What Whole Foods Markets Doesn’t Tell You

56

Whole Foods Market is a relentlessly hip American supermarket chain which prides itself on organic fruits and vegetables, gluten-free just-about-everything, and high-end touches like wine bars and exotic take out items (roasted yucca, anyone?). The health products aisle is stocked with Bach Flower and homeopathic remedies. For example, in-house brand Flu Ease: “an established homeopathic formula that should be taken at the first sign of flu for temporary relief of symptoms including fever chills and body aches.”

Selling Flu Ease and like products certainly exhibits a lack of appreciation for scientific evidence, not to mention basic science. But I recently saw a product in the checkout line that was so filled with over-the-top quackery and so shocking in its disregard for the public’s health that I haven’t been back to Whole Foods since. And I won’t be going back.

The product? A glossy, slickly-produced magazine with the conspiracy-minded title What Doctors Don’t Tell You. The April 2014 issue promises, in banner-headline font size, a “New Light on Cancer.” It features the well-known symbol of fighting breast cancer, a loop of pink ribbon, but with a tear in the middle of the loop. We’ll look into this “new light” in a bit.

WDDTY is a British export. The magazine launched there a couple of years ago as a companion to the website of the same name, which has been around since 1989. Both are the creation of Lynne McTaggert and Bryan Hubbard. She claimed, in 2012, that the magazine has a circulation of 40,000. I am not sure when it made its American debut, but this is the first I’ve seen of it.

McTaggert and Hubbard are no strangers to pseudoscience. I’ll let the UK blog Tessera introduce them.

Who are McTaggart and Hubbard? She has form as an anti-vaccination campaigner. In one of her books, The Intention Experiment, she says that the universe is connected by a vast quantum energy field and can be influenced by thought. He recommends vitamin C as a treatment for cancer and they complain about the Cancer Act which prevents them promoting their ‘cures’. So I think we know what we’re dealing with.

Yes, we certainly do.

The magazine’s appearance was not well-received in the UK’s scientific and skeptical community, and for good reason. Simon Singh led the charge: he and others called for its removal from newsagents’ (as the British call them) shelves, a campaign that enjoyed some success. This, in turn, was not well-received by McTaggert, whose representative threatened to sue Singh, a libel litigation veteran. Although McTaggert later denied the threat, she left an internet trail that contradicted her claim. (Moral of that story: don’t deny something you said on the internet. Someone will find it somewhere.)

UK skeptics, science supporters, and their blogs rained well-deserved criticism on WDDTY, especially after McTaggert’s threat to take legal action. Josephine Jones has an extensive list of links to posts and tweets, as well as newspaper articles and a BBC interview with Margaret McCartney, M.D., who also wrote an article about WDDTY in the BMJ. As you might imagine, in addition to the nonsense within the covers, the magazine’s name proved fertile ground for sport. Even the staid BMJ got into the act with “What a new consumer health magazine doesn’t tell you.” 

More criticism heaped on, British-style

What were Singh and the scientific and skeptical community so put off by? Here’s a sample of articles discussed by Dr. Margaret McCartney, in the BMJ. (We should note that Dr. McCartney is no defender of “conventional” medicine.)

In the October issue’s news section the article “Thyme is better for acne than creams” starts, “Thyme is more effective than prescription creams for treating acne. . .The herb outperformed pharmaceuticals in a series of laboratory tests, killing the actual bacteria that cause acne . . . Not only is thyme more effective, but it’s kinder on the skin too, say the researchers. Most pharmaceuticals cause a burning sensation and irritation to the skin, whereas thyme and other herbal preparations have none of these side effects.”

What did the magazine cite in support of this claim? Dr. McCartney found that it was an in-vitro study reported in a press release that (obviously) didn’t compare side effects. (This is a recurring theme in WDDTY: in-vitro or small studies cited with the same degree of confidence as if they were large, randomized, controlled clinical trials.)

Another article Dr. McCartney criticized:

“Army personnel with noise deafness and tinnitus are commonly deficient in B12, but enjoy an improvement in symptoms after taking B12 vitamins.” The study referred to contained 12 patients receiving vitamin B12 and was not a randomised controlled trial.

But that was small potatoes in comparison:

The editorial on Gardasil, headed “Lock up your daughters,” warned that “your doctor and your daughter’s school nurse are not likely to tell you about the 100-plus American girls who suddenly died after receiving an HPV [human papillomavirus] vaccine.”

Tessera jumped on this too:

[An] article, by McTaggart, says that cervical cancer is a third world problem, a ‘disease of poverty and unhealthy living’. She talks about the huge number of side-effects but lists only the serious, scary ones. The article bombards the reader with statistics and ‘facts’ and ends by claiming that the vaccination will ‘at best’ save 40 lives in the UK while harming huge numbers.

She accuses drug companies of using extreme scare tactics to promote the vaccines and make money — which is a bit rich when the magazine is shot through with scare stories to promote supplements and alt med.

An article in the same issue, “How I avoided a hysterectomy through diet,” tells of a woman who claims to have healed herself of severe dysplasia and HPV after turning down a biopsy and D&C. A chiropractor/nutritionist friend suggested she be tested for “hidden food allergies.” A naturopath recommended vitamins and supplements and she went on a “special diet.” The article ends with a list of “helpful supplements.”

