Menopausal symptoms are a domaine of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), not least because many women are worried about hormone treatments and therefore want ‘something natural’. TCM practitioners are only too keen to offer their services. But do their treatments really work?
This study aimed to analyze the effectiveness of acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) on mood disorder symptoms for menopausal women.
A total of 95 qualified Chinese participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
- 31 in the acupuncture combined with CHM group (combined group),
- 32 in the acupuncture combined with CHM placebo group (acupuncture group),
- 32 in the CHM combined with sham acupuncture group (CHM group).
The patients were treated for 8 weeks and followed up for 4 weeks. The data were collected using the Greene Climacteric Scale (GCS), self-rating depression scale (SDS), self-rating anxiety scale (SAS), and safety index.
The three groups each showed significant decreases in the GCS, SDS, and SAS after treatment (p < 0.05). Furthermore, the effect on the GCS total score and the anxiety domain lasted until the follow-up period in the combined group (p < 0.05). Within the three groups, there was no difference in GCS and SAS between the three groups after treatment (p > 0.05). However, the combined group showed significant improvement in the SDS, compared with both the acupuncture group and the CHM group at 8 weeks and 12 weeks (p < 0.05). No obvious abnormal cases were found in any of the safety indexes.
The authors concluded that the results suggest that either acupuncture, or CHM or combined therapy offer safe improvement of mood disorder symptoms for menopausal women. However, the combination therapy was associated with more stable effects in the follow-up period and a superior effect on improving depression symptoms.
Previous reviews have drawn conclusions that are far less positive, e.g.:
- the observed clinical benefit associated with acupuncture may be due, in part, or in whole to nonspecific effects.
- the evidence gathered was not sufficient to affirm the effectiveness of traditional acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture.
- For natural menopause, one large study has shown acupuncture to be superior to self-care alone in reducing the number of hot flushes and improving the quality of life; five small studies have been unable to demonstrate that the effect of acupuncture is limited to any particular points, as traditional theory would suggest; and one study showed acupuncture was superior to blunt needle for flash frequency but not intensity.
- Sham-controlled RCTs fail to show specific effects of acupuncture for control of menopausal hot flushes.
It seems therefore wise to take the conclusions of the new study with a pinch of salt. The intergroup difference observed in this trial may well be due to residual biases, multiple testing, or coincidence. And the reported intragroup differences are in complete accord with the fact that the employed therapies are mere placebos.
This, of course, begs the question of whether SCAM has anything else to offer for women suffering from menopausal symptoms. To answer it, I can refer you to one of our systematic reviews:
Some evidence exists in favour of phytosterols and phytostanols for diminishing LDL and total cholesterol in postmenopausal women. Similarly, regular fiber intake is effective in reducing serum total cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic postmenopausal women. Clinical evidence also exists on the effectiveness of vitamin K, a combination of calcium and vitamin D or a combination of walking with other weight-bearing exercise in reducing bone mineral density loss and the incidence of fractures in postmenopausal women. Black cohosh appears to be effective therapy for relieving menopausal symptoms, primarily hot flashes, in early menopause. Phytoestrogen extracts, including isoflavones and lignans, appear to have only minimal effect on hot flashes but have other positive health effects, e.g. on plasma lipid levels and bone loss. For other commonly used CAMs, e.g. probiotics, prebiotics, acupuncture, homeopathy and DHEA-S, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are scarce and the evidence is unconvincing. More and better RCTs testing the effectiveness of these treatments are needed.
So-called alternative medicine (SCAM) is widely used in Arabia. One of the commonly used methods is camel urine alone or mixed with camel milk. Camel urine is a liquid by-product of camel metabolism. Urine from camels has been used as prophetic medicine for centuries, being a part of ancient Bedouin practices. Camel urine comes out as a concentrated, viscous syrup because the kidneys and intestines of a camel are very efficient at reabsorbing water.
