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dōTERRA: Multilevel Marketing of Essential Oils

A stay-at-home mom recently e-mailed me. She is a former CAM user who once treated her infant’s colic with homeopathy but has since seen the light and is now thinking skeptically. She asked that I look into the dōTERRA company, seller of essential oils: concentrated extracts distilled from plants, containing the “essence” or distinctive odor of the plant. She said:

…moms, well educated and seemingly rational moms, will believe anything. This isn’t a big deal if we are talking about sugar pills trying to cure crying that has no cause. However, I recently attended a dōTERRA “talk” (aka pressure to buy) about how essential oils can cure everything and anything, including one woman’s mother’s skin cancer. I didn’t want to offend this mom by calling her a quack, so I walked away spending 60 bucks on oils to be polite (this was the least amount I could spend and I used these oils to make my home smell nice, even though they were intended to solve all sorts of skin and digestive problems. I didn’t want to use them without knowing if they actually worked).

Instead of stressing the aromas, the focus was on the need to spend hundreds of dollars on these products to keep your family healthy. A handout showed how you could replace everything in your medicine cabinet with an essential oil alternative.  She said:

The reps talked about how conventional medicine failed them and how they never go to the doctor anymore because the oils are a better cure.

dōTERRA’s Claims

The company’s website, www.doterra.com, doesn’t claim to cure cancer. It is rather vague. Instead of making specific claims for their products, they talk about the use of essential oils in history for anti-bacterial properties, to heal burns, and for “wellness.”

In addition to their intrinsic benefits to plants and being beautifully fragrant to people, essential oils have been used throughout history in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Modern scientific study and trends towards more holistic approaches to wellness are driving a revival and new discovery of essential oil health applications.

They say modern science is validating “the numerous health and wellness benefits of essential oils” but they don’t identify those benefits or offer any evidence. No clinical studies are cited, and there is no research section on their website.

Their products are intended to be used in various ways: to smell, to apply to the skin, and to take internally. Claims for individual oils are vague: to soothe sore muscles and joints, to ease breathing, as a cooling agent for the skin, for calming, cleansing, mood-enhancing, to relieve menstrual discomfort, to supply antioxidants, digestive support, supporting a healthy insulin response, supporting localized blood flow, beautifying legs and hips, immune support, cleansing the air, regenerative properties, fighting off seasonal bugs, “calming the skin” (?). Any claim that begins to sound specific is asterisked to the usual FDA disclaimer.  (“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.”)

Since so many of the oils are supposed to do the same things, how does a customer decide which to use? They conveniently offer mixtures of oils designed for specific purposes: to promote restful sleep, disinfect countertops, to apply to areas of the skin affected with blemishes, itchy scalp, unsightly nail beds and feet, etc. One mixture is a roll-on for troubled skin spots. Others are for achy joints and sore muscles, to calm, purify, relieve tension, eliminate and control pathogens, help manage hunger, cleanse the body’s organs, enhance focus and support healthy thought processes… there is even an anti-aging blend.

Rose Essential Oil: dōTERRA says rose essential oil has traditionally been used to help with skin problems, depression, stress, anxiety, and is supportive to the organs in the body. It supposedly works as an aphrodisiac, and has commonly been used for its antispasmodic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and sedative properties.

The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database disagrees. It says “insufficient reliable evidence to rate” and lists a number of adverse reactions and interactions with drugs.

Jasmine Oil: Dabbing a little jasmine essential oil over your heart at bedtime will provide a deep sleep filled with positive dreams. It helped six White Sox players improve their batting average.  The NMCD disagrees. It says “There is insufficient reliable information available about the effectiveness of jasmine.” Anyway, I can’t help but wonder how something that makes you sleep could improve batting prowess except in a dream.