WDDTY’s extensive advertising for dietary supplements and other alt med products didn’t escape notice either. The Nightingale Collaboration reviewed the September 2012 issue and submitted 26 complaints to the British Advertising Standards Authority, perhaps the “greatest number of complaints submitted to the ASA for a single publication.” Skeptical Letter Writer listed questionable ads in one issue, including these doozies:

Although doctors tell you that a hearing aid is the only recourse for age-related hearing loss, a wide range of herbs and supplements may be able to restore your hearing… Try the herb Gingko biloba, which helps to improve circulation to the ears.

And this ad from Brandon Bayes, “one of those feel-good-about-yourself speakers from the US” (apparently Americans have a reputation for this sort of talk):

Research by the American Center for Disease Control states that 85% of all illness is emotionally based.

As Skeptical Letter Writer noted, Bayes couldn’t seem to find room in her full-page ad for a citation in support of this statement. Or, I might add, get the name of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention right.

Included in the list was an ad for a subscription to WDDTY, with these enticing claims:

Discover treatments that are safer and more effective… Reverse bone loss for good — The secret your doctor doesn’t know… Asthma exclusive — End your child’s wheezing without drugs… Sunbathe your diabetes away… Natural botox — Safer ways to beat wrinkles… ‘How I avoided a hysteroctomy through diet’… Rock’n'roll dads — You can regain your hearing… Unsteady gran? It’s drugs that cause the falls, not old age…

Written By: Jann Bellamy
continue to source article at sciencebasedmedicine.org

56 COMMENTS

  1. Amusing. In a scary way. However I think the moral to this story is simply to avoid the magazine WDDTY , which is obviously a pseudoscientific rag produced by charlatans. As for Whole Foods in general, the one in my area makes good, relatively inexpensive pizza which I enjoy. They also sell decent produce, better meats than my local market (bison, which I prefer, as well as some other exotics) and some other products I enjoy (for example their 365 mustard made with apple cider vinegar tastes much better than most store brands made from straight vinegar).

    That said, I only do about 5% of my shopping there, often less. But my usual market (Publix in my area) has a magazine rack with rags just as objectionable as WDDTY. I’m pretty sure most of the posters here know enough to avoid the obvious rags. I’m not even sure what compelled the author to pick up What Doctors Don’t Tell You – the content couldn’t have been a shock. And further I’m not sure that the question in the provocative title of this post “What Whole Foods Markets Doesn’t Tell You” is even answered. What should they tell you? Should they hold your hand during your walk through the checkout lane and help you avoid what would seem obvious to most of us as silly pseudoscience?

  2. I think that there is a little bit of truth in this article. I firmly believe that I am what I eat. I cannot create mass from nothing, so as I grow and gain weight I know that it must be from the food that I eat and from stuff absorbing through through my skin. When I eat fries and dirty burgs, which I sometimes do, that is what builds my bones, muscles, ears, eyes, everything that I am.

    I find it hard to believe, first of all, that my body is capable of digesting powdered vitamins, and second, that if these tiny tablets are being digested properly: they would be beneficial to my health.

    I do not know how heavy vitamins are on average, but I will say 1 gram to keep it simple. Surely 1 gram of anything, by itself, would not do anything for me. I mean that if I only eat a daily dose of vitamins for the next few weeks I will likely die, and will absolutely die without drinking water. I could stay on a steady diet of dirty burgs and pop and take a handful of vitamins everyday, but then what will I be made of?

    So what good do vitamins do? I say that they will do an enormous amount of good health when taken naturally as we have been doing for 100′s of 1000′s of years. I mean if I take my vitamins in the form of broccoli, carrots, milk, beans, chicken, steak, spinach, eggs etc. All the vitamins are in the food-stuff and I find my body digests them thoroughly when I eat them in their natural form supported by their natural nutrients. Nobody in the history of my blood line has ever thrown the yolk of an egg away and only eaten white, so my body feels at ease when I eat them together. I think that eating a well balanced diet and taking ‘supplements’ does not prove that the supplements are making you more healthy.

    I would like to remind you of a recent time in our history, specifically around WW2. I have seen many hours of video about this war. One of the most startling things I have seen in my life was in this footage; understandably. It was the scene in many concentration camps: people starving to death for years, to say the least. Literal racks of bone, yet many were standing up and slowly walking about. Many died, of the ones that survived: medical doctors could not comprehend how the did so. It went against everything they knew about the basic nutrition it takes to keep a human alive. Many people that made it through, regained their health and lived for years to come, and some are still alive today. I recommend you to listen their stories.

    I will say that vitamin C and B12 and all the others in their natural forms, together, as part of a balanced diet will prevent some cancer and many other sicknesses, and may cure them.

    • In reply to #3 by Tender:

      I find it hard to believe, first of all, that my body is capable of digesting powdered vitamins, and second, that if these tiny tablets are being digested properly: they would be beneficial to my health.

