Xylitol, Warrior Princess: Mark Hyman Debunked


I’ve always wanted to include Lucy Lawless in one of my articles. “Xenatol” sounded like “Xylitol”. Yeah. It’s pretty bad word play. Sorry. Hey, how much did you have to pay to read this stuff? 😉

I thought my debunking of Dr. Mark Hyman’s “10 Rules to Eat Safely for Life)would be a one off job, but the deeper I read, the more nonsense I found.  There’s enough material there for a half dozen articles, and Hyman commits some real howlers.  If there was ever evidence that these snake oil salesmen don’t actually read the labels of the overpriced products they’re selling, Hyman’s “Endefen” supplements is it.

I’d like to start with this pearl of wisdom from Dr. Hyman:

“Throw out food with artificial sweeteners of all kinds  (aspartame, Splenda, sucralose, and sugar alcohols—any word that ends with “ol” like xylitol, sorbitol). They make you hungrier, slow your metabolism, give you bad gas, and make you store belly fat.”–Mark Hyman on artificial sweeteners 1  (emphasis mine)

So Dr. Hyman claims that the sweetener xylitol will make us hungrier, slow our metabolisms, cause us to “tootle melodiously through our sphincters” (I’m embarrassed by the word “fart”), and store belly fat?

My grandfather had an old saying from which Hyman would benefit: “a closed mouth gathers no feet.”

Here’s an interesting product sold in the Hyman store: “Endefen”: 2

Mark Hyman Endefen

Mark Hyman’s Endefen product. Wonder what’s inside?  (click/enlarge)


The full ingredients list is available at this link,2 but let’s zoom in on that suspicious-looking additive trying to hide behind sunglasses and false wig.  You!  I say!  You there sir!  You with the red circle around you!  Can you stand up and identify yourself please?

hyman is selling xylitol

Bless his heart! Dr. Hyman is selling xylitol, the very additive he says to avoid!

Why it’s Xylitol!  Hyman is selling the very sweetener he says to avoid!1,2  To add the icing on the cake (no sugar pun intended), once you’ve finished all twenty-eight servings of Endefen, you will have consumed 26.6 grams of xylitol. Just under seven percent of the entire 420 gram bottle is xylitol by weight.

And oh, dear friends… I wish we could drop this and move on.  But did you notice the “Mannose” above the “Xylitol” in the Hyman’s Endefen?  Shouldn’t someone with a medical degree know that mannose a sugar monomer, especially if he’s going to preach about sweeteners as if they’re bringing on Armageddon?

“If sugar (by any name, including organic cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, cane syrup, or molasses) is on the label, throw it out.”–Mark Mark Hyman

Add in the mannose and Dr. Hyman’s product is now 8% sugar by weight.

Golly Gee.  Should we tell somebody about this?  Dr. Hyman?  Are you there sir?  Hello?

Nobody seems to be picking up…  hello?  Dr. Mark Hyman!  Paging Dr. Hyman…



I *love* PubChem. The naming section for compounds is particularly helpful in trying to determine if Hyman’s “D-Xylitol” is xylitol.  Chemists say it is.


Image Credits
Mark Hyman, Endefen, and PubChem snapshots 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.

Xena Warrior Princess meme by the author, used under parody provisions of 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.

(1) 10 Rules to Eat Safely for Life (and What to Remove from Your Kitchen)

(2) Endefen Supplement on Dr. Mark Hyman’s Online Store

(3) PubChem Compound Summary for CID 6912: Xylitol


More “Toxic” Ingredients From Naturally Nicole

naturally nicole's tooth powder is loaded with aluminum

Nicole says aluminum is toxic, but you’ll find it from more than one source in her tooth powder.

In a previous article, “Naturally Nicole’s Tooth Powder Debunked“, we learned that the major “active” ingredient in Nicole’s homemade tooth powder was aluminum, derived from bentonite clay. Nicole claims aluminum is toxic, so this poses a bit of a conundrum for her.  Let’s refresh our memories on Nicole’s expert scientific advice concerning the most common metal in the earth’s crust:

“According to Natural Cosmetic News, some research has suggested that these aluminum compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminum-based compounds […] may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer. This is NOT okay with me.”–Naturally Nicole 2


It’s not OK with her, but she’s already selling it.  But, could she be so brazen as to sell it TWICE in the same product?  Why yes!  Yes she she could!

In taking a closer look at this woman’s snake oil toothpaste, I noticed another ingredient that readers might find of interest: kaolin.

kaolin in naturally nicole's tooth powder. Can you say aluminum?

Kaolin, an ingredient in Nicole’s clay, is, according to her own research,  toxic. (click/enlarge)

How about a quick trip over to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubChem database for a quick primer on kaolin?3  Kaolin’s molecular formula is Al2H4O9Si2.2  Earth to Nicole: that “Al2”  indicates the presence of aluminum.  You know, the element you claim is so toxic in your articles?2

Maybe a picture would help.  Here’s kaolin for you, graphically.3  Note the aluminum.  I’ve highlighted it in yellow:

kaolin contains aluminum

Naturally Nicole’s tooth powder contains even more aluminum, courtesy kaolin. But of course, since she’s selling it, HER aluminum must be safe!

Of course, Nicole will tell you that her aluminum is safe because… hand waving and magic.  Or contrived pseudoscientific babble about clay being a living “element”.  Believe me, I’ve tried to debate this with her.  I got just as far as I did with Vani Hari, GMO Inside, Nurses Against Mandatory Vaccines, Modern Alternative Mama, and a couple dozen other purveyors of things pseudoscientific. In other words, my comments were deleted and I was banned.

Well played Nicole.  Keep on selling those “toxins”!

Image Credits
Naturally Nicole 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.

U.S. National Library of Medicine PubChem data/screen captures also used in 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. USNLM and PubChem do not necessarily endorse and/or agree with this work.

(1) Naturally Nicole’s Tooth Powder (Ingredients)

(2) Do I Smell Funny?

(3) USNLM PubChem Summary for compound ID 56841936 (Kaolin)

(VIDEO) Banned by Food Babe: The Lady Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

“Thanks for calling out the troll. I’ll make sure to get him”
–Vani Hari, when asked why she’s selling products containing the dyes Yellow 5 and Blue 1


I, Mark Alsip, am the troll referred to in Vani Hari’s quote (above). We had an interesting encounter yesterday on Periscope.  After being encouraged to ask questions, I very politely and respectfully queried Hari on three products she’s selling. I wanted to know why certain of her wares contain nearly a dozen different chemicals she’s specifically called out as “toxic”.

If you’re already aware of Vani’s tactics, you probably won’t be surprised I was banned instantly.  However, for those in the Food Babe Army (or the media) who don’t believe that Hari censors all dissenting comment and immediately bans those who point out her gaffes, presented below are video, screen captures, links to Food Babe’s product labels (with ingredient lists), and more, to back up the claims I made on Periscope.

Food Babe, who encourages followers to “read the ingredients” and mercilessly hound companies such as Subway and Kellogg’s via social media and petitions, does not apply the same standards to herself. She says “the sky is falling” and then tries to sell you a piece of the same sky. And, as demonstrated here, she’s apparently terrified of an honest discussion of the products she offers via her web site.


Three Products, Three Points
I politely called out Vani on three points, listed below and illustrated in the screen captures that follow. Follow the hyperlinks for product labels and information on the items sold by Food Babe:

Three Screen Captures


In an article warning us to avoid aluminum-based deodorants, Vani sells Naturally Fresh deodorant, which contains aluminum. Food Babe falsely links aluminum to Alzheimer’s. (click/enlarge)


Vani’s Tarte Lip Stains contain Yellow #5 and Blue #1, which she claims to be toxic in numerous articles. Her product also contains 3 “endocrine disruptors” she’s warned about, saccharine (she links to cancer), and aluminum. (click/enlarge)


Vani disparages salad dressings containing canola oil because of “poisonous” erucic acid from rapeseed. However, she sells two salad dressings that contain erucic acid. (click/enlarge)


The Video
Here’s a glimpse at what happens when you ask Food Babe honest questions (running time 1:07):
Update: On September 24 Vani Hari tried to silence my criticism by filing a harassing copyright infringement claim on YouTube. She’s apparently unfamiliar with fair use law. While I remind her, you can launch the video in a new window by clicking the image below. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Temporary Video Location (if YouTube non-functional)

YouTube Video (in litigation)

Image Credits
All Periscope video and screen 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.

Food Babe Slams Kraft Over Three Dyes But Sells Same

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Naturally Fresh Deodorant

Food Babe Selling Erucic Acid (Salad Dressing Article)

Food Babe Pushing “Dangerous” Items: Dandelions

dandelionAh!  Spring is just 6 weeks away here in the Northern Hemisphere.  I can hardly wait for the warm weather.  And the Food Babe (Vani Hari) can’t wait to start digging weeds out of her yard and making juice out of them.