There’s Hardly Any Science Behind Essential Oils

I first heard of essential oils years ago in connection with Gary Young, described on Quackwatch as “an uneducated huckster with a track record of arrests for health fraud.” Gary Young and his Essential Oils are still in business despite the devastating critique that has long been featured on Quackwatch. The record of misdeeds there makes for painful reading. Among other things, he practiced medicine without a license, was arrested repeatedly, did bogus lab tests, and contributed to the death of his own child by performing an underwater delivery and holding the newborn infant underwater for an hour. His judgment about medical matters is obviously not very trustworthy.

The published evidence is sparse to nonexistent. There are clinical studies to support a few of the recommended uses, but they are generally poorly designed, uncontrolled, and unconvincing. Research is difficult, because patients can’t be blinded to the odors, and mental associations and relaxation could account for most of the observed effects.

The claims for essential oils are handily summarized and debunked in articles like these:

Multilevel Marketing (MLM)

Multilevel marketing is a system of direct sales through a hierarchy of individual distributors, where sellers get a cut of the profits from sales by other distributors they have recruited. It’s also called network marketing. There is a whole website dedicated to critiquing it: MLM Watch, affiliated with Quackwatch.  At the top levels, people who got in early have sometimes become millionaires, but the great majority of distributors lose money. In a typical company, Quixtar (formerly known as Amway), 99% of distributors made no profit, and 70% quit in the first year. Stephen Barrett’s article “The Mirage of Multilevel Marketing” concludes:

Consumers would be wise to avoid health-related multilevel products altogether. Those that have nutritional value (such as vitamins and low-cholesterol foods) are invariably overpriced and may be unnecessary as well. Those promoted as remedies are either unproven, bogus, or intended for conditions that are unsuitable for self-medication.

Why Does MLM Appeal to Manufacturers? It allows them to sell a product that could not compete in the open marketplace, at least not at those prices. It allows the big players to get filthy rich. It allows distributors to make claims the company can’t legally make in its advertising, such as: “It cured my mother’s skin cancer,” “It cured my child’s tonsillitis,” and “It keeps my kids from catching colds.” And that kind of testimonial from a friend is far more powerful than any advertising.

Why Does MLM Appeal to Distributors? It offers the promise of direct income from sales; the chance to piggyback on the sales of others; the dream of making it rich; the opportunity to sell a product they believe in; and a way to make money in a pleasant way, at home, with their own hours, with a lot of social contact, and no need to apply for a job.

Why Do Customers Buy? Imagine a typical customer experience. A friend or acquaintance invites you into her home, provides refreshments, a party atmosphere, and a social opportunity to visit with other old acquaintances and meet new friends and neighbors. You get free samples. People you know and trust tell you about their personal experiences, providing persuasive testimonials of apparently miraculous benefits. They vouch for the quality and manufacturing standards of the products. They offer discounts and the opportunity to join the community of distributors. It all sounds so good! The hostess has given you refreshments and goodies, so you feel a social obligation to reciprocate. There is the peer pressure of all the other attendees who are buying the products, and you don’t want to look like a Scrooge or an ungrateful oddball. You might end up, like the person who e-mailed me, spending $60 for something you didn’t want and don’t believe works.

Conclusion

There is no good evidence to support the use of essential oils for health purposes, and exposing yourself to deceptive MLM sales tactics is a bad idea. Lynn McCutcheon said it best:

All of this sounds as though I am strongly opposed to the use of essential oils. I’m not! If it pleases you to put some in your bath water or have a little rubbed on your back once in a while, by all means, go ahead. It is not the odor that arises from these fragrances that is troubling, it is the stench arising from the unwarranted claims made about them.

 

Posted in: Herbs & Supplements

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101 thoughts on “dōTERRA: Multilevel Marketing of Essential Oils

  1. pytra says:

    Good piece!!
    And always weird how people have “their” scam, like they will tell you that homeopathy is bad but that essential oils are the greatest… (well at least they can smell nice)

  2. BillyJoe says:

    Regarding the word “odour” (okay, “odor” to those trying to wreck the English language): I could be wrong, but don’t you apply that word to something disagreeable? I certainly wouldn’t tell my wife she has a nice odour.
    Also, why “essential” oils? Isn’t the name even false advertising?

