Dr. Joe Mercola is infamous for his zero tolerance policy on “harmful” chemicals (read: those not sold via his online store). He’s pontificated about clearing an entire building due to a mercury spill smaller than the size of a tooth filling, so I find it ironic that after writing nearly three dozen articles on pesticide dangers, he’s selling a personal care product that contains…. wait for it… a pesticide.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Grab your credit cards and breathing gear. It’s time for a shopping trip to Mercola.com.
Why look! Here’s a nice bottle of organic facial cleanser:1
Let’s let doctor Mercola himself describe some of the key ingredients in this product:
Neem oil is really interesting. Mr. Mercola, if you’d be so kind as to elucidate:1
“Neem oil is the unique ingredient which makes Daily Facial Cleanser clearly stand out.”–Mercola.com
Neem oil stands out, indeed: It’s a pesticide used in organic farming! You can pop over to your local lawn and garden shop and pick up a bottle during halftime of next weekend’s football game and be home in time to kill off a large population of the creepy crawlies in your back yard:
If Mercola was here to defend himself, no doubt he’d say this is an all-natural, organic pesticide, and that it’s been used for centuries in folk medicine, with no ill effect. Except there have been ill effects:
“Twelve children were admitted with convulsions and altered sensorium following ingestion of locally obtained neem oil. Ten died within 24 hours.”–Indian Journal of Pediatrics 2
“This report highlights the toxicity associated with neem oil poisoning in an elderly male. […] In the emergency department, the patient developed generalized convulsions with loss of consciousness. “–Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine 3
There are a lot more examples. Don’t believe me? Spend some time on PubMed. True, neem oil can be refined to remove toxic components, but given Mercola’s aversion to refining natural compounds, that isn’t likely a recipe he’d find palatable.
But I’m not here to do Mercola’s research for him. My goal is to simply point out that the fear mongering de facto king of snake oil salesmen rants, ad nauseam, about pesticide use and then, without blinking an eye, uses a known insecticide in one of his facial care products. For the record, Mercola isn’t the only pesticide-hater hawking neem oil. His compatriot, the Food Babe, does so as well–in a children’s product!
This isn’t the first time we’ve caught Dr. Joe vending products that contain chemicals (or classes of chemicals) he says are dangerous. Who can forget the dozen or more highly toxic chemicals in his Himalayan Pink Salt (lead or mercury for breakfast, anyone?), or the Joe-Banned sweetener in Mercola Brand protein bars?
When will the public catch on to the fact that these health care gurus are taking them on an costly, extravagant ride? At first glance, the answer might seem to be “never”: Mercola has over one million followers, and most seem to be so indoctrinated that no amount of evidence is ever going to sway them.
I have a more optimistic outlook, however. There are billions of people who have never heard of Joseph Mercola. Think of them as unvaccinated, and Mercola as a virus. Now, what if skeptics such as you and I are a verbal vaccine? If we can reach out to the uninfected–those who have never been shopping at Mercola.com–and warn them about what they’re going to find there, perhaps we can build up a measure of immunity and save them from this nonsense.
Food for thought.
Oh, anyone need any facial cleanser?
Mercola.com screen snapshots and product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (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.
Commercial neem oil pesticide product image captures are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (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.
Mercola in the garden parody image by the author, used under parody provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law.
(1) Organic Daily Facial Cleanser–Mercola.com
(2) The Indian Journal of Pediatrics
May 1982, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 357-359
N. Sundaravalli, B. Bhaskar Raju M.D., K. A. Krishnamoorthy M.D. (1)
(3) Neem oil poisoning: Case report of an adult with toxic encephalopathy
Indian J Crit Care Med. 2013 Sep-Oct; 17(5): 321–322.
Ajay Mishra and Nikhil Dave
This is the perfect product for ignorant people who buy organic food and think it is healthier.
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Neem oil is not a pesticide but it is used an an additive in some pesticides.
I wouldn’t buy anything from Mercola, but get your facts straight. It took me a couple of minutes searching to establish this fact.
Thanks for reading and commenting Paul. I think your confusion comes from spending “a couple of minutes” Googling. Do you consider a 70% concentrated solution of Neem oil to have neem as an “additive”? http://www.epesthero.com/products/neem-oil-certified-organic-insecticide-fungicide-miticide-omri-approved?utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=googlepla&gclid=CLynxOa5-soCFQgaaQod7EYKtQ&variant=1201182160
Mic Dropped. Mic Dropped HARD!!
Neem is a plant. A high concentration of salt kills plants and slugs yet we need salt, Most commercial moisturizers contain urea which is piss. You are reaching to make a stupid point.
Neem oil is a pesticide. I wrote about a huckster who is against the use of pesticides, even in the smallest quantities, yet sells products containing a pesticide.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Please feel free to come back and continue the discussion. Debate is welcome and encouraged here.