Camel urine is consumed and used for treating numerous ailments. Some employ it as a treatment for hair loss, for instance. The camel urine from a virgin camel is priced at twenty dollars per liter, with herders saying that it has curative powers.
A recent paper offers more information:
Camel is one of the important livestock species which plays a major role in the pastoral mode of life by fulfilling basic demands of livelihood. Traditionally, camel urine has been used in the treatment of human diseases. With regard to the health benefits of drinking the urine of camels, it has been proven by modern scientific researches. Camel urine has an unusual and unique biochemical composition that contributes to medicinal values. The chemical composition of camel urine showed the presence of purine bases, hypoxanthine, sodium, potassium, creatinine, urea, uric acid, and phosphates. The nano-particles in the camel’s urine can be used to fight cancer. Camel urine has antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria. Its chemical and organic constituents have also inhibitory properties against fungal growth, human platelets, and parasitic diseases mainly fasciollosis in calves. The healthy status of the liver can be restored through ingestion of diet and minerals in camel urine. Camel urine is used by the camel owners and Bedouins as medicine in different ways. The Bedouin in the Arab desert used to mix camel urine with milk. Recently; the WHO has warned against drinking camel urine due to the modern attempt to limit Outbreaks of Respiratory Syndrome (MRS) in the Middle East. There is no scientific dosage for camel urine to be applied as medicine for different diseases and the ways of camel urine formulation and utilization for the care of patients varies from country to country. Therefore, the purposes of the present review describe the biochemical composition of camel urine will be scientifically extracted and formulated as a therapy rather than drinking raw urine and people’s health impact.
Researchers from the Medical Oncology Department, Comprehensive Cancer Center, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia wanted to determine whether camel urine shows promise in the treatment of cancer. The aim of their study was to observe cancer patients who insisted on using camel urine and to devise some clinically relevant recommendations.
The authors observed 20 cancer patients (15 male, 5 female) from September 2020 to January 2022 who insisted on using camel urine. They documented the demographics of each patient, the method of administering camel urine, the reasons for refusing conventional treatment, the period of follow-up, and the outcome and side effects.
All the patients had radiological investigations before and after finishing treatment with camel urine. All patients used a combination of camel urine and milk, and treatment ranged from a few days up to 6 months. The average amount of urine/milk consumed was 60 ml/day. No clinical benefit was observed and two patients developed brucellosis. Eleven patients changed their minds and eventually accepted conventional antineoplastic treatments but 7 were too weak to receive further treatment and died from their disease.
The authors concluded that camel urine had no clinical benefits in cancer patients, and may even have caused zoonotic infection. The promotion of camel urine as a traditional medicine should be stopped because there is no scientific evidence to support it.
I fear that, yet again, ‘ancient wisdom’ turns out to be just ‘old bullshit’.
Norbert Hofer is the former leader of the Austrian right-wing FPÖ party who almost became Austria’s President. Currently, he is the 3rd member of the National Council. Hofer is a man full of surprises; he stated, for instance, that the Quran was more dangerous than COVID-19 during a speech held at a 2020 campaign event. As a result, he was sued for hate-speech.
Hofer’s latest coup is not political but commercial: Hofer is launching his own dietary supplement on the market. It is called “Formula Fortuna” and contains:
- L-tryptophan; a Cochrane review concluded that “a large number of studies appear to address the research questions, but few are of sufficient quality to be reliable. Available evidence does suggest these substances are better than placebo at alleviating depression. Further studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of 5‐HTP and tryptophan before their widespread use can be recommended. The possible association between these substances and the potentially fatal Eosinophilia‐Myalgia Syndrome has not been elucidated. Because alternative antidepressants exist which have been proven to be effective and safe the clinical usefulness of 5‐HTP and tryptophan is limited at present.”
- Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose, a common delivery system.
