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Is that ringing not in your ears? Can it be cured?


Recently I have written about several really stupid marketing videos for dietary supplements e.g. here. They suck you in by promising to reveal a secret, but you have to watch the entire video to learn the secret. One says “5 minutes” but lasts half an hour. They are not only deceptive, but their pattern is the same, almost as if they were following the same marketing script. One was for ReVision, promising to enable you to throw away your glasses, then there was SavageGrow Plus, for penis enlargement. Then one claiming you could lose 52 pounds in 28 days without diet or exercise. They are full of emotion and exaggeration but no evidence and no science. Now there’s another, perhaps the worst yet, claiming that brain scans have uncovered the real root cause of tinnitus, and they are selling a 100% effective cure. It could almost serve as a parody of the others.

It deserves a prize. We need something like a Pulitzer Prize for nonsense, or an IgNobel award for pseudoscience, or something like James Randi’s Pigasus award to expose frauds. SBM’s Silly Bogus Medicine prize? Readers are welcome to make suggestions.

The “evidence”

The video claims that brain scans have uncovered the real root cause of tinnitus. The speaker calls himself Gregory Peters. He says he is a medical librarian who suffered from tinnitus for seven years, and he claims that everything in the video is 100% true; but it can’t be, because Gregory Peters doesn’t even exist. The website tells us “Gregory Peters is a pen name used for marketing purposes and to protect the author’s identity. Any likeness to a real Gregory Peters living or dead is entirely coincidental”.

At his 53rd birthday party, when his family began to sing “Happy Birthday,” he “lost it”. His tinnitus became so unbearable that he went to the bedroom, got his Glock and tried to kill himself. But when he looked into his young son’s eyes, he just couldn’t pull the trigger. He started shaking and dropped the gun. The bullet passed only an inch from his wife’s cheek and lodged in the ceiling. This episode terrified him so badly that he started on a 2-year quest that ended in his finding an effective way to stop his tinnitus, a ground-breaking, inexpensive, natural cure. It allegedly “turned the medical establishment upside down” and saved thousands of lives. Big Pharma is willing to spill blood to keep this information hidden.

Nothing in this story rings true. Why would a suicidal man take the gun back into the presence of his family to let them watch him kill himself? The scenario of shaking, dropping the gun and having it go off is not just implausible; it’s impossible. The safety on a Glock is integrated into the trigger mechanism so that you have to pull back on the safety to release the safety and then pull back further to activate the trigger. The Glock was chosen for use by the police and military precisely because it was the top performer in reliability and safety tests. Testing showed that it was secure against accidental discharge from shock, strike, and even a drop from a height of 2 m onto a steel plate. If he was shaking or dropped the gun, the safety would have remained on, and the gun couldn’t possibly have fired. Another discrepancy: in the video, his son is shown as quite young, way too young to have children of his own; but later Peters mentions that he has grandchildren.

His description of his tinnitus symptoms is over-the-top. Many people with tinnitus don’t find it distressing at all (I am one of those), and it doesn’t always last; sometimes it can resolve spontaneously. Peters says it was “horrifying” and turned him into a vegetable. He describes dizziness, hearing loss, nausea, depression, sleepless nights, having to ask co-workers to repeat themselves, a ruined social life, and brain fog. His mind was deteriorating; his memory began to slip. Once he was so desperate, he stuffed onions in his ears (!?). He couldn’t focus. He couldn’t read because he couldn’t understand long sentences. He couldn’t carry on a conversation for more than 5 minutes. He would go into a room and not remember why he went there (That has happened to me, but it has nothing to do with my tinnitus). Once he forgot the way to his local supermarket.

After 4 weeks of suffering, he made an appointment with a noted ear specialist who ran a lot of useless, expensive tests. He says he pretty much had all his internal organs scanned. (That’s hard to believe. When a patient has tinnitus, there is no earthly reason to scan all the internal organs.) The specialist told him nothing was wrong with his ears. He couldn’t accept that, and it made him distrust the entire medical establishment.

His wife made him consult more doctors; they spent the money they had saved for a vacation. He tried everything: psychiatrists, acupuncture, herbal remedies, antidepressants, hearing aids, sound therapies, sleep drugs. After 7 years of torment, he was exhausted, had to drag himself to work, and was barely able to leave his bed. He didn’t know how much more he could stand. He was a burden to his family – they had to keep quiet and tiptoe around. He didn’t want to live any more. He looked into options like lethal powders from China and assisted suicide.

He then bought the Glock, which featured in his impossible-to-believe story.

What really causes tinnitus?

He tells us that tinnitus has absolutely nothing to do with the ears but reflects a life-threatening process that is occurring in your brain, taking it over and causing memory loss, amnesia, and other dangerous brain diseases.

