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Joe Mercola: 15 years of promoting quackery

Let’s travel back in time fifteen years.

It’s a time that, for me, at times seems as though it were just yesterday while at other times it seems like truly ancient history. Back then, certainly, I wasn’t the blogging powerhouse that I am today. I didn’t even know what blogging was because it was so much in its infancy that few people knew what it was. In fact, it was only around 14 years ago that I first discovered Usenet, that vast, sprawling, brawling assortment of discussion groups where I cut my skeptical teeth, so to speak, discovering, as I did, alt.revisionism (often abbrievated a.r. and whose main topic is Holocaust denial) and (m.h.a.). In other words, in Internet time, fifteen years ago might as well be fifteen hundred years ago.

Unfortunately, even so, apparently Joe Mercola was there. I learned this yesterday when i saw that that foremost promoter of quackery on the Internet is celebrating his fifteenth anniversary. In other words, the original wretched hive of scum and quackery,, sprang into existence eight years before the website that I usually refer to as a wretched hive of scum and quackery, The Huffington Post, was foisted upon a less than enthusiastic world. HuffPo, of course, immediately delved into antivaccine quackery, quantum quackery by Deepak Chopra, and eventually so many different forms of quackery that it’s really hard to keep track. However, as HuffPo became the new quack on the block, had been cranking out the quackery for years before. Worse, as Bryan Smith reported earlier this year, gets traffic on par with that of the National Institutes of Health website. As I put it, Joe Mercola is proof positive that quackery sells.

And it’s been selling for 15 years:

It’s been nearly 15 years since we started this journey together, when, in 1997, I combined my two primary passions in life ― health and technology― and made it my mission to share exciting new developments in natural health with you.

Thanks to you, this site has become the world’s No. 1-ranked Natural Health web site for the last seven years, and is now approaching nearly two million subscribers.

My motivation has always been to help make you as healthy as you can possibly be by sharing knowledge and simple tools that allow you to Take Control of Your Health. This involves:

  1. Providing up to date natural health information, research and resources, and
  2. Exposing corporate, government, and mass media propaganda that diverts you away from what is truly best for your health

Of course, that is not at all what Mercola is providing. Just type Mercola’s name into the search box of this blog, and you’ll see an incredible history on his part of promoting pseudoscience. Indeed, just the other day Mercola was doing what he seems to do best these days and attacking vaccines, basically pulling out every antivaccine trope in the book to try to convince his readers against all science, reason, and evidence that the acellular pertussis vaccine doesn’t work. Over the years that I’ve been aware of, it’s hard for me to pick out the most glaring example of quackery, although, if I have to pick just one, surely Mercola’s promotion of Dr. Tullio Simoncini has to rank right up there at or near the top.

You remember Simoncini, don’t you? It was four years ago that I first discovered this particular brand of ridiculous pseudoscience, and my mind still boggles at the utter idiocy of it. Where did I discover it? At, of course, in the form of an article by Joe Mercola himself entitled Fungus Causing Cancer? — A Novel Approach to a Leading Cause of Death. As I dissected in detail on more than on occasion, this particular claim is so ludicrous on so many levels that it’s hard to believe that Mercola doesn’t realize that it’s pure nonsense and sells it anyway. The CliffsNotes version is simple: Dr. Simoncini claims that all cancer is due to a fungus. Actually, he claims that cancer is a fungus. Not just some cancers. All cancer. What, you may ask, is his reasoning? Well, fungus is white, and cancer is white; so that means that cancer is really a fungus. You might think I’m joking or somehow misrepresenting his position, building a massive straw man, but I assure you that I am not. If you don’t believe me, watch the video that Mercola included with his article.

But that’s not all.

Let’s take Simoncini’s view (supported by Mercola as potentially plausible) that all cancer really is a fungus, just for a moment. If, as Simoncini claims, all cancer were due to a fungus, with the tumor being the body’s reaction to that fungus, how would you treat it? Logically, you might guess that a good way to treat cancer would, under such a scenario, be to administer antifungal drugs. In Simoncini’s world, you would be wrong. In Simoncini’s world, the correct treatment for the fungus that causes cancer is—get this—baking soda. Yes, Simoncini injects sodium bicarbonate directly into tumors, claiming that it is the “most potent anti-fungal substance there is.” Not surprisingly, it doesn’t work. That is the sort of “up to date natural health information, research and resources” that Mercola dumps on the blogosphere nearly every day.

Then, of course, there is the antivaccine angle. Mercola is rabidly antivaccine, so much so that he’s not only teamed up with the grande dame of the antivaccine movement, Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), but he’s donated large sums of money to her organization in order to bankroll antivaccine ads on the CBS JumboTron in Times Square in 2011. At the time, I wondered how Fisher could possibly have afforded to produce and air the ad, but it became very clear when it was revealed how much money Mercola has been donating to “alternative” medicine advocacy groups. His rationale? This:

Mercola says he is simply trying to ask hard questions about the potential harm caused by inoculations and voice his opposition to government-imposed mandates. “There are virtually no safety studies done [on vaccines],” Mercola says. “We don’t know what the effects of combining them are. We don’t know what the long-term complications are.” He says the government and media downplay very real risks and either underreport or ignore serious adverse reactions. Meanwhile, “we don’t have the option to say no [to getting the shots]. It’s just insane what’s happening, and more and more vaccines [are coming] down the line.”