      That fallacious argument was dubbed the argument from incredulity by Prof. Dawkins. I think he came up with the phrase, anyway I first read it in one of his books and have always liked it. It’s a fallacy to think that just because you can’t imagine something that your lack of imagination in any way counts as evidence against the truth of that fact. Creationists find it “hard to believe” that something as complex as the eye could result from natural selection but it did.

      BTW, I’m not making any claims for or against vitamins. I think that a lot of the vitamins people take just give them colorful expensive urine but on the other hand my neurologist recommends that I take Vitamin D and I follow her advice and I believe that my body breaks down the pills and absorbs them just fine. And I have evidence that is true based on recent blood tests.

      • In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #3 by Tender:

        I find it hard to believe, first of all, that my body is capable of digesting powdered vitamins, and second, that if these tiny tablets are being digested properly: they would be beneficial to my health.

        That fallacious argument was dubbed the argument from incredulity by…

        Woah! Easy killer. I thought this was the science section. It appears to me that you just came from the religious section and, in my opinion: it’s a mess in there. I thought I was fairly open minded. I am eagerly awaiting more knowledge on pills.

        • In reply to #5 by Tender:

          In reply to #4 by Red Dog:
          Woah! Easy killer. I thought this was the science section. It appears to me that you just came from the religious section

          Yes, I just came from the religious section and gave you a well reasoned argument that included a personal example of empirical data that refuted what you said and a reference to Richard Dawkins. No scientific influence there at all.

        • In reply to #5 by Tender:

          In reply to #4 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #3 by Tender:

          I find it hard to believe, first of all, that my body is capable of digesting powdered vitamins, and second, that if these tiny tablets are being digested properly: they would be beneficial to my health.

          That fallacious argument was dubbed the…

          Science does not use incredulity as a test method.

    • As most of us know vitamins were first isolated as organic compounds/nutrients that were essential to humans to combat a host of deficiency diseases. Most modern diets that include a host of foods from most of the food groups will take care of the deficiency disease aspect.

      Supplements can come in handy when you don’t adhere to this wide ranging diet for any number of reasons. For example if you’re on a low carb diet chances are you could be low in vitamins A, E, K and to a lesser extent C and D (depending on the specific food choices). And even though I have a fairly healthy diet I still run low on D, which I supplement with. What interests some scientists (which results in the many studies done on various nutrients) is that if a supplement is powerful enough to prevent a disease in a certain dosage there may be a chance that another (often higher) dosage could have a positive health effect in some other area. Linus Pauling is a good example of a renowned scientist with a great interest in this field. Anecdotal accounts (which typically aren’t worth much) add to the appeal of supplements to many people, which ultimately leads in worst case scenarios to the publication of magazines like WDDTY. But again, this is kind of off topic. Whole Foods sells supplements and magazines but so does Publix (and Target, and Wal Mart, etc). I have no interest in boycotting Whole Foods just because they sell a magazine I find objectionable.

      In reply to #3 by Tender:

      I think that there is a little bit of truth in this article. I firmly believe that I am what I eat. I cannot create mass from nothing, so as I grow and gain weight I know that it must be from the food that I eat and from stuff absorbing through through my skin. When I eat fries and dirty burgs, whic…

    • In reply to #3 by Tender:

      I do not know how heavy vitamins are on average, but I will say 1 gram to keep it simple. Surely 1 gram of anything, by itself, would not do anything for me.

      One millionth of a gram of botulinum toxin (BOTOX — produced by a bacterium) will kill you. Males have a total mass of about 50 millionths of a gram of testosterone in their entire body. A bit less than a gram of potassium cyanide will kill you, and that sells as a powder. I think you need to read up a bit more on elementary biology.

    • In reply to #3 by Tender:

      I will say that vitamin C and B12 and all the others in their natural forms, together, as part of a balanced diet

      It is well proven that a balanced diet and a healthy life style, make people more resistant to disease, and conversely, those weakened by calorie or vitamin deficiencies or illness are less resistant and more vulnerable to disease organisms.
      That does not mean that additional dietary inputs can cure infections or teat genetic problems like cancer.

      In excess some vitamins are actually poisonous! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypervitaminosis

      Surely 1 gram of anything, by itself, would not do anything for me.

      Here is a list of substances where very much less than 1 gram is likely to be fatal!

      http://muller.lbl.gov/teaching/Physics10/old%20physics%2010/chapters%20%28old%29/14-plutonium.html

      Ingestion. For acute radiation poisoning, the lethal dose is estimated to be 500 milligrams (mg), i.e. about 1/2 gram. A common poison, cyanide, requires a dose 5 times smaller to cause death: 100 mg. Thus for ingestion, plutonium is very toxic, but five times less toxic than cyanide. There is also a risk of cancer from ingestion, with a lethal doze (1 cancer) for 480 mg.

      will prevent some cancer and many other sicknesses, and may cure them.

      Vitamins will cure vitamin deficiencies and may improve the body’s resistance to infection IF it is below par because of vitamin or dietary deficiencies. Only a fool would use them as treatment for cancer or infectious diseases instead of modern medicine.

