The FDA cracks down on Ebola quacks, and Mike Adams loses it

Ever since the latest outbreak of Ebola viral disease in West Africa, there has been panic that’s metastasized to the US, even though the risk of a major outbreak here is very low. Unfortunately, whenever there’s panic over a disease, whatever the disease is, there soon follows quackery in response to that panic, from quacks who are either looking to make a buck or who are true believers (or both). For instance, I’ve seen high dose vitamin C touted as an Ebola remedy. I’ve also written about deluded homeopaths claiming that homeopathy can be used to treat Ebola. One particularly deluded homeopath named Ken Oftedal even took homeopathy’s law of similars literally and recommended a homeopathic remedy for Ebola that is made using infected bodily fluids from an Ebola victim as the base remedy that is diluted homeopathically. This was a remedy that was too quacky even for a contender for the title of One Quack To Rule Them All, Mike Adams.

Speaking of Mike Adams, he was in a fine lather last night. (I know, I know, he’s always in a fine lather; the dude only has two settings when it comes to rants: 11 and off the chart.) What was he upset about? Well, I’ll let Adams tell it:

In furtherance of the medical monopoly that dominates western civilization today, the FDA issued warning letters to three companies over what they call fraudulent health claims regarding Ebola treatments.

The warning letters, viewable here, single out the Natural Solutions Foundation (Rima Laibow) and two essential oil companies “Young Living” and “dōTERRA” whose distributors, the FDA says, were making claims that their oils could treat or prevent Ebola.

The warning letters threaten all three companies with possible criminal prosecutions if they do not immediately answer the FDA and FTC with explanations of how they plan to halt the making of such claims. As of this writing, the e-commerce website of the Natural Solutions Foundation appears to have already removed any mention of Ebola.

“An FDA agent showed up at my front door on September 23, 2014, to hand deliver [highly unusual!] a Warning Letter from that agency and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advising Natural Solutions that telling the truth about Ebola, Nano Silver and CBD is, according to those agencies, against their version of the law,” wrote Ralph Fucetola in this rebuttal letter entitled “We will not be suppressed!

My first reaction was to reply to Adams, “Gee, you say that as though it were a bad thing!”

Seriously. Don’t we want the FDA to crack down on quacks selling things like essential oils or “Nano Silver” and claiming that they cure (or even just treat or prevent) Ebola? That’s what dōTERRA and Young Living are selling, “essential oils.” That’s what Natural Solutions Foundation is selling. Look at some of these quack claims, such as the ones made by Young Living. Now Young Living appears to have scrubbed its website of any any mention of Ebola, thanks to Google Cache, we can see claims like:


And claims like:

The Higley Essential Oil Reference guide mentions that the Ebola Virus cannot live in the presence of cinnamon bark (this is in Thieves) nor Oregano. I would definitely add those two oils to whatever I was using. ImmuPower by Young Living would be a top choice as well. ImmuPower is a blended oil containing (oregano, clove, frankincense, ravintsara, cistus, mountain savory and hyssop). Every single one of these individual oils has anti-viral properties.

You would definitely want to have Di-Gize on hand to treat the GI complaints. Peppermint or Lemon to help reduce fever, and Helichrysum or Geranium to help with bleeding issues. Support oils for the liver would include JuvaCleanse and JuvaFlex.

I pray we don’t have to hear about this virus coming to the U.S. but if you travel outside of our country or know someone who goes to Africa or lives in Africa, maybe you could send them a care package of Young Living essential oils!

Then, of course, Adams sells dōTERRA Essential Oils as part of his “natural biopreparedness” quackery; so it’s not surprising that he’s upset that the FDA has called out dōTERRA for its scientifically unsupported claims that include, among others, that dōTERRA oils can treat or prevent Ebola and that they are “highly antiviral.” In addition, the FDA has perused a lot of dōTERRA websites and social media sites, finding claims that go beyond treating Ebola to include treating inflammation, cancer, neurological issues, asthma, autism, brain injury, and bacterial infections, among other diseases. There is, of course, no compelling scientific evidence that essential oils, be they dōTERRA or Young Living, do anything of the sort, although they probably do smell nice. None of this stops Adams and other quacks from promoting it for biological warfare preparedness.