It is either misinformation or a lie to state that there are no safety studies on vaccines. I can rattle off dozens (and have blogged many such studies over the years). The problem is, of course, that Mercola doesn’t like the results of the safety studies that are out there.

Particularly amusing in Dr. Mercola’s paean to himself and his own self-perceived awesomeness is this claim: is funded by me personally, and therefore, I am not handcuffed to any advertisers, silent partners or corporate parents. This gives me the freedom to report the facts as I see them, and base my recommendations on the available research and input from experts, without having to appease advertisers with conflicting interests.

When I offer or recommend products, I do so because I have actively researched them and find they are the best in that category for your health. I ignore substandard products, and products not directly pertinent to your health, regardless of any potential financial upside. I have a top-notch research- and development team to help me in this process.

Apparently this “top-notch” R&D team didn’t realize that cancer is not due to a fungus and that you can’t treat it successfully by injecting baking soda into it. In any case, I’ve heard this claim before. Mercola has made it several times, including on his appearance on Dr. Oz’s show. He tries to represent it as a decision to start selling supplements and other alternative health products to fund his website, which was costing him a lot of money. Perhaps that was true long ago, but his selling of such products rapidly turned into a huge moneymaker for him, and his website is the primary marketing arm to sell those supplements. There’s a reason that only “one short hallway” is dedicated to patient services at Mercola’s headquarters, while marketing and customer service take up the rest. It’s the same reason that Mercola lives in a large, well-appointed house in a tony suburb of Chicago and talks about flitting south to expensive getaways in warmer climes during brutal Chicago winters. Quackery pays. In Mercola’s case, it pays very well indeed.

Particularly self-aggrandizing are the claims that Mercola makes for himself. For one thing, he claims that it was he who first warned about Vioxx, when it was still in clinical trials. I searched his website but could find no evidence that this is true. Some of the first public criticisms of Vioxx were published in 2000, and these were scientists, not Mercola, leveling the criticisms, and the FDA had been asking questions about Vioxx safety in 1999. Mercola almost certainly had nothing to do with it. Another claim Mercola makes is that he “exposed the swine flu pandemic for the hoax that it was.” A better description would be that he parroted antivaccine misinformation to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the H1N1 vaccine. Unfortunately, it was effective, as Mercola brags, “That article ended up being among the top five pages viewed on the entire internet the day we posted it, and it crashed all our servers.”

That’s not something I would be proud of.

Other claims Mercola makes include that he was the first to “warn about the emergence of statin drugs” back in 2001. Of course, if you just bother to search PubMed, it’s not difficult to find many articles about the risk/benefit ratio of statins published in 2001 and earlier. Similarly, Mercola takes credit for “warning of the dangers of routine mammograms.” A better way of describing it would be fear mongering about imagined risks of mammograms and denying the known benefits of mammographic screening, all apparently to help him sell his thermography screening. Thermography for breast cancer screening, as I have pointed out before, is unproven and currently considered useless. Indeed, the FDA has warned Mercola to stop marketing a thermography machine.

Mercola is very much in a self-congratulatory mode right now, and why not? He’s become a semi-regular guest on Dr. Oz’s TV show, allowing him to spread his misinformation to millions in a way that even the web can’t accomplish. He’s rich and runs a highly successful business. Thus far, the FDA appears not to be able to touch him. He has what is probably the most popular “natural health” (i.e., quackery) website in the world. That’s why I’m interested in the worst, the most egregious abuse of science that Mercola has ever championed. I know my vote goes for his promotion of Tullio Simoncini four years ago, but I admit that I don’t know everything Mercola has promoted. Perhaps you can educate me by posting in the comments what you consider to be the worst quackery that Mercola has promoted over the last 15 years and why you think so.

There ought to be an award of some sort to “recognize” him.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

88 replies on “Joe Mercola: 15 years of promoting quackery”

Mercola: “ is funded by me personally, and therefore, I am not handcuffed to any advertisers, silent partners or corporate parents.”

Of course. Having “corporate parents” and “silent partners” would cut into Mercola’s income from selling his own line of supplements and other products.

It’s hard to pick Mercola’s worst quackery when he has facilitated so many forms of it. Since there are others with even better credentials competing for the award of top facilitators of antivax quackery, fluoride fearmongering, dental amalgam pseudoperils, cordless phone disease and imaginary microwave dangers, I’d have to pick the fungus-causes-cancer garbage as Mercola’s #1 quackery.

More on the great man’s career:


How about an award for the thousands of MDs that have to fight that Mercola disinformation on a daily basis?

Mu is right on; however, let’s expand the roster of medal candidates to all medical professionals who try to do the right thing but get foiled by self-“educated” clients who think they know all the answers based on the pap they have been fed by all the purveyors of pseudo- and quack-medicine. Theirs is truly a heavy and costly burden to bear.

The cancer is not a fungus BS is my number one. It was also my first topic in debunking cancer quackery because of the pathology aspects involved. I discussed cancer pathology of this myth on JREF, and I was just getting warmed up when you closed for further comments to your fungus-among-us-in-oncology post (I have forgiven you for that 🙂 )

I also find his promotion of “German New Medicine” to be top repulsive. Blaming cancer patients or their love ones for getting cancer (or failing to cure it the Hamer way”) is just not right.

How is mr. Mercola thinking? Is cancer a fungus, or can it be cured the Hamer way? Can’t he even decide between to quacks, with completely different theories?

