Junk science and nutraceuticals

Lately I have received two completely separate solicitations from a friend and a family member for “nutra-ceutical” products that make claims that are fairly dubious. I am curious about why the information was sent to me, and I am following up to understand this. However, I feel the need to debunk bad science before it harms or scams people.

Terms like epigenetics, biohacking, and reducing oxidative stress are used to draw people into the pseudo-scientific claims they are making. It really upsets me, because the research that they link to their articles does not back up the claims they make. They also prey upon the lack of clinical research knowledge of ordinary people in order to try to sell them supplemental nutrition that we should be getting from real food.

Promotional blurb from the Facebook ad, trying to capitalize on trusted brands in order to market a product with dubious claims.

It makes me so angry that I am going to go on a bit of a rant here. Pardon me for that, but I do not like to see my friends and family duped into buying or selling expensive products that are totally unnecessary. Because this industry is NOT regulated and does not have to go through FDA or other approvals to be released, I have serious safety and efficacy concerns about these products.

I support medicines or supplements that have been shown to have clinical benefits, as long as the side effects are non-existent or minor. Obviously, as a clinical researcher in the medical device industry for over a decade, I have seen the difference that proper therapy and intervention can make for patients.

But I see also the shady under-belly of an industry that is preying upon the worries and fears of people. There is probably a strong placebo effect in terms of people’s belief that these products may work for them. However, I think consumers waste money unnecessarily on non-proven and potentially dangerous supplements that have not been adequately evaluated.

I have healthy skepticism for the medical establishment. I realize that recommendations are not always in the long-term best interest of the patient. Incentives can be contradictory. I realize that presents a problem. But approval for medicines, devices or supplements should be made based on rigorous study design and tested via randomized controlled trials.

Please be careful when you see claims made that seem too good to be true. When a pill claims to reduce symptoms for Fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, and dementia, and MS and a host of other conditions, be suspicious. Typically these claims are overblown and would never pass muster in terms of their scientific validity.

End of rant. This has been your weekly PSA from a concerned clinical researcher.



7 thoughts on “Junk science and nutraceuticals

  1. Thank you for this ‘rant’, Cristy. I use some supplements to help me with areas of my health that are challenging and honestly, I find it hard to separate fact from fiction. I try to stick with trusted brands and avoid brands that make general, vague and too-good-to-be-true claims and aggressively push their product. I’m trying to make sure that if I’m taking a product, I know exactly what’s in it and have a clear rationale behind using it. It must be so frustrating for you as a clinical researcher to see those dishonest companies do what they are doing. I think it’s so important to always come back to food and lifestyle factors. I’d much prefer to invest my money in buying the best quality food I can afford and eating a nourishing diet instead of wasting it on expensive products that actually do nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m happy you wrote this. I heard a story of this guy who got so sick of fake medicines, supplements, and woo therapy that the man bottled used hot dog water and sold it for $99 a bottle, with promises of all kinds of health benefits. Not sure what he did with the money, but I’ve learned people will buy anything. It’s really astounding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. Yea, I realize some of the claims of more established companies may be “lightly supported” through case studies, but they tend not to report on side effects or patients who do not respond to their product.


  3. Glad to see this posted! I read a lot and know that between the incentives doctor’s receive, the tricky marketing so you run to the doctor’s office self-diagnosing or hoping you get that “new” drug (um guinea pig) to later find out the side effects harm you more than help you, and the fear tactic used to run and get your shots… All these psychological games to line their pockets and slowly give you self-induced diseases. Think about it people. Your lack of natural vitamins and minerals is what balances your natural state of being. The body knows how to take care of itself; but what you put into it is the cause of so many health issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes. I do realize that some conditions warrant particular medicines, and I am helped by these presently and was in the past. But I’m the geek that reads the fine print in the patient inserts… 😉


      1. Me too! I had a dr prescribe gabapentin for my fibromyalgia. I asked what the side effects were. He proceeds to state some of them and then (ding ding) you lose focus and feel foggy, if you DON’T wake up, tell somebody. Really? You think I’m that stupid! I’ll stick to what I’m naturally doing versus messing up my brain’s natural order. No way! Never went back to him.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.