      As others have pointed out:
      Opinions based on the in ability to recognise a problem, are no substitute for examining reputable scientific research on the subject, and avoiding recommendations of dishonest quackery based on wishful thinking and commercially promoted fraud!

  3. Ah, the old Snake oil salesmen!

    If gullible idiots want to waste money on useless products, good for them. I do have a problem with the National Health Service (UK) wasting my money on it though. I certainly won’t be buying the magazine or any products from it.

    Now, who wants to buy this magic bean from me?

  4. I have found the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University to be an interesting site: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/

    I had a low potassium reading from a blood test and found their information to be the most helpful and thorough in correcting that through diet. Evidently supplements cause gastric problems. It is a lot less expensive (free) than WDDTY and it actually tells you stuff doctors don’t tell you. (Because doctors don’t have time, etc.)

  5. Let’s not forget the dramatic effects of a very small amount of a certain substance called lysergic acid diethylamide.

    From Wiki:

    A single dose of LSD may be between 40 and 500 micrograms—an amount roughly equal to one-tenth the mass of a grain of sand. Threshold effects can be felt with as little as 25 micrograms of LSD.[8][75] Dosages of LSD are measured in micrograms (µg), or millionths of a gram. By comparison, dosages of most drugs, both recreational and medicinal, are measured in milligrams (mg), or thousandths of a gram.

    • In reply to #15 by God fearing Atheist:

      I originally thought the photo was of the actual magazine. I’ve just looked a little closer. ROFLMHO!

      I liked the cover too. I would buy THAT magazine. But I wonder where the heck the author of this article ends up shopping. Where I live all the stores have these kinds of publications not just Whole Foods. I think people who practice critical thinking should have better things to do than try to censor what publications get sold at grocery stores.

      • Exactly my point. If I shopped only at places that followed my ever changing personal philosophical paradigm I would quickly die of hunger. And I hate the fear mongering title of this article, which ironically parrots the style of many of those contained in the offending periodical and others like it.

        In reply to #16 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #15 by God fearing Atheist:

        I originally thought the photo was of the actual magazine. I’ve just looked a little closer. ROFLMHO!

        I liked the cover too. I would buy THAT magazine. But I wonder where the heck the author of this article ends up shopping. Where I live all the stores have…

  6. Presumably there were other magazines on sale in the supermarket with horoscopes in them ? OK, not as potentially life threatening, but equally misleading. The whole media is riddled with pseudo science. I’m fed up with articles extolling the benefits of say pomegranates, fish oils, tomatoes, cabbage and whatever.

    How did the Eskimos ever manage without cabbage ?

    In his book Bad Science, Ben Goldacre, a real doctor, mentions a certain Dr. Lilian McKeith, or to give her her full medical title, Lilian McKeith. Yes, she too sells supplements to a normal healthy diet, with great aplomb, and at considerable expense to the purchaser.

    • In reply to #18 by Mr DArcy:

      How did the Eskimos ever manage without cabbage ?

      Just as an aside:- They ate reindeer moss from the stomachs of the caribou they had killed for meat. – There was not a lot of choice of veg. in Greenland before modern transport and global warming arrived!

      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/10/071017-greenland-warming.html

      In southwestern Greenland, for example, the grass-growing season gets longer each year, boosting productivity for some 60 sheep farms now established in the region. Up to 23,500 sheep and lambs are slaughtered annually.

      Dairy cattle have recently been reintroduced, and a government-led project is expected to yield 29,058 gallons (110,000 liters) of milk annually, according to the new report.

      Locally grown potatoes have appeared in supermarkets, alongside broccoli and other vegetables never before cultivated in Greenland.

  7. The year after Shakespeare was born, 1565, tobacco was introduced into London, and in no time at all was being touted as a cure-all; even children were encouraged to to use it.

    Indeed, for a while pupils at Eton were punished if they were found to have failed to take their tobacco.

    Mind you, people were desperate to find anything that would ward off the innumerable poxes and plagues of the time.

    But nowadays we have the advantage of scientifically proven medicine so it really is inexcusable for anyone to fall for this rubbish.

    The reason that they do is a lack of knowledge about science, which can be gained without actually being a scientist.

    In other words, the parasitic peddlers of these potions, take cynical advantage of the vulnerable.

    However, on the other hand, if the purveyors are themselves ignorant, it’s simply a matter of the blind leading the blind.

    Either way the best remedy is knowledge.

  8. While I agree the magazine is no better than a junk tabloid, I also believe that greed disguised as science is equally distasteful. All of the “ask your doctor” commercials and the fact that some homeopathic remedies suddenly become hip when corporations decide to embrace and patent a method to”process” said remedies. It’s difficult to distill who is trying to help from who is trying to get rich from something everyone could grow in their back yard.

  9. Gardisil deaths and other adverse effects are no conspiracy theory or hoax. The vaccine has been probably the biggest fake fix / scam ever concocted by Big Pharma. Check out the documentary, “The Greater Good” and the research/interviews conducted by The Canary Party if you want to learn more.

  10. Keep up the good work, guys. To be fair, though – my doctor did once prescribe me Gingko Biloba for tinnitus. However, he took a full history first, examined my ears, took my blood pressure.