Ahh, Mercola….how do I loathe him? Let me count the ways.

I’m disgusted by his affiliate income programs. (Google Mercola and ClickBank, for example.)

I’m repulsed by his financial empire based on providing dangerous misinformation directly to patient-centered target-rich audiences. “

“ in business since, 30-Dec-1997. The estimated website net worth and values based on its advertising revenue is around $1.4 Million. receives 626,067 pageviews per day and generates nearly $1,878 every day in advertising revenue. ”

I’m enraged at his dangerous influence over desperate cancer patients, including paying affiliate income shills who join patient communities and pretend to be one of them in order to promote his woo! Just go to and do a search for Mercola to see a ton of perfect examples! Ack.

How does this quack face himself in the mirror?

@ Renate
I don’t think mutually exclusive ideas are a problem for him – unless one of them is rooted in conventional medicine.

Mercola has also featured and endorsed Drs. Burzynski and Gonzalez.

Being an intrepid sort, I ventured into Mercola’s nutritional plan today:

like Rome, it is divided into 3 parts: beginner, intermediate and advanced- you need to first get your feet wet before plunging into nutritional perfectionism- I imagine because all of that goodness might be too much for your poor body to take being so used to contamination as it is. So easy does it.

You gradually eliminate many common food choices with which have been poisoning youself for decades: gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, soy, pasteurised dairy products, pork

He advocates 1/3 raw food, more fresh vegetables, less carbohydrates/grains, organic/ free range products and believes that saturated fats- especially eggs and coconut oil- aren’t all that bad. Of course, he tells you to take supplements, omega 3s and filtre your water using special appliances ( all of which he sells).

Obviously, you need to exercise, meditate, pray and use EFT to deal with emotional problems and hunger/ sugar cravings. Sunlight is very important and is highly recommended. EMFs, microwaves, antiperspirants, fluorides, pesticides, artitiicial sweeteners and cell phones should be avoided as much as is possible.

Thus, he advocates a purer life. I’ve read somewhere on his site that he is a long distance runner and also that he does dietary typing – like the blood type diet ( Adamo) that seems to be so popular in Japan. Some people are more vegetarian/grain eaters, others meat-eaters which is *supposedly* related to developments in human culture: hunter/ gatherer, agriculture. Mercola’s plan as cited seems to be the Paleo-type, as they often call it themselves. Ah, the good old days, chasing around the savannah feasting on free range antelope and low carb berries!

In fact here’s a list of woo’s ‘who’s who” taken directly from Mercola’s own website. These are some people he claims have been “suppressed” because they’ve come up with a cure for cancer. The full page is here:

Here’s the juicy part:

Cancer Cures – A History of Persecution

There are numerous examples of well-educated, innovative doctors and scientists who have created alternative cancer treatments, and whose results can blow conventional treatments out of the water any day of the week.

However, none of them have been able to reap any major rewards for their work. Instead, they’ve been persecuted, prosecuted or simply ridiculed into a corner of medicine commonly referred to as “quackery.”

Here’s a sampling of innovators with slightly more credentials than radio technology:
•Gaston Naessens – Dr. Naessens treatment is based on the theory that cancer is caused by a friendly microorganism called somatids (“little bodies”) — which are present in all cells — that becomes unfriendly. His formula, 714X, provides nitrogen to the cancer cells, thus causing this microorganism to cease excreting their toxic compounds, and mobilize your immune system to kill the cancer cells. He was subsequently put on trial for his cancer discoveries.
•Raymond Rife – Rife used resonance to kill viruses and cancer cells. By increasing the intensity of a frequency that resonates naturally with each microbe, the Rife machine increases their natural oscillations until they distort and disintegrate from structural stress. Rife called this frequency ‘the mortal oscillatory rate,’ or ‘MOR’, and it was found to do no harm to surrounding healthy tissues.
• Stanislaw Burzynski — Dr. Burzynski, founder of the Houston-based Burzynski Institute, treats cancer patients with substances called antineoplastons. He was indicted by a grand jury in 1995 for his use of antineoplastons– his second trial that year. He was acquitted.
•Hulda Clark – Dr. Clark has invented several devices, such as the Syncrometer and the Zapper, that scans and eliminates parasites, bacteria, viruses and toxins through positive offset frequencies.
•Antonella Carpenter — Dr. Carpenter at LaseMed Inc. has an FDA approved cancer treatment called LIESH therapy (Light Induced Enhanced Selective Hyperthermia), using a proprietary photo-dynamic form of laser. Her technology is not embraced by the AMA, however.
•John Holt – Operating out of The Radiowave Clinic in Australia for the past 30 years, Dr. Holt’s treatment consists of an intravenious dose of “glycolytic metabolic inhibitors” (GMI) — agents that disrupt the metabolism of cancer cells — immediately prior to exposure to radiowaves of 434 MHz in the ultra-high frequence (UHF) band.
•Ryke Geerd Hamer – Dr. Hamer’s “German New Medicine” (GNM), operates under the premise that every disease, including cancer, originates from an unexpected shock experience, and that all disease can be cured by resolving these underlying emotional traumas. Despite a 95 percent success rate, Dr. Hamer has spent time in prison for refusing to disavow his medical findings and stop treating his patients with his unorthodox techniques, and is currently living in exile, seeking asylum from persecution.

