A Response to John Oliver’s Story on Dr Oz and
Editor's Note: To view the portion of the show this piece
references, go here:
I was about to mention in one of our
the story of Dr Oz going up before congress to address his
hyperbolic language while discussing a variety of weight loss
supplements, when I caught John Oliver's Last Week Tonight
Oz doesn’t sell the things he talks about, but he is
constantly selling his show. The more hype, the greater the
John Oliver tore into Dr Oz with his usual aplomb
and then quickly went after supplements in general (a few specific) and the
FDA’s oversight/regulation, or lack thereof, of the industry.
Regulation, at first glance, especially given
Oliver’s presentation of a few “facts,” seems logical and good for
the consumer. However, allowing a regulatory agency that is in bed with the
pharmaceutical industry to regulate their competition would be a bit
like allowing players from the Yankees to referee their home games.
Oliver’s writers did their homework and easily
dug into the crap that Oz had hyped on his show, but facts have context
and what many have accepted as facts over the years are not at all
facts but simply BS that has become “fact” for those who have heard it
over and over and over. But first let's take a look at the
supplements they focused on.
Oliver jumped on the green coffee
supplement with a study found here:
a High-Fat Diet with Chlorogenic Acid Is Associated with Insulin
Resistance and Hepatic Lipid Accumulation in Mice
The abstract starts off with a mention of
previous studies showing that coffee consumption prevents metabolic
syndrome (type two diabetes). It then discusses the methodology of
the study by describing the three groups of mice, what they were
fed, and the amount of CGA (chlorogenic acid) the mice received.
At the end of 12 weeks, the study concluded that
the CGA-fed mice had increased their insulin resistance compared to
This conclusion, of course, is totally contrary to
double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to
evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in
published at PubMed.
The difference between the two studies comes down
The first study used mice; the second study used
human beings. The first study used an amount of CGA based upon the
weight of the food received, while the human study used varying
amounts of the CGA.
The human study used a product from a
nutraceutical company approved by the FDA. Where the mouse study got
their product is not mentioned in the abstract.
The mouse study results are not only contrary to
the human study presented here, but contrary to a meta-analysis of
previous studies (results grouped together).
Then there is the study on Svetol® in particular
that we published
at this site:
In a study published in Phytotherapy ...
"researchers used 400 mgs of Svetol brand green coffee bean extract
with 50 participants aged 19-75 during the course of a 60 day
placebo controlled study. Interestingly, in this study scientist
tried to mimic what happens when people diet by asking participants
to reduce their daily caloric intake by 500 calories. Both groups
lost weight, however those on Svetol green coffee bean extract lost
considerably more. The group on placebo lost 5 lbs. while the group
on Svetol lost 11 lbs. In addition the BMI of the group on Svetol
green coffee bean extract went down by 5.7% and the ratio of lean
(muscle) mass to fat mass increased by 4%. This shows that the green
coffee bean extract caused participants to lose weight by increasing
fat burning while sparing muscle tissue (exactly what you want when
losing weight). The participants took 1 capsule containing 200mgs of
Svetol green coffee bean extract with each of their 2 biggest
Svetol® is not just CGA, but that and other phytochemicals found in green coffee.
The question is: why the contrary results in all
these human studies compared to the mouse study?
It boils down to methodology. Something in the
mouse study made the results contrary. In human studies, the
substance is taken before meals, but it "seems" like, in the mouse
studies, it was mixed in with the food. Additionally, we don’t know the
quality of both the food and the substance given to the mice. But
obviously, since this is the only study contrary to the rest,
something in the study was vastly different from all the rest.
The main difference between the human studies and
the mouse study is that one study was done on mice.
The results from mouse studies cannot always be transferred onto
humans. If you've read much of our site or newsletter, you know how
we often reference mouse studies tongue-in-cheek. I've even read
about testing of Alzheimer's drugs on mice. Really? What's a mouse
have to remember in the first place?
The simple fact that Oliver (his research people)
jumped on this study while ignoring all the others tells us that his
report had a bias.
When I published our
story on Svetol®,
I had known about the mouse study. Because it was contrary to all
the other studies, I ignored it. It’s like any study in that oftentimes, to do a statistical analysis, we toss out the results that
are "off the scale" to either side of the mean, especially if they are
much greater or much less than all other responses. Those particular
responses tend to “skew” the results.
Next Oliver jumped on ephedra, and personally
I’ve had the ephedra story up to here. We have some 30 references to
ephedra at this site. I disliked the story from the start and
Oliver’s facts were questionable.