- Rhodiola rosea extracts; human studies evaluating R. rosea did not have sufficient quality to determine whether it has properties affecting fatigue or any other condition.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to manufacturers of R. rosea dietary supplement products unapproved as new drugs, adulterated, misbranded and in federal violation for not having proof of safety or efficacy for the advertised conditions of alleviating Raynaud syndrome, altitude sickness, depression or cancer.
- Ginseng root extract. Although ginseng has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, modern research is inconclusive about its biological effects. Preliminary clinical research indicates possible effects on memory, fatigue, menopause symptoms, and insulin response in people with mild diabetes. Out of 44 studies examined between 2005–2015, 29 showed positive, limited evidence, and 15 showed no effects. As of 2021, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that ginseng has any health effects. A 2021 review indicated that ginseng had “only trivial effects on erectile function or satisfaction with intercourse compared to placebo”. The constituents include steroid saponins known as ginsenosides, but the effects of these ginseng compounds have not been studied with high-quality clinical research as of 2021, and therefore remain unknown. As of 2019, the United States FDA and Federal Trade Commission have issued numerous warning letters to manufacturers of ginseng dietary supplements for making false claims of health or anti-disease benefits, stating that the “products are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the referenced uses” and are illegal as unauthorized “new drugs” under federal law. Concerns exist when ginseng is used chronically, potentially causing side effects such as headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems. Ginseng may have adverse effects when used with the blood thinner warfarin. Ginseng also has adverse drug reactions with phenelzine, and a potential interaction has been reported with imatinib, resulting in hepatotoxicity, and with lamotrigine. Other side effects may include anxiety, insomnia, fluctuations in blood pressure, breast pain, vaginal bleeding, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Zinc gluconate which has been used in lozenges for treating the common cold. However, controlled trials with lozenges which include zinc acetate have found it has the greatest effect on the duration of coldsInstances of anosmia (loss of smell) have been reported with intranasal use of some products containing zinc gluconate. In September 2003, Zicam faced lawsuits from users who claimed that the product, a nasal gel containing zinc gluconate and several inactive ingredients, negatively affected their sense of smell and sometimes taste. Some plaintiffs alleged experiencing a strong and very painful burning sensation when they used the product. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc., the maker of Zicam, responded that only a small number of people had experienced problems and that anosmia can be caused by the common cold itself. In January 2006, 340 lawsuits were settled for $12 million.
- Pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6) is usually well tolerated, though overdose toxicity is possible. Occasionally side effects include headache, numbness, and sleepiness. Pyridoxine overdose can cause a peripheral sensory neuropathy characterized by poor coordination, numbness, and decreased sensation to touch, temperature, and vibration.
‘Formula Fortuna’ allegedly is for lifting your mood. If I, however, tell you that you need to pay one Euro per day for the supplement, your mood might even change in the opposite direction.
I think I might design a dietary supplement against stupidity. It will not carry any of the risks of Hofer’s new invention but, I am afraid, it might be just as ineffective as Hofer’s ‘Formual Fortuna’.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) belongs to the coffee family. It’s found in Southeast Asia and Africa. Traditionally, people have:
- Chewed kratom leaves.
- Made kratom tea to fight tiredness and improve productivity.
- Used kratom as medicine.
- Substituted kratom for opium.
- Used kratom during religious ceremonies.
Low doses of kratom can make you more alert, and higher doses can cause:
- Decreased pain.
The mechanism of action seems to be that two of the compounds in kratom (mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine) interact with opioid receptors in your brain.
Kratom is thus being promoted as a pain remedy that is safer than traditional opioids, an effective addiction withdrawal aid, and a pleasurable recreational tonic. But kratom is, in fact, a dangerous and unregulated drug that can be purchased on the Internet, a habit-forming substance that authorities say can result in opioid-like abuse and death.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that kratom possesses the properties of an opioid, thus escalating the government’s effort to slow the usage of this alternative pain reliever. The FDA stated that the number of deaths associated with kratom use has increased. Now further concerns have emerged.
