Catching pseudoscientific doctors in the act of demonizing ingredients while simultaneously selling the same to their blissfully unaware followers is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
This week we’re back with Dr. Mark Hyman, MD., and another offering from his world class online “Wellness Shop”. First, of course, we must have the setup: here’s Dr. Hyman weighing in on the common food/supplement additive cellulose:1
Calling cellulose “sawdust” is a scare tactic (and one that’s going to really bite the doctor hard a few paragraphs from now). Cellulose is simply an organic compound that makes up most of the cell walls of plants (including trees).
Hyman isn’t a big fan of cellulose, listing it as one of the additives to avoid in his article “Health Foods That are Dangerous For Your Health.” 2 (It probably isn’t coincidental that he’s closely affiliated with Vani Hari, who also claims cellulose is dangerous, but let’s stick to Hyman for now.)
As you’ve probably guessed, it’s time to point our browser outward and experience the Mark Hyman Shopping Experience.(Patent Pending) Let’s have a look at the Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra product being sold on his web site:3
The list of ingredients on Hyman’s shopping page ends with something that might seem a bit cryptic if you haven’t studied biology:
“Hypoallergenic plant fiber?” Excuse me, but that sounds like cellulose!
Not wanting to falsely accuse Hyman, I contacted the manufacturer (Pure Encapsulations) and received this reply:
“Dear Mr. Alsip,
Yes, the hypo-allergenic plant fiber is cellulose derived from pine. I have attached an information sheet here with this spelled out (also available on our website).”–email from Pure Encapsulations Product Support, 21 Aug 2015 (emphasis mine)
The email went on to explain that the company wasn’t trying to hide anything. And they certainly weren’t. Their own web site clearly explains that the “plant fiber” is indeed cellulose.5 The detailed PDF they were kind enough to send explicitly states this. Hyman clearly edited the word out for his shopping page. Why? I can only guess it’s because he has demonized cellulose in his Facebook and blog posts. If you’re making money from a product, you don’t want people to to think it’s dangerous, right?
I need to stop here and point out how helpful the folks at Pure Encapsulations have been in answering my questions about their products. They seem as perplexed as I am as to why anyone would have a problem with cellulose. I hope that Mark Hyman’s hypocrisy and creative editing of ingredients won’t reflect negatively on this company which, to the best of my knowledge, has a sterling safety record and is well regarded by its many clients.
The claimed health benefits of this product have not been evaluated by the FDA, but there’s certainly nothing dangerous about it. If you want to buy supplements such as this, have at it… just don’t buy from DrHyman.com.
(1) Hyman demonizes cellulose on Facebook
(2) Health Foods That Are Dangerous For Your Health (Hyman)
(3) Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra on Mark Hyman’s Online Store
(4) Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes Ultra Ingredients List
Mark Hyman, Facebook, and Pure Encapsulations screen snapshots are used in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, commonly known as “fair use law”. This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.