First, let’s talk about the widely covered story
of the Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect Steve Bechler, brought up
Belcher was, in point of fact, abusing
the product and abusing his body.
The news story on Belcher and ephedra that Oliver
played for his audience next brought
up the number of deaths due to “ephedra.” I put that inside
quotation marks because every death that was "reported to be" due to ephedra
was not due to ephedra, at least those we’ve been able
to research; those news stories that reported the actual product the
deceased had used. In every case we found that the deceased had used ephedrine.
In every case we found that the deceased had abused ephedrine.
The claim was 155 deaths. One health-conscious
site found only 81 deaths due to ephedrine while I found another
source that reported the number at 110. But let’s go with the number 155.
Those 155 deaths occurred over a TEN year period. Tylenol
now kills, on the average, around 130 people a year; people who use
it according to the instructions on the label.
Of those "ephedra" deaths, the research I did some 10 years
ago (because of all the hoopla in the news then over ephedra) came up with
ZERO deaths due to ephedra being used according to the instructions,
within the guidelines set by herbalists.
I repeat again: it is ephedrine that caused those
deaths and in every case I was able to chase down, the victim had
been abusing the product.
The focal point of Oliver’s story (the irony) is
“if only there was a regulatory agency to oversee these
supplements,” with the punch line being: Duh…the FTC and FDA.
But let’s jump into one more supplement brought
up by Oliver: L-tryptophan. You'll see where I'm going with this.
In the late nineties, a very bad batch (from
Japan) of L-tryptophan killed 37 people and caused
injuries to 1500 people. Some injuries were
This was a horrible disaster. Few stories
in our media, however, were thorough enough to point out that the
batch had come from
engineered bacteria. The
company, Showa Denko, upon discovering what they’d produced,
immediately destroyed all bacteria used in the production of the product, thus scotching investigators’ ability to determine what went wrong.
This was, admittedly, a horrible situation which
brought up a cry for regulations in the supplement industry.
However, when the FDA is called upon to “regulate”
the vitamin and supplement industry, they don’t just regulate, they
start to “eliminate.”
Ephedrine was abused and caused 155 deaths.
Solution: Eliminate ephedra.
One bad batch of L-tryptophan from Japan caused 37 deaths
and injured 1500 people. Solution: Eliminate L-tryptophan.
And what about stevia? No deaths. No injuries.
Impinges on the profits of Aspartame®. Solution: Eliminate stevia.
Let’s hear from Dr Linda Page, ND, PhD:
I am continually distressed about ephedra's misuse and
abuse, most importantly the isolated component of ephedra,
ephedrine. If herbalists and formulators lose the ability to
use ephedra, we are losing one of the best broncho-dilators
from the plant kingdom that is extremely valuable when used
for asthma and allergies. What then would people have to
choose from to alleviate their symptoms? Drugs of course.
As for the ban on L-tryptophan, here is what Dean
Wolfe Manders, PhD has to say on that subject:
In the fall of 1989, the FDA recalled L-Tryptophan, an
amino acid nutritional supplement, stating that it caused a
rare and deadly flu-like condition (Eosinophilia-Myalgia
Syndrome — EMS). On March 22, 1990, the FDA banned the
public sale dietary of L-Tryptophan completely. This ban
continues today. On March 26, 1990, Newsweek featured a lead
article praising the virtues of the anti-depressant drug
Prozac. Its multi-color cover displayed a floating, gigantic
green and white capsule of Prozac with the caption: “Prozac:
A Breakthrough Drug for Depression.”
The fact that the FDA ban of L-Tryptophan and
the Newsweek Prozac cover story occurred within four days of each
other went unnoticed by both the media and the public. Yet, to those
who understand the effective properties of L-Tryptophan and Prozac,
the concurrence seems “unbelievably coincidental.” The link here is
the brain neurotransmitter serotonin — a biochemical nerve signal
conductor. The action of Prozac and L-Tryptophan are both involved
with serotonin, but in totally different ways. [http://ceri.com/trypto.htm]
When Aspartame® was finally okayed by the FDA,
Japan was not very hot on it. Diet Coke all over the world contained
Aspartame®. In Japan, however, it contained stevia. People kept using
Not one death; not one injury, but suddenly it’s
I’m not big on trusting Wikipedia, but this time
they got it right. You really should read this:
In 1991, after
receiving an anonymous industry complaint, the United States Food
and Drug Administration (FDA)
labeled stevia as an "unsafe food additive" and restricted its
FDA's stated reason was "toxicological information on stevia is
inadequate to demonstrate its safety."