  3. windriven says:

    @BillyJoe

    This from Merriam-Webster:

    ” [B]eing a substance that is not synthesized by the body in a quantity sufficient for normal health and growth and that must be obtained from the diet…”

    So, yes, it would certainly appear to be false advertising. But in the remote event that the US Consumer Protection Agency jumped on this with both feet, I’m sure their definition would rely on:

    “a volatile substance or constituent (as of perfume),” also from Merriam-Webster.

    The willingness of people to feed their credulity with hard cash amazes me.

  4. cervantes says:

    An etymological digression for BillyJoe:

    There is a tendency for words to take on a more negative connotation over time. “Stink” and “Stench” originally referred to any smell, but came to mean an offensive one. Then “smell” started to take on a negative connotation and we had to say odor (odour is the British spelling, “odor” isn’t wrecking the English language it’s just the common American spelling), which as BillyJoe demonstrates is now starting to have a whiff (sic) of unpleasantness so we’re driven to “aroma.” Once aroma starts to mean a foul stench I’m not sure where we’ll go. . .

  5. The Dave says:

    “Once aroma starts to mean a foul stench I’m not sure where we’ll go. . .”

    I claim dibs on flugelfloppen! “The flugelfloppen of this wine is superb…”

    I believe the term essential oil comes from the root word essence:

    1. The intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something.
    2. The most important ingredient; the crucial element.
    3. The inherent, unchanging nature of a thing or class of things.
    4.a. An extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in concentrated form.
    b. Such an extract in a solution of alcohol.
    c. A perfume or scent.

    And according to Wikipedia, might have first been used as long ago as the 1100′s, so I don’t think anybody in their right mind would try to attack it the term on the grounds of false advertising.

  6. actinomyces says:

    God the MLMs–they never end. And they tend to sell supplements and other pseudoscientific crap because if they can get someone to believe they’re going to make money when MLM income disclosures show 99% who join lose money, well then–they’ll believe anything. MLMs that sell this crap are a skeptic double whammy–financial pyramid scheme wrapped around BS woo. A crap singularity.

    Thanks for covering these, there’s so little real information out there on them because the MLM distributors Google bomb search phrases related to the MLM. They put up pages and pages of “true reviews” and use tags on their pages like MLM name plus “scam” which then go on to say how the MLM is totally not a scam and you should sign up immediately or you will miss out on massive growth!!

    Here’s an example for Doterra on the first page of Google returns for “Doterra scam”

    http://www.empowernetwork.com/btoddwilliams1/blog/doterra-oils-my-doterra-scam-review/

    Amusingly this review is hosted by a person in yet another MLM–the Empower Network. Scams within scams within scams….

  7. Z-one says:

    My sister-in-law asked my opinion about doTERRA, as another family member wanted to borrow money from her to get started in the MLM. One look at the brochure and I advised against it, but I did dig deeper. Clearly, the deeper you dig the less you find. There are many miraculous testimonials and slick brochures and packaging on the surface, but no clinical trials or other reliable evidence. One of the company founders has some shady history with other dubious cam products and treatments, as well.

    I found nothing but red flags. The other family member was not pleased, but hey, there was money on the line. Thank you, Dr. Hall, for your confirmation.

  8. The Dave says:

    “Scams within scams within scams….”

    Scam-ception! lol

  9. chaos4zap says:

    It seems MLM is very much alive and well. A few weeks ago I went to a local coffee shop to read and happened to sit next to a MLM pitch a guy was making to a young couple. I didn’t get the name of the product, but it had something to do with gourmet instant coffee. Of course, dubious health claims were part of the pitch on why this product was so much different than anything else. Fortunately, I thought of hitting the record button on the old I-Phone and recorded almost the entire pitch (over an hour long) This guy pulled out all the normal stops and was actually putting “blame the victim” escape-hatches in the pitch…”Remember, God sometimes gives us what we need, not what we want”. The saddest part, the male “target” started off the meeting by lamenting about his failed attempt with Amway. What does it take for someone to learn? For that reason, I strongly suspected he would not be receptive to me pointing out a few inconsistencies in the guy’s sales pitch. I did, however, call the pitchman out after the couple left. I pointed out some of the typical tactics he used and made sure to emphasize the reason pitchmen use them. I pointed out that MLM is a ridiculous way to sell any product that is worth anything, but happens to be a great way to make a few at the top rich off a mediocre product and I definitely accused him flat out of emotional manipulation and taking advantage of people. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the possibility of self-delusion, but by the time we finished our exchange….I had a strong feeling he knows exactly what he was doing and didn’t appreciate or like being called out on it. I want to do something with the recording of the pitch and our exchange, but haven’t decided what yet. I was thinking of something along the lines of “Anatomy of a Sales Pitch” that would include intermediate commentary of the tactics and wording he was using. Gourmet Instant Coffee? Is there anything believable about that?

  10. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    When will we start hearing from the doTerra shills, like we did on the ASEA thread?

    Is doTerra better than ASEA? They’re both working the same room, so to speak.

    Check out Mannatech and the ABC hidden camera expose of another MLM “cure-all” that its salesforce claimed behind closed doors could cure cancer. And could improve general health.

    A friend of a friend once made the mistake of trying to pitch me on some ridiculously overpriced “healthy” chocolate she was MLM’ing. I told her exactly what I thought of MLM and the ridiculous health claims she was making. She seemed shocked at being challenged. “But, but, but, the research…”

    At least with Amway you do get some useful, if overpriced, cleaning products.

  11. Harriet Hall says:

    @chaos4zap,

    You might consider submitting the recording or a transcript of the recording to MLM Watch.

  12. Janet says:

    The question for me is how did the person who wrote you come to lean to skepticism, when so many (most?) do not?

    Whatever it was for her, for me, for others who have dabbled and ultimately rejected woo, it is something that would be worth putting in a pill or in a bottle and marketing! Better, of course, would be to find a way to promote those events or happenings that turn the tide on a wider basis to reach more dabblers.

    Aromatherapy was the “gateway drug” for at least two of my woo-acquaintances–I guess once you buy into the odors (good or bad–the word certainly needs an adjective!) cure idea, anything else is easily accepted.

    On another note, I was once invited to an Amway “party” by, of all people, my family doctor! He and his wife were full of faux-chagrined testimony about how they never thought they’d be “selling soap”, but “oh, my, we’re making so much money!”. After wining and dining us, they thought we were hooked and brought out the starter kit (which you have to buy). My husband, who had been quiet throughout the evening, looked at the doc and simply said, “you’ve mistaken me for an idiot” and we left.

  13. BillyJoe says:

    Thanks on the etymological lessons on “essential” and “odour”.
    (The bit about destroying the language was meant as a joke, though I don’t understand why Americans feel it necessary to change the spellings off certain English words.)

    Janet,

    “I guess once you buy into the odors (good or bad–the word certainly needs an adjective)”

    I don’t think it does.
    Would you be happy for your husband to say that you have a nice odour?

    Cervantes,

    “Once aroma starts to mean a foul stench…”

    There is an advertisement for a brand of deodorant that goes….and aroma incredibilis, which only women understand….

  14. My position in regards to MLM is this:

    It’s not rude to attend a “party” you were invited to and not purchase anything. It’s rude to invite people to a “party” where you expect them to spend money.

    I’ve only ever been to one such “party” and it wasn’t really on purpose. I couldn’t help myself from being practical. “That’s kind of neat, but if I really wanted/needed it, I probably would already have one, and if I were going to buy one, I’d probably find a better deal on Amazon.”

    People at such events tend to think like they are on old format Wheel of Fortune, where they have a certain amount of money that has to be spent on the merchandise presented to them.

  15. it helped six white sox improve their batting avg.
    a pro roster usually has more than 30 players.
    those other 25 are cursing the oil cuz their avg dropped!

