06-16-2003, 06:42 PM
Here's an article for ya...from Quackwatch (if you want to see the references, you need to click on the link).
Personally, I avoid *any and all* products which are sold by MLMs (multi-level marketing companies) - they are the 20/21st century version of the traveling snake-oil salesmen of the 19th century (if you've ever seen the film "The Outlaw Josie Wales" you'll know what I mean).
Misleading Claims for Seasilver™
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Seasilver USA, Inc., headquartered in Carlsbad, California, markets Seasilver,™ a liquid multivitamin/multimineral/amino acid product claimed to "balance your body chemistry," "cleanse your vital organs," "purify your blood and lymphatic system," "oxygenate your body's cells," "protect your tissues and cells against challenges" and "strengthen your immune system." The company's founder, Bela Berkes, is said to have developed Seasilver in response to "health challenges" after he began "a life-long, world-encompassing quest to learn nature's secret to good health." The current chief executive officer is his son, Jason E. Berkes, who also heads AmericAloe, the product's manufacturer. A news report states that Seasilver was available through medical doctors in the 1980s and "relaunched" through a multilevel company in 1994. Today, its alleged benefits are touted through thousands of Web sites operated by distributors. The cost is $39.95 for a 30-day supply (1 bottle), $100 for 3 bottles, and $300 for 12 bottles.
Many of the claims made for Seasilver are illegal. For example, the company's 2001 booklet "Journey into Foundational Health" falsely stated that silver (one of its ingredients) "has been used successfully in the treatment of over 650 diseases." In 2002, after the FDA issued a warning letter, some claims on the company's Web site were toned down, but many distributor sites still display them.
Ingredients: Claims vs Facts
Seasilver lists more than 80 vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes on its label. The company's brochure and many Web sites make statements about each nutrient that are intended to suggest the product might produce various benefits. Some descriptions include alleged research findings that may or may not be true; and some contain therapeutic claims that are completely false. Some descriptions are accurate and merely describe the biochemical role of the nutrient in the body. Even these descriptions are potentially misleading because people who get enough in their diet will derive no benefit from obtaining more from the product. Moreover, no quantities are stated, which makes it difficult or impossible to judge whether the amounts of the individual ingredients are sufficient to actually affect the user's body. I suspect that in many cases they are not.
Seasilver is said to contain five proprietary ingredients:
Matrix Aloe Vera™ is said to contain "39 essential vitamins and minerals and all 23 amino acids" and allegedly "helps clean morbid matter" from the stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder and intestines. It is also said to have "powerful healing and soothing properties," help relieve stomach disorders, and eliminate "other numerous symptomatic conditions," and to "contain more oxygen molecules than the fluids of any other known plant." According to the company's Web site the oxygen content is important because "today's air contains only . . . half of what your body was designed for!" and oxygen levels in many parts of the world are declining.
Sealogica,™ described "a proprietary blend of 10 sea vegetables," is said to contain "every vitamin, macro mineral, trace mineral, amino acid, enzyme, and sea-veg phyto-nutrients in nature's perfect balance" and to be "nature's finest whole food for human nutrition."
Pau D'Arco, derived from a plant grown in South America, is claimed to contain "volatile oils and esters . . . proven to have immuno-stimulant properties," "stimulate the alimentary tract, liver, gall bladder and sweat glands," and "help the adrenal glands function better when a person is subjected to stress."
Cranberry concentrate, said to "contain certain factors that help cleanse and remove toxins from the kidneys, bladder, urinary tract, prostate and testicles."
Phyto-Silver™ is said to be "a proprietary blend of Matrix Aloe Vera™ and Sea Vegetables with concentrated phyto-nutrients rich in plant-based, non-metallic, Silver, along with other powerful antioxidant properties and phyto-nutrients in nature's perfect balance." According to the company's Web site, "Silver's greatest attribute is its unique ability to function as a superior second immune system in the body." (Earlier versions of Seasilver's Web site described this ingredient as colloidal silver and said: "We get silver from plants. If we cannot assimilate silver for some reason or as the tissues age, we develop a silver deficiency and an impaired immune system." Although the "silver deficinecy" claim no longer appears on the company's Web site, itstill appears on more than 100 distributor pages.)
The above claims are preposterous.
Aloe vera juice has FDA approval as a laxative ingredient but has not been proven effective for treating any disease. Its nutrient content is insignificant. Moreover, taking a supplement to get 23 individual amino acids would be foolish because these are present in adequate amounts in the diet of everyone who eats foods that contain protein -- and most Americans already consume more protein than they need in their diet.
