days/month * 6 months = 35.028mg aluminum/six months)

Via the salt she sells, Brogan would be dosing our unsuspecting mother with five times the amount of aluminum naturally given to the baby via breast milk, and nearly eight times the aluminum that baby would receive from vaccines in the first six months of his/her life.  The amount of  salt-based aluminum that would actually pass to the baby would be function of many factors including the mother’s metabolism, renal function, etc.

But, isn’t it interesting that Kelly Brogan’s Real Salt doesn’t come with a warning to nursing mothers?

Wrapping It All Up
At this point, I was tempted to pick on the irony of Dr. Brogan’s apparent aversion to wrapping food in aluminum foil, and point out that the manufacturer of her salt proudly proclaims their salt mine is wrapped in a layer of bentonite clay.  Bentonite, if you remember your college chemistry, has the formula Al2H2Na2O13Si4.  See the aluminum in there?  Brogan’s aluminum-laden salt is itself quite literally wrapped in aluminum.

But pedantics aside, let’s focus instead on the fact that the World Health Organization, the CDC, and medical consensus contradict Dr. Brogan in every way possible.13,15,16  Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the crust of our planet and you’d be hard pressed to avoid it in the food you eat, the air you breath, and the water you drink. According to the CDC, an average adult in the United States eats about 7–9 mg of aluminum per day in their food.15  The World Health Organization concurs, saying that aluminum intake from foods represents the major route of aluminum exposure to the general public.16

Most aluminum in food, water, and medicines leaves your body quickly in the feces. Much of the small amount of aluminum that does enter the bloodstream will quickly leave your body in the urine.15   The human body evolved to handle the amounts of this element we encounter on a daily basis quite nicely, thank-you-very-much, and unless you have a medical condition such as impaired renal function, Dr. Brogans tirades against aluminum aren’t worth their salt.  I encourage you to ask a real doctor.

Epilogue: SXSW
Sadly, as I go to press with this article, I’ve learned that the annual SXSW festival has named Kelly Brogan as a consultant to their advisory board.20  Giving an HIV/AIDS denialist who sells her patients the very products she says will kill them is unconscionable, and in this author’s opinion, should be met with firm, polite suggestions to the festival that they seek medical advice from better vetted sources.

This quote SXSW is particularly puzzling:

While SXSW strongly disagrees with many of Kelly Brogan’s controversial opinions, we do believe that inclusion of a variety of viewpoints from a diverse group of people is important to creating a dialog for the community represented at the SXSW Wellness Expo20–via Kavin Senapathy/Forbes

Suppose this came from NASA instead?

“While NASA strongly disagrees with many flat-earther controversial opinions, we do believe that inclusion of a variety of viewpoints from a diverse group of people is important as we complete the Near Earth Object survey that will protect our round (or is it flat?  Hey, it’s just an opinion!) planet from a potential extinction level event”

SXSW’s comments reek strongly of the plague of “alternate facts” that have, sadly, gained traction in our country.  I’m sorry, but in science, there are no alternate facts.  Dr. Brogan’s $4,000 consults for coffee enemas, AIDS denial, and selling her patients ingredients that she herself labels toxic do not constitute “controversial opinions”… they constitute what this writer believes to be medical malpractice, and should be investigated.

If you agree, and would like to make your voice heard, you can tweet to @sxsw.  The hashtag #BumpBrogan is trending.  You may wish to take a moment and make it even trendier!

 

Footnotes
** Salt analysis was performed by Advanced Laboratories, Inc. of Salt Lake City, UT, who notes that because the product being tested is a naturally occurring product that
has not been refined, actual elemental results of any specific lot number will vary slightly. Please click here to return to the article.

A typo in the “Good Enough to Eat?” section swapped units of measure and has been corrected.

References
(1) “Aluminum is Toxic to all Lifeforms” (Kelly Brogan Facebook Post)
https://www.facebook.com/KellyBroganMD/posts/366045836935604
Retrieved 10 Dec 2017

(2) Real Salt (Kelly Brogan Online Store)
http://kellybroganmd.com/resources/
Retrieved 11 Dec 2017

(3) Real Salt (FAQ)
https://realsalt.com/faq/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(4) Vaccines and Brain Health (Kelly Brogan)
Warning: not a scholarly article
https://kellybroganmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/VaccinesandBrainHealth.pdf
Retrieved 12 Dec 2017

(5) Detox–Why You Need To (Kelly Brogan)
Warning: not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/why-detox/
Retrieved 10 Dec 2017

(6) The Truth is Out: Gardasil Vaccine Coverup Exposed (Kelly Brogan)
Warning: not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/truth-out-gardasil-coverup-documents-exposed/
Retrieved 12 Dec 2017

(7) Psychobiology of Vaccination Effects:
Bidirectional Relevance of Depression (Kelly Brogan)
Warning: not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Psychobiology.pdf
Retrieved 12 Dec 2017

(8) Hepatitis B Vaccine – Is it Safe for Your Newborn?
Warning: not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/hepatitis-b-vaccine-for-your-newborn/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(9) Real Salt Elemental Analysis
http://realsalt.redmond.life/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/Real-Salt-Analysis.pdf
Retrieved 14 Dec 2017

(10) Could this be Driving the Epidemic of Sudden Infant Death (SIDS)?  (Kelly Brogan)
http://kellybroganmd.com/driving-epidemic-sudden-infant-death-sids/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(11) GARDASIL® Package Insert
[Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11, 16, and 18)
Vaccine, Recombinant]
Suspension for intramuscular injection
https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM111263.pdf
Retrieved 13 Dec 2017

(12) FDA Approved Vaccines (UCM201669.pdf:  Prevnar 13)
https://www.fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM201669.pdf
Retrieved 14 Dec 2017

(13) Vaccine Ingredients–Aluminum (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia)
http://www.chop.edu/centers-programs/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-ingredients/aluminum
Retrieved 11 Dec 2017

(14) Pentacel Package Insert
https://www.fda.gov/downloads/biologicsbloodvaccines/vaccines/approvedproducts/ucm109810.pdf
Retrieved 16 Dec 2017

(15) CDC: Public Health Statement for Aluminum
https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1076&tid=34
Retrieved 10 Dec 2017

(16) Aluminum in Drinking Water (World Health Organization)
http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/water-quality/guidelines/chemicals/aluminium.pdf?ua=1
Retrieved 14 Dec 2017

(17) Breastfeeding: A Reproductive Right (Kelly Brogran)
Warning: Not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/breastfeeding-a-reproductive-right/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(18) Baby and Breast: Perfect Together
Warning: Not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/baby-and-breastmilk/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(19) Natural Birth and Breastfeeding: Replaceable?
Warning: Not a scholarly article
http://kellybroganmd.com/natural-birth-breastfeeding-replaceable/
Retrieved 15 Dec 2017

(20) SXSW Festival Slammed For Including HIV/AIDS Denialist In 2018 Wellness Expo
Kavin Senapathy/Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/kavinsenapathy/2017/12/11/sxsw-festival-slammed-for-including-hiv-aids-denialist-in-wellness-expo/#6c8d8c576174
Retrieved 11 Dec 2017

 

Image Credits
Real Salt Logos, product imagery, and ingredients analysis snapshots are all used in 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.

Kelly Brogan, M.D. web site screen snapshots, facebook posts, and images are all used in 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.