    Oh, and “1″ is not a representative sample. But McTaggart would probably claim it is. :P

    • In reply to #28 by acart51:

      Keep up the good work, guys. To be fair, though – my doctor did once prescribe me Gingko Biloba for tinnitus.

      I’d say your doctor has just recommended a placebo, but why not? Placebo treatments can be very effective if it’s suspected that the complaint is psychosomatic. They can be quite an effective treatment for genuine ailments as well.

      Unfortunately once you are alerted to the whole placebo remedy set-up they no longer work.

      • In reply to #44 by Nitya:

        In reply to #28 by acart51:
        Unfortunately once you are alerted to the whole placebo remedy set-up they no longer work.

        Not always true, although all I have to support that is anecdotal personal info but for what it’s worth, and btw this is something I’ve always found puzzling myself: I take Vicodin for pain. Once in a while I will push myself to not take it so I’m not too dependent on it or I may just forget to bring the pills with me somewhere. Regardless of the reason there will be times once in a while where I feel that I’m in serious, I mean not awful or anything but enough that it’s constantly on my mind and I am highly motivated to make it stop, pain. And when I do and then take the Vicodin I experience immediate relief, right after swallowing the pill. Here’s the thing: I know there is no way the medicine can be absorbed that quickly and actually make it into my blood stream. It has to be the placebo effect. I KNOW it’s the placebo effect. I’ve even thought once or twice “there is no way taking this pill can make me feel immediate pain relief” but I take it and it does.

        • In reply to #45 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #44 by Nitya:

          I know exactly what you mean! This same thing has happened to me, though in this case it was the use of antibiotics! The very act of swallowing a capsule had an instantaneous effect. We humans are strange creatures.

          I remember reading of a study that showed a positive result after knowingly taking a placebo remedy. What is this telling us about our mental processes?

          The remainder of comment #28 stated that his doctor carefully took his blood pressure ect. and performed all the rituals associated with a medical checkup. ( reassuring). In my opinion the doctor had set the scene, established trust and performed his healing magic by recommending a treatment. He/ she possibly added that the treatment doesn’t work for everyone but it’s worth trying, ( what’s to lose?)

          At the end of the day, our lifespans have doubled or possibly tripled since we’ve embraced scientific techniques for treatment and diagnosis, so we have made progress, though at heart we’re still have superstitious tendencies.

      • In reply to #44 by Nitya:

        In reply to #28 by acart51:

        Keep up the good work, guys. To be fair, though – my doctor did once prescribe me Gingko Biloba for tinnitus.

        I’d say your doctor has just recommended a placebo, but why not?

        Also, I want to challenge that a bit. I mean I have no idea what Gingko Biloba is or if it has any valid use for tinnitus, so if you do then feel free to tell me I’m full of it but I just want to point out that we should be careful of adopting the same knee jerk reaction as the people who read WDDTY. Just because a treatment comes from a pharmaceutical company doesn’t mean it’s evil but at the same time just because a treatment is herbal or a vitamin doesn’t mean it’s a placebo. I definitely think that some herbal and natural remedies have valid uses.

        • I definitely think that some herbal and natural remedies have valid uses.

          Not all are necessarily relevant or valid, but just off the top of my head:

          White Willow Bark = Aspirin

          Ma Huang = Ephedrine Hydrochloride

          Foxglove = Digoxin

          Opium = morphine/heroin, et.al

          Ergot = LSD

          In reply to #48 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #44 by Nitya:

          In reply to #28 by acart51:

          Keep up the good work, guys. To be fair, though – my doctor did once prescribe me Gingko Biloba for tinnitus.

          I’d say your doctor has just recommended a placebo, but why not?

          Also, I want to challenge that a bit. I mean I have no idea what G…

          • In reply to #51 by Steven007:

            “I definitely think that some herbal and natural remedies have valid uses.”

            Not all are necessarily relevant or valid, but just off the top of my head:

            • White Willow Bark = Aspirin

            • Ma Huang = Ephedrine Hydrochloride

            • Foxglove = Digoxin

            • Opium = morphine/heroin, et.al

            • Ergot = LSD

            I have ready access to various plants containing some of these, but would have no idea how to accurately check the purity or the doses. Nor would I have any confidence that unqualified and unregulated people would have any capability to do so. – Hence I would obtain any I needed, from a regulated medical source where samples have been thoroughly tested. (I buy my aspirins despite having a large White Willow tree at the bottom of the garden.)

            I do use basic external-use stuff like Aloe Vera, direct from the plant, but even there you need to be very careful.

            In my botanical plant collection I have some very toxic specimens, so I thought it would be a good idea to grow a plant known to be the antidote to their poisonous sap. Having obtained one, I later discovered that it was a wrongly named related species which would have been useless!

          • I agree. We’ve long ago standardized these substances (thank you, science) and created (in most cases) regulated and concentrated extracts using modern methods; I was merely riffing on RD’s conjecture.

            Unlike you, I have ready access to none of these plants! That must be some garden you have. The party is at A4D’s house, ha-ha.