This review enumerates seven outbreaks of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) product adulteration and contamination in the context of the United States Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).
At least seven distinct episodes of kratom product contamination or adulteration are known:
- (1) krypton, a kratom product adulterated with O-desmethyltramadol that resulted in at least nine fatal poisonings;
- (2) a suspected case of kratom contamination with hydrocodone and morphine;
- (3) a case of kratom adulteration with phenylethylamine;
- (4) contamination of multiple kratom products with heavy metals;
- (5) contamination of kratom products by multiple Salmonella enterica serotypes;
- (6) exposure of federal agents raiding a synthetic cannabinoid laboratory to kratom alkaloids;
- (7) suspected kratom product adulteration with exogenous 7-hydroxymitragynine.
The authors concluded that inadequate supplement regulation contributed to multiple examples of kratom contamination and adulteration, illustrating the potential for future such episodes involving kratom and other herbal supplements.
Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease against which conventional healthcare has little to offer. No wonder, therefore, that so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) claims to have a wide range of effective treatments. But how good are they really? The present review aimed to explore the role of SCAM in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
Literature searches were conducted using Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and PubMed databases and reference lists up to November 30, 2021. Only randomized clinical trials were included and appraised using the National Institute of Health framework. Data analysis showed that herbs like Gingko Biloba, Melissa Officinalis, Salvia officinalis, Ginseng, and saffron alone or in combination with curcumin, a low-fat diet, NuAD-Trail, and soy lecithin showed significant positive effects on AD. Moreover, the combination of natural and pharmaceuticals has far better effects than only allopathic treatment. The authors concluded that different herbal remedies in combination with FDA approved drugs are effective and more promising in the treatment of AD.
To these findings we need to add a study that is too recent to have been included in the review:
The aim of the randomized clinical trial (RCT) was to investigate the effects of fenugreek seed extract on memory, depression, quality of life, blood pressure, and serum malondialdehyde (MDA) and total antioxidant capacity (TAC) levels in adult AD patients. The study participants included 82 AD patients with mild-to-moderate memory deficits. Patients in the intervention group received 5 cc of fenugreek seed extract for 4 months and subjects in the control group received a placebo. Memory, depression, quality of life, and BP levels, as well as serum MDA and TAC, were assessed before and after the intervention.
There was a significant increase in serum levels of TAC (p < 0.001) and a reduction in serum MDA status (p < 0.001) after 4 months of fenugreek seed extract supplementation. In addition, increasing levels of memory (p < 0.001) and quality of life (p < 0.001), as well as reduction of depression (p = 0.002), systolic BP (p < 0.001), and diastolic BP (p < 0.001) levels were detected in the intervention group compared with baseline.
The authors concluded that Fenugreek seed extract supplementation in AD patients shows promising positive effects on memory, quality of life, BP, and selective oxidative indices levels.
So, there is hope! Some of the evidence is promising but far from convincing. What we need – obviously – is more and better research.
I have featured the ‘Münster Circle‘ before. The reason why I do it again today is that we have just published a new Memorandum entitled HOMEOPATHY IN THE PHARMACY. Here is its summary which I translated into English:
Due to questionable regulations in German pharmaceutical law, homeopathic medicines can be given the status of a medicinal product without having to provide valid proof of efficacy. As medicinal products, these preparations may then only be dispensed to customers in pharmacies, which, however, creates an obligation to also supply them on request or prescription. Many pharmacies go far beyond this and advertise homeopathic medicines as a useful therapy option by advertising them prominently in the window. In addition, customers are recommended to use them, corresponding lecture events are supported, and much more. Often, homeopathic preparations are even produced according to pharmacies’ own formulations and marketed under their own name.
For pharmacists and pharmaceutical technical assistants (PTAs) to perform their important task in the proper supply of medicines to the population, they must have successfully completed a scientific study of pharmacy or state-regulated training. This is to ensure that customers are informed and properly advised about their medicines according to the current state of knowledge.