What the…?

Incredibly, in her article “Super Detox Juice”,1 Vani argues that the humble dandelion can be used to detoxify and beautify your body–inside and out.  Well!

The only problem is, by Food Babe’s own logic, drinking dandelion juice will also give you cancer!

How can this be?  Well, to explain, we’ve got to flash back to one of the Babe’s most notorious slander wars: the infamous Starbucks campaign.

Ms. Hari seems to be perpetually enraged–enraged I say (!)–that Starbucks pumpkin latte contains a coloring composed of 4-Methylimidazole (“4-Mel”).2  She uses the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as her source for the claim made in the following info-graphic:

food babe's 4-mel campaign

Screen capture from Food Babe’s Starbucks misinformation campaign.


The Babe grossly misrepresents the dangers of 4-Mel, which is only classified as a “group 2B” carcinogen by the IARC.  I’ll explain the group “2B designation” in more detail momentarily (don’t get scared), but for now please keep in mind these two very important points:

  1. Food Babe says the Starbucks latte is dangerous because it contains a group 2B carcinogen
  2. She clearly says her source is the IARC–just read her article.2

Here, let me show you 4-Mel, straight from Food Babe’s source (the IARC list):3



OK, so what does this have to do with dandelions?

Thank you for asking!  Botanical experts who’ve analyzed dandelions have found that they contain a compound called caffeic acid.4,5,6

So let’s go to the same list from which Food Babe pulled her 4-Mel Starbucks reference and see what else we might find there (queue ominous sounds of thunder):

IARC caffeic acid


Caffeic acid?

homer simpsonCaffeic acid, a group 2B carcinogen, is found in dandelions!

Why oh why is it OK for Food Babe to wage a two-year social media, print, and television campaign against Starbucks because of a group 2B carcinogen in their pumpkin latte, but then recommend making a juice out of another group 2B carcinogen?  She has nearly a million followers on Facebook.  Does she care about their well being?  Does she ever actually investigate the food and products she pushes?  Or is she just trying to sell a book with recipes and health advice?

She asks this about a drink containing a group 2B carcinogen:

“Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a Starbucks and order a drink without potential cancer-causing additives and to know exactly what you are drinking?”2

So why is she saying this about a juice that contains a group 2B carcinogen:?

“[…] one of the most healing greens you can buy […] proven to reduce swelling, bloating and stimulate the digestive system to release toxins. You can say bye bye to water retention after travel, a heavily salted meal or eating too much.” 1

Could the answer be that she’s making money from the advice in the second paragraph?


I think the great Vince Lombardi said it best…

vince lombardi meme

I think Vince Lombardi would have had this to say about Food Babe’s investigative skills…


Group 2B carcinogens–by their very definition–have not been shown to cause cancer in humans.7,8  Group 2B carcinogens are:

“[…] agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. [the term] may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. ” –International Agency for Research on Cancer7,8

(Emphasis mine.)

I’m not a doctor or chemist but I’m not too worried about group 2B carcinogens, given that other items in this same group include coffee, pickled vegetables, talc body powder, and the professions of firefighting and carpentry.3

If you want to eat the weeds from your yard, be my guest.  Just remember that Vani says to chew your juice–don’t drink it. 😉


Image Credits
Dandelion image by Kate Jewell, from Wiki Commons.  Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License.  The image creator does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by the author in this article.

Food Babe 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.

Homer Simpson image is 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.

Vince Lombardi/Green Bay Packers image is 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.


Please note: I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate links to questionable web sites and prevent increasing their search engine exposure. I promise you are not being redirected to porn. 🙂

(1) Food Babe: “Super Detox Juice”

(2) Food Babe: Drink Starbucks? Wake Up And Smell The Chemicals!

(3) Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–111

(4) Yarnell, E. ND, RH and Abascal, K. JD, RH.  Integrative Medicine, Vol. 8, No. 2. Apr/May 2009

(5) Li, Yan, Tan, et al. 2006. Qualitative fingerprint and quantitative determination of caffeic acid in compound dandelion enema.

(6) PubChem Summary for Compound ID #689043 (Caffeic Acid)

(7) IARC Monographs: Classification

(8) IARC Monographs: Scientific Review and Evaluation

The Food Babe Ban List

This list is meant to serve as a companion guide to the articles I’ve written exposing the tactics of Vani Hari (aka the Food Babe).  It’s a list of over 610 products, vendors, and brand names that Hari’s targeted so far.  When you misrepresent the “dangers” of a product, then recommend an alternative for which you receive a sales commission–there’s a problem…

In addition to this list, you may also be interested in knowing that many of the products sold by Food Babe have the very same ingredients she says are dangerous.  For example, she sells a full line of products containing the same dyes over which she lambasts Weight Watchers, Kraft, and McDonald’s.  She’s sold BHT for nearly 3 years, all the while harassing Kellogg’s and General Mills over the same (safe) additive.  The Babe doesn’t like agave nectar, but she’s happy to sell you a full range of foods sweetened with–you guessed it–agave nectar.  And don’t even get me started on cellulose. A special series on Food Babe’s hypocrisy can be found here.

Without further ado then, here’s the Food Babe Ban List:

A1 Steak Sauce
Acetylated Monoglycerides
AeroMed Oral Glucose
Airport food (almost all)
Allegro (tea)
Alka Seltzer
Almond Dream
Almond Joy
Alpen Gold (Kraft)
Alta Dena (butter)
AMP Energy (Pepsico)
Amy & Brian
Anchor Butter
Annie Chun’s
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
Arnold Baker Light 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Arrowhead Mills
Artificial coloring (any product containing)
Artificial flavoring (any product containing)
Athenos Hummus
Atkin’s (protein shakes)
Azodicarbonamide (a safe bread ingredient)

Baby Formula (most, containing safe GMO corn syrup)
Bac’n Bits
Back to Nature
Baking powder (non-GMO)
Banana Boat
Barbara’s Bakery
Barley malt (any product containing)
BASF (Prop 37)
Bayer (Prop 37)
Beet sugar (any product containing)
Ben & Jerry’s (Prop 37)
Berkely Farms
Betty Crocker
Big Gulp (7-11)
Birthday Cakes (all from supermarkets)
Blue No. 1 (food dye)
Blue Bonnet
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze
Bolthouse Farms
Bobby Brown
Bread (almost all packaged bread)
Bright Beginning Baby Formula
Brown sugar (any product containing)
Bubble Yum
Bull’s Eye
Bumble Bee
Bunge (Prop 37)
Burger King
Buttered syrup (any product containing)

Cafe Collection
California Pizza Kitchen
Campbell’s Soup
Canola (rapeseed, non-GMO)
Canola seed oil (non-GMO)
Capri Sun
Carob syrup
Carrots, non-organic
Cascadian Farm (Prop 37)
Castoreum flavoring (do you eat beaver butt?)
Celestial Seasonings
Cellulose (non-GMO)
Cereal (GMO)
Cetaphil Facial Cleanser
C. H. Guenther & Son (Prop 37)
Charles Shaw Wine (2 Buck Chuck)
Cheese (all conventional American cows’)
Cheez Whiz
Chewing gum
Chocolate Cheerios
Cici’s Pizza
Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Citric Acid (non-GMO)
Cobalamin (Vitamin B12, non-GMO)
Coco Hydro
Coco Libre
Coco Pops
Coffee Mate
Coke (Coca-Cola)
Colorose (non-GMO)
Con Agra Foods
Condensed Milk (non-GMO)
Confectioners Sugar (non-GMO)
Corn, all, in restaurants (non-GMO)
Corn Flour (non-GMO)
Corn Masa (non-GMO)
Corn Meal (non-GMO)
Corn Nuts
Corn Oil (non-GMO)
Corn Starch
Corn Sugar (non-GMO)
Corn Syrup (any product containing)
Corn Syrup, High Fructose
Corn Tortillas (non-GMO)
Cosmetics from drug stores
Costco (cakes, microwave popcorn)
Cottonseed oil, all, in restaurants (non-GMO)
Country Crock Butter
Country Time
Cover Girl
Cracklin’ Oat Brand
Crisco Canola Oil
Crisco Natural Cooking Oil
Crop Life (Prop 37)
Crystal Light
Crunch Nut (Kellogg)
Crush Soda
CVS Sunscreen
Cyclodextrin (non-GMO)
Cystein (non-GMO)

Dairy (all conventional American cow’s milk and cheese)
Danimals (yogurt)
Dasani (Coca Cola)
Dean Foods
Del Monte
Deodorants (all aluminum-containing)
Designer Whey
Dextran/Dextrin [sic] (any product containing)
Dextrose, all (I kid you not–see the Stevia article)
Diacetyl (non-GMO)
Diastase (any product containing)
Diastatic malt (any product containing)
Diet Coke
Diet Mountain Dew
Diet Pepsi
Diet Soft Drinks
Diglycerides (non-GMO)
Dimethylpolysiloxane (ingredient)
Double Gulp (7-11)
Dream Whip
Dreyer’s Ice Cream
Dr. Praegar’s
Dr. Pepper
Duncan Hines
Dunkin Donuts