            In reply to #55 by Alan4discussion:

            In reply to #51 by Steven007:

            “I definitely think that some herbal and natural remedies have valid uses.”

            Not all are necessarily relevant or valid, but just off the top of my head:

            White Willow Bark = Aspirin
            Ma Huang = Ephedrine Hydrochloride
            Foxglove = Digoxin
            Opium = morphine/heroin, et.al
            E…

        • In reply to #48 by Red Dog:

          .. Just because a treatment comes from a pharmaceutical company doesn’t mean it’s evil but at the same time just because a treatment is herbal or a vitamin doesn’t mean it’s a placebo. I definitely think that some herbal and natural remedies have valid uses.

          I like to think of myself as a skeptical consumer. When faced with the choice of applying some weed from the garden or spending cold, hard cash, I give the weed from the garden the first chance of success. That failing, I move on to a manufactured remedy. As Steven007 said in #51, many powerful remedies have their origins in plants found in the wild or in the garden.

          After I’ve exhausted the simple ( free) possibilities, I usually go straight to the pharmacist and don’t stop off at the Health Food Store on the way. I have no desire to waste money on something will most likely end in disappointment. There’s no guarantee that the reputable product is going to work either, but at least I feel that I’ve given it my best shot.

          • In reply to #53 by Nitya:

            weed from the garden

            Oops!. I’d better change my wording! I mean “some PLANT in the garden” not “weed”. Just realised my faux pas.

        • In reply to #49 by phil rimmer:

          In reply to #44 by Nitya:

          In reply to #28 by acart51:

          Keep up the good work, guys. To be fair, though – my doctor did once prescribe me Gingko Biloba for tinnitus.

          Unfortunately once you are alerted to the whole placebo remedy set-up they no longer work.

          http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19904-pla...

          That must be the one. Thanks.

          I can only speak for myself and I feel such a resistance to obvious quack treatments, that they have no chance of success. On the other hand, in an orthodox, medical setting I’m fairly confident that I’d respond well. My mind would resist ginkgo biloba but if it were given its Latin name I’d probably fall for it. If the medical treatment included an X-ray, ultrasound or even surgery I’d be totally cured without doubt!

  11. While its obviously wrong for people to make misleading claims regarding alternative medicines, the reach and impact of this magazine are surely tiny compared to the misleading claims published by or on behalf of the major drug companies. It’s startling how many published drug trials produce a positive result, while unfavourable results remain unpublished. Would be interesting if RDF could shed some light on this much more significant and damaging aspect of scientific endeavour.

    • Quite true, LL. Check out this comment from Ben Goldacre from his book BadPharma:

      “Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques which are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don’t like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug’s true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug’s life, and even then they don’t give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion. In their forty years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works through ad hoc oral traditions, from sales reps, colleagues or journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies – often undisclosed – and the journals are too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure.”

      In reply to #29 by London Lad:

      While its obviously wrong for people to make misleading claims regarding alternative medicines, the reach and impact of this magazine are surely tiny compared to the misleading claims published by or on behalf of the major drug companies. It’s startling how many published drug trials produce a posit…

  12. I really wish someone would take this rubbish off the shelves. Its very title, hones in on vulnerable, delusional people who have obviously already been taken in by the charlatans and snake-oil pedlars. It proves that it’s easier to fool someone than convince them they’ve been fooled. It’s sad, but it appears to be true.

  13. The magazine didn’t launch a couple years ago, it was going in at least 1997 so at least 16 years.

    My issue of WDDTY arrived today. The editorial panel is made up of some 9 doctors and 3 columist doctors in this months issue. They literally do report on the things the medical profession don’t tell you. The pharma industry has funded a concerted drive to have it banned in the UK for obvious reasons. It’s how it came to my attention and if Pharma was trying to ban it then it’s something I definitely should take a look at so I got a free copy and then signed up for a year. I like it because it reports on research papers I wouldn’t ordinarily find out about and gives me sound points of reference to then go on and research more from. I’m surprised to see Richard condemn that level of freedom of information. The pharma industry is much larger in the US so I imagine they will prevail in getting it removed from their shelves.

    • In reply to #32 by Elly:

      The magazine didn’t launch a couple years ago, it was going in at least 1997 so at least 16 years.

      My issue of WDDTY arrived today. The editorial panel is made up of some 9 doctors and 3 columist doctors in this months issue. They literally do report on the things the medical profession don’t tell…

      In case people want to check out the online version: What Doctor’s Don’t Tell You

      This is one of those arguments where I don’t really agree with anyone. Hmmm, that seems to happen a lot, maybe it’s me. I agree that there are serious concerns about the drug approval process and how large pharmaceuticals corrupt it. At the same time I don’t usually go for “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Big Pharma has issues but snake oil cures aren’t a very appealing alternative and from my quick look at the site that is pretty much what this magazine seems like.

      And on the other hand railing against Whole Foods for carrying the magazine also seems like a waste of time to me. Did I mention that Oklahoma passed a tax on solar power? There are a lot more serious issues to get upset about than some store selling woo magazines.

