Category: Herbs & Supplements

Cinnamon for diabetes? The consequences of “natural alternatives”

A customer strolled up to the counter one night when I was working in a retail pharmacy: “My doctor says I have prediabetes. I don’t want to take any drugs. Do you have something natural I can use to cut my blood sugar?” I looked at him in the eye, and pointed at his sizeable midsection. “Sir, if you’re at risk for...

/ August 16, 2012
Berries

Are Berries the New Snake Oil?

Are berries a superfood? No, they're just good for you, like all fruit.

/ August 8, 2012

ASEA: Another Expensive Way to Buy Water

ASEA is a diet supplement described as a “life-changing” health aid that can benefit everyone. “ASEA is trillions of stable, perfectly balanced Redox Signaling Molecules suspended in a pristine saline solution—the same molecules that exist in the cells of the human body. Redox signaling is a function that is central to all life. Signaling molecules are created within every cell in the...

/ August 7, 2012

Olympic Pseudoscience

The Summer Olympics are coming up, which means that, in addition to world-class athletic performance, the public will be exposed to a variety of sports-related pseudoscience. This is not unique to the Olympics, of course. The world of sports competition is rife with pseudoscience, false claims, dubious products, superstitions, and magical charms. The most egregious example of this recently has been the...

/ July 25, 2012

Red Yeast Rice and Cholesterol

While much of CAM is ridiculous or implausible, herbal remedies are an exception. Plants produce pharmacologically active substances; in fact, the science of pharmacology grew out of herbalism. Some herbal remedies have not been scientifically tested, but others have been tested and are clearly effective. Nevertheless, these are seldom if ever the best choice for treatment. One natural remedy stands out. Red...

/ July 24, 2012

The HCG Diet: Yet another ineffective quick fix diet plan and supplement

I contribute biweekly to Science-Based Medicine and could easily devote every post to writing about weight loss supplements, and never run out of topics. As soon as one quick fix falls out of favour, another inevitably replaces it. Some wax and wane in popularity. And pharmacies don’t help the situation. I cringe every time I walk down the aisle where weight loss...

/ July 19, 2012

Oxygen Is Good, Even When It’s Not There

Note: This article originally appeared in Skeptical Inquirer, 28(1), 48-50 & 55, January/February 2004. I’m recycling it now because I have been at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas instead of home at my computer writing new posts. It’s still timely: despite multiple debunkings and FTC actions, vitamin O is still for sale. Amazon has it for $4.80 an ounce. I’m no Mark...

/ July 17, 2012

Why Do They Do Studies Like This?

A recently published study claims to have shown that a proprietary mixture of velvet bean and Chlorophytum borivilianum improves sleep quality. The journal, Integrative Medicine Insights, is online, peer-reviewed, PubMed indexed, open-access, and it charges authors $1848.00 to publish their article. It advertises editorial decisions in 3 weeks and publication in 2 weeks after acceptance. I can see two reasons why authors...

/ July 10, 2012
Green coffee beans

Dr. Oz and Green Coffee Beans – More Weight Loss Pseudoscience

I can’t keep up with Dr. Oz. Just when I thought the latest weight loss miracle was raspberry ketone, along comes another weight loss panacea. This time, it’s green coffee beans. Eveyone knows Dr. Oz, now. Formerly a guest on Oprah, he’s got his own show which he’s built into what’s probably the biggest platform for health pseudoscience and medical quackery on...

/ July 5, 2012

5-hour Energy

What should you do if you feel tired? Taking a nap isn’t always possible. The ever-inventive capitalist marketplace has come up with another option. 5-hour Energy is a flavored energy drink sold as 2 oz “shots.” It was invented by Innovation Ventures in 2004. It is intended to counteract the afternoon slump, to increase alertness and energy, to help you stay sharp,...

/ June 26, 2012