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Adaptogen hype scrutinised

Posted 28 June 2022

“They are claimed to cure everything, even long COVID. But the science on adaptogens is very disappointing.”

Adaptogens are said to be substances, often plants (such as ginseng and golden root), that help the body adapt to stress with no side effects. A recent article makes these points:

  • Their long-term safety has not been demonstrated.
  • Regulation of this market is poor.
  • Some adaptogenic herbs are known to have potentially serious side effects.
  • Evidence for effectiveness usually comes from animal studies and a few published studies in humans that tend to be small and lacking in rigor.

Reference: Jarry J. The problem with adaptogens. McGill Office for Science and Society, June 9, 2022

Source: Consumer Health Digest #22-26, June 26, 2022

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Why Too Many Vitamins Feels Just About Right

Posted 23 June 2022

This editorial published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) asks:

“Essential nutrients plus clever marketing: it is clear why vitamin and mineral supplements are so appealing. But that begs the question of why it is so easy to market the unproven benefits of these products while it is so difficult to convince people to receive lifesaving vaccines.”

The article is though provoking and worth reading here

In the event of difficulty accessing the site, it is copied here.

JAMA Editorial
June 21, 2022

Why Too Many Vitamins Feels Just About Right

JAMA Intern Med. Published online June 21, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.0119

Currently, US adults spend more than $10 billion per year on vitamins and dietary supplements,1 believing against most evidence that fortified gummy bears and water infused with vitamins will improve their health and well-being.

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Can Supplements Really Help With Depression or Anxiety?

Posted 17 June 2022

SCAM OR NOT

Here’s what the evidence says about what works (and what doesn’t).

St. John’s wort “promotes a positive mood.” Valerian root reduces “levels of anxiety and stress.” Lavender oil is “calming for body and mind.”

If you are among the tens of millions of people in the United States who suffer from depression or anxiety, it is easy to be captivated by the promise of mood-boosting supplements. Take these pills daily, their marketing suggests, and soon you’ll be happily bouncing through verdant, sun-soaked fields, no prescription required.

But, while experts say that some mood-lifting supplements are better studied than others, the wider evidence on their effectiveness is shaky at best. “I’m not saying that there’s evidence that these things aren’t useful,” said Dr. Gerard Sanacora, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine

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Paediatric melatonin poisonings increasing

Posted 12 June 2022

Melatonin, which is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a dietary supplement, is widely used as a sleep aid. According to an analysis of 260,435 reports of ingestion of melatonin by teenagers and preteens made to the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System from 2012 to 2021:

  • 94.3% of the ingestions were unintentional
  • 83.8% were among children under age six
  • 17.2% involved symptoms, mostly of the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, or central nervous systems
  • 99.0% occurred in the home
  • 88.3% were managed on-site
  • among 27,795 patients who received care at a health care facility, 19,892 (71.6%) were discharged, 4,097 (14.7%) were hospitalized, and 287 (1.0%) required intensive care
  • most of the hospitalized were teenagers with intentional ingestions
  • 4,555 (1.6%) resulted in more serious outcomes including five children who required mechanical ventilation and two died
  • pediatric ingestion reports increased from 8,337 in
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‘Designer Water’ and Alkaline water – pure scam

Posted 27 May 2022

Modern snake-oil sellers have a sciency-sounding shtick about them, but ‘alkaline’ or ‘ionised’ water is a swindle.

Adverts for a fancy water brand called Designer Water are all over Facebook. My local gym sells it. The ads circulate on WhatsApp groups. There is a multi-level marketing scheme for it, à la Herbalife, Avon, Amway, and Tupperware.

Its differentiator is that it is ‘ionised’ to be ‘alkaline’, with a claimed pH of 10. For this, you can expect to pay two to three times as much as you’d pay for regular filtered water in a bottle.

Continue reading

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Homemark Milex Jump Start Juicer – ARB ruling

Posted 10 May 2022

This product claims in a Carte Blanche advert that it would allow users to “Lose the weight you’ve always wanted to lose, in only seven short days, without ever stepping foot in a gym …” It adds that this “… Jump Start seven-day programme is super-fast weight loss to flush out stored toxins, and once you remove these toxins the fat is released from your body in a quick, yet safe manner”. It also features the following “Before” and “After” photos of people purported to have lost weight using this programme.