  16. actinomyces says:

    @Chaos: You should see the videos of MLM conferences if you want to see emotional manipulation, they are unreal. I saw one where they led an entire stadium through a “visioning process” where they all closed their eyes and the cofounder of the company led them all through a fantasy about what their lives would be like with all the MLM riches. They were all holding balloons which they released at the end. Seriously.

    Amazing these scammers are allowed to continue operating, but they are as the FTC seems to be negligent. Although a short seller of all people is shining a bright light on one MLM (they sell supplements too, of course)–Herbalife.

    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-12-20/bill-ackman-and-his-crusade-to-crush-herbalife

  17. Sialis says:

    I looked over some of the claims made by this company and compared the ingredients in their oil blends with others I have used in the past. I agree that their claims of health benefits are deceptive and exceed any benefits one would derive from their oils. However, certain oils do have medicinal benefits, and many others seem to aid in relaxation for some people. It seems this company takes these findings and spins them into more appealing claims promoting stronger medicinal benefits. One thing is for sure, essential oils do seem to be a gateway ‘drug’ into wooville for some people. The doTerra products are also grossly overpriced. I’m surprised anyone would even consider buying them. There are much less expensive versions of pure essential oils on the market and some are even available at many grocery stores.

    When will we start hearing from the doTerra shills, like we did on the ASEA thread?

    LOL, that got my attention, so I thought I would indulge you.

    Instead of using an OTC vapor rub when you have a stuffy nose or respiratory infection, you can put some camphor or eucalyptus oil in some lotion or petroleum jelly and use that instead. It may help relieve some minor congestion, but it does seem to have a soothing, relaxing effect for many people. A bottle of camphor oil will last for many years, whereas a jar of vapor rub will likely not. When using the oils, you can adjust the strength or potency to your own needs, unlike the OTC products, just be careful not to mix them too strong as they may cause skin irritation. WebMD offers some good advice on the use of these two oils, camphor and eucalyptus. The main benefit is that a bottle will last a long time and having it in oil form allows you to use it in a variety of mediums.

    In the past, I recall reading somewhere of a study that found lavender oil was shown to aid in relaxation, but prolonged exposure may have the opposite effect. I would consider it a relaxation aid, similar to lighting a candle or having a pot simmer with cinnamon, apples and orange to scent the air a bit during a holiday party. Likewise, a pot simmering with a few drops of geranium or sandlewood adds a nice aroma to the air as long as you don’t let the scent get too strong. Caution would be advised when using these products around people with allergies or respiratory problems who might experience adverse reactions.

    A drop or two of lavender, lemon or bergamot oil on a fabric softener sheet tossed into the dryer with your linens adds a nice scent for occasional use. You could add the same to liquid soaps, shampoo and hair conditioners as well. The only medicinal benefit would be of a relaxing aromatic effect, much less than the claims being made by doTerra.

    Is doTerra better than ASEA? They’re both working the same room, so to speak.

    They do seem to work the same room, but I think doTerra’s marketing is more geared towards women. doTerra is outrageously overpriced even for it’s relaxation benefits. I would suggest against purchasing it.

    A friend of a friend once made the mistake of trying to pitch me on some ridiculously overpriced “healthy” chocolate she was MLM’ing. I told her exactly what I thought of MLM and the ridiculous health claims she was making. She seemed shocked at being challenged. “But, but, but, the research…”

    What I find particularly despicable is when physicians promote these products to their patients to treat their medical conditions, which does indeed appear to be happening with both ASEA and Xocai chocolate.

    At least with Amway you do get some useful, if overpriced, cleaning products.