      • Though I believe the article was heavy handed and would have been far more impactful if written with a different tone instead of mimicking the fear mongering it mocks, there are valid points to be had. But the information is out there for the taking if you look hard enough, and often you don’t have to look too hard.

        As I’ve said here before, PubMed is my friend (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/). It has a good search engine and you can proactively search nearly anything you’re interested in searching with hundreds of real, referenceable, published studies. Self study as always is essential. Reliance on experts in either realm tends to be one sided.

        In reply to #33 by Red Dog:

        In reply to #32 by Elly:

        The magazine didn’t launch a couple years ago, it was going in at least 1997 so at least 16 years.

        My issue of WDDTY arrived today. The editorial panel is made up of some 9 doctors and 3 columist doctors in this months issue. They literally do report on the things the medi…

      • In reply to #33 by Red Dog:

        Oh I think you do agree with someone, you label it as ‘snake oil cures’ and ‘woo magazines’ – it’s pretty clear where you stand. It definitely ain’t on the fence.

        Taking a quick look at the first few pages I don’t see much woo (is that another word for quakery, I’ve not heared it before). On the Upfront section which is just small news items :(the sources are in parentheses)

        • ‘Calcium is new danger sign of heart disease’ (EurHeartJ, 2013;doi:10.1093/eurhearetj/eht508).
        • ‘Meditation as good as drugs for anxiety’ (JAMA InternMed,2014;174:357-68).
        • “Blue light beats winter blues and puts us in the pink”_ (Sleep, 2014;37:271-81)_
        • “Multivitamin can save 130,000 cancer deaths a year” (Nutrients,2013;5:5161-92; JAMA, 2012;308:1871-80).
        • “Vitamin E Slows Progress of Alzheimers” (JAMA, 2014;311:33-44).
        • “Chinese herb as effective as painkillers” (CurrBiol,2014;24:117-23).
        • “Cancer-causing DNA can be ‘overwritten’” (NutrCancer,2013;65:781-92).
        • “An apple a day reduces risk of heart attack” (BMJ, 2013;347:f7267)
        • “Tomatoes help prevent breast cancer” (JClinEndoctrinalMetab,2014;99:625-32).

        There are more, but you get the idea. As I say, that’s just the bitesize newsy bits at the front and give you sources to then go on to look at closer.

        There are of course full articles too, first one is “Food Supplement Fakery” the next is on the US drugs industry spending $27billion a year on the ongoing education of Doctors (absolutely nothing ontoward there I’m sure).

        This is stuff I would never get to see, not have an inkling about unless I was tipped off to the research. It’s up to me if I then take it at face value or look into it further which I do if something affects me or someone I know.

        I want to have this information available to me and I don’t want the campaign to stop me seeing it succeed. I think it will in the US, as I said before, the pharma industry has a lot more money there. But selfishly I guess I just don’t want it to succeed here in the UK.

        • In reply to #36 by Elly:

          This is stuff I would never get to see, not have an inkling about unless I was tipped off to the research. It’s up to me if I then take it at face value or look into it further which I do if something affects me or someone I know.

          Go to the WDDTY web site copy all the headlines that interest you then go to the sciencebasedmedicine.org website and look for their response. You may have a few weeks to wait sometimes but it will be worth it. (I picked several topics from your list at random….Its all there.)

          There you can read the truth for free. There is no excuse for reading nonsense when very high quality data on most issues abounds.

          That WDDTY is savvy enough to mix in some good stuff makes it only the more dangerous.

          • In reply to #38 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #36 by Elly:

            This is stuff I would never get to see, not have an inkling about unless I was tipped off to the research. It’s up to me if I then take it at face value or look into it further which I do if something affects me or someone I know.

            Go to the WDDTY web site copy all the head…

            Thanks for the pointer to sciencebasedmedicine.org That’s an excellent site and I wasn’t aware of it. And to Elly, if you look at sciencebasedmedicine.org one of the main articles right now is: GlaxoSmithKline Investigated for Bribing Doctors They are hardly schills for Big Pharma.

          • In reply to #39 by Red Dog:

            Its a cracking site and the links take you to others of equal merit.

            I posted the comment then went to read the rest of the article by following the link. D’oh!

          • Cracking seems to be accurate. Thanks for the tip. It’s a nice site, though primarily aimed at the layperson I would suspect, which is perhaps a good thing given its inclusive nature (none of the hard science sites I frequent would ever deign to have article titles such as “Amber Waves of Woo” and “Hickey”). Cute, ironic, sarcastic perhaps, but I get enough of that from the non science websites I travel to.

            That said, the material seems solid. The writing perhaps a bit less so, the rhetorical quality of which (sample: “What is mugwort? I resist the urge to make a Harry Potter pun about where Muggles go to school. No wait, I just did. Sorry.”) is a bit much for me.

            In reply to #40 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #39 by Red Dog:

            Its a cracking site and the links take you to others of equal merit.

            I posted the comment then went to read the rest of the article by following the link. D’oh!

          • In reply to #41 by Steven007:

            I find the writing style reassuringly non-journalistic and nerdy. I suspect WDDTY is the smoothest and silkiest of wordwooze…

            (I went to check my nerdy reference to Fritz Leiber’s The Silver Eggheads and discovered that “wordwooze” is a nsfw search term.)