E951 (sweetener, U.K. & Europe)
Earth’s Best (baby formula)
EAS Myoplex
Edible Arrangements
Eggs (all, from fast food restaurants)
Elizabeth Arden
Equal Spoonful
Erythritol (non-GMO)
Estee Lauder
Ethyl maltol (any product containing)
Evian (Coca Cola)

Fair Life
Famous Amos (Kellogg)
Fantastic World Foods
Fiber One
Five Alive
Flu Shots (very dangerous to skip this one!)
Food and Drug Administration, U.S. (FDA approved ingredients)
Food Starch (non-GMO)
Franklin Farms
French Meadow
Fresh Market (cakes)
Frito Lay
Frosted Mini Wheats
Froot Loops
Fructose (any product containing)
Fruit, from concentrate
Fruit By The Foot
Fruit Gushers
Fruit Rollups
Funnel cakes

Garden of Eatin’
General Food International (General Foods)
General Mills
Ginger Ale
Girl Scout Cookies
Glucose (any product containing)
Glutamate (non-GMO)
Glutamic Acid (non-GMO)
Gluten (for non-celiac disease sufferers, a safe protein found in wheat, barley, and rye)
Glycerides (non-GMO)
Glycerines (non-GMO)
GMO Foods (inc. corn, soy, cotton, canola)
Godiva Chocolates
Gold Medal
Good Earth
Good Morenings
Good Seasons
Golden Grahams
Gravy Master
Great Value
Grey Poupon
Groupe Danone
Gummy bears

Haagen Daz
Hall’s Cough Drops
Hamburger Helper
Handi Snacks
Haribo (gummy bear manufacturer)
Harris Teeter Cakes
Harvest Bay
Hawaiian Tropic Sunscreen
Heinz Tomato Ketchup
Hello Kitty popsicles
Hemicellulose (non-GMO)
Hemp Milk
Herbal Essence Shampoo
Hero (Prop 37)
HFCS-90 (ingredient, High fructose corn syrup)
Hickory Farms
Hidden Valley Ranch (salad dressing)
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
Honest Kids
Honest Tea
Honey Graham Oh’s
Honey Nut Cheerios
Hope in a Jar
Horizon Organic
Hot Pockets
Hot Tamales (candy)
Hummus (prepackaged)
Hungry Jack
Hydrogenated Starch (non-GMO)
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (non-GMO)

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!
Idahoan (Prop 37)
Inositol (non-GMO)
Inventure Foods (Prop 37)
Inverse Syrup (non-GMO)
Inversol (non-GMO)
Invert sugar (any food containing)
Isoflavones (non-GMO)
Izze (Pepsico)

Jack in the Box
Jason’s Deli Ice Cream
Jason’s Deli Dressings
Jason’s Deli Meats
Jason’s Deli Muffins
Jason’s Deli Soups
Jenni O’s
Jett Puffed
Joe’s O’s
Jolly Time
Juice, Fruit (nearly all processed)
Just Juice

KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
Knouse Foods
Kraft (not just Mac & Cheese!)
Krispy Kreme
Kroger (poultry)

La Banderita
Lactic Acid (non-GMO)
Lactose (any food containing)
Land O’Lakes
Laughing Cow
Lay’s Potato Chips
Lean Cuisine
Lecithin (non-GMO)
Lehigh Valley
Leucine (non-GMO)
Life Cereal
Little Caesars
Living Harvest
Lucky Charms
Lysine (non-GMO)

Malic acid (non-GMO)
Malitol (any product containing)
Malt (non-GMO)
Malt Extract (non-GMO)
Malt syrup (any product containing)
Maltodextrin (any product containing)
Maltose (any product containing)
Mannitol (any product containing)
Martin’s Potato Rolls
Maseca Corn Flour
Maxwell House
Mazola Corn Plus
Mazola Vegetable Plus
McCormick Seasonings, Spices, etc.
Meat (ALL conventional, non-organic)
Menchies Frozen Yogurt
Mellow Mushroom Pizza
Methylcellulose (non-GMO)
Mexican Restaurants (most–I’m not kidding)
MicroZap Inc.
Microwave ovens, all (watch out for those Hitler crystals! 😉
Mighty Leaf (tea)
Milk (all American non-organic, pasteurized)
Milk (condensed, non-GMO)
Milk Powder (non-GMO)
Milo Starch (non-GMO)
Mineral Fusion
Minute Maid
Miracle Whip
Miss Vickie’s (Pepsico)
Mission White Corn Tortillas
MMR Vaccine
Modified Food Starch (non-GMO)
Modified Starch (non-GMO)
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Monoglycerides (non-GMO)
Morning Star
Morton Salt
Morton’s Seasonings
Mrs. Dash
Mrs. Fields
MUG Root Beer
Muir Glen (Prop 37)
Multi Grain Cheerios
Muscle Milk

Naked Juice
Nanoparticles (ingredient, especially yogurt)
Nature Valley
Neosugar (ingredient)
Nesquik milk
Nestle (virtually all products)
Newman’s Own (popcorn)
Nice! Oats & Honey
Nilla (Kraft)
Nutri-Grain (Kellogg)
Nutter Butter

Ocean Spray
Old El Paso
Oleic Acid (non-GMO)
O.N.E Coconut Water
Open Pit
Orbit (gum)
Organic Valley (butter)
Orville Redenbacher
Oscar Mayer
Oxybenzone (sunscreen component)

Pacific Foods aka Pacific Natural Foods
Papa Johns
Papa Murphy’s
Papayas, all from Hawaii
Parent’s Choice Organic (baby formula)
Pediasure (via “Moms Across America/Glyphosate article)
Pears from concentrate
Pepperidge Farm
Phenylalanine (non-GMO)
Phosphoric acid (ingredient)
Phytic Acid (non-GMO)
Pickles and Relish (any that contain food dye)
Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt
Pinnacle Foods
Pirate Booty
Pizza Hut
Pop Secret
Popcorn (microwave)
Popsicle brand popsicles
Pop Tarts
Potassium sorbate (ingredient)
Power Crunch
Promise Me (Susan G. Komen perfume)
Protein Isolate (non-GMO)
Pure Protein
Pure Via


Rapeseed (aka canola, non-GMO)
Raw sugar (any product containing)
Red No. 40 (food dye)
Red Mango Frozen Yogurt
Reddi Egg
Refiner’s syrup (any product containing)
Reilly Food Company
Republic of Tea
Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A, found in sunscreens and lotions)
Rich’s Products
Richelieu Foods (Prop 37)
Rice Krispies
Rite-Aid Sunscreen
Rolling Rock
Round Table Pizza
Russell Stover
R.W. Knudsen (Prop 37)

Sabra Hummus
Safeway (poultry, Prop 37)
Salad dressings (most, with “GMO oils”)
Salmon (farmed)
Sandwich Thins
Santa Cruz Organic
Sara Lee
Sausages (with nitrates)
Sea Pak
Seattle’s Best Coffee (Pepsico)
Shock Top
Shoyu (non-GMO)
Silk & Horizon
Silk Soy Milk
Simply Light
Simply Orange
Slim Fast
Smartwater (Coca Cola)
Smart Balance (butter)
Smart Ones
Smithfield (Prop 37)
Snyder’s of Hanover
So Delicious
SoBe (Pepsico)
Sodium benzoate (ingredient)
Sodium citrate (non-GMO)
Soft Drinks (almost all)
Solae (Prop 37)
Sorbitol (any product containing)
Soy, all in restaurants (non-GMO)
Soybean Oil (any product containing)
Soy Flour (non-GMO)
Soy Isolates (non-GMO)
Soy Lechitin (non-GMO)
Soy Milk (non-GMO)
Soy Oil (non-GMO)
Soy Protein (non-GMO)
Soy Protein Isolate (non-GMO)
Soy Sauce (non-GMO)
Special K
SPF greater than 50 in sunscreens
Spices (Virtually all sold in the U.S.A.)
Smart Balance Cooking Oil
Sorghum syrup (any product containing)
Sour Patch Kids
Spectrum Organic
Spice of Life
Squirt Soda
Starch (non-GMO)
Starkist Tuna
StarLite Cuisine
Stearic Acid (non-GMO)
Stella Artois
Stevia, manufactured (see article)
Stewart’s (Soda)
Stove Top
Sucrose (any product containing)
Sugar (unless specified as non-GMO cane sugar)
Sugar, raw
Sugar, yellow
Sulfites (ingredient, vegetable preservative)
Sun Chips
Sun Drop
Sunny Delight
Sunscreens, all spray   (also see specific brand names)
Sunscreens, all powder  (also see specific brand names)
Sunscreens, CVS brand
Sunscreens, Rite-Aid brand
Sunscreens, Walgreens brand
Sunkist Soda
Super Big Gulp (7-11)
Susan G. Komen Foundation
Swanson Chicken Broth
Syngenta (Prop 37)