    The oils are likely good too, but they are not as practical a product for most like Amway or Mary Kay. Yes, humm, in defense of Mary Kay… I don’t sell the product, but it is a good, high quality product. Some people sign up as a distributor only to get the discount so they can purchase the products for their own personal use at a substantial savings. You don’t have to attend any meetings or purchase the marketing materials beyond what are included in the initial starter kit. At the reduced distributor price, their products are less expensive than the other high quality products available in the department stores. I personally find that their lotions cause fewer skin reactions than many products available in the stores. I had a Mary Kay rep try to promote a new skin product of vitamin C stuff, and I told her it would be much less expensive and healthy for her to tell her customers to eat an orange every day. She didn’t seem to appreciate that too much.

  18. Lytrigian says:

    Lest anyone doubt that a staggering amount of money can be made in CAM, consider doTERRA’s markup. I picked the first item on their website’s “Single Oils” page as an illustrative example. It’s Basil essential oil, and they sell 15 ml of it for $26.67.

    Without too much effort, Google found a bulk supplier of Basil essential oil who sells 25 lbs for $416.25. How does that work out in 15 ml units?

    I found a range of specific gravity for the stuff, but I’m taking the highest figure of 0.954 to minimize the volume and make a best-case scenario out of it. 25 lbs is 11.34 kg which if this were water would have a volume of 11,340 ml but at this sg is about 11,884 ml. That makes up about 792 15 ml units, which therefore cost 53 cents each!

    And that’s *retail* bulk buying, easily found with Google. It must be even cheaper if you develop wholesale bulk sources.

    But hey. What’s a 5000% markup among friends?

  19. Calli Arcale says:

    BillyJoe:

    The bit about destroying the language was meant as a joke, though I don’t understand why Americans feel it necessary to change the spellings off certain English words.

    While there is a fair argument that the spellings used in England are the “official” English spellings, actually it’s not as clear as you might think who changed the spellings of certain words. In fact, spelling was still fairly volatile in the 18th Century. The question of which spelling is “correct” is, therefore, fairly meaningless. I could accept choosing a Southern English dialect when teaching English to a non-English-speaker, just as French students here tend to learn Parisian French rather than Provencal or even Quebecois, but the one is not really any more correct than the other, in its proper context.

  20. The Dave says:

    Lytrigian:

    Thanks for the analysis. Very illustrative. I decided to look it up on Amazon to see what the average retail price (what the standard consumer would most likely pay) which would, presumably, have a market-supported mark-up built into the price.

    According to Amazon, you can by 30ml for ~$6 USD. A bit more than your 53cents figure, but still no where as near the MLM exclusive price of $26.67 (x2)

  21. mousethatroared says:

    Good point, The Dave. It can be hard to base a critcism on a bulk price because it doesn’t cover the cost of packaging the individual products, the cost of advertising, distribution and the retail mark-up.

    The Amazon price is a better comparison although it might be a slightly unfair, because they have that mass distribution low overhead advantage. But close enough, I would think, to give you a good range. I would guess there is also a range in the quality of essential oils that could give you some price difference or market advantage.

    On a broader note, mostly, I guess I’m old fashion. I thought that scents were supposed to be sold with false claims of making the wearer irresistible to the opposite sex. Now they are making health claims instead? What is the world coming to?

    I suppose it’s useful for selling the really awful smelling things. Reminds me of a part in Pratchett’s Going Postal. There was some sort of disease preventing poultice…

  22. kathy says:

    Personal anecdote: once upon a time I worked in a seed processing factory. We had some new goods coming down the line and the boss asked me to work out what we might charge for them, so I went into much detail getting the prices of basic materials, labour, electricity, etc., then added a markup. When I showed him my careful calculations he just laughed and said, “No, no, you don’t do it like that! Prices aren’t calculated according to what the goods cost to manufacture, but according to what the market will bear!”

    Re overpricing in general: There are various reasons that OVERpricing something may add to its appeal. I’ve seen that with ordinary supermarket goods like kettles and toasters. People seem to feel they must surely be better than the cheaper goods on the shelf. Also: when the goods break down after a year (usually just after the warranty period) they reckon they must just have drawn a short straw, and so keep themselves from feeling foolish for being taken for a ride (excuse the mixed metaphor but I have to go cook supper now so I haven’t time to think up a better one