After successfully completing their training or studies, PTAs and pharmacists are undoubtedly able to recognize that homeopathic medicines cannot be effective beyond placebo. They do not have any significant content of active ingredients – if, for example, the high potencies that are considered to be particularly effective still have any active ingredients at all. Consequently, pharmacists and PTAs act against their better knowledge to the detriment of their customers if they create the impression through their actions that homeopathic medicines represent a sensible therapeutic option and customers are thereby encouraged to buy and use them.
Although homeopathics have no potential for direct harm in the absence of relevant amounts of pharmacologically active substances in the preparations, their distribution should nevertheless be viewed critically. The use of homeopathy can mean losing valuable time and delaying the start of effective therapy. It is often accompanied by criticism, even rejection of scientifically oriented medicine and public health, for example when homeopathy is presented as the antithesis to a threatening “pharmaceutical mafia”.
The Münster Circle appeals to pharmacists and PTAs to stop advertising homeopathic medicines as an effective therapeutic option, to stop producing and marketing them themselves, and to advise their customers that homeopathic preparations are not more effective than placebo. The professional organizations of pharmacists and other providers of further training are called upon to no longer offer courses on homeopathy – except for convincingly refuting the often abstruse claims of the supporters.
I have pointed out for at least 20 years now that pharmacists have an ethical duty toward their clients. And this duty does not involve misleading them and selling them useless homeopathic remedies. On the contrary, it involves advising them on the basis of the best existing evidence.
When I started writing and talking about this, pharmacists seemed quite interested (or perhaps just amused?). They invited me to give lectures, I published an entire series of articles in the PJ, etc. Of late, they seem to be fed up with hearing this message and the invitations have well and truly stopped.
They may be frustrated with my message – but not as frustrated as I am with their inertia. In my view, it is nothing short of a scandal that homeopathic remedies and similarly bogus treatments still feature in pharmacies across the globe.
This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) combined with Western medicine (WM) in comparison with WM in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure for patients with primary hypertension (PHTN).
Various literature searches located a total of 29 studies that included 2623 patients. The results showed that the clinical effectiveness in the treatment of hypertension with CHM+WM was considerably higher than that with WM alone, clinical effective (RR 1.23, 95% CI [1.17, 1.30], P < 0.00001), and markedly effective (ME) in the patients (RR 1.66, 95% CI [1.52, 1.80], and P < 0.00001). Random effect in SBP (MD 7.91 mmHg,[6.00, 983], P < 0.00001) and DBP (MD 5.46 mmHg, [3.88, 6.43], P < 0.00001), a subgroup analysis was carried out based on the type of intervention, duration of treatment, and CHM formulas that showed significance. Furthermore, no severe side effects were reported, and no patients stopped treatment or withdrawal due to any severe adverse events.
The authors concluded that compared to WM alone, the therapeutic effectiveness of CHM combined with WM is significantly improved in the treatment of hypertension. Additionally, CHM with WM may safely and efficiently lower systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) in individuals with PHTN. However, rigorous randomized controlled trials with a large sample, high quality, long duration of treatment, and follow-up are recommended to strengthen this clinical evidence.
The authors can boast of an impressive list of affiliations:
- 1Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Harbin, 150040, Heilongjiang, China; School of Pharmacy, Lebanese International University, 18644, Sana’a, Yemen.
- 2Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Harbin, 150040, Heilongjiang, China.
- 3Key Laboratory of Chinese Materia Medica, Ministry of Education of Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Harbin, 150040, Heilongjiang, China.
- 4Department of Urology, Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao Binhai University, Qingdao, Shandong, China.
- 5Department of Respiratory Diseases, Shandong Second Provincial General Hospital, Shandong University, Shandong, China.