Taco Bell
Tamari (non-GMO)
Tazo (tea)
TCBY Yogurt
Tea Forte
Tempeh (non-GMO)
Teriyaki Marinades (non-GMO)
Textured Vegetable Protein (non-GMO)
Think Thin
Thomas’ 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins
Threonine (non-GMO)
Tocopherols (Vitamin E, non-GMO)
Tofu (non-GMO)
Tootsie Rolls
Town House
Trader Joe’s
Trehalose (non-GMO)
Trical (Prop 37)
Trident Gum
Triglyceride (non-GMO)
TruMoo (Dean Foods)
Tuna, canned
Turbinado sugar (any product containing)
Twinings of London (tea)

Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread
Uncle Ben’s
Unilever (Prop 37)
Uno Chicago Grill
Utz All Natural

Vaccines (most)
Vegetable Fat (non-GMO)
Vegetable Oil (non-GMO)
Veggie burgers (non-organic)
Vermont Organics (baby formula)
Vie de France
Vita Coco
Vitamin A (Retinyl Palmitate, found in sunscreens and lotions)
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin, non-GMO)
Vitamin E (Tocopherol, non-GMO)
VitaminEnergy (Coca Cola)
Vitamin Water Zero
Vlasic (pickles)

Walgreen’s sunscreen
Walmart (I kid you not!  They’re selling GMO products!)
Wesson Oil
Wheat Thins
Whey (non-GMO)
Whey Powder (non-GMO)
While Lily Flour
Whitewave Foods
Whole Foods (Even she doesn’t understand her do’s and don’ts–see her article!)
Whole Foods Organic Baby Formula
Wholesome Sweeteners
Wrigley’s Gum

Xanthan Gum (non-GMO)

Yellow No. 5 (food dye)
Yellow Squash
Yellow sugar (any product containing)
YoCrunch (yogurt)
Yoforia Frozen Yogurt
Yogurt Mountain
Yves Veggie Cuisine

Zicam Cherry Cold Remedy
Zico Coconut Water

Please note: to avoid increasing search engine exposure for quack web sites, I use the DoNotLink service to obfuscate URLs. I promise you are not being redirected to porn 😉

Food Babe: Processed To Death (Cooking Oils)

Food Babe: GMO Ingredients A-Z Reference

Food Babe: GMO Ingredients in General Mills Foods

Food Babe: “Recipe for a Heart Attack”

Food Babe: Why aren’t you making your own hummus?

Food Babe: Artificial Dyes

Food Babe: Read the Ingredients List

Food Babe Avoid These When Eating Out

Food Babe: Olive Oil Archives

Food Babe: Sugar Archives

Food Babe: Dead Animal Parts in V8, Prego, Swanson, Campbell’s

Food Babe Heinz

Food Babe: “Carrots soaked in chlorine”

Food Babe Microwave Ovens

Food Babe Beauty Products

Food Babe “GMO” Candy

Food Babe Cetaphil

Food Babe Oreos

Food Babe: Parabens

Food Babe Mrs. Dash

Food Babe: Companies Fighting Prop 37

Food Babe Susan G. Komen & Other Cancer Organizations

Food Babe Flu Shot Nonsense

Food Babe Kleenex

Food Babe Truvia, Stevia

Food Babe Sunscreens

Food Babe “Just Say No” to Candy

Food Babe Fair Life

Food Babe Salmon

Food Babe Chocolates

Food Babe Whole Foods (She’s really confused on this one!)

Food Babe Peanut Butter

Food Babe Toothpastes

For Babe Birthday Cake

Food Babe Thanksgiving Scrooge

Food Babe Protein Shakes

Food Babe Spices

Food Babe Banned Holiday Gifts

Food Babe “GMO Wheat”

Food Babe Milk, Dairy Products

Food Babe Baby Formula

Food Babe Non-Organic Meat

Food Babe Double Standard

Food Babe Ractopamine

Food Babe Trader Joes

Food Babe Beer

Food Babe Chewing Gum

Food Babe Snacks/GMOs

Food Babe Burgers

Food Babe Silly Putty

Food Babe Microwave Popcorn

Food Babe Deodorants

Food Babe How to Ruin Oatmeal

Food Babe Coconut Water

Food Babe Juices

Food Babe Natural Flavors

Food Babe General Mills

Food Babe Soft Drinks

Food Babe “Toxic” drink

Foodbabe Scare Tactics

Food Babe Mexican Pizza

Food Babe Pizza

Food Babe Jello

Food Babe Medicine Misinformation

Food Babe GMO Natural Products

Food Babe Pepperidge Farm

Food Babe Cereal

Food Babe GMO Archives

Food Babe Butter

Food Babe Jason’s Deli

Food Babe Bread

Food Babe Never Buy!

Food Babe Tea

Food Babe Frozen Yogurt

Debunking the Synthetic Insulin Myth (Part I)

You would think someone with “MD” after her name would know better than to fall for quack medical articles.  Still, I could forgive Kelly Brogan, “Holistic Psychiatrist”, for her mistake in linking “Insulin Can Kill Diabetics; Natural Substances Heal Them”1 on her Facebook page,2 if only she had apologized for her mistake when it was pointed out to her.

Instead, Brogan plows mindlessly on, erasing critical posts, banning users who debunk her, and going on to spread more misinformation like, for example, the HIV virus not being responsible for AIDS,6 and claiming that we need viruses more than vaccines.2

FB thumbnail

Confirming a lie instead of debunking it–NOT what a doctor should be doing. See footnotes for image credit.

In a future article, I’ll debunk the myth that synthetic insulin is dangerous–and that pig-derived insulin is somehow safer.  In this article, however, I’d like to look at how people like Brogan and her source, “GreenMedInfo”, misrepresent real medical studies to scare the general public.  The study in question is called (hold on to your seats): “Glucose-lowering with exogenous insulin monotherapy in type 2 diabetes: dose association with all-cause mortality, cardiovascular events, and incident cancer.”3

In this study, the researchers didn’t really look at when patients began insulin therapy and how the insulin affected the outcome.  Instead, they used a “proportional hazards model”, a statistical method in which they took a database of Type II diabetes patients from the United Kingdom, assumed synthetic insulin was a hazard, and introduced it mathematically over a designated period of time.

In other words, the researchers had no idea when the patients actually began insulin therapy and whether the insulin was a factor in the hazardous outcomes breathlessly reported by people misquoting and misrepresenting this study.  One thing that’s obviously missing is a control group–in this case, a group that did not receive the synthetic insulin.  The researchers do admit this, but everyone quoting the study ignores the fact.

So, all we really know from this study is that several years after 6,484 people with diabetes received synthetic insulin, some of them got sick, and some of those sick people eventually died.  Well, that’s exactly what you would expect in any population, especially if some of them are seriously ill.  The calculated adjusted hazard ratios in this study (e.g., 1.37 for major adverse/acute cardiovascular events, MACE) could just as easily be explained by pre-existing conditions or other factors.

In fact, a recent presentation at the 50th annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes claimed that “pre-existing cardiovascular disease (CVD) emerged as the greatest risk factor for experiencing a major acute cardiovascular event (MACE) among patients with type 2 diabetes”.4  Wow.  Is it possible that patients with Type II diabetes are predisposed to cardiovascular disease?

Answer: Yes.  According to the American Heart Association, CVD is the cause of death in approximately 65% of all diabetes patients.5  All of a sudden, we’re running in circles: did the diabetes cause the CVD, or did the synthetic insulin?  Remember that missing control group?  What about the age of the patients?  What about when they actually began taking the insulin, as opposed the the arbitrary time selected by the researchers?  What about other health conditions?  What about…?

The researchers themselves were aware of the limitations of their study.  The last line of their abstract, missing from every quack article such as GreenMedInfo’s:

“Limitations of observational studies mean that this should be further investigated using an interventional study design”

An “interventional study” is what I hinted at earlier… it is a carefully controlled experiment involving, among other things, a control group that does not receive the drug (e.g., synthetic insulin) being tested.

There is nothing inherently wrong with an observational study, or statistical analysis.  The authors may very well have a point–maybe more studies are warranted.  I’ll leave that up to doctors.

What I want to point out is that one observational study does not–in any field, in any circumstances–prove a link between one thing and another.  And that is what’s being claimed by Dr. Brogan and everyone else citing this horrific GreenMedInfo article.


Image Credits
Dr. Brogan/Facebook screen snapshot 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.