I was particularly taken by Mercola’s claim a few years ago that you shouldn’t shower after sunbathing because you will wash the vitamin D-3 off. In humans photochemical conversion of 7-dehydrocholesterol to D-3 takes place several layers deep in the epidermis. In birds and furry animals photochemical conversion of precursors in oily secretions takes place on the surface of the skin and is ingested during grooming, but not in humans. It’s not the worst example of how he gets things wrong, but it is my personal favorite.

OT- but seriously, we are currently in the full loon festival of August..

Mike Adams @ Natural News : Why doctors are more dangerous than guns.
It’s a video-which I fortunately can’t view here.

Mercola is a shameless huckster.

He’s laughing all the way to the bank off the backs of the gullible. His enterprise is worth nearly 7 million – and that’s not counting book deals or personal endorsements, etc.

He is just vile.

Hmph, the first try seems to have vanished into the ether.

like Rome, it is divided into 3 parts

Gaul? (Actually, the Cattle-Raid of Cualnge informs us that Conchobar’s day was also divided into three parts–“watching the boys,” playing “chess,” and drinking beer.)

It would seem that WP has some real problems with mentions Gaul or the Story of the Tain.

So according to mr Mercola every therapy, that isn’t conventional, is good, even if they ideas behind it, are conflicting?
Mr. Mercola really is a slick type.

Back in 2001 I filed a complaint (actually three separate complaints) about Mercola’s website with the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. My argument was that Mercola’s egregiously inflammatory disinformation campaign against vaccines constituted a wilful breach of his professional obligation to provide informed consent. My complaint included a few choice quotes from Mercola’s newsletter. Here’s a typical one:

” If the head of your local health department’s vaccination program were to experience Dr. Scheibner’s lecture and then continue advocating mass vaccination as sound public health policy, there would only be one question left to ask him: Why should you not be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit murder?”

At the time, I happened to be the head of a local department immunization program, so that statement had particular resonance for me.

Needless to say, the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation chose not to trouble itself with upholding acceptable standards of care or proper informed consent in the case of Dr. Mercola. It’s a damned shame that that scoundrel is still laughing all the way to the bank.

Orac: “Let’s travel back in time fifteen years.”

Why do I keep hearing this in Rod Serling’s voice?

I remember my first contact with Mercawoo. A FB friend posted a Mercola article from (of course) the Huffington Post about how dangerous to your health it is to microwave food. I didn’t know him from anyone, and reading the article, I thought he was just some random schmoe who had penned some vitalist/General Ripper screed from the depths of profound ignorace. I deconstructed it, which made her feel much better about having microwaved meals for her family in the past. :p

That was before I found this blog, which opened my eyes to the fact that although his screeds do indeed come from the depths of profound ignorance, they also come from the depths of crass profiteering. Yes, he is an evil, slimy man, but how is it that people can actually believe his crap and keep his business booming? It boggles my mind.

@ Narad:

Odd that you might mention * them*: my friend only yesterday related how she and her husband returned from escorting the nephews around the island- castles, kayaks and boys plotting ways to sneak drink when they thought no one was observing. One of the lads is a poet and fashions curious conglomerates of Celtic lore interlaced mysteriously with 21st Century pop references. Only last year, he produced an hilarious epic while recovering from a broken leg- acquired via high-flying heroics on the field of sport -all of which was narrated in great and preposterous detail.
I am expecting a new one that might include a miserable airport delay, Guiness and facebook before September. My friend suspects that we are somehow secretly related.

Sorry to go off-topic Orac, but there’s a new documentary about bogus cancer cures. It’s from the ‘People and Power’ strand on Al-Jazeera English (IMHO the best news channel at the moment).

It’s called ‘The Cancer Sell’ and it’s on YouTube. Edzard Ernst is in it, the Cancer Commons is featured, and Kurt Donsbach likening SBM to Hitler

Not bad eh? Packing all that into 25 minutes! It’s well worth a look for any RI commenter.

Tijuana is apparently heaven on earth for sCAM artists.

It would seem that WP has some real problems with mentions G**l or the Story of the T**n.

It is not often that one catches D.W. out in an error, so I was about to correct her about “like Rome, it is divided into 3 parts” — but it sounds like Narad has already done so, in a moderated comment.

in a moderated comment

I could have sworn standard-issue WP told you if you were awaiting moderation.

This blog does inform you if your comment is awaiting moderation. However, I have had a few comments disappear for no apparent reason when I hit ‘Submit’, and while some of them have reappeared, some of them didn’t, again for no apparent reason.

The mention of Rome reminded me of what Mary Beard said in one of her excellent documentaries. She said that Ancient Rome chewed up people and spat them out as corpses. That is why it was such a cosmopolitan city as people has to be continuously imported from the provinces to feed the beast.

The point of that last comment is somewhat obscure. I mentioned it as it is another example of how great it wasn’t in the good old days before modern medicine. If violence or disease didn’t get you, lead poisoning did.

She said that Ancient Rome chewed up people and spat them out as corpses.

As it happens, I heard a radio interview last night with the author of this. I thought “people went to London to die” was a memorable line.

@ herr doktor:
@ Narad:

Thank you for the correction: I was probably distracted by news about Italian bonds or other exciting news at that time- thus ‘Rome” (?)
I can’t ALWAYS keep up two trains of thought simultaneously, you know. Especially when taking decongestants.
I am most likely repressing gallic influences today. Along with being a secret Celt. Or so I’m told.