Thats a heavily prejudiced and oversimplified comment. Neem has been used as a medicine safely for thousands of years. It is an EXTREMELY potent antiviral and antibacterial medicinal plant. Its oil is not recommended for internal consumption but Its leaves and tea can be consumed quite safely with certain precautions. Neem(and its oil used if carefully) has a list of uses a mile long and a lot of them are for skin conditions.
You sir, are either clueless or using really tragic logic to justify your mercola is a hippocrite slant while simultaneously bagging out a very powerful and well known plant medicine on your blog. Are you a shill for the pharmaceutical industry???
Neem is also a pesticide, and Mercola is against the use of pesticides. You neglected to touch on this hypocrisy, while the article wrote focused on it.
Thanks for reading and commenting. I welcome the chance to discuss this further if you’d like.
Heres a quote from an article on his wesite that talks about pesticides .Wouldnt you say that he is describing the manufacture of pesticides???? If he is , then how can you say he is against it??
Mercola objects to synthetic pesticides..
“Finally, do not use synthetic pesticides in your home or garden, or in the form of insect repellant, lice shampoo, pet sprays or otherwise. There are safe and effective natural alternatives for virtually every pest problem you come across.
For instance, boric acid powder is a very effective deterrent to roaches and ants. Sprinkle some in the inner corners of your cabinets and in the corners under your cabinets. Pests will carry it back to their nests on their feet and kill the remainder of the infestation. Boric acid is non-toxic for animals and only kills the insects.
Or, for a homemade garden spray that will discourage most pests, use some mashed garlic paste combined with a little cayenne pepper or horseradish. Add a small amount to a gallon jug of water and let it sit for a day or two, shaking it occasionally. Just spray a small amount onto a few leaves first to make sure it’s not so strong that it will burn them.”
Neem is a pesticide. And you are a shill
“Long-term exposure to pesticides has been linked to infertility, birth defects,1,2 endocrine disruption, neurological disorders and cancer, so it’s a common-sense conclusion that fewer pesticides in our food supply would result in improved health among the general population”–Mercola, “The Real World Challenge of Surviving in a World Swimming in Pesticides”
As you said, Neem is a pesticide.
One significant difference is Mercola uses it in his products. Like you, he uses the Appeal to Nature fallacy to try to justify its use, instead of judging it on its own merits. Toxicity is not based on synthetic or “natural “–a few college level chemistry courses would be invaluable here.
P.s. Insects are animals, so boric acid is most decidedly toxic to animals!
… and neem has poisoned humans.
Please read in the link below (hope it works), without any prejudice or cognitive dissonance over the Man and his product, please don’t try to reply or argue; It’s fruitless to discuss over anything, based on a fast-lane unilateral opinion. FYI this comes from the National Pesticide Center, here in US, not from planet Utopia. So many big names are using Lab creations as Phenoxythenol, all versions of Parabens, BHA, BHT, Formaldehyde, Coal tar, all rainbow of CI-….., Phtalates, LSL, PEGs, Petrolatums, Triclosan (also pesticide; which you might be rubbing daily under you very own armpits in that dear deodorant, which might be disrupting your hormone system, let alone the Thyroid itself!), etc.; do you care? And you come with a pseudo-rant on Neem plant seed oil?!! Used for hundreds or thousands of years as insect repellent! What else or added conditions be it physiological or materially aggravating in the cases you cited (hopefully verifiable), could have cause the disgraceful deaths of children or adults? Have you ever heard an adult died after a Bee stung him/her? Then bees are evil-toxic killers and bee farmers are evil guys?
You claim your point is just expose his criticizing of the “big ones” for use of chemicals (statement of truth anyhow) and neglect in your “laser-like” concentrated (for whatever reason) focus of this Dr. and his 1 product, to recognize he is not anyhow uttering ill-based comments, but also fail to mention the huge array of Lab chemicals contained in the Big names potions! We appreciate exposing dangers to the public, but slandering names for what? Just to wear “Elvis blue suede shoes”.
My opinion isn’t unilateral; I’m sharing Mercola’s opinion. He’s unequivocally opposed to pesticides in consumer products, at any level/dose whatsoever. He will mercilessly cherry-pick literature to prop up his claims. Neem oil has indeed been involved in numerous well-researched poisonings. Keeping in mind what Mercola doesn’t (the dose, route of admin, etc.), it’s more than fair to show him the warning label on a bottle of neem oil from the pesticide section of the local garden store and ask him why he’s selling it as a facial cleanser. His rules, not mine.
How can you call a plant a pesticide, thats just what its USED for.
I call it that because it meets the definition of a pesticide. Be honest with me. I bet you call plants “food” or possibly even “medicine,” right? Are you arguing plants shouldn’t be called “food” because that’s what we use then for?