Please note: To prevent increasing search engine exposure to quack web sites, I use the “DoNotLink” link obfuscator service to disguise URLs.  I promise that you are not being redirected to porn 🙂

(1)  (Quack Article) Research: Insulin Can Kill Diabetics; Natural Substances Heal Them

(2) Dr. Brogan (Facebook)

(3) Glucose-lowering with exogenous insulin monotherapy in type 2 diabetes (abstract)

(4) Pre-Existing Cardiovascular Disease Largest Risk Factor for MACE in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes

(5) AHA Scientific Statement: Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease

(6) Kelly Brogan denies germ theory and the value of HIV drugs

Food Babe Flashes Her Beaver

If the title of this blog is offensive, then you, like me, live in a place where “beaver” is crude, unacceptable slang for a female body part.  I’m sorry to resort to language like this, but I hope that you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt and continue reading.

Vani Hari (the “Food Babe”) makes a living posting sensationalized articles and videos on health, well-being, and alternative medicine. One thing that’s obvious about the alternative health movement is that sensationalism sells.  I deliberately chose my title to illustrate this point.

In her infamous YouTube post, “Do You Eat Beaver Butt?,”1 Hari uses a stuffed beaver as a prop to cast doubt on natural food additives by deriding castoreum, a vanilla-flavored chemical taken from scent glands of male and female beavers.  These glands happen to be located between the tail and pelvis.

It’s unpleasant and impractical to milk a beaver–both for the beaver and the human.  But let’s forget for a moment that the Babe misleads her fans about castoreum, which in reality is rarely used as a flavoring.2   The real problem is that, typical of her posts, Food Babe uses the source of the chemical to go quickly down a slippery slope and cast doubt on all natural ingredients–indeed, even on the definition of “natural ingredient” itself.

The fact is, humans use products derived from “disgusting” natural places in countless beneficial ways.  Please note: vegetarians will likely take issue with me and argue we shouldn’t use animal sources at all.  That’s a debate for another time and place.  Vani Hari is not a vegetarian.3,7  She’s not arguing against using animal products.

Here’s a quick list of useful animal products coming from “disgusting” places.  If I can use Food Babe’s gross-out tactics to increase readership and possibly educate along the way, I’m not above doing it.

My List

Aortic Valve Replacements
Undoubtedly the most fascinating part of my experience as a pre-med student was an eight hour stint as an observer in the operating room during two open heart surgeries.  In one of the operations, the surgeon replaced the patient’s aortic valve.  This valve resides in the heart, controlling the flow of blood in the main artery of the body.

The replacement valve was taken from a pig.  During lunch (Chinese food–it’s amazing how much you can eat immediately after watching a human chest cracked open!) the surgeon explained the advantages of using an animal product, which is already biologically similar to a human, then stripped down to cartilage to minimize rejection by the immune system.

For example, patients on artificial valves can be restricted to a lifetime on medications.  I am not a doctor, but am providing a link to an easy-to-understand transcript on the procedure–written by a real doctor–if you’d like to know more.4

I do feel bad for the pig.  But watching the patient open her eyes in recovery and smile at her grandchildren, I felt the sacrifice was worth it.


Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oil comes from [drum roll please]… oily fish!13  Fans of both alternative and real medicine love fish oil because it’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.  Possible benefits include reducing the risk of serious heart conditions, lowering blood pressure, and preventing cardiovascular disease.5,6

Fish don’t produce omega-3 themselves.  They accumulate it by eating microalgae (and other fish that have accumulated omega-3).  Oily fish and algae.  It’s what’s for dinner!

Hypocritically, Food Babe loves omega-3, still eats fish, but now disclaims the fatty acid as an omega-3 source.  Instead she pushes a seed blend–and receives a commission from the vendor of the seeds.7   Can you say “conflict of interest?”


Orange Juice
Speaking of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, did you know that they’re considered so beneficial that orange juice manufacturers are adding them to their juice?8

Before I beat the omega-3 horse to death, I’ll mention a 2007 USA Today article that mentions the healthy fatty acid was being added to an estimated 250 products (including juice, cereal, and cheese) being rolled out that year.9

Food Babe is hilariously confused when it comes to juices, fretting that “chemicals” such as water (I’m not making this shit up!) and Vitamin C are added during processing.14  This stupidity is not surprising coming from a woman who once ranted about airlines adding nitrogen to the air in airplane cabins (earth’s atmosphere is 72% nitrogen–it’s what we naturally breathe!)


Heparin, listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines,10 is an important medicine used to prevent the clotting of blood.  It’s used as a blood-thinner by people with medical conditions where clotting is a problem, as well as before surgery to prevent life-threatening clots.

Heparin is made from animal tissues, including pig intestines.11


Chicken Eggs
Most people don’t like to think about this one.   Eggs don’t come out of the chicken’s butt, but, “geographically”, it’s close.  Fortunately, the end result is a sterile egg: (1) The hen has one hole exposed to the outside world, known as the vent. (2) Both poop and the egg must exit this hole.  (3) But when the hen lays an egg, the oviduct extends outside of the hole–like a glove–shielding the egg from poop.12

But the rooster still has to stick his penis in there.  Ooh, yuck!  After I published this post, an insightful reader pointed out that the rooster penis isn’t actually inserted into the hen.  Instead, the exchange of sperm takes place via a mechanism known as a “cloacal kiss.”23,24  Fascinating bit of science there–with, I think, the potential for an equally high gross-out factor.

Where chicken eggs come from

Where chicken eggs come from (click to enlarge). See footnotes for image credits.

Chicken eggs are nutritious.15  They’re also a valuable host for growing certain vaccines, which, unless you have an egg allergy, are safe and critical in preventing diseases.


I remember talking to an old farmer in Kentucky who told me he used to drink directly from the cow on hot summer days.  I was fascinated, but a little grossed out at the same time.  Maybe it’s the proximity of the udder to the cow’s anus?

Fortunately, we have pasteurization.  Predictably, Hari is absolutely clueless when it comes to this process.16  Pasteurization is the most effective way to handle disease-causing organisms (and cow poop) while preserving the nutritional value of the product.  In fact, unpasteurized products can be dangerous and have caused serious disease outbreaks.


If you’re freaked out by putting something in your mouth that comes from the questionably located glands of an animal, add cheese to your banned food list: cows, goats, sheep, and even buffalo are the sources.

Like the other food products in my list, cheese is nutritious and it tastes good.  Just check out Food Babe’s goat cheese recipe!17


We don’t eat it, but a lot of people like to wear it and sleep on it.  A lot of these same people might be grossed out at the thought of being covered in worm spit.  Silk is a protein secreted from the salivary glands of certain insects, including the silkworm.18   Yes, your salivary glands produce… spit.

In her beauty archives, Food Babe recommends sleeping on 100% silk pillowcases.19 Fortunately, worm spit is 100% natural and organic–just like chemicals extracted from beaver butts.


Gelatin is a flavorless additive that adds texture to foods like yogurt, cream cheese, marshmallows, candy, fruit snacks, and margarine.  It’s used as a fining agent in beer and wines (fining agents give such drinks their clarity).  The use of gelatin is so widespread in food production that it’s usually overlooked.  It’s also important in the pharmaceutical industry–for example, in dissolvable gel capsules for pills. Gelatin is made from the bones, skins, and connective tissues of animals.20,21,22

Like the other animal products in this list, gelatin may come from a “gross” place, but it’s hard to imagine food without it.  While it has no effect on the nutritional value of the food, few of us would like to drink our marshmallows and yogurt.  They’d be liquid without the gelatin.


Everything in the universe is made up of chemicals.  Food Babe frequently uses either the source and/or names of chemicals to cast doubt on their safety.  Some people might naturally recoil before eating sodium chloride before being told it’s just common table salt.

One common joke about Food Babe is that if she can’t pronounce it, she won’t eat it.  In that same vein, she wants her fans to believe that if something comes from a “bad” place, it isn’t good for you.  This is utter nonsense.

Vani Hari is apparently making a small fortune by casting doubt on safe, established products and earning commissions on the alternative products she hawks on her web site.  It’s sad that more people do not examine her claims critically.  They’re being misled, and she’s laughing all the way to the bank.


Image Credits
“The Hen’s Perspective on Laying Eggs (Wieckmann, 1896; Grzimek, 1964)”, as referenced by a wonderful blog post by Wiebe H. van der Molen (http://www.afn.org/~poultry/egghen.htm).  None of those authors necessarily agree with or endorse my work here.  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.

Screen snapshot “Do You Eat Beaver Butt?” copyright (c) Vani Hari, “The Food Babe”.  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.


Please note: to avoid increasing search engine exposure for questionable web sites, I use the DoNotLink URL obfuscator on their links.  I promise, you will not be redirected to porn.