@ Krebiozen:
Speaking of lead poisoning, it is said that Queen Elizabeth I used lead as makeup in the good old days. In London.
My own incredible white-ness is enhanced by ( reads foundation label- from London also) – most likely- kaolin, titanium, about 60 other compounds – but no lead! Whew! Close call.

My first introduction to Dr. Mercola was before my marriage to Mr Woo (but during our engagement). Surprisingly, it didn’t come from Mr Woo, but instead our one neighbor. She is an overweight type II diabetic who is going to a chiropractor/ND for her diabetes instead of a real doctor because of “all the poisons used on patients in the US.” She told me I should check out his website for a “real awakening” about the truth about medicine in this country.

At this point I’d already worked for awhile in biotech, so I took a look at his website, saw a lot of errors and other things where I thought, “I’m not completely sure of the “why,” but that definitely does not sound right.” I did some checking here and there when I wasn’t completely sure, assured myself that much of what he proclaimed was somewhere between dubious and outright nonsense and never looked at him again until his articles were linked to sometimes here.

He is one that makes me really disgusted, though – unless he has absolutely forgotten his medical training (then again, they say someone who barely passes still gets to be called “Doctor.”), he has to know a lot of this has no basis whatsoever. The people who make money hand over fist on this, often selling dangerous thinking and products make me so angry – much more than the true believers who just somehow got down the rabbit hole at some point.


I thought “people went to London to die” was a memorable line.

Indeed, though I don’t suppose that was their intention. City dwellers still have a lower life expectancy than those living in rural areas, I believe. Of course these days people go to Florida (or Eastbourne, in the UK) to die.


Speaking of lead poisoning, it is said that Queen Elizabeth I used lead as makeup in the good old days. In London.

I remember reading that the POWs in Colditz distilled their own liquor using lead piping they had stripped from the castle plumbing system. The author said that he didn’t realize until after the war that the white precipitate that settled out was probably lead (II) acetate (which the Romans used as a sweetener). I’d best stop there before I get onto Napoleon being poisoned by the arsenic in his wallpaper.

As for changing one’s complexion, I find it interesting and a bit disturbing that so many people risk their health in their efforts to change their skin color. Light-skinned people risk skin cancer trying to darken it through tanning, and dark-skinned people risk poisoning themselves with various skin-bleaching chemicals trying to lighten it. Various cultures have historically graded social status by skin color, and some still do – the Indian caste system for example – I remember a Brahmin explaining to me that Brahmins are Aryans. The bewildering number of technical terms for different mixtures of black and white ancestry in the Caribbean also springs to mind. Of course in Europe in the past a pale complexion dignified that you were wealthy enough not to have to work in the fields. That changed with the industrial revolution of course. Strange creatures, humans.

Orac, I may not be a fan of Mercola but your vile pure hatred is a bit much. Almost makes you sound like you’re jealous of the guy. Why do you waste your breath writing about him SO much?! (and blogging powerhouse you call yourself? Don’t let it go to your head…… Disappointed in you today.

@ Krebiozen:

I stick to my own naturally ivory tone and avoid the sun: I’m old school, I guess.
Unfortunately, many young girls seek the burn..It scares me as my cousin Will has been treated for melanoma- he’s alright but needed a painful surgery at his waistline.
. -btw- Mercola used to sell tanning beds. Several of the woo-meisters grands I survey encourage people to NOT use sunblock.

“He advocates 1/3 raw food, more fresh vegetables, less carbohydrates/grains, organic/ free range products and believes that saturated fats- especially eggs and coconut oil- aren’t all that bad.” Then he recommends exercise, keeping a positive outlook and some weirdness, seeded with stuff to buy which is conveniently available a few clicks away.

So it’s not 100% BS. That’s a pretty reasonable diet, though some people would need to ease up on the eggs.

As for sunlight, none of us evolved in an office under fluorescent lights. The sun will age your skin, and too much on white skin creates a risk of skin cancer.
It’s also something we’ve been adapted to for around 50,000 years and that makes us feel good.

It’s pretty smart actually – by mixing in some commonly agreed upon lifestyle advice with conspiratorial crazy, he can sell products and services at a dramatic markup rather than in a competitive market. Might cause a few thousand preventable deaths, but that’s a tiny proportion of the customer base.

One reason mercola can claim such a large following may be that if an innocent passerby checks out one of his articles, a pop up plasters itself across it so that you can’t read the entire thing unless you sign up.

That should read “is because when an innocent bystander…” since it’s a fact.

@Billy Rubin: gee, I love medical students. They are so very clever!

Orac rarely writes about Mercola per se; the fact that Mercola is involved in so many dubious quack treatments might be why he’s mentioned. And as for Orac being jealous – well, I suppose if Orac was in business selling all sorts of junk, he’d be jealous of Mercola’s ability to sell junk, but since Orac is a very successful physican and researcher, I somehow doubt “jealous” is the right word here…

My personal number one is Mercolas advertising of the Hamer woo. Basically because I live in Germany and know some of these GNM-bottom-feeders through various discussions myself.

@Marc Stephens Is Insane
August 3, 10:55 am

One wonders how anyone can believe what Mercola says when each and every cancer “cure” has a different mode of working and each and every one of them says there’s only one cause for every type of cancer – and none of the causes agree.