Oxygen blood levels are maintained by breathing, and are not influenced by oxygen that enters the stomach. The idea that humans are generally in danger of oxygen deficiency is poppycock
There is no such thing as "nature's finest food." Although some foods have more nutrients than others, what counts is overall diet. Dietary balance is is easy to achieve by consuming a wide variety of foods.
Pau d'arco has no proven therapeutic utility. Lapachol, its most celebrated ingredient, has demonstrated some anticancer properties but is too toxic for practical use. In trials with human cancer patients, as soon as effective plasma levels were attained, undesirable side effects were severe enough to require that the drug be stopped. Animal and other laboratory studies have demonstrated that lapachol also possesses antibiotic, antimalarial, and antischistosomal properties, but scientific studies have not been done in humans because of the problem of toxicity.
Cranberry juice may help prevent urinary tract infections, but it does not "help cleanse and remove toxins."
Silver has no nutritional value and, when taken by mouth, has no therapeutic usefulness. "Silver deficiency" is not a medically recognized condition.
Do people taking Seasilver need any other multivitamin and mineral supplement? The Web sites of many distributors state:
No. Seasilver™ contains vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids and enzymes known to man in nature's perfect balance. If you have health challenges, then you may require additional nutritional support, such as larger doses of Seasilver™, herbs, homeopathic, etc. Multiple vitamins that list the amount of each nutrient are all synthetic (man-made chemicals) that do no more than offer false energy, upset the balance of your body's chemistry and contribute to long-term negative side effects, such as cardio vascular disease and arthritis.
This advice is also dubious.
There are thousands of "enzymes known to man."
There is no such thing as "nature's perfect balance."
There is no logical reason to believe that the (unstated) amounts of nutrients in Seasilver would remedy any dietary deficiencies in typical users of the product. Women who need calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis, for example, might need considerably more than Seasilver contains. (I assume that if Seasilver contained as much as 500 to 1000 mg of calcium per dose, the manufacturer would say that on the label.)
Synthetic nutrients do not "offer false energy," "upset the balance of your body's chemistry," or "contribute to long-term negative side effects." There are no significant differences between so-called "natural" and synthetic nutrients.
Seasilver USA's Web site contains testimonials from more than 30 users who claim that the product led to increased energy, hair growth, nail growth, improved digestion, and/or better sex life. The writers also claim to have been helped with acute gouty arthritis, allergy, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, colds, depression, diabetes, Graves disease, insomnia, low hematocrit, lung cancer, Lyme disease, metastatic prostate cancer, migraine headaches, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, nocturnal leg cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, severe breathing problems, stiffness of the fingers, stress, and swollen prostate. Testimonials, of course, are extremely unreliable because the outcome may be due to other factors such as concomitant medical care or the natural course of the ailment. Disease-related claims are also illegal unless experts generally regard a product as safe and effective for it intended purpose.
Seasilver distributors claim Kirlian photography has demonstrated that Seasilver effects the person's "energy field." Many Web sites show Kirlian photographs taken before and after taking Seasilver. However, Kirlian photography does not measure "energy fields." During this procedure an object such as a person's hand is placed on photographic paper or film in an apparatus that generates a high-voltage, low-amperage, high-frequency electric current. The film is then exposed by air glow that occurs when electrical discharges pass between the subject and apparatus through the photographic material. Investigators have demonstrated that the pictures reflect the amount of perspiration, finger pressure applied to the camera, and about 20 other factors.
Advisory Board Hype
Seasilver's advisory board includes one medical doctor and three chiropractors, none of whom has any significant standing in the scientific community. The most noteworthy is Daniel G. Clark, who is described this way:
Dr. Clark is a Medical Doctor. In 1984, he was awarded the prestigious "Academic Award for Scientific Research in Cancer" in Rome, Italy. In 1988, he received the "Physician of the Year Award" in Broward County, Florida. He sponsors educational seminars for Physicians worldwide, providing lectures on quantum and molecular medicine. His special interests are chelation therapy for arteriosclerosis, alternative treatments for cancer and homeopathy and herbology for the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. He is actively involved with numerous professional associations, including a lifetime member of the National Health Federation. Dr. Clark is currently Managing BioActive Nutritional, Inc., and serves as Co-Chairman of the Seasilver USA Medical Advisory Board.