- 6Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Harbin, 150040, Heilongjiang, China. Electronic address: [email protected]
Impressive in the sense of being impressively prone to bias, particularly knowing that ~80% of Chinese research findings have been shown to be fabricated and considering that Chinese authors as good as never publish anything negative about TCM.
But perhaps you still believe that the results reported here are 100% true? In this case, I might even agree with you. The reason is that the authors demonstrate in exemplary fashion what I have been saying so often before:
Blood pressure is one of the many endpoints that are highly prone to placebo effects. Therefore, even the addition of an ineffective CHM to WM would lower blood pressure more effectively than WM alone.
But there is a third way of explaining the findings of this review: some herbal remedies might actually have a hypotensive effect. The trouble is that this review does come not even close to telling us which.
Turnera diffusa, known as damiana is a shrub native to southern Texas in the United States, Central America, Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean that produces small, aromatic flowers. Damiana is an ingredient in a traditional Mexican liqueur, which is sometimes used in lieu of triple sec in margaritas. Damiana was included in several 19th-century patent medicines, such as Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. The leaves were omitted from that product’s non-alcoholic counterpart, Coca-Cola.
In folklore, the plant was believed to be an aphrodisiac. I looked for evidence from clinical trials but was unable to find any. However, that does not seem to bother PharmaSGP GmbH which produces a drug called Neradin.
The German advertisement of Neradin tells us that:
Bei sexueller Schwäche wie Erektionsstörungen können auch traditionelle Mittel helfen – ohne die Nebenwirkungen mancher chemischer Potenzmittel. Das pflanzliche Arzneimittel Neradin® nutzt dazu erfolgreich Wirkstoffe der mexikanischen Heilpflanze Damiana (Turnera Diffusa).
Die Vorteile von Neradin® auf einen Blick: Fördert die Potenz des Mannes bei sexueller Schwäche
I translated this into English:
Traditional remedies can also help with sexual weakness such as erectile dysfunction – without the side effects of some chemical sexual enhancers. The herbal medicine Neradin® successfully uses active ingredients from the Mexican medicinal plant Damiana (Turnera Diffusa).
The advantages of Neradin® at a glance: Promotes male potency in case of sexual weakness
The patient information leaflet states that “Niradin is a homeopathic drug” and “one tablet Niradin contains 100mg Turnera Diffusa Trit. D4”.
English language sites concur:
Neradin is a homeopathic medicine. Homeopathy is understood as a regulatory therapy for acute and chronic diseases. The areas of application are derived from the homeopathic drug pictures. The following indications are authorised for this medicinal product: Discomfort caused by sexual weakness
So, what we seem to have here is the following:
- A pharma firm that advertises a homeopathic product as a herbal drug.
- A homeopathic remedy that is based on a plant for which there is not a jot of evidence.
- If there were evidence that the plant helps against erectile dysfunction, its homeopathic dilution would, according to the homeopathic ‘like cures like’ axiom, bring about erectile dysfunction.
- A dilution (1:10000) that is too low to have any effect, even if it were made of Viagra.
Am I the only one to think that something is not quite right here?
But don’t let it spoil your HAPPY VALENTINE!
Konjac glucomannan (KGM), also just called ‘glucomannan’, is a dietary fiber hydro colloidal polysaccharide isolated from the tubers of Amorphophallus konjac. It is used as a food, a food additive, as well as a dietary supplement in many countries. KGM is claimed to reduce the levels of glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure.
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of the consumption of gummy candy enriched with KGM on appetite and to evaluate anthropometric data, biochemical, and oxidative stress markers in overweight individuals. Forty-two participants aged 18 to 45 years completed this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to consume for 14 days, 2 candies per day, containing 250 mg of KGM or identical-looking placebo candy with 250 mg of flaxseed meal, shortly after breakfast and dinner. As a result, we observed that there was a reduction in waist circumference and in the intensity of hunger of the participants who consumed KGM. The authors believe that a longer consumption time as well as an increased dose of KGM would contribute to even more satisfactory body results.