Oh, and that each and every one of them is based on some sort of proprietary technique/machine – but those nasty scientists out there patent everything they can get their hands on and are just money-grubbers.

Honestly, the amount of cognitive dissonance required to believe this stuff… boggles my mind.

Billy Ruben. Joe Mercola is one of the vilest people on the internet. Up there with the Health Danger, Mike Adams and Meryl Dorey. He consistently lures his marks by feeding them with the conspiracy theories that are looking for and then offers to sell them worthless products and therapies that will not cure them of anything.

He deserves all the vitriol he gets. If you don’t like it, there are always the posts about Andrew Wakefield and Stan Burzynski.

@ Billy Ruben: Gee, if you don’t like how Orac blogs about Joe Mercola and his assorted group of other cranks…why don’t you view some of his videos?

There’s a huge assortment for you to chose from. You could always post a comment on this thread about the most dangerous misinformation that he and his video stars provide:

BTW: Joe used to sell tanning beds…and still is; available now during his August discount sale:

MI Dawn. I know Orac’s real identity (I don’t think he ever hid it!?) and am very familiar he’s a doctor (looks like in the same area you’re in from your user name) I’ll reluctantly check out some of Mercola’s links but isn’t Orac preaching to the choir here? I mean most of us already know this on a science blog so I would think he wouldn’t want to take his valuable time away from medicine to write long articles about this guy when we already know this stuff. And I’ve read other articles he’s written about him. And I didn’t say he writes about him frequently but he does write about him. It would be kind of like Mercola writing several articles on Orac and about how we’re all misinformed etc… I’m not a medical student (anymore) but will admit while I don’t sell “products” I am tired of reps daily trying to have me push more drugs. So we’re all kind of pushers in a way aren’t we? Yes some are necessary but just like Mercola might not be innocent of selling something – either is our industry. Also I am into health and agree with the advice someone said that Mercola gives about diet. I’d love to see more of my patients and colleagues follow that advice. If they did they wouldn’t need all the supplements Mercola pushes (looked like vitamins/supplements – I didn’t look closely) Point- why does he preach to the choir. I guess just to get it off his chest as he’s not teaching us anything new here and if anything just giving Mercola more traffic. and now after I looked on the site once for a sec I see his ads on EVERY web page I Go to. I also know IT and I’d say looks like they spend millions in advertising. Obviously successful. I’m guessing because people are less and less healthy they want someone to turn to (kind of like religion)

sorry lots of turbulence … I should have said even though mercola might be guilty of pushing products … aren’t we too? I know .. we save lives, drugs save lives. But just like a multivitamin or another supplement might be ok we wouldn’t tell our patients to take a whole boat load of them. Yet it seems every day I’m expected to do this w patients.

And I didn’t say he writes about him frequently but he does write about him.

What do you propose to have been the meaning of the intensifier in the following sentence?

Why do you waste your breath writing about him SO much?!

Billy Ruben:

I am into health and agree with the advice someone said that Mercola gives about diet.

Does that include drinking raw milk.

Billy Ruben, there is another important reason for Orac to write about Mercola even if it does look like preaching to the chior. This is a place where Mercola’s nonsense can be deconstructed and allows us to link to it when having discussions eleswhere when Mercola comes up, as he frequently does, rather than having to do the deconstruction all over again.

ETA. Just because some of Mercola’s diet advice is OK, doesn’t win him any accolades. A stopped clock is right twice a day. Alternative practitioners often get some diet advice correct, because it fits with their otherwise evidence-free views. Their rationales for diet advice are often spectacularly wrong, but the advice can be correct nonetheless.

I really should think about all the things I want to cover before hitting the submit button.

Mercola has provided blog fodder for years, Mr. Rubin. Just check out this site. See how many causes of autism Mercola lists, and his cure for chicken pox!

@ Chris P:

You mention something important: woo-meisters do give their audiences some realistic advice- eat more vegetables, exercise, drink more water – all of which serves as a foot in the door. They start out reasonably in an entertaining, friendly fashion- they tell us that people over-eat, are sedentary and suffer stress- all true.

After getting people interested and protraying themselves as experts, they begin to lower the boom and start giving more alternative solutions; later, they start trashing SBM and most other institutions. Usually, a sales pitch follows as well as a padded resume that serve as the scaffolding for their cult of personality: a brave maverick genius persecuted by an entrenched establishment coalition.

The “cult of personality” is the big thing – in the end you can end up in such an echo chamber of woo (alternative radio to alternative blog to alternative website to alternative videos). Since they all back each other up, their dubious claims start sounding more plausible. After all, they’re “referenced,” so that means they have to be real, etc.

It’s so hard to figure out, once someone is far enough into this, how to get them back out.

Neither here nor there…
August 5, 5:20 pm

“Does that include drinking raw milk.”

What’s so bad about raw milk? Produced, handled and stored correctly, it’s the same stuff you’d drink if you lived on the farm. Handled as if only to be consumed by someone else, not so good. It is not available where I live, but were there a dairy who I was confident in down the street, I can’t see why I’d want their milk even lightly cooked.

Raw milk was long gone when I was growing up, so I could well be unaware of something here. Hm, drug resistant bacteria are prevalent (after years of antibiotics in regular animal feed), is that an issue?

There may be one thing that Mercola and his followers think is a bit out there.

