The Detox Scam: How to spot it, and how to avoid it

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New Year, New You, right? 2014 is the year you’re finally going to get serious about your health. You’re winding down from a week (or more) of celebrations and parties. You’re pretty much recovered from New Year’s Eve by now. It’s time to make some resolutions. 

Conveniently, there is no shortage of solutions being advertised to absolve you of your sins while overhauling your body and soul for 2014: What you need to do is “detox”. You’ll see the detox kits at your local Whole Foods (or even your local pharmacy). Books, boxes or bottles, with some combination of “detox”, “cleanse” or “flush” in the product name. Supplements, tea, homeopathy, coffee enemas, ear candles, and footbaths all promise detoxification. The advertising suggests you’ll gain a renewed body and better health – it’s only seven days and $49.95 away. Or try to cleanse yourself with food alone: Dr. Oz is hyping his Holiday Detoxplan. Bon Appetit is featuring their 2014 Food Lover’s Cleanse. Or what about that old standby, the “Master Cleanse”? It’s the New Year – wouldn’t a purification from your sins of 2013 be a good idea to start the year? After all, the local naturopath offers complete detoxification protocols, including vitamin drips and chelation. There must be something to it, right?

Wrong. “Detox” is a case of a legitimate medical term being turned into a marketing strategy – all designed to treat a nonexistent condition. In the setting of real medicine, detoxification means treatments for dangerous levels of drugs, alcohol, or poisons, like heavy metals. Detoxification treatments are medical procedures that are not casually selected from a menu of alternative health treatments, or pulled off the shelf in the pharmacy. Real detoxification is provided in hospitals when there are life-threatening circumstances. But then there are the “toxins” that alternative health providers claim to eliminate. This form of detoxification is simply the co-opting of a real term to give legitimacy to useless products and services, while confusing consumers into thinking they’re science-based. Evaluating any detox is simple: We need to understand the science of toxins, the nature of toxicity, and how detox rituals, kits, and programs claim to remove toxins. With this framework, it’s a simple matter to spot the pseudoscience and be a smarter consumer.

Written By: Scott Gavura
continue to source article at sciencebasedmedicine.org

22 COMMENTS

  1. If in need of detoxification I always send for the Homepathic Emergency Paramedics !

    A large dose of diluted water with memory always does the trick ! (The trick is in the dilution process, carefully kept secret by the Homoeopathic Association and the Free Masons for Free Enterprise. )

    • In reply to #2 by Mr DArcy:

      If in need of detoxification I always send for the Homepathic Emergency Paramedics !

      A large dose of diluted water with memory always does the trick ! (The trick is in the dilution process, carefully kept secret by the Homoeopathic Association and the Free Masons for Free Enterprise. )

      Perhaps a tot or two of Holy Water would suffice in lieu of…?

  2. I presume the photo of Dr. Oz is included due to the fact he’s a product of Harpo Productions.

    Meaning, the doctor has morphed (for whatever reason) into a cog of Oprah Winfrey’s woo machine.

  3. Could I suggest a scientific test.
    Take one or more “organic” detox salesmen along with their product and immerse in a reed test-bed for a few days.

    Reed bed technology is based upon the cleansing power of three main elements: soil dwelling microbes, the physical and chemical properties of the soil, sand or gravel, and finally the plants themselves. Of these, the microbial flora and fauna is the most important constituent.

    This is a genuine detoxification treatment! – It’s just not commonly used on humans (or even salesmen.).

    • In reply to #7 by Alan4discussion:

      Could I suggest a scientific test.
      Take one or more “organic” detox salesmen along with their product and immerse in a reed test-bed for a few days.

      Reed bed technology is based upon the cleansing power of three main elements: soil dwelling microbes, the physical and chemical properties of the soil…

      This must be how homeopaths take the old memories out of water or it just wouldn’t work!

  4. What really makes me angry is stores like Walgreen’s are selling these products, including homeopathic remedies. I don’t think they should legally be able to sells these and be a licensed pharmacy. It lends an air of legitimacy to the scam products.

    • In reply to #9 by A3Kr0n:

      What really makes me angry is stores like Walgreen’s are selling these products, including homeopathic remedies. I don’t think they should legally be able to sells these and be a licensed pharmacy. It lends an air of legitimacy to the scam products.

      Homeopathy and religions should all be required to show proof of what they promise, along with all woo woo practitioners. If I tried to scam anyone the way that these people do I’d be locked up tout de suite !

    • In reply to #9 by A3Kr0n:

      What really makes me angry is stores like Walgreen’s are selling these products, including homeopathic remedies.

      Moreover, a double scam at that. Walgreens is accused of severe price gouging. Missouri’s State Attorney recently filed a lawsuit against the company, including false advertising.

    • In reply to #9 by A3Kr0n:

      What really makes me angry is stores like Walgreen’s are selling these products, including homeopathic remedies. I don’t think they should legally be able to sells these and be a licensed pharmacy. It lends an air of legitimacy to the scam products.

      In Canada super markets with Pharmacists had to stop selling tobacco. It was an interesting test of whether they wanted to make money from helping or causing illness. Needless to say they all stopped selling tobacco.

      I’d like to see the same for this pseudo science. After the week that brought us the “avoid” advice on supplements there’s a whole bunch of new adverts for the gullible and ill-informed. Using legally certified drug dispensers to give this crap legitimacy is hurting consumers and benefiting those who, like the tobacco companies, know full well what their product is doing or not.

      We shouldn’t be marketing drugs or detoxes like candy.

    • In reply to #16 by bluebird:

      while confusing consumers into thinking they’re science based – detox, ear candles

      The periodic table of nonsense is a helpful guide. (click image to enlarge)

      Is cupping what I think it is?

      • _In reply to #17 by bobe_s:

        Is cupping what I think it is?

        It’s using glass cups to create suction. I’ve had it done – some sort of oil was put onto my back, and a flame was lit under a glass cup to create the suction. Then it was slid around my back. It felt like a fantastic massage, really. (I don’t know what claims are made for it, but I’d do it again just because it felt so nice.)

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