He describes how he discovered this by doing an intensive search in the medical library. He almost gave up several times, but after only a week, he found two little-known studies that had him doing mental backflips. One was from Germany, where tinnitus researchers had done brain scans. The other was from the University of Iowa. It mapped tinnitus signals in the brain of a single patient during brain surgery. Other studies implicated damage to the auditory cortex, mixing the signals and creating a buzzing. One hypothesis was that cutting the auditory nerve would stop tinnitus as well as producing deafness; but after becoming deaf, patients continued to hear the ringing. The communication lines break down and eventually the brain shuts down. There is a failure of synapses, a failure of brain connectivity. Your brain is a ticking time bomb. He sent these two “unquestionable” studies to many specialists. They obviously didn’t agree that the studies were unquestionable; only one answered: Steven Campbell.

Peters thinks MENSA members are the most intelligent people on the planet and the most powerful He describes Campbell as a genius because he is a member of MENSA and his IQ was measured as 159, only one point lower than Einstein’s. (Einstein’s IQ was never tested, and it’s not clear where the estimate of 160 came from). Campbell said he had cured his tinnitus with a secret protocol only known to Mensa members and a select few others, including some government officials and heads of state (presumably the ones who are not shapeshifting lizards from Alpha Draconis!) :-). Campbell told him Mensa members were motivated to protect their valuable brains. He says MENSA got government funding to develop their secret protocol (Really? Where’s the evidence?). He says this was top-secret medical research that the public has no access to. Do you believe that? He says that according to Campbell many people get into MENSA just to have access to this treatment (I seriously doubt that!). 1 in 10 Americans has tinnitus, but only 3% of the population have access to this treatment. Why is it suppressed?

Why? Because Big Pharma makes Big Bucks from tinnitus treatments, brain boosters, headache pills, and supplements and they don’t want to reduce their profits. And if they did release the new treatment, it would be obscenely expensive.

He says the treatment has been “clinically proven to work regardless of your age”. Actually, no; it has never been clinically tested. The only testing he describes is informal, unpublished, and with no control group; he gave samples to 20 people he knew with tinnitus, and they all said it helped them. He says, “No more hearing aids or chemical-filled remedies, painful ear flushing, or risky surgeries”.

He claims it worked for 47,000 people, typically in 3 weeks. He says he couldn’t wait to try it, but then he says his daughter had to talk him into trying it. That doesn’t add up.

What are the ingredients?

Hibiscus. Hawthorn berry to wipe out panic attacks. Olive leaf strengthens brain networks so they are stronger than steel; it also prevents ear infections. Niacin repairs DNA and corrects years of deterioration. Garlic powers up your memory and fights off dementia. Vitamins B12, B6, and Buchu leaves are like steroids for the brain. They keep the brain from getting smaller with age. Green tea, juniper berry, uva ursi, and vitamin C work to clear toxins from your brain; vitamin C prevents tumors. Dr. Campbell was ready to retire and leave MENSA, so he was willing to reveal the secret formula and help the speaker re-create it. They knew it was incredibly risky and could have cost them their jobs and their lives. 97% of the ingredients on the market are bogus and are derived from chemicals, not from natural sources. They had to seek out only the purest, 100% effective ingredients. But effectiveness is not determined by purity; it requires controlled clinical studies. He mentions homeopathic remedies, seemingly confusing them with other natural ingredients. They did all their research in a “night lab”, testing until dawn. That’s not how legitimate research is done.

He promises to reveal how each ingredient works. But he does no such thing. He makes vague claims about improvements but offers no evidence.

It’s called Sonus Complete.

Do any of these statements sound familiar? They should. They’re taken straight from the standard script for stupid marketing videos.

  • A limited time discount reduces the price from $99 to $49 a bottle. Today only. Buy now. Price will go up. Money-back guarantee.
  • It prevents dementia, rejuvenates and protects brain cells, and can even increase IQ.
  • Everyone should take it.
  • Manufacture takes up to 3 months; quantities are limited. They may run out at any point.
  • 90 days treatment will completely regenerate your brain.
  • We don’t know how long we can hide from Big Pharma.

  • The page may be taken down at any time.

No side effects or allergic reactions?

He says there are no side effects. Not true. If you look up the ingredients, you will find extensive lists of reported side effects.

He claims the amounts of each ingredient are too low to trigger allergies. That shows a complete misunderstanding of how allergies work.

Healthy Supplement Reviews noticed that the marketing story appeared to be fake. They did a taste test which suggested that it only contains garlic.

Conclusion: There is nothing believable here

I don’t believe anything in this video. Watching it was a painful experience and an insult to my intelligence. I wish regulators could put a stop to this kind of false advertising. As for MENSA, my IQ qualifies me for membership; but I have never chosen to join, since I firmly believe that it’s more a matter of how you use your intelligence than of an arbitrary IQ number.

And there’s still no cure for tinnitus.

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Posted by Harriet Hall

Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She received her BA and MD from the University of Washington, did her internship in the Air Force (the second female ever to do so),  and was the first female graduate of the Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base. During a long career as an Air Force physician, she held various positions from flight surgeon to DBMS (Director of Base Medical Services) and did everything from delivering babies to taking the controls of a B-52. She retired with the rank of Colonel.  In 2008 she published her memoirs, Women Aren't Supposed to Fly.