This description is misleading. Clark's Florida medical license was revoked in 1983 for unprofessional practice. Clark's practice, which opened in 1979 in Ormond Beach, Florida, initially included gynecology, family practice, and general nutrition, but "metabolic therapy" for cancer eventually accounted for 15% to 20% of his patients. The disciplinary matter involved two cancer patients whom he treated with "metabolic therapy." One was a man with terminal throat cancer. The other was a breast cancer patient for whom he prescribed laetrile, herbal tea, salves, substandard doses of chemotherapy, and whole-body hyperthermia, none of which have any scientifically plausible rationale or proven effectiveness against cancer. The case records indicate that after concluding that the cancer had spread to the woman's lungs, Clark prescribed dark and yellow salves and instructed the patient to apply them to her cancerous breast and underarm area, explaining that they would draw out and break down the tumor. The salves -- which apparently were caustic -- caused pieces of gray tissue to fall off the breast and underarm area, but Clark reassured her that the salves were breaking down the cancerous tumor. The Medical Board concluded that Clark had shown "absolute reckless disregard for the health of his patient".
Clark's "physician of the year award" was given by the Florida chapter of the International Association of Cancer Victors and Friends, a group whose primary activity is the promotion of quack cancer methods. The National Health Federation is another disreputable group whose goal is to weaken the government's ability to protect consumers against health frauds and quackery.
BioActive Nutritional, which Clark founded in 1986, markets a large line of homeopathic products claimed to be effective against hundreds of symptoms, diseases and conditions. As far as I know, none of these products has any proven therapeutic value or has even been scientifically tested. Clark is also identified as founder of the Institute of Quantum and Molecular Medicine and a staff member of the Florida College of Integrated Medicine, where, according to the school's Web site, he "lectures in Western biomedical sciences." Clark has also issued a letter of endorsement stating that "certified electrodiagnostic practitioners" have tested the phoenic hologram (a "healing symbol") and concluded that it can negate the negative effects of cell phones.
David R. Friedman, D.C., N.D., co-chairman of Seasilver's advisory board, is described on a promotional tape as "chiropractor to the stars." The tape, "America's Unbalanced Diet," suggests that everyone needs to take Seasilver because our diets are deficient and synthetic nutrients are poorly absorbed. The tape, which reminds me of Joe Wallach's "Dead Doctors Don't Lie," contains more than a hundred misleading statements. Friedman's biographical sketch on the Seasilver Web site states that more than 100,000 copies of the tape have been sold.
The Bottom Line
Seasilver,™ is an expensive, irrationally formulated supplement product that is marketed with false and misleading claims. Its label lists more than 80 ingredients but does not disclose how much of each the product contains. I can think of no logical reason to take it.
After this article was published, Dr. Friedman issued a "response" for distributors to use to attack my credibility. His response misrepresented my views on several topics, falsely stated that I was sued for slander by the American Chiropractic Association, and misrepresented the significance of a court case in which I participated.
06-20-2003, 11:13 AM
Pretty interesting, huh???
Regulators seize dietary supplement
FTC charges makers of Seasilver with false statements
WASHINGTON (AP) --The government has seized more than 132,000 bottles of a dietary supplement promoted with allegedly deceptive claims it could cure hundreds of diseases, including AIDS and cancer, federal regulators said Thursday.
The Federal Trade Commission announced charges against two companies it said made false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits and safety of the supplement, Seasilver. U.S. marshals took possession of the supplement stocks Tuesday at the request of the Food and Drug Administration.
The FTC said the Carlsbad, California.-based companies, Americaloe Inc. and Seasilver USA Inc., promoted the liquid supplement as a safe treatment or cure for 650 diseases, including AIDS, Lyme disease, various cancers and diabetes in nine out of 10 patients. The companies also claimed Seasilver could produce substantial and permanent weight loss without dieting, the FTC alleged.
The companies' owners, the principal distributor and a person who claimed to be an expert were also charged with making false and unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits and safety of Seasilver.
FDA commissioner Mark McClellan said, "This is the sort of intolerable health fraud I had in mind when I announced six months ago that the FDA will take vigorous actions against firms that prey on consumers and patients by selling worthless dietary supplements as cures for serious and chronic diseases and conditions."
The FTC said the companies promoted the supplement with national television and radio infomercials, Web sites, spam e-mails and a 28-page brochure. The FTC alleges that the claims made in the promotional materials "go beyond the existing scientific evidence on any of the ingredients contained in the product."
The FTC and FDA are working together on the case as part of Operation Cure.all, an international effort to root out and prevent fraudulent marketing of health-related products.
The FDA has cited Seasilver USA in the past for sanitation problems at the company's production facility.
Neither of the companies could be reached Thursday evening.