(1) Original Food Babe article

(2) Fernelli’s Handbook of Flavor Ingredients

(3) Food Babe: Chicken Salad

(4) Bruce Lytle, MD: Transcript for Aortic Valve Replacement

(5) Mayo Clinic: Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid

(6) Fish Oil Cools the Inflammasome

(7) Food Babe: “I stopped taking fish oil a long time ago”

(8) Tropicana

(9) USA Today: Omega-3 Pours into cereal, orange juice, eggs, pet food

(10) WHO List of Essential Medicines

(11) Production and Chemical Processing of Low Molecular Weight Heparins

(12) Avian Reproductive System–Female

(13) Oily Fish

(14) Food Babe Juice Labels

(15) Nutrient Content of One Large Egg

(16) Food Babe doesn’t understand pasteurization

(17) Food Babe Goat Cheese Recipe

(18) Silk Making & Silk Production

(19) Food Babe Beauty Tips: Silk Pillowcase

(20) USDA: Gelatin Processing

(21) Gelatin Manufacturers of America: Gelatin Handbook

(22) Gelatin: Fining Agents

(23) Cloacal Kiss (Encylopaedia Britannica)

(24) Cloacal Kiss (Urban Dictionary)


Got Milk?

I was recently introduced to the work of Dr. Joseph Mercola through a dangerous article he penned.  In “Fight for Raw Milk Heats Up in Wisconsin and Illinois“,1 Mercola sings the praises of raw, unpasteurized milk.  Before somebody ends up seriously ill, I’d like to draw attention to some facts about consuming unpasteurized dairy products.  I’ll be using selected quotes from Mercola’s article to drive the narrative, but encourage readers to check out his full write-up in case there are any suspicions of quote-mining.

For those who’ve forgotten, pasteurization is simply the rapid heating — then cooling — of milk. This eliminates most of the bacteria that would make you sick, and it allows the milk to stay fresh longer.  Pasteurization isn’t the same as boiling/sterilization: it doesn’t wipe out all the pathogens, but it also doesn’t destroy the flavor or essential nutrients.2, 3, 6, 12


Pinocchio, patron saint of liars. See footnotes for image credit.

Mercola claims:

“Raw milk dairy products from organically raised pasture-fed cows rank among some of the healthiest foods you can consume. It’s far superior in terms of health benefits compared to pasteurized milk, and if statistics are any indication, it’s safer, too”

This is an outright lie.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, unpasteurized dairy products are 13 times more likely to cause hospitalization and 150 times more likely to result in foodborne illness.2  Unpasteurized milk is a common source for the bacteria that causes diseases such as diphtheria, tuberculosis, and, typhoid fever.3  It’s irresponsible for anyone labeling themselves as “doctor” to spread deceit like this.  Some of the dangers include:

Salmonellosis, usually transmitted to humans by consuming animal products contaminated by animal feces:4  Put bluntly, those organic cows you see standing in the organic fields munching organic grass growing in piles of organic shit… yeah, that’s what “feces” means. Salmonella is at best an uncomfortable disease, featuring diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps.  In extreme cases it can lead to hospitalization.  Untreated, in can result in death.

Brucellosis, most commonly acquired by consuming unpasteurized dairy products:5 Common symptoms include fever, anorexia, muscle/joint pain, swelling of the heart/liver/spleen, and swelling of the testicles/scrotum in men.  (If you’re a female reporting swelling in the testicles, you’re most likely an anti-vaccine proponent reporting a fake adverse reaction.)

The cautionary list is a long one.  For more, please see the CDC page “Food Safety and Raw Milk.”6


Living in the good ol’ days. See footnotes for image credit.

“it’s worth remembering that raw milk was consumed for eons before the invention of pasteurization.” — Mercola

It’s also worth remembering that in the 1900s the average adult didn’t live beyond age 50,7 and the earliest humans were lucky to make it out of their 20s.8  Scientific advances in fields such as medicine and agriculture have led to significant increases in the average adult life span.  “Eons ago” is a piss-poor argument.  Speaking of piss… eons ago, humans allowed their sewage to mix freely with drinking water.  Then we learned better.

Back to dairy…  by the 1900s, mothers knew the dangers of raw milk, but the pasteurized product wasn’t widely available.  They began boiling it to reduce the risk to their infants.3   Has Mercola learned nothing from history?

It’s sad how champions of alternative living long for the good ol’ days — without remembering how bad those days really were.11  


“Organically raised cows that are allowed to roam free on pasture where they can graze for their natural food source produce very different milk.”  — Mercola

Mercola doesn’t tell us what’s in his “different milk”.  Milk is milk.  It’s hard to debunk ghost claims.  And they’re frustratingly, frequently, common in quack articles such as the good doctor’s.  What we do know is the chemical composition of milk.9  Milk, by any other name… is milk. The next time you see a woomeister talking about “different” milk, ask them what’s in their milk, and compare.

The implication here is that “organic is better”, and that’s just not true.  Crude oil is 100% natural and organic.  Is it good for you?  That’s not a joke.  It’s not sarcasm.  Look it up.  (But don’t drink it.)

 855“It’s also important to realize that pasteurization is only really required for certain kinds of milk” — Mercola

And condoms are only necessary for safe sex with certain kinds of strangers.  Sorry, but no.  Look: cows aren’t the most sanitary of creatures.  They don’t exactly wash their hooves (or udders, or any other body part) after going to the bathroom.  They wade through fields full of cow dung all day munching on… well… dung-laden grass.  You don’t know what’s growing there, other than the very real possibility it won’t be good for you.   For example, consider this photo:

Agrocybe pediades spores

Spores from poisonous Agrocybe pediades, a mushroom found growing on a cow patty

Dairy cattle are subject to other disease vectors such as insects and wild animals.  Drinking unpasteurized milk is rather like playing the lottery.  Instead of picking numbers, you’re picking bacteria, spores, and other contaminants, and hoping against hope that you don’t swallow something dangerous.


Tinfoil hats“While the US government, public health, and dairy industry officials say they want to restrict the sale and distribution of raw milk because of safety concerns, it’s quite clear that safety isn’t the motivating factor.” — Mercola

Except that:

In industrialized countries, milk-borne and milk product-borne outbreaks represent 2–6% of the bacterial foodborne outbreaks.2

I snuck one in on you.  That’s not a Mercola quote above.  That’s from real scientists, something you won’t find in a Mercola article.  Since being introduced to Dr. Mercola, all I’ve found in his work is pseudoscience and conspiracy theories.  Safety is the motivating factor here, and has been since pasteurization was introduced.

So why is milk pasteurized, according to Mercola?  Hang on to your seats…

“The fact of the matter is that Big Dairy depends on pasteurization”

(Sigh).  And Big Pharma depends on cancer: they’re causing it on purpose to increase drug sales.

And aliens are controlling us via hidden signals in our television sets.  And… and…



(1)  Fight for Raw Milk Heats Up in Wisconsin and Illinois

(2) Raw or heated cow milk consumption: Review of risks and benefits

(3) The Dangers of Raw Milk (USDA)

(4) Salmonellosis

(5) Transmission | Brucellosis (CDC)

(6) Food Safety and Raw Milk

(7)  National Institute on Aging:  Living Longer

(8) Late Pleistocene adult mortality patterns and modern human establishment

(9)  Basic Report:  01077, Milk, whole, 3.25% milkfat, with added vitamin D

(10) Agrocybe pediades

(11) Gastroenteritis Conveyed by Raw Milk

(12)  Raw Milk Questions and Answers (CDC)


Image Credits

Unpasteurized milk (skull and crossbones) photo illustration by the author, using two public domain works from WikiCommons: “P0772931750(37561)(NRCS Photo Gallery).jpg” from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services — milk in a bottle, extensively photoshopped by author for effect.  Image in public domain as a work of the U.S. Government.  Skull and crossbones in image by “ScottForesman”, released into public domain with no restrictions.  Use of these images does not imply that the original owners share the opinions expressed by the author.

Gladys the Swiss Dairy Cow from Wiki Commons, released into the public domain by James Lebinski.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

“Jager út de Stientiid” (caveman boy) is from Wiki Commons and is in the public domain of the United States, having been published prior to 1923.

Trojan brand condoms from copyrighted image, Church & Dwight Co., inc.  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

Agrocybe pediades spores:  image from Wiki Commons, uploaded by user Ron Pastorino, shared under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

“Jim Dines Pinocchio-skulptur Walking to Borås” by Wiki Commons author “Mrkgrd”, used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.  Image owner does not necessarily share the opinions expressed by the author.

Tinfoil hats still from the movie “Signs”, copyright 2002 Touchstone Pictures.  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

If it Quacks Like a Duck — Oscillococcinum

It’s perhaps the most amazing drug on CVS’ shelves today:  It features:

  • No side effects
  • No drug interactions
  • No active ingredients

That’s right.  No active ingredients.  Read on to see if Oscillococcinum might be right for you!