The Complainant submitted that there is insufficient evidence to support reliance on juice- based diets, that research from trusted sources have linked liquid diets to an increased risk of eating disorders and health complications, and that people should only undertake liquid based diets under close medical supervision.

The Complainant added that there was no evidence … Read the rest

Wondernut: ARB Ruling

Posted 28 March 2022

A consumer laid a complaint with the Advertising Regulatory Board against the claims being made for Wondernut arguing that there is no robust evidence to support the claims being made for this product.

The product claims, inter alia:

  • May Lose centimetres
  • May Improve Muscle tone, May Increase weight loss and detoxifies your system.
  • May Maintains Energy levels
  • May Enhances skin – Making it soft and shiny May increase your skin elasticity
  • Transform food into energy instead of fat

After a thorough consideration, the ARB agreed and ruled against the claims being made for this product.

Decision of the ADVERTISING REGULATORY BOARD

Complainant: Dr Harris Steinman
Advertiser: Wondernut (Pty) Ltd
Consumer/Competitor: Consumer
File reference: 1936 – Wondernut – Steinman
Outcome: Upheld

Date: 28 March 2022

The Directorate of the Advertising Regulatory Board has been called upon to consider claims made by the Advertiser for its “Wondernut Capsule” … Read the rest

OptiWay Food Intolerance Test – ARB Ruling

Posted 28 March 2022

The Directorate of the Advertising Regulatory Board was called upon to consider a complaint against claims made on the Advertiser’s website https://www.optiway.co.za/ and heard during a radio commercial.

The Complainant submitted that there is insufficient evidence to show that this test, which is “… essentially an IgG type test          ” can deliver on its claimed efficacy, that is, can detect foods which result in “food intolerance”.

The ARB  concluded that in light of the adverse finding, the Advertiser is requested to withdraw this claim with immediate effect and within the deadlines stipulated in Clause 15.3 of the Procedural Guide.

Decision of the ADVERTISING REGULATORY BOARD

Complainant: Dr Harris Steinman
Advertiser: OptiWay
Consumer/Competitor: Consumer
File reference: 1926 – OptiWay Foods – Steinman
Outcome: Upheld

Date: 28 March 2022

The Directorate of the Advertising Regulatory Board has been called upon to consider a complaint against claims made on … Read the rest

Bioresonance: a new (and most underwhelming) study

Posted 27 March 2022

From the blog of Prof Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd, and a previous Professor of Complementary Medicine.

Bioresonance is an alternative therapeutic and diagnostic method employing a device developed in Germany by Scientology member Franz Morell in 1977. The bioresonance machine was further developed and marketed by Morell’s son-in-law Erich Rasche and is also known as ‘MORA’ therapy (MOrell + RAsche). Bioresonance is based on the notion that one can diagnose and treat illness with electromagnetic waves and that, via resonance, such waves can influence disease on a cellular level.

On this blog, we have discussed the idiocy bioresonance several times (for instance, here and here). My favorite study of bioresonance is the one where German investigators showed that the device cannot even differentiate between living and non-living materials. Despite the lack of plausibility and proof

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There’s a sucker born every minute – particularly in the realm of so-called alternative medicine

Posted 23 March 2022

An post from the blog of Prof Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd, and a previous Professor of Complementary Medicine.

“There’s a sucker born every minute”. This phrase was allegedly coined by P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid-19th century pictured below. It describes the tendency of the gullible of us to believe all too readily and therefore to be easily deceived.

Gullibility can be described as a failure of social intelligence in which a person is easily tricked or manipulated into a course of action for which there is no plausible evidence. To express it positively, gullible people are naively trusting and thus fall for nonsensical propositions. This renders them easy prey for exploiters.

On this blog, we see our fair share of this phenomenon, e.g.:

  • people who are easily persuaded by anecdotes,
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