Since the import ban in 1991,
marketers and consumers of stevia have shared a belief that the FDA
acted in response to industry pressure. Arizona congressman Jon
for example, called the FDA action against stevia "a restraint
of trade to benefit
the artificial sweetener industry". To
protect the complainant, the FDA deleted names in the original
complaint in its responses to requests filed under the Freedom
of Information Act.
Stevia remained banned until after
the 1994 Dietary
Supplement Health and Education Act forced
the FDA in 1995 to revise its stance to permit stevia to be used as
not as a food additive – a position that stevia proponents regarded
as contradictory because it simultaneously labels stevia as safe and
unsafe, depending on how it is sold.
Early studies prompted the European
1999 to ban stevia's use in food in the European
further research. In
2006, research data compiled in the safety evaluation released by
Health Organization found
no adverse effects.[44
2008, the Russian Federation has allowed stevioside as a food
additive "in the minimal dosage required".
In December 2008, the FDA gave a
"no objection" approval for GRAS status
to Truvia (developed
by Cargill and The
and PureVia (developed
by PepsiCo and
the Whole Earth Sweetener Company, a subsidiary of Merisant),
both of which use rebaudioside
A derived from the
Stevia plant. However,
FDA said that these products are not Stevia, but a highly purified
2012, FDA posted a note on their website regarding crude Stevia
plant: "FDA has not permitted the use of whole-leaf Stevia or crude
Stevia extracts because these substances have not been approved for
use as a food additive. FDA does not consider their use in food to
be GRAS in light of reports in the literature that raise concerns
about the use of these substances. Among these concerns are control
of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and
The argument here is this: The FDA does not
regulate supplements; it bans supplements.
John Oliver and anyone else who wants to, can
scream to the high heavens complaining about the movement that sent
people’s money to Washington and into the coffers of Senators Hatch
and Harkin all he wants, because nobody in America wants the FDA to
take away our right to use vitamins, minerals, supplements, and
natural products (except the pharmaceutical industry and its
This is what the battle boils down to: a battle
between the people who want to use diet, vitamins, herbs, and
supplements to maintain their health versus a pharmaceutical
industry using the FDA to protect their profits by maintaining a
tight squeeze on the smaller industries. The pharmaceutical
industry's goal is to make every person in America (and beyond) a
This is a classic David v Goliath story. In 2013,
the nutritional and dietary supplement industry sent $1,635,000 to
congress (in lobbying). The pharmaceutical industry sent
Exactly how many drugs have the FDA banned?
Tylenol: 130 average deaths yearly (of people who
used it according to the label instructions). Still available.
Vioxx: Over 60,000 deaths. The FDA did not ban
Vioxx, but Merck & Co. voluntarily removed it from the market.
Coumadin: Over 12,000 deaths each year. Still
approved and on the market.
Birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin, released in
2006, are responsible for at least 100 deaths and over 10,000
injuries. Still available.
Actos, Avandia, Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, Zoloft,
Lexapro, Depakote, Testosterone, Accutane, Crestor, Pradaxa,
Xarelto, Fosomax, and Reglan, all of these responsible for deaths
and injuries numbering in the thousands, yet still on the market.
Over the counter NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) send
nearly 30,000 - 50,000 people to the hospitals yearly. Still on the market.
The “FDA Drug Review: Postapproval Risks
1976-1985” found the following annual deaths from:
Approved Drugs ................60,000 -
All vitamins ...................................................0
Uncontaminated amino acids
And yet, just one problem with a supplement pops
up or someone abuses a supplement and the FDA removes the product
from the market.
Today, it is estimated that over 200,000 people
die from prescription drugs, though you will see “official” numbers
a lot lower, mainly because the industry does not “snitch” on itself
and tends to “under-report.”
Is the FDA complicit?
You bet it is. A recent report that
the blood pressure drug Benicar had caused 23 serious cases
of late-onset diarrhea associated with significant weight loss sent
those terrible trial attorneys into action.
Twenty-three serious cases? The attorneys found thousands of cases, many of whom had
died from either the drug or while being treated for serious
intestinal distress. And they discovered that the FDA had known
about the problem for quite a long time but covered that up.