Oscillococcinum thumbnail

Oscillococcinum, a drug with no active ingredients. (See footnotes for image credit.)

Oscillococcinum was a drug originally made from the non-existent oscillococcinum bacterium (wink wink nudge nudge) and marketed as a cure for the flu.  This is curious, as the flu is viral, not bacterial, in nature.

Now made from duck parts that don’t exist — perfect for a quack cure — Oscillococcinum is homeopathic.  One of the features of many homeopathic medicines is that they are repeatedly diluted during production.  Oscillococcinum is typical:  the dilution is so extreme that there’s no original product left in the box when it goes out the door.

CVS-branded oscillococcinum

CVS-branded oscillococcinum. Get your sugar cheaper! (click to enlarge image.)

The dilution factor for CVS’ duck-based medicine is “200C”.  In homeopathy, “200C” means that:

  1. The original product is diluted with water to 1/100th the original concentration
  2. A small sample of the dilution is set aside
  3. That 1/100th sample is taken, diluted with water, and the process is repeated for a total of 200 iterations

As is the case with any homeopathic medicine diluted to such extremes, the odds of receiving any end product (in this case, duck) are so astronomical they border on impossible.

But would you actually want the duck?

A quick look at the CVS product info sheet tells us that Oscillococcinum:

“is made from tissue that might be infected with flu—ducks, which are known to carry influenza”

Wait.  What’s happening here?  Is CVS selling me an infected bird?  That’s freaky scary.  When I get the flu shot, at least I know the virus in the shot is dead.

Or, is CVS selling me pure water & sugar… a product from which all the duck has been removed?  Back to the product info sheet:

“Oscillococcinum is of 200c potency, meaning that it is diluted to one part in 10 400 (a dilution so high that even if you started with a chunk of duck the size of the sun, not one molecule would remain).”1

Wow.  Balls the size of… (!)

The imaginary active ingredient has been completely removed from this product, and CVS doesn’t even try to hide it:  they brag about it!

If you’re a CVS customer paying for this stuff, you’re paying for filler product.  Water and sugar.  Actually, it’s questionable whether or not you’re even getting any water.  The ingredients list only shows sugar.  What you’re definitely not getting is duck.  (For that reason, we’ll leave the dangers of ingesting a disease-laden bird for another article.)

Oscillococcinum gets a special mention in Jean-Marie Abgrall’s “Healing or Stealing?: Medical Charlatans in the New Age”.2  The drug was invented in 1919 when a Frenchman noticed an “oscillating” condition in flu patients and a corresponding “oscillating” amount of an imaginary germ he decided to call “oscillococcus”.  The only problem was, he thought he noticed the same microbe in herpes, chicken pox, shingles, and cancer patients — and decided all the diseases were caused by the same thing.  Mon dieu!8

The Frenchman tested a vaccine he developed on his cancer patients who, of course, died.  Afraid of being infected by his patients, the doctor went in search of his oscilloccinum bacterium in the wild.  He claims to have found it in a duck.  I’m not making this [expletive deleted] up.  No one else has ever seen oscilloccinum.  It doesn’t really exist.  But this hasn’t stopped snake… erm…  duck oil salesmen from cashing in.

oscillococcinum contains no active ingredients

Oscillococcinum isn’t all it’s quacked up to be.  It contain no active ingredient(s)! (Photo by the author)

Manufactured by the French company Boiron, Oscillococcinum has been singled out for deceptive marketing in the United States.  In June 2010, Homeopathy for Health, a Washington vendor, was cited by the FDA for a slew of violations, including marketing Oscillococcinum as a treatment for H1N1 (“Swine Flu”) and “relief of flu symptoms”.3 Although the CVS literature lists one late 1980s study with marginal results touting Oscillococcinum efficacy,2 no other studies back the CVS claims.  This is not surprising.  If you only have one study to back you up, take that study, trumpet it loudly, and hope nobody notices.

When sugar pills are shown to stop the flu virus, let’s all meet in the bakery aisle of the supermarket when we get sick, and skip the trip to the doctor.

As I write this, CVS is actively removing protests regarding Oscillococcinum sales from its Facebook page.  These posts, to the best of my knowledge, truthfully inform consumers that the product contains no active ingredients, has never been shown to be of any help in combating the flu, and, in fact, could be dangerous: influenza is a serious disease and can be deadly.5, 6

CVS places homeopathic medicines next to real medicines on their shelves (with similar packaging) with no consumer warnings, making it difficult for a trusting public to know what they’re buying.  When a pharmacy dispenses real medicine and real flu vaccines along with sugar pills without any cautionary text, it’s a problem.  Skipping real treatment in favor of Oscillococcinum could do real harm.

A “drug” made from sugar and non-existent duck parts?  A company that takes pride in its public health outreach programs4 should be ashamed of itself for this quackery — no pun intended.  I hope readers will take a moment to go the CVS Facebook page7 and express their unhappiness.  As consumers, we deserve better.

Postscript (18 December 2014)  Alert readers have pointed out that CVS is not the only vendor selling this fake medicine.  Indeed, since writing this article, I’ve found it online at Amazon and Drugstore.com.  It’s reportedly been seen on the shelves of Walmart, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid–though I haven’t witnessed that myself.  I’ll be writing follow-up articles to cover this.  No matter where you find it–if you find it–please encourage sellers of oscillococcinum to remove this useless product from their shelves.


(1)  CVS: Influenza: Studied Homeopathic Remedies

(2) Healing Or Stealing?: Medical Charlatans in the New Age
Healing Or Stealing?: Medical Charlatans in the New Age. pp. 40–41. ISBN 1-892941-51-1

(3) FDA Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations: Warning Letter

(4) CVS stops selling tobacco, offers quit-smoking programs

(5) CDC Fast Stats: Influenza

(6) Key Facts about Influenza (Flu) & Flu Vaccine

(7) CVS (Facebook)

(8) Mon Dieu! (My God!)


Legal Stuff

CVS Oscillococcinum product image 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.

Duck image by the author.  Copyright (c) 2014 Mark Aaron Alsip.  All rights reserved.

Flu Vaccine: The Aluminum Lining

flu vaccineAs Modern Alternative Mama (MAMA) launches new articles as part of her shameful “Vaccine Injury Awareness Monthcampaign, I’ll continue laying out the facts that show she’s wrong and dangerous.  Today I’m debunking her recent article “No Flu Shot For Me! Fighting the Flu With Essential Oils.”1

I’m glad she published this article, because it touches on two major topics that come up in nearly every anti-vaccine argument: aluminum in vaccines and flu vaccinations for pregnant women.

So, in this debunking, we’ll be looking at:

  • “Toxic” aluminum in vaccines
  • Safety of flu vaccines in pregnant women
  • Use of “essential oils” (EOs) to combat viruses, and the toxicity of EOs

An important disclaimer here: I’m not a doctor.  Even though I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night,9, 10 your ultimate source for medical information should always be a qualified doctor, not something you read on the internet.  I’m here to point out what real doctors and scientists are saying about the nonsense anti-vaccine proponents are spouting.  You’re a smart person.  Please do the research.  The outcomes are important.


Right away, the original article sways from truth and science like Justin Bieber’s car during one of his drunk driving sprees15.  Not only does MAMA lie about which vaccines include aluminum, she doesn’t understand that it’s safe.

In fact, in other articles, MAMA recommends eating foods rich in aluminum (such as spinach, tea, and potatoes).17, 20, 24  But, for the flu vaccine, not only do we get a reversal of opinion, we get an outright lie:

“We do know, however, that aluminum is added to the flu shot to increase the body’s response to the vaccine. Aluminum is a neurotoxin.”

If you disregard the specific Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, flu vaccines do not contain aluminum.2, 11, 12 You also won’t find aluminum in other vaccines commonly claimed to be “toxic” by anti-vaxxers, such as those for polio, MMR, or shingles.  Oops.

But, is aluminum a danger in the vaccines (such as hepatitis A & B) that contain it?  No.

Aluminum is added to some vaccines to help boost the response of the body’s immune system.  The most common metal in the Earth’s crust,3 aluminum is an unavoidable part of our diet.  In the USA, the average adult consumes 7-9mg of aluminum per day by eating but eliminates most of it as feces (poop).  People with kidney disease are an exception: the disease effects the body’s ability to eliminate aluminum.33

Our average adult will accumulate between 50 and 100mg of aluminum in their bodies over an entire lifetime.3  Nearly 100% of that total comes from the food they’ll eat, the water they’ll drink2, and the air they’ll breathe.  In addition to water, foods naturally containing aluminum include potatoes, spinach, and tea.4 Babies ingest aluminum regardless of whether they’re breast-fed or given milk from a bottle.2

Aluminum enters the environment via natural processes.  A healthy human body is excellent at removing aluminum, regardless of whether it comes from a vaccine or the all-natural health food you ate for dinner.  Studies in humans show it’s poorly absorbed in the first place, and for animals in general, the absorption rate is less than 1%.4   It’s ironic that Modern Alternative Mama publishes “healthy living” spinach recipes17 when spinach naturally contains five times the amount of aluminum of other foods.16

So, you can’t avoid aluminum unless you give up eating, drinking, and breathing.  But there’s no need to worry: your body can (and does) handle the aluminum safely.  There is no aluminum in the common flu shot.2, 11, 12  For other shots that contain aluminum (for example, hepatitis A & B), the amount of aluminum is insignificant compared to what we obtain from eating, drinking, and breathing.  But your body doesn’t care where the aluminum comes from: it removes it the anti-vaxxer’s favorite way — naturally.


