Superfoods (& most complementary meds). They all come with the same steaming side dish: a hearty helping of bullshit.

Superfoods (& most complementary meds). They all come with the same steaming side dish: a hearty helping of bullshit.

Using humour to battle the flood of misleading information regarding complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) might actually not be a bad idea. Because, who wants me to explain how CAM is regulated in Australia? ‘Booooring’, ‘yaaawn’, ‘move on mate’ – I can hear you say. Short answer; no one.  So, how can one get this important, albeit boring, information regarding how we are being misled, to as many people as possible? Well, humour might play an interesting role, because everyone loves a good laugh. But then again, how can anyone squeeze any humour out of such a dreary subject? Luckily, there are some exceptionally gifted people, who can do exactly that. Not only can they give this subject a hilarious spin, they can also get the complicated message across – and hopefully many people will learn from this while enjoying some very good comedy.

And it even gets better, because it is all on youtube. I have listed a couple of videos where the consumer program “The Checkout” looked at various aspects regarding CAM regulation and misleading claims made for specific supplements, including superfoods. Sure, the focus is on Australian issues, but the CAM industry in other countries use very similar techniques  – so these videos are perfect for anyone who wants a good laugh, and learn something while doing so. Below is a short description and the total length of each video.

  1. The Australian Complementary Medicines industry is worth over $1.2 billion a year. But do manufacturers have to prove their products work? Or is a celebrity endorsement enough? Craig Reucassel looks into these questions and more. You can find the video here, length 8:47min. (they were sued for defamation based on this segment).
  2. Pharma Sutra: Seems you can buy anything at a pharmacy these days. But are pharmacists breaking their own code of conduct? You can find the video here, length 7:32 min.
  3. Chlorophyll: Kirsten Drysdale throws stones in the chlorophyll glasshouse. You can find the video here, length 3:20 min.
  4. Nicole Kidman Joins The Checkout + Dodgy Swisse Labelling: Consumer affairs Ambassador Nicole Kidman speaks out for the first time about her Swisse ads. And Craig follows up The Checkout’s first investigation into dodgy labelling of complementary medicines, analysing Swisse’s dodgy reaction to their dodgy products being banned. You can find the video here, length 2:30 min.
  5. Swisse update: Craig looks at Swisse’s push for more self-regulation in the advertising of complementary medicines. You can find the video here, length 3:32 min.
  6. Superfoods: They’re ancient, exotic, jam-packed full of antioxidants, and all come with the same steaming side dish: a hearty helping of bullshit. You can find the video here, length 9:00 min.
  7. Fish Oil: Kirsten Drysdale finds something fishy in the world of omega-3 supplements. You can find the video here, length 9:00 min.
  8. U. Tube: Howdy Partner! A special welcome to the ABC’s new commercial partner, Swisse, with a trip down memory lane! You can find the video here, length 1:27 min.

The patriarch of the supplement company Swisse, who features in many of these videos, did sue the Checkout for defamation after video 1 aired, but the case was eventually settled. And as expected, Swisse just continue to sell their dodgy products, using very dodgy claims. Enjoy the videos, and if it is any good please distribute their links to your network!

4 thoughts on “Superfoods (& most complementary meds). They all come with the same steaming side dish: a hearty helping of bullshit.

  1. Thank you Frank, for the update, and for your efforts to ask questions and to expose vested interests around research and marketing of various “health” products.

    I am a fan of the ABC and SBS. I find it very unfortunate that ABC has chosen to allow Swisse to advertise via their media, as a commercial partner. It undermines the perception of trustworthiness that some, like me, have had of the ABC.

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  2. I just love the Checkout – it is such a good show and, yes, it is unfortunate that the ABC partnered with Swisse. I guess these companies pounce on cash strapped media outlets and some of them actually falls for it. The same goes for cash strapped Uni’s, some are prepared to do the right thing but others, such as WSU, welcomes the money with open arms. But that comes at a cost – destroying their scientific credibility and of course, the negative impact on public health.

    There are easier ways to save money at Uni’s, one obvious way is to stop paying the VC Barney Glover close to $1million/annum – isn’t this almost twice than what the PM earns?

    https://theaustralianatnewscorpau.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/web_salaries.pdf

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  3. Hi there,I log on to your blog named “Superfoods (& most complementary meds). They all come with the same steaming side dish: a hearty helping of bullshit. – Frank van der Kooy” like every week.Your humoristic style is witty, keep it up! And you can look our website about love spells.

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    1. Western Sydney University became so open minded that their brains fell out – can you cast a spell on them so that they can re-grow their brains and while you are at it, how about giving them a backbone or maybe even a conscience? Because science failed in this quest, maybe your magic will get the job done?

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