Is the FDA complicit? That’s kind of what
A Very Shorth History of the FDA
With the passage of the Federal Food and Drug
act, Harvey W Wiley, MD headed up the Bureau of Chemistry which
would one day become our modern FDA. In 1912 Wiley resigned in disgust,
“because the fundamental principles of the Pure Food Law have been
strangled; because he has been powerless to punish the manufacturers
of misbranded and adulterated drugs." [Rocky Mountain News, March
In 1929, Wiley wrote a book entitled, The
History of a Crime Against the Food Law: The Amazing Story of the
National Food and Drugs Law Intended to Protect the Health of the
People, Perverted to Protect Adulteration of Foods and Drugs. In
it he wrote: "If the Bureau of Chemistry had been permitted to
enforce the law as it was written and as it tried to do, what would
have been the condition now (1929)? No food product in our country
would have any trace of benzoic acid, sulphurous acid or
sulphites...no soft drink would contain caffeine...no bleached flour
would enter interstate commerce...Our food and drugs would be wholly
without any form of adulteration. The health of our people would be
vastly improved and their life greatly extended...The manufacturers
of our food supply would (provide) whole ground, unrefined cereal
flours and meals. The resistance of our people to infectious
diseases would be greatly increased by a vastly improved and more
wholesome diet...The cause of a wholesome diet would not have been
put back for fifty or a hundred years...and this History of a Crime
would never have been written."
Skip ahead to January 2, 197 and Dr Herbert Ley,
Commissioner of the FDA has this to say:
The FDA 'protects' the big drug companies
and are subsequently rewarded, and using the government's
police powers they attack those who threaten the big drug
companies. People think that the FDA is protecting them.
What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it is doing
are as different as night and day.
In 1993, Federal Judge Lowell Jensen was quoted
saying, "It apparently is FDA's view that if a company makes a claim
that milk helps prevent rickets, milk suddenly becomes a drug."
As to the companies they’re supposed to oversee,
in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Intergovernmental
Relations, 1970, FDA Commissioner Charles C. Edwards testified: "(It
is) not our policy to jeopardize the financial interests of the
Later Senator William Proxmire was quoted saying:
"The FDA...(is) actively hostile against the manufacture, sale and
distribution of vitamins and mineral as food or food supplements.
They are out to get the health food industry and drive the health
food stores out of business. And they are trying to do this out of
active hostility and prejudice."
While Oliver cries out for “regulation” of
supplements, regulation isn’t even on the list of things the FDA has
in store for vitamins and supplements. In order to protect the
profits of the pharmaceutical industry, their main goal is to
destroy the vitamin and supplement industry, and that, ladies and
gentlemen, is exactly why people like you and me sent money to
Senators Hatch and Harkin.
We wanted to rein in the FDA and keep their hands
off of our supplements.
And yes, we will honestly admit that there will be a
lot of crap on the market, especially when Dr Oz sings out
“miraculous” and “magical.” But this is why we have organizations
like Consumer Labs
that will review the literature on a specific supplement and then
test the leading brands.
Sure, some supplements will not have in them what
they claim to have in them. This is fraud, and the supplement
industry is rife with fraud at times. But again,
this is why we have Consumer Labs; this is why we, at this site, and many others
exposes on fraudulent products; why we read
Dr. Ray Sahelian, MD, and
Dr Alan Sears;
and why we receive newsletters and do our own
thorough research. This is why we shop for trusted brands, like Swanson's, NOW
Foods, Nature Made, and many, many more.
The simple fact is: people who are concerned with
their health are the most informed buyers in America. And when some
clown like Dr Oz spouts off about miracles and the clowns in his
audience take him up on it and order fraudulent products, their
behaviors are injurious to the rest of us who know what the FDA is
up to and who carefully pick and choose our nutrition and
nutritional products to maintain good health.
When Dr Oz spouts off about the miracle named “garcinia
cambogia,” we the buyer can go to a good number of trusted sites to learn
that it’s really “garbagea.”
Yes, we who want good health, who are interested
in our good health, and are doing things to maintain our good
health; we are the overseers of vitamins and supplements.
Do we really need the crooked FDA, daily
complicitly foisting off on the public dangerous drugs while trying to
outlaw berries and raw milk?
I don’t think so.
FDA Complicit in Pushing Prescription Drugs
Senate Report Claims GSK Hid Avandia Risks, FDA May Be Complicit
The Vioxx scandal: damning Senate testimony reveals drug company,
FDA DRUG APPROVAL PROCESS IS WORRYINGLY FLEXIBLE AND RIFE WITH
ERRORS, NEW STUDIES FIND
Indicting Big Pharma
NSAID Pain Killers Linked to Irregular Heartbeat