No good anti-vaccine terror campaign is complete without a cherry-picked legalese quote from a medication insert, and MAMA does not disappoint, chastising a Walgreens’ campaign to get pregnant women vaccinated:

“Walgreen’s conveniently left out the fact that the vaccine inserts themselves recommend women avoid receiving the flu shot.”

This isn’t really true.  Her two inserts say the shots should be given if clearly needed.  And medical experts agree the vaccine is clearly needed.  Pregnant women who get the flu are at a greater risk of complications — including hospitalization and death — than non-pregnant women.  The risk to unborn babies is also higher, including premature birth.7, 18  

Recent research suggests the risk to unvaccinated pregnant women may be higher because their immune systems react in an unusually strong manner when they contract the flu, and urges pregnant women to get the vaccination to prevent the inflammatory effects of the full disease.25, 26 (The flu shot is a “dead” virus and cannot give you the flu.)

The vaccine has benefits beyond helping the mother stay alive and healthy.  Antibodies generated in her body as a result of the vaccination can be passed to the unborn baby, giving it protection until it’s old enough to receive its first vaccination at age 6 months.7, 19  Millions of pregnant women have been vaccinated against the flu with no harm to either the mother or baby.7

There’s one important warning:  According to the CDC, pregnant women should not receive the live version of the vaccine (the nasal spray), but the inactivated version (the shot) is harmless.7, 18, 19 Although we’re specifically talking about pregnant women here, this warning about the live version of the vaccine also applies to certain other groups such as immunosuppressed persons.32 When in doubt, always talk to your doctor.

To contradict all this medical evidence, we get a trio of lies from the anti-vaccination article:

“but manufacturers admit that the impact on a developing human just isn’t known”

“Considering the ‘regular’ flu shots cannot verify safety for pregnant women”

“Besides the lack of safety testing for pregnant women”

Ahem. From the CDC:

“Studies of several thousand pregnant women in scientific literature have assessed the safety of using the flu vaccine during pregnancy. These studies have shown no evidence of harm to pregnant women, to the unborn child (or fetus) or to newborns of vaccinated women.”8

And if you do the research, studies back this up.8, 13, 14

It’s interesting to pause here and consider the hypocrisy of MAMA.  Later in her article, she’ll tout the amazing benefits of essential oils in combating viruses, even though their safety for use during pregnancy has never been studied.

Essential Oils

MAMA begins by misquoting a real scientific study6, which looked at the effects of essential oils (EO) on bacteria.

The problem is that the flu isn’t caused by bacteria.  It’s caused by a virus.  There’s a huge difference.  Bacteria are single-celled living organisms; viruses are small packages of DNA or RNA that cannot “live” without being injected into a living cell.

So we’re off to a bad start already, with an article using research performed on bacteria to support a conclusion about viruses.

Interestingly, it turns out that chemicals found in essential oils are being studied for anti-viral properties, and are showing promise — in test tubes.22, 23  MAMA doesn’t cite any of these studies, for obvious reasons.  No doubt, if the research results in a promising medicine that works when ingested, anti-vaxxers will dismiss it as a Big Pharma conspiracy.

Or perhaps essential oil fans are embarrassed by the track record of EOs with the FDA.  For example, in September 2014, Living Young, the manufacturer of “Thieves Blend”, an essential oil often pushed on alternative medicine web sites as a cure for nearly everything, was warned by the FDA for making unsubstantiated medical claims about their oil including, incredibly, as a cure for Ebola.22

Regardless, an article that is supposed to be focused on the flu virus keeps wandering away like a lost puppy to talk about essential oils and bacteria.  After many paragraphs on this red herring, MAMA pulls this magical conclusion out of her [expletive deleted]:

There are many essential oils known for being antiviral. Tea tree (melaleuca), basil, lemon, peppermint, and more. All these oils will enter your body, enter your cells, and fight off viruses that have already taken over your cells. It’s pretty amazing.

What would be even more amazing would be even a single reference to back up this claim!

What we do know from science about essential oils is that some of them can be toxic when ingested:

“However, the ingestion of a few milliliters of essential oils may cause severe symptoms of intoxication like vomiting, respiration failure, and unconsciousness and may lead to death, especially when infants are concerned.”28, 29

A University of Minnesota (UoM) article30 warns that while many essential oils are safe when used on the skin, some can cause serious harm — including liver and other organ damage — when ingested.  The same article warns that some EOs are not safe to apply to the skin, or should not be applied to the skin without dilution, else photo-toxicity can result.  UoM reminds the reader that peppermint oil is heavily laced with methanol-one, which has caused young children to stop breathing.

For children who actually drink an essential oil containing methanol or other toxic ingredients, the results can be tragic.31


The flu is dangerous.  In 2010, influenza and pneumonia (which go hand-in-hand) killed over 53,000 people in the United States.27 Except for the Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine, flu vaccines do not contain aluminum, but aluminum is unavoidable in our diets, and our bodies process it naturally.  Other vaccines that contain aluminum contain far lower amounts than the water we drink or the food we eat, and are safe.

The live (nasal) form of the flu vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women, but the dead (injected) form has been given to millions of pregnant women and medical studies conclude that it is safe.  Finally, although scientific research is being done on the possible benefits of chemicals extracted from essential oils, the article being debunked presents no evidence of any trials in humans — because, as of this writing, there aren’t any.  In fact, some essential oils are known to be toxic when ingested by animals.


Note: to avoid increasing search engine exposure for quack web sites, I use the DoNotLink URL obfuscator on their links.  I promise I’m not redirecting you to porn 🙂

(1) No Flu Shot For Me! Fighting the Flu With Essential Oils (original MAMA article)

(2)  Aluminum in Vaccines: What you should know

(3) extract, CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 77th Edition

(4) Aluminum in Drinking Water (World Health Organization)

(5)  The Cell: A Molecular Approach. 2nd edition

(6)  Effect of Essential Oils on Pathogenic Bacteria

(7)  CDC: Pregnant Women Need a Flu Shot

(8) Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnant Women

(9) Holiday Inn Express (Nuclear Meltdown)

(10) Holiday Inn Express (Jeopardy)

(11) Vaccines and Aluminum

(12)  Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary

(13)  Adverse events in pregnant women following administration of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine and live attenuated influenza vaccine in the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, 1990-2009

(14)  Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine and spontaneous abortion

(15)  Justin Bieber arrested on drunken driving, resisting arrest charges

(16)  Aluminum in Your Diet

(17)   Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadillas  (original MAMA article)

(18)  Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety and Pregnant Women

(19)  MAYO Clinic: Pregnancy week by week

(20)  Boost Your Produce Budget: smart shopping tips for buying local (MAMA article)

(21) Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro

(22)  FDA Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations Warning Letter to “Thieves Oil” Manufacturer

(23)  Susceptibility of Drug-Resistant Clinical Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Strains to Essential Oils of Ginger, Thyme, Hyssop, and Sandalwood

(24) Recipe Collection: Cheesy Potatoes (MAMA article)

(25)  Immune response turned up high by flu during pregnancy

(26) Immune Response Turned Up, Not Down, by Flu During Pregnancy

(27) Deaths and Mortality

(28)  Essential Oil Poisoning, Woolf, Clinical Toxicology, 1999, Vol. 37, No. 6 : pp 721-727

(29) Antimicrobial Effect of Essential Oil Isolated from Eucalyptus globulus Labill

(30)  Are Essential Oils Safe?

(31)  A Case of Methanol Poisoning in a Child

(32)  Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) — United States, 2014–15 Influenza Season

(33)  ATSDR Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine: Aluminum

Image Credits

Pandermix flu vaccine from WikiMedia Commons, released into public domain with no restrictions.

Pregnant woman by Inferis, from WikiMedia Commons, used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.  Image owner does not necessarily share or endorse the views put forth by the author of this article.

Aluminum by Romary, from WikiMedia Commons, used under GNU Free Documentation License.  Image owner does not necessarily share or endorse the views put forth by the author of this article.

Essential Oil from WikiMedia Commons, released into public domain with no restrictions.