How To Spot a Quack Health Site: Red Flag #1, Primary Goal Is Selling Supplements

During the process of compiling the Cardiology Quackery Hall of Shame, the skeptical cardiologist has recognized that the #1 red flag of quackery is the constant promotion of useless supplements.

Such supplements typically:

-consist of “natural” ingredients

-are a proprietary blend of ingredients or a uniquely prepared single ingredient, and are only available through the quack

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-11-44-am
And you thought Vital Red referred to Putin! *Individual results will vary according to the strength of the placebo effect

-have thousands of individuals who have had dramatic improvement on the supplement and enthusiastically record their testimonial to its power

-have no scientific support of efficacy or safety

-despite the lack of scientific data, the quack is able to list a series of seemingly valid supportive “studies”

-aren’t checked by the FDA

-apparently cure everything from heart disease to lassitude

I received an email today purportedly from a reader complimenting me on my post on the lack of science behind Dr. Esselstyn’s plant-based diet. The writer thought I would be interested in the work of a Dr. Gundry.

I clicked on the one of the numerous links that were provided andscreen-shot-2017-01-15-at-10-59-10-am based on the appearance of the home page of Dr. Gundry’s website, I feel confident that he is a quack.

Yes, there it is. Red Flag #1: an immediate and aggressive attempt to sell lots of useless supplements.

I didn’t spend a lot of time perusing Gundry’s website, but I read enough to enter him into my contest for America’s Greatest Quack Cardiologist.

Sadly, Dr. Gundry used to be a well-respected cardiac surgeon.screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-11-12-06-am (what is it about cardiac surgery that makes so many turn to quackery?)

Gundry’s life story is typical of the physician who has given up actually helping patients with real medicine and resorted to shilling untested snake oil to gullible people.

“I left my former position at California’s Loma Linda University Medical Center, and founded The Center for Restorative Medicine. I have spent the last 14 years studying the human microbiome – and developing the principles of Holobiotics that have since changed the lives of countless men and women.”

Need I mention that “holobiotics” is (?are) not real.

If any readers have more candidates to nominate for the soon-to-be-announced honor of America’s #1 Quack Cardiologist please forward their names to me.

Bonohibotically Yours,

-ACP

After writing this, I googled “red flag of quackery” images in the foolish hope that I might find a useable image. Lo and behold the image I featured in this post turned up courtesy of sci-ence.org. Here it is in all its glory, courtesy of Maki

2012-01-09-redflags2-682x1024

 

 

8 thoughts on “How To Spot a Quack Health Site: Red Flag #1, Primary Goal Is Selling Supplements”

  1. My ophthalmologist now pushes supplements, and of course they stock them, as well. I do NOT believe in supplements and resent the sales pressure the docs use. This is nothing more than a revenue generator and from my reading, becomming more prevalent in “legitimate” medical practices.

  2. As well known, there are a plethora of such sites The sine qua non of the financial success of each is the MD classification of the purveyor to whit ” if you cannot trust a MD for medical advice who can you trust” as MDs are “reliable, knowledgeable and trustworthy”. Does not unscientific if not snake oi,l promotion under the auspices of such “MDs” weaken patient trust that is essential for a good doctor patient relationship. Why does the medical profession as a duty permit this from its members as some such sites may even be harmful to a patient. Does this not limply that doctors enter into the field of medicine primarily for personal financial gain rather than a fiduciary duty to a a patient. Why limit this skepticism to Cardiologists,

  3. My pet peeve is supplements that contain plant sterols or stanols, sometimes combined with other ingredients such as carnitine (which may promote atherosclerosis according to research by Stanley Hazen’s group at the Cleveland Clinic), and because the plant sterols lower cholesterol slightly, people assume they must be beneficial. In reality, plant sterols and stanols have never been shown to prevent cardiovascular events, or do anything else other than cost you money.

  4. My ex-wife wanted to buy our daugher a supplement from a doctor she met. She said: “It’s a secret formula. It’s patented.” I pointed out that by definition you can’t patent a secret formula.

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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s