How many have seen this kind of spam in the e-mail?
Having a pre-med degree and a lot of experience with pharmaceutical companies, I decided to look into one of these ads to see where the line between reality and misinformation is drawn. It takes some critical thinking to realize how deceptive these ads are.
I chose one from “Health Sciences Institute” (HSI). While I listened to a video that took over an hour, I browsed through the site and checked some facts.
The spokesperson was Jenny Thompson, Director of HSI. Since this is on the World Wide Web, even that name may be false, like the names that tech support people from India use. She claims that pharmaceutical companies and the FDA are hiding these “natural” cures because they cannot make money on them. As you go through the site, many of their ‘cures’ are also chemical compounds, so this is the first fallacy. The second question has to do with the fact that most medicines are based on natural elements used by cultures for centuries; the pharmaceuticals refine these cures to control dosage and side effects. So the claim that natural cures have no side effects because they are natural is nonsense – a little foxglove will stay fibrillation – but a lot of it will kill you.
I only heard of one single double-blind clinical trial. No pharmacy in its right mind would accept a single clinical trial as sufficient. There were references to other clinical trials, but they were not double-blind. If the FDA ever looked at the paradigm, I’m sure these ‘trials’ would be thrown out. The rest of the citations are single people who supposedly were cured of one thing or another by the HSI medicines.
If you have your giggle button pressed on, and have a good grain of salt handy, here are some of the claims HSI makes:
- Wipe out cancer in six weeks with H86: kills cancer cells and leaves healthy cells alone. Certainly, in chemotherapy, healthy cells are killed along with cancer cells; the hope is to stop chemo when the switch to healthy cells occurs. This is why people lose their hair and eyesight and feel sick. Don’t you think any oncologist would jump at it if there was such a cure?
- Go from insulin-dependent to non-diabetic with DBX-13
- Not only arrest Alzheimer’s disease, but reverse it. There was one clinical trial – on rats.
- Old Chinese cure for memory loss; claims to rebuild neurons (someone call my neurologist!)
- Cure for arthritis “grows new joints”. For this they say they are patent pending (sounds like something Pfizer would do – to get the profits; what happened to their altruism?). They claim to have isolated bone marrow proteins which turn on stem cells; this is a fact, but you can’t go from there to building cartilage, as they claim. And their one clinical trial included glucosamine and chondroitin, which is already known as a way to ease arthritis. So how do we know that the product works at all? I’m surprised they didn’t include copper and magnets.
- Relief from migraines
- Remove kidney stones
- Prevent heart attacks and strokes. I drink water every day and have never had a heart attack – maybe water is one of their ingredients?
- A throat lozenge which lowers blood pressure. They claim three scientists got a Nobel prize for this discovery. Actually, I believe the Nobel was for the discovery of nitric oxide, its sources and effects. The lozenge will drop blood pressure by 10-60 points: that’s not much, and they don’t say whether it’s systolic or diastolic. They say the lozenge boosts the body’s production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is made by many different mammalian cells in sufficient quantities; is does a lot of systemic regulation and is a vasodilator. It would only be effective on high blood pressure if the cause of the high blood pressure is low NO. Nitroglycerine triggers the release of NO.
- Lower post-menopausal cholesterol
HSI offers a 500-page book on alternative medicine with all these secrets in it – free – with a membership that you need to cancel proactively, after paying one year in advance. For most people it’s $74.00 for one year; for seniors $37.00 (after all, when you’re on social security you won’t part with $74.00, but might not complain to the authorities for a loss of $34.00.) This affords you an inbox full of daily health reports, monthly new cures (it must be nice to know you will cure yet another illness in 30 days), and access to the knowledge base of their “findings”.
HSI does have a Web site, full of blasting colors and type sizes like a 19th century newspaper ad. Their staff, besides Jenny Thompson, consists of fifteen alternative medicine “experts”. Not an MD nor even a PhD among them. They consider themselves a medical think tank, believe it or not. They exist by selling their own medicines and memberships. Consider, with the claim of 123,000 memberships each year, they have a regular income of $9,102,000.00 a year; that’s $568,875.00 for each of them. And then there are the cures they sell…
I invite anyone to add a comment and share your experiences with this type of advertising/spam.