As for Nano Silver, this strikes me as nothing more than the latest variant of a very old form of quackery, colloidal silver. The main difference is that Nano-Silver is…well, nano! The main claim is that because Nano-Silver contains silver particles measuring only 2 nm in diameter, which is about five times smaller than the average diameter of a colloidal silver particle, it’s much better at killing viruses because it allegedly has a higher concentration and has the “advantage of small particles from the standpoint of penetration into capillaries, cells, pathogens and ‘backwater’ body tissues. Though not readily calculable, mathematically, a knowledge of the body and its structure brings readily to mind the great advantage of particles a tenth the size of those of other products.” It’s all highly dubious, designed from my perspective mainly to rename colloidal silver as “Nano-Silver,” you know, because “Nano” sounds so much cooler than “colloidal.” Again, there’s no compelling evidence that Nano-Silver can do what is claimed: Treat Ebola. Or anything else, at least when taken internally. Yes, it is true that silver can be used as an antibiotic, but that’s in topical silver-containing pastes and ointments, where the concentration of silver can be much higher. When silver is taken internally, its concentration that’s not toxic is too low to be an effective antibiotic. So selling Nano-Silver as a treatment for Ebola, as Rima Laiblow is doing, is pure quackery.

Adams, of course, uses a hilarious false equivalency argument to rant against the unfairness of it all:

Here at Natural News, I’ve consistently repeated that NOTHING has yet been proven to treat, prevent or cure Ebola. Thus, all medicines — natural, conventional or otherwise — are “experimental and unproven” by definition. And yet, amazingly, any experimental and unproven medicines produced by drug companies automatically enjoy the faith-based default belief that they are safe and effective while any experimental and unproven medicines synthesized by Mother Nature are assumed to be dangerous and useless.


Fact #2) The FDA openly rubber-stamped the treatment of Ebola patients with the entirely unproven, experimental drug “ZMapp,” which has so far resulted in around a 40% fatality rate in Ebola patients. How exactly is it that an unproven pharmaceutical is okay to use as a treatment for Ebola, but an unproven herb or natural remedy is completely unacceptable and possibly illegal? (The double standard of so-called “science” is breathtaking…)

See the false equivalence? Because there isn’t a scientifically validated cure for Ebola yet, everything is experimental, including the quackery that Adams promotes. So to him it’s all good. It’s all equivalent. Why “suppress” one and not the other? Here’s the difference: The experimental treatments being tested for treating Ebola, such as ZMapp, have preclinical evidence to support their use. They were developed through the scientific process. They aren’t based on magical thinking (like essential oils) or a misunderstanding of chemistry (like Nano-Silver).

Now, in fairness, I was highly skeptical and not particularly enthusiastic about the FDA’s having approved the emergency use of ZMapp on humans, given that it hasn’t even passed a phase I trial and, prior to its use on an American Ebola victim, had never been administered to humans. This decision has been co-opted by advocates of right-to-try laws, and now it’s being co-opted by a quack like Mike Adams. In any case, Adams is completely wrong about this one, too:

Fact #1) The FDA refuses to conduct any testing on natural or alternative therapies (such as colloidal silver) in order to find out whether they work or not. What if some of these alternative medicines actually do work, but the medical monopoly doesn’t want us to find out?


It is my belief that these assumptions are upside-down. Plant-based medicines have been effectively used for thousands of years to fight plagues in regions like ancient China, for example. There is already a track record of plant-based medicine being used throughout human history to halt the spread of disease. The fact that the FDA refuses to acknowledge the existence of that historical record does not make it disappear from human civilization. And while we should never leap to the conclusion that such plants are useful for modern-day Ebola, shouldn’t we at least TEST them and find out for sure?

The FDA doesn’t conduct testing itself. It oversees and regulates drug testing by companies, universities, and research institutes designed to produce evidence to be used in an application for FDA approval of drugs and devices. If Adams thinks colloidal silver should be tested in humans, then perhaps he should approach the companies selling it and ask them why they haven’t done the necessary preclinical testing and conducted clinical trials. Ditto these “natural remedies.” Companies always have an excuse why not, whether the testing is too expensive, being “suppressed,” or whatever. Also, pharmaceutical companies are not averse to testing “natural treatments” (i.e., natural products derived from plants) against viruses, cancer, or many other diseases. Heck, as an example, the National Cancer Institute has a whole program designed to test natural products for anticancer activity. The only thing preventing testing of these “natural cures” is the people selling these “natural cures.” They don’t want to test them because they really don’t want to find out if they don’t work and, on the off chance that they do work, it’s likely far more profitable just to keep selling them, because clinical trials are expensive. Still, one wonders why some rich believers in alternative medicine don’t band together to provide the funds to test these remedies.

And the FDA going after these companies is a very good thing indeed. If they are claiming to be able to treat and prevent Ebola, they are scamming the public and endangering lives.