          • Non journalistic to be sure. And I’ve never read a word of WDDTY so I wouldn’t know. As I commented recently on another posting, I’m a lab guy with a lot of experience. I’ve submitted and had articles published in CAP Today and MLO (Medical Laboratory Observer). Not Time or Newsweek, but relevant and respected peer reviewed industry periodicals in the lab field. CAP Today requires academic quality writing per their style guide. They have editors of course but they’re not there to rewrite your copy. There was more leeway in MLO and you could be a bit more creative. I’ve written for other periodicals in a completely different sphere but those two are my professional CV fillers.

            That said, the reference citations for both of those periodicals are thoroughly vetted. A site such as sciencebasedmedicine.org, which is a blog, would likely not pass muster. I’m not even sure it would pass Wikipedia’s editorial muster. In fact the mere fact that according to their Submission Guidelines “Anyone is welcome to submit content to ScienceBasedMedicine.org, regardless of credentials” is enough for it to be summarily dismissed by experts (as a primary reference), regardless of the relevance. Experts would go to the source articles, citations and studies as they always do (and as they always should). Again, this doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, just a recreational one currently building its own relevancy. And certainly we need more good recreational science websites.

            I personally don’t find reassurance in non-journalistic and/or nerdy writing, but that’s just me. There’s a place for colloquial science writing but for me a science website that’s going to be taken seriously and cited by other scientists and esteemed periodicals is not that place.

            In reply to #42 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #41 by Steven007:

            I find the writing style reassuringly non-journalistic and nerdy. I suspect WDDTY is the smoothest and silkiest of wordwooze…

            (I went to check my nerdy reference to Fritz Leiber’s The Silver Eggheads and discovered that “wordwooze” is a nsfw search term.)

          • In reply to #43 by Steven007:

            “Anyone is welcome to submit content to ScienceBasedMedicine.org, regardless of credentials. Just send us a good article, and we’ll publish it if we think it’s interesting, appropriate, and scientifically accurate.”

            The editorial staff (well five out of six) boast appropriate medical degrees to assess this latter.

            It is clearly not intending to be a source of primary reference but of popular accessible reference and a simple corrective to the promotion of non-scientific medical opinion.

            I’m sure it struggles to generate as much content as they would like. There are bright people out there though who may have experience narratives on obvious medical folly. You don’t have to be a doctor to see the poverty of some “clinical” trials, how they are constituted and interpreted. The area of topicality is broad enough to not necessarily need specific medical training.

            We have no firm style guidelines. Being a blog, there’s a lot of flexibility, and room for personality and humour. The main requirement is intellectual rigour: make a well-reasoned, science-based point about health care, and it has a good chance of being published.

            You’ll get extra points for good scholarship and referencing, but it’s not necessarily required, depending what you’re writing about.

            The site would be a failure if it failed to connect with the general public. Worthiness and sobriety may be a greater risk than some bad jokes.

          • All good points, PR. We’re speaking the same language but prefer a different book. It comes down to preference. I’m not criticizing your introduction of ScienceBasedMedicine.org (which I was wholly unfamiliar with) to the conversation. Indeed, thank you for steering me/us there. Honestly, I’m enjoying reading through many of the pieces there. As I’ve said several times it’s certainly a nice alternative to the likes of WDDTY. I simply happen to prefer more scholarly sites with a slew of indexed references when debunking charlatans, that’s all. Those are the sites I use when I write so I’m used to them. It’s merely a preference.

            Also, none of the science journals I prefer have a category for “Book and Movie reviews” and “Humor”. Just saying :)

            In reply to #46 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #43 by Steven007:

            “Anyone is welcome to submit content to ScienceBasedMedicine.org, regardless of credentials. Just send us a good article, and we’ll publish it if we think it’s interesting, appropriate, and scientifically accurate.”

            The editorial staff (well five out of six) boast app…

    • In reply to #32 by Elly:

      The magazine didn’t launch a couple years ago, it was going in at least 1997 so at least 16 years.

      My issue of WDDTY arrived today. The editorial panel is made up of some 9 doctors and 3 columist doctors in this months issue. They literally do report on the things the medical profession don’t tell…

      I couldn’t get into any of the actual articles (they require you to create a user ID to get past the first paragraphs of an article, which I assume will require giving my email and I’m not motivated enough to do that) so this is just very much a gut reaction but all of the articles I saw looked like pseudoscience to me. For example there was an anti-vaccine article, an article claiming Vitamin C can kill Cancer cells, etc. This is where I think a lot of the critics of Big Pharma make their error. Since Big Pharma uses the scientific method (I agree it is corrupted somewhat) most of the critics just go to the extreme of rejecting science all together which is as they say throwing the baby out with the bath water.

      Can you give a specific example of an article that had actually valid questions about some issue that were raised in a rational way?

  14. I agree that these kinds of publications are trash, but what the heck does any of this have to do with the grocery store that you saw it in? I don’t boycott my other local grocery chains simply because they sell the National Inquirer or have ads for Fox News in sight.

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