What televangelism and alternative medicine have in common | The Ridgefield Press

What televangelists and alternative medicine proponents have in common By Evan Levine on August 4, 2014 in Columns , Latest Local News · 6 Comments

 To the skeptical, Andrew Weil, Mehmet Oz, Joe Mercola and Deepak Chopra have an unsavory commonality with people like Jimmy Swaggart, Benny Hinn, and “The Reverend” Jim Bakker. They all offer tales of miraculous healings while peddling something seemingly too good to be true. Appealing to the naive in order to sell alternative health products like special vitamins, books or shows that promote unproven products like green coffee beans, is a very lucrative business, and many a fortune has been made doing it. So while they earn millions of dollars and achieve celebrity status, honest religious leaders and physicians watch with disappointment as these dubious salesmen separate the innocent from their savings.

I was searching cable the other night when I came across Larry King, who now promotes a product called Omega XL. Larry tells the audience, “I get up in the morning to put on my socks, to bend over and put them on, I used to have pain. I don’t have it anymore.” Viewers are asked to trust the opinion of Larry King instead of a real scientific study. Whether it’s Larry promoting Omega XL, Mehmet Oz promoting green coffee beans, or Joe Mercola’s claims about the supplements he sells, the best they can do is to ask you to trust them or their paid spokesperson. Sure, sometimes they’ll mention something about testing on animals or on patients, but they can’t show you a study that was vetted by real doctors and scientists and published in a peer review journal. And yet millions of people trust these personalities instead of physicians who truly care for them and follow well established treatments.

Some reading this might suspect I’m an advocate for the pharmaceutical industry, but if you read my book, What Your Doctor Won’t (or Can’t) Tell You , or my articles on Big Pharma’s products, you’ll surely conclude that I am no fan of Big Pharma. Sadly, I seem to have attracted attention from some very kind but poorly informed people who appropriately distrust the huge prescription drug industry, but make the false assumption that I am therefore an advocate for alternative medicine. I am not, and folks who push alternative products like green coffee, colon cleansing, special vitamins, or “miracle” Garcinia Cambogia berries, to name just a few, are not promoting good health either. Actually, I detest these smooth-talking “health experts” who have the same MO as Jim and Tammy Bakker, who market nothing but fool’s panaceas. As untrustworthy as Big Pharma is, they at least produce many products that help people, and they are policed, to a degree, by the FDA. Alternative health potions and pills help virtually no one and receive little if any review process from any regulatory agency — but they make the manufacturers mountains of money.

There is one simple test for most treatments in medicine and if you follow this rule, whether it’s a drug from Big Pharma, or some magic pill sold on TV, you will save yourself from false hope and an extra credit card bill. The only drug, vitamin or mystical potion that is likely to help you is one that has been studied in a large clinical trial, typically at multiple accredited sites and hospitals, and was compared to a placebo, where neither the human patient nor physician knew what the subject was receiving. This type of study is known as a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. If Larry King, Mehmet Oz, or anyone else for that matter, can’t produce that study, then don’t buy the products they’re hawking until they do.

Larry King, as I wrote, promotes Omega XL and I guess people are listening to him and buying this product. But they’re not listening to the medical experts, and the makers of Omega-XL (a company that goes by the name Great Healthworks) can’t show you one double-blinded, randomized trial demonstrating any benefits from their product against a placebo. And … they don’t have to tell you that the authors of a study that reviewed several trials on Omega products, published in JAMA in 2013 wrote:

In conclusion, omega-3 PUFAs are not statistically significantly associated with major cardiovascular outcomes across various patient populations. Our findings do not justify the use of omega-3 as a structured intervention in everyday clinical practice or guidelines supporting dietary omega-3 PUFA administration.

Are those who purchase this product on the word of Larry King being foolish when they ignore the findings of real physicians who have no reason to lie about the product’s efficacy? What they do say, and place in their ads, in the finest of print, as most makers of snake oil products do, is the following: “*The statements made on our websites have not been evaluated by the FDA [U.S. Food & Drug Administration]. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”

Joe Theisman, the pitchman for Super Beta Prostate, makes claims, as the company does, that taking their product will result in “fewer bathroom trips, sleep more through the night, support more complete bladder emptying, and make you feel younger and energetic.” But again, in the finest of print the company adds this: “*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” They also claim to have shipped over six million bottles of something that, according to the company that makes and sells this stuff, “is not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.” Where is PT Barnum now?