These findings seem promising, yet somehow I am not convinced. The study was small and short-term; moreover, the authors seem uncritical and, instead of a conclusion, they offer speculations.
Our own review of 2014 included 9 clinical studies. There was a variation in the reporting quality of the included RCTs. A meta-analysis (random effect model) of 8 RCTs revealed no significant difference in weight loss between glucomannan and placebo (mean difference [MD]: -0.22 kg; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.62, 0.19; I(2) = 65%). Adverse events included abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and constipation. We concluded that the evidence from available RCTs does not show that glucomannan intake generates statistically significant weight loss. Future trials should be more rigorous and better reported.
Rigorous trials are required to change my mind, and I am not sure that the new study falls into this category.
Drip IV is “Australia’s first and leading mobile healthcare company specialising in assisting with nutritional deficiencies”. They claim to provide a mobile IV service that is prescribed and tailored individually to your nutritional needs. Treatment plans and customised infusions are determined by a medical team to suit individual requirements. They deliver vitamins, minerals and amino acids directly to the body via the bloodstream, a method they state allows for optimal bioavailability.
These claims are a little puzzling to me, not least because vitamins, minerals and amino acids tailored individually to the nutritional needs of the vast majority of people would mean administering nothing at all. But I guess that virtually every person who consults the service will get an infusion [and pay dearly for it].
The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) seems to have a similarly dim view on Drip IV. The TGA has just issued 20 infringement notices totalling $159,840 to the company and to one of its executive officers. The reason: unlawful advertising of intravenous infusion products to Australian consumers on a company website and social media. Ten notices totalling $133,200 were issued to the company and ten notices totalling $26,640 were issued to an executive officer. The TGA considers the intravenous infusion products to be therapeutic goods because of the claims made about them, and the advertising to be unlawful because the advertisements allegedly:
- contained prohibited representations, such as claims regarding cancer.
- contained restricted representations such as that the products would alleviate fatigue caused by COVID-19, assist in the treatment of Graves’ Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, and support the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis. No TGA approval had been given to make such claims.
- referred to ingredients that are prescription only, such as glutathione. Prescription medicines cannot be advertised directly to the public in Australia.
- contained a statement or picture suggesting or implying the products were ‘TGA Approved’. Advertising of therapeutic goods cannot include a government endorsement.
- contained a statement or picture expressing that the goods were ‘miraculous’.
Vitamin infusions have become very popular around the globe. There are now thousands of clinics offering this service, and many of them advertise aggressively with claims that are questionable. Here is just one example from the UK:
Modern life is hectic. If you are looking to boost your wellbeing, increase your energy levels, lift your mood and hydrate your body, Vitamin IV Infusions are ideal. Favoured by celebrities such as Madonna, Simon Cowell and Rihanna, Vitamin IV Infusions are an easy, effective way of delivering vitamins, minerals and amino acids directly into your bloodstream via an IV (intravenous) drip. Vitamins are essential for normal growth and staying healthy – but our bodies can’t produce all of the nutrients we need to function and thrive. That’s why more than one in three people take daily vitamin supplements – often without realising that only 15% of the active nutrients consumed orally actually find their way into their bloodstream. With Vitamin IV Infusions, the nutrients enter your bloodstream directly and immediately, and are delivered straight to your cells. We offer four different Vitamin IV Infusions, so you can choose the best combination for your personal needs, while boosting your general health, energy and wellbeing.
My advice to consumers is a little different and considerably less costly:
- to ensure you get enough vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, eat a balanced diet;
- to boost your well-being, sit down and calculate the savings you made by NOT using such a service;
- to increase your energy levels, take a nap;
- to lift your mood, recount the money you saved and think of what nice things you might buy with it;
- to hydrate your body drink a glass of water.
Perhaps it is time the authorities in all countries had a look at what these clinics are offering and what health claims they are making. Perhaps it is time they act as the TGA just did.