Tullio Simoncini’s claim is, that cancer IS a fungus (surrounded by normal reactive cells). Not that it is just caused by a fungus (which is one of Mercola’s claims).

Sometimes a Tuillio Simoncini fan drops by the mailbox on and tells me that Simoncini does not claim such sillyness. I usually never hear from them again after pointing out to them where he claims excatly that.


What’s so bad about raw milk? Produced, handled and stored correctly, it’s the same stuff you’d drink if you lived on the farm.

My step-mother spent her fifteenth summer in constant pain from undulant fever from that nice fresh raw milk from a relative’s cow in Eau Claire, WI. That may have been the start of her life-long liver problems (she was quite jaundiced when I first met her).

And it is even worse when Mercola promotes commercial forms of it for kids:

Spectator needs to look at this chart that details the number of outbreaks of food-borne diseases associated with the consumption of raw milk products.

“Summary of Food Borne Illness Outbreaks in North America Associated with the Consumption of Raw Milk and
Raw Milk Dairy Products (2000-2009)
26 Outbreaks resulted in an estimated 545 illnesses, 23+ hospitalizations and 7 infant deaths”

@ Psiram
You might like to add “Beth” to your list of Simoncini victims. She was a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer who decided to forgo conventional treatment, and started treatment at Simoncini’s. She blogged about her experiences and received comments from several people warning her against Simoncinis treatment.

Of course the treatment didn’t do anything to the tumour. Simoncini then advised her to have surgery. I suspect, that the attention her blog received from skeptics may have played a role, but I can’t prove that.

Her blog is now closed for public view, so we can’t now if she had a recurrence or not. And I can’t provide further details.

i see orac’s practice and i see mercola’s.

at least mercola isn’t cutting off women’s breasts many of which were TOTAL unnecessarily removed.

seems like mercola has become a millions of times more successful [yes literally – as his sales would reflect]

actions speak louder than words. volumes actually. and mercola’s doing pretty damn well at it. i’d rather sell supplements that don’t kill anyone than cut off women’s breasts or put in fake ones that can harm them. (so sad when they can grow them back with stem cells or not cut them off in the first place)

To “Marc Stephens Is Insane”: 714X is distributed throughout 80 countries and legaly accessible in Canada by Health Canada’s Special Access Program. Over 20 years, there has been over 20000 authorizations for Canadians dealing with degenerative and autoimmune diseases. Is this what you call “Quackery” ???

Mary -> A dilute solution of ammonium salts, alcohol and a tiny amount of camphor to fight a new heretofore undiscovered form of life called “somatids”?

So yes, quackery.

Access through the SAP does not constitute endorsement of efficacy or explanations of how the drug works.

A few salient facts about the SAP from Health Canada (

The SAP authorizes a manufacturer to sell a drug that cannot otherwise be sold or distributed in Canada.

Q: What assurance does the SAP give to the patient that the drug that they are receiving is safe?

A: The SAP authorization does not constitute an opinion or statement that a drug is safe, efficacious or of high quality. The SAP does not conduct a comprehensive evaluation to ensure the validity of drug information or attestations from the manufacturer respecting safety, efficacy and quality. We consider these important factors for practitioners to consider when recommending the use of a drug and in making an appropriate risk/benefit decisions for their patients.

Q: What is the practitioner’s role in the SAP?

A: The *practitioner is responsible* (emphasis mine) for initiating a request on behalf of a patient and ensuring that the decision to prescribe the drug is supported by credible evidence available in the medical literature or provided by the manufacturer.

Mary–that 714x has been successfully marketed in 80 countries and/or has been legally available in Canada for 20 years doesn’t speak to whether or not it represents quackery. To support a claim 714x isn’t quackery requires evidence it’s both safe and effective, not evidence it’s being widely distributed.

So…got any?

Mary, here is some info about 714X:

No laboratory studies of the safety and/or effectiveness of 714-X have been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. A few animal experiments have been done, but the results of these experiments have not been reported in scientific journals. The animal studies used a lymphosarcoma tumor model in rats and lymphoma tumor models in dogs and cows. 714-X was not found to be effective against cancer in these studies.


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) reviewed the records of some cancer patients who used 714-X. This review was done to decide if NCI should begin a clinical trial of the product. Not enough information was available to support recommending a trial.

After dodging a bullet with thalidomide about half a century ago, the FDA is not about to approve anything based on market success instead of real biological data.

“d rather sell supplements that don’t kill anyone ”

Since they don’t do anyone any good, either, in the long run the result is the same.

I think Mercola has gotten more dubious over the years. I remember reading years back things that seemed to make sense- eat veggies, get some sun (but don’t burn), drink fresh water, exercise ect.. He did have other stuff on there, but I focused on the things that dealt with preventing sickness and not curing anything. The problem is, many people want a quick fix and maybe he has tapped in to that? He used to be against taking supplements, now he says to take certain things. He certainly has evolved into his current state.

Just as there are anti-science extremists and nutjobs, there are uninformed extremists on the pro-science side as well. The author of this article and most of the commenters are among them.

I hold a Ph.D. in physics from an invy league university and have been a reader of Mercola for more than 10 years. Many of his once highly controversial positions are now mainstream. For example, most doctors test Vitamin D levels now. Ten years ago, they laughed at Mercola for promoting it. Low-and-behold now main stream medicine acknowledges that low vitamin D is epidemic.