When you watch the quacks selling their books or health products you will commonly find them substituting the personal experience of a paid spokesperson for any real clinical data. Physicians I work with, including some who have worked with Dr. Oz, are appalled when a hitherto brilliant surgeon like Mehmet Oz tells his devoted viewers that green coffee beans or some miracle fruit will take off that unwanted weight.

On his show, “The Dr. Oz Show,” Dr. Oz clearly promotes supplements that include Garcinia Cambogia and green coffee extract. He claims that green coffee extract is “one of the most important discoveries I believe we’ve made that will help you burn fat.” (Dr. Oz, Sept. 10, 2012, Episode The Fat Burner That Works). But Dr. Oz fails to mention that the study was done on only 16 patients, in India, and that the results were considered a sham by many. Dr. Oz knows, I believe, that these trial results are not from a study that he or any good clinician would consider reliable enough to justify the statement he made. When he touts the benefits of Garcinia Cambogia, he presents the audience with someone who lost weight, as they claim, by using his “miracle”product. But he also fails to mention trial data that refutes those claims, and that includes the largest randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the ingredients found in Garcinia Cambogia, published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) . The study concluded that this supposed miracle supplement was no better than a placebo in helping patients lose weight. The authors of this study were so convinced of the lack of benefit that they concluded:

“Our findings, obtained in a prospective, randomized, double-blind study, failed to detect either weight loss or fat-mobilizing effects of hydroxycitric acid beyond those of placebo. These observations, the first, to our knowledge, to appear in a peer-reviewed article using currently accepted experimental and statistical methods, do not support a role as currently prescribed for the widely used herb G cambogia as a facilitator of weight loss.”

For many like myself who know Mehmet Oz, (I recognize how smart, knowledgeable, and assiduous he is), it’s disturbing that he does not mention any alternative opinions or studies that challenge the efficacy of the product. This is not some retired athlete, news anchor, or forgotten celebrity, but someone who must know there are legitimate, scientifically sound studies debunking the usefulness of the product and yet, that seems to be ignored, perhaps because it might diminish the spectacle that his show has become.

To many of us it seems that Dr. Oz has followed a path similar to that of Anakin Skywalker and has turned to the dark side to fill up air time and his pockets. In general, no matter what claims are made about any product sold on TV, I suggest you attempt to read the disclaimer (usually printed in a font smaller than a mite), or just assume that most people who took that pill didn’t lose weight, or feel better, or urinate less often.

When you see the marketing of any health-related products on television, especially by some has-been entertainer or retired athlete, you can assume they are lying to you as Jimmy Swaggart did to his followers. If you can’t resist the temptation to watch an infomercial, watch it as if it were a skit on the old Second City TV of SNL — it’s just comedy and nothing more. And isn’t it ridiculous that anyone would accept the opinions of Joe Theismann or Larry King when it comes to health issues? Would you consult them about heart surgery or chemotherapy? Of course not! Who would?

Weight loss formulas, herbal prostate medications, colon cleansers, and testosterone-raising supplements are likely to be worthless to you and gold to the con artists that sell them. Follow a very simple rule: Don’t buy any health product you see sold on television. And if you cannot follow this golden rule, at least discuss how you wish to throw your money away with your physician or pharmacist. If your physician or pharmacist is selling any of these products, return to the golden rule.

While I offer no excuse for these former celebrities (whose agents likely got them a paying gig to hawk these products), I must place the doctors, who have the knowledge and experience to know that what they are selling is worthless at best and maybe harmful, in the same category as smooth talking, slippery televangelists.

Evan S. Levine, MD FACC, is director of the Cardiovascular Center at Saint Joseph’s Hospital and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Montefiore Medical Center–Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He is also the author of the book What Your Doctor Won’t (or Can’t) Tell You. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and children.

Related News: Real Medicine: How to charge $40 billion for nothing Real Medicine: Say no to Rapaflo! BBB, FTC issue alerts about weight loss supplements Frey, Giegler support alternative budget Real Medicine: Statins and marathons Earth Talk: Is there an alternative to air conditioning

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Anne Gables

swiss replica watches Oh, boo hoo, Dr. Levine. It’s too late to whine about natural medicines because too many people already KNOW they work.

replica watches on sale You sincerely need to ask Big Pharma or the AMA for a bigger kickback so that you can develop a much better strategy than what you have presented here.

best replica watches When you insist on a “double-blind, placebo-controlled trial” which is the “standard” for the industry (remember folks, the operative word there is “industry.”) you have effectively eliminated centuries, and even tens of centruries, of tried and proven natural remedies for health issues.

replica watches What Dr. Oz and others do is to bring back the knowledge that has been there forever but covered over very effectively by the AMA, Big Pharma, and other even more sinister organizations. And why have natural remedies been buried? I’ll give you one guess… the almighty Dollar!