Folks, wake up and smell the coffee. Extremism and close-mindedness happen at both ends of the spectrum.

The only quack here is the writer of this article. Typical of someone mainstream, average and misinformed.

Mercola is promoting Klinghardt. Steve, speaking of waking up to smell the coffee, they suggest sticking the coffee where the sun doesn’t shine. How’s that work for you?

Well I’ll be… I’ve been looking for who had made a particular statement a while back about Mercola, and I just found it in this Chicago Magazine article. The article discusses how it is that Mercola is so effective with his sales pitches. He blends common sense and sound advice with his seemingly unproven assertions, unless you are an experienced scientist or physician, most people can’t distinguish which claims are legit and which aren’t.

“One key element of Mercola’s appeal—and the reason he is so confounding to some of his critics—is that plenty of the things he advocates are rooted in common sense and even good science. “

The only quack here is the writer of this article. Typical of someone mainstream, average and misinformed.

Wow, that’s quite convincing, since you provide so much evidence to … er…. uh, well, anyways, we can see how impeccable your credentials… uh…. uh, why *did* you bother commenting, Tina?

I hold a Ph.D. in physics from an invy league university and have been a reader of Mercola for more than 10 years.

Uh-huh. What branch?

I know a few Ph.D s…can’t say I ever met one whose degree was from an *Invy* universities. How about telling us the subject of your dissertation???

“For example, most doctors test Vitamin D levels now.”

Linky, linky linky???

“Ten years ago, they laughed at Mercola for promoting it.”

And, they’re still laughing at Mercola for selling his $ 3000 tanning booths.

“Low-and-behold now main stream medicine acknowledges that low vitamin D is epidemic.”

Citations, citations, citations ???

To extend what lilady wrote:

Low-and-behold now main stream medicine acknowledges that low vitamin D is epidemic.

Really? I think Mercola vastly over-hypes the benefits of vitamin D, which is the vitamin du jour. The Mayo Clinic carried out a review of the literature last year.
The results of supplementation were hardly overwhelming and in most cases were equivocal. It may be that serum vitamin D levels correlate with spending time outside which correlates with good health for reasons other than the effects of vitamin D itself (exercise, unhealthy people tend to stay indoors etc.). Obesity and calcium intake are also confounders that are hard to separate from vitamin D intake. In some cases high vitamin D intake is associated with negative outcomes such as atherosclerosis and allergies, and in whites, but not Afro-Americans, kidney failure. Their conclusion? Elderly people may benefit from vitamin D supplements but:

Until more data from RCTs are available, a healthy dose of skepticism should be maintained regarding the other health claims for vitamin D.

That hardly matches Mercola’s claims. By the way, he claims (or used to claim, I can’t bring myself to check) you shouldn’t take a shower after sunbathing as you will wash all the vitamin D off, showing a worrying ignorance of human epidermal physiology.

By the way, he claims (or used to claim, I can’t bring myself to check) you shouldn’t take a shower after sunbathing as you will wash all the vitamin D off, showing a worrying ignorance of human epidermal physiology.

He doubled down on March 26 of this year.

Steve @ September 5, 11:54 am

most doctors test Vitamin D levels now

Yeah, mine does.
But are most doctors selling Vit D supplements and tanning beds from websites? (I’ll admit I haven’t bothered to go back to it in years, so I don’t know if the tanning beds are still on sale there.)

wake up and smell the coffee
Back at you, buddy.

P.S. What’s “invy”? If you misspell Ivy, do you have to give the degree back? Eh, probably not. And the NY Giants get to keep their Superbowl rings, too.

Interestingly (to me, at least), some animals do secrete vitamin D3 precursors onto the surface of their skin where UV converts them to D3. They are then ingested through grooming, by self or others. So when your cat lies in the sun and has a good wash it is getting its daily dose of vitamin D. Unfortunately this doesn’t work in humans; conversion takes place several layers of cells deep in the skin.


wake up and smell the coffee

There are typos in my dissertation, too, which the committee didn’t catch either.

It must be true: it’s on Mercola’s website

Now you made me visit Mercola’s den ugh. It’s interesting that he addresses surface secretion in animals but omits to mention the grooming aspects. Do we really absorb sebum back into our bloodstream? I don’t think so. Recommending that you lick your skin (or another consenting adult’s) after sunbathing makes more sense than avoiding soap and water, if sebum really does contain 7-dehydrocholesterol, of which I am not convinced.

The typical response if you criticize Dr. Mercola’s ideas:
“This post was deleted because it violated our Terms Of Use : Abuse, harass, humiliate, deceive, threaten, impersonate, intimidate or engage in any other abusive behaviors with those who comment on “

I am one of the breast cancer patients who read about Dr. Mercola at in a patient forum at in the course of trying to investigate various options for optimizing my diet to prevent a recurrence. I have been trying out a vegan diet and felt really great at first, but recently not so much. None of my oncs have the time or interest for advising me in this regard (a problem that many cancer survivors encounter judging by the comments on the discussion boards). Efforts to involve my primary care doc have met with deferrals to the oncologists.
Since I felt so great on a vegan diet for about 6 months,, Mercola’s “food typing” concept interested me. Do you have similar concerns about this aspect of Mercola’s “teachings?”. If so, do you have any resources that you could recommend for someone in my position? FYI, I am seeing a new internist who i hope will advise me on all this, but given your expertise as a surgical onc I’d love to get your thoughts.

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