Either you or your ghost writer need to give it up and stop trying to convince us that you “truly care.” Your ‘MO’ couldn’t be clearer.

http://www.howihealed.com actualize81

If you want to attack a whole host of people let me return the attack back to you and your fellow Fraternity. You and the profession of M.D’s are monopolists of the most ignorant kind. The American Medical Associations has attacked other related professions with such gusto that they were even found guilty by the highest level court for defamation against naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians in the late 1980′s……

Your brand of quackery/intervention consists of giving people

A. Chemical straight jackets that has all the clinical data support from a whole host of researchers who receive millions upon millions from the corporation who own that particular wonder drug of the year. Clinical data and double blind placebo based controlled studies are great, especially when your forking over the multiple millions they cost using methods to produce the results you are looking for. Of course the studies are written in conveniently coaxed and furtive “medical” language the avg. lay person can’t understand.

Big Pharma is not even questioned anymore by Allopathic doctors and the AMA Club. Side effects are effects that shouldn’t be tolerated by the public. They deserve better……

B. If a wonder pill, which does nothing to address the deeper issue, doesn’t work, then there is no organ or tissue too precious or vital to be torn out of the human body like the problematic invading parasite you condemn it to be. There is evidence that fake surgery is just as effective as actual surgery. Now to the Placebo effect….

Yes, the placebo effect (a beneficial effect) is something that the AMA uses in its wonderful big pharma sponsored studies. Sugar pills or whatever.. vs the real drug. The fact that people recover, get better, improve, and heal in response to sugar pills at all is amazing and should be thoroughly researched. The mind may be heavily involved in a patients healing and the mere belief seems to yield results for patients, whether they are taking fake pills or getting fake surgery. Instead, the AMA and your fellow M.D’d merely view it this placebo effect as an annoying obstacle to overcome so you can hawk the latest chemical concoction (a pill), which no doubt will later to be shown to be harmful in some way.

3. The worst harm you guys do: People somehow give doctors permission to give them death sentences. I don’t know why doctors give them at all. It is unethical to answer the question “how long do I have” in an authoritatively negative way. Based upon other people, you, as a unique individual with your own particular set of circumstances, have about X months to live. Speaking of quackery, arrogance, and malpractice, this takes the cake. It’s the ultimate nocebo (harmful effect).

Televangelists on the other hand promote hope, courage, and belief in a benevolent force. Of course, the skeptical M.D. would argue that they are given “false hope.” Since when can any form of hope be categorized as bad? Hope is the impetus for people to change their lifestyles, heal, recover, to move on ….. There is no such thing as false hope. Only doctors give their patients a dose of nihilism and extreme discouragement in the guise of reality…. No Alternative Medicine practitioner or Televangelist will tell you that your healing is impossible or that you can’t improve and become symptom free. Your local M.D. will. Who is being more realistic? I guess that’s up to the patient decide, after all, the patient is filtering all of reality through their mind, based upon their unique set of experiences.

Most people who go into medicine would like to help other people achieve wellness. Just because you’re not in the A.M.A fraternity does not make you a quack or unqualified to help others get well. Thank god we have mainstream medicine, but thank god we have alternatives as well. In a state like Connecticut, and also the New England, the A.M.A and its message has won the P.R. war and has the most influence on public opinion. New England states and the North East cherish tradition and are history preservation obsessed. Where as the West Coast tend to respect new ways of approaching health that include diet and mindset shifts, energy healing…etc.. This is because the east coast tends to be more conformist and tradition based where group approval is necessary. (Harvard says… the New England medical journal says…etc…) The West Coast, is more likely to value individual empowerment (casual wear and a dietary change) vs a conformist mindset (suit tie, and a pill).

Alternative Medicine is a viable and a realistic approach to optimal health. Mainstream Media (and Fox News) thrives on conflict and negativity. Anytime Alternative Practices are discussed they almost always will be discouraged, disparaged, and explained as a last ditch effort by some desperate individual to get well.

I truly believe the only viable place for most M.D. is in the emergency room or a catastrophic situation. M.D’s must submit to the Hippocratic oath, “do no harm,” which advocated it is better to do nothing than something that will cause harm.” Hypocrites also said the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. Sounds like good advice. Maybe optimal health is less complicated than we think. Hope this helps someone for the better…

http://www.howihealed.com actualize81

If you want to attack a whole host of people let me return the attack back to you and your fellow Fraternity. You and the profession of M.D’s are monopolists of the most ignorant kind. The American Medical Associations has attacked other related professions with such gusto that they were even found guilty by the highest level court for defamation against naturopathic, chiropractic, and osteopathic physicians in the late 1980′s……

Your brand of quackery/intervention consists of giving people

A. Chemical straight jackets that has all the clinical data support from a whole host of researchers who receive millions upon millions from the corporation who own that particular wonder drug of the year. Clinical data and double blind placebo based controlled studies are great, especially when your forking over the multiple millions they cost using methods to produce the results you are looking for. Of course the studies are written in conveniently coaxed and furtive “medical” language the avg. lay person can’t understand.

Big Pharma is not even questioned anymore by Allopathic doctors and the AMA Club. Side effects are effects that shouldn’t be tolerated by the public. They deserve better……

B. If a wonder pill, which does nothing to address the deeper issue, doesn’t work, then there is no organ or tissue too precious or vital to be torn out of the human body like the problematic invading parasite you condemn it to be. There is evidence that fake surgery is just as effective as actual surgery. Now to the Placebo effect….

Yes, the placebo effect (a beneficial effect) is something that the AMA uses in its wonderful big pharma sponsored studies. Sugar pills or whatever.. vs the real drug. The fact that people recover, get better, improve, and heal in response to sugar pills at all is amazing and should be thoroughly researched. The mind may be heavily involved in a patients healing and the mere belief seems to yield results for patients, whether they are taking fake pills or getting fake surgery. Instead, the AMA and your fellow M.D’d merely view it this placebo effect as an annoying obstacle to overcome so you can hawk the latest chemical concoction (a pill), which no doubt will later to be shown to be harmful in some way.

3. The worst harm you guys do: People somehow give doctors permission to give them death sentences. I don’t know why doctors give them at all. It is unethical to answer the question “how long do I have” in an authoritatively negative way. Based upon other people, you, as a unique individual with your own particular set of circumstances, have about X months to live. Speaking of quackery, arrogance, and malpractice, this takes the cake. It’s the ultimate nocebo (harmful effect).

Televangelists on the other hand promote hope, courage, and belief in a benevolent force. Of course, the skeptical M.D. would argue that they are given “false hope.” Since when can any form of hope be categorized as bad? Hope is the impetus for people to change their lifestyles, heal, recover, to move on ….. There is no such thing as false hope. Only doctors give their patients a dose of nihilism and extreme discouragement in the guise of reality…. No Alternative Medicine practitioner or Televangelist will tell you that your healing is impossible or that you can’t improve and become symptom free. Your local M.D. will. Who is being more realistic? I guess that’s up to the patient decide, after all, the patient is filtering all of reality through their mind, based upon their unique set of experiences.

Most people who go into medicine would like to help other people achieve wellness. Just because you’re not in the A.M.A fraternity does not make you a quack or unqualified to help others get well. Thank god we have mainstream medicine, but thank god we have alternatives as well. In a state like Connecticut, and also the New England, the A.M.A and its message has won the P.R. war and has the most influence on public opinion. New England states and the North East cherish tradition and are history preservation obsessed. Where as the West Coast tend to respect new ways of approaching health that include diet and mindset shifts, energy healing…etc.. This is because the east coast tends to be more conformist and tradition based where group approval is necessary. (Harvard says… the New England medical journal says…etc…) The West Coast, is more likely to value individual empowerment (casual wear and a dietary change) vs a conformist mindset (suit tie, and a pill).

Alternative Medicine is a viable and a realistic approach to optimal health. Mainstream Media (and Fox News) thrives on conflict and negativity. Anytime Alternative Practices are discussed they almost always will be discouraged, disparaged, and explained as a last ditch effort by some desperate individual to get well.

I truly believe the only viable place for most M.D. is in the emergency room or a catastrophic situation. M.D’s must submit to the Hippocratic oath, “do no harm,” which advocated it is better to do nothing than something that will cause harm.” Hypocrites also said the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well. Sounds like good advice. Maybe optimal health is less complicated than we think. Hope this helps someone for the better…

http://www.howihealed.com actualize81

How long does it take for you to approve a comment. The fact you don’t have a moderator who deletes things… vs. waiting for approval is the reason you have little public discussion on this website… You’re doing this backwards and stifling an active and engaging discussion

Anne Gables

Maybe that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. I doubt they would get any positive comments on this kind of propaganda.

Dr . Levine

I appreciate the somewhat comedic and misinformed comments here . And yet isn’t it sad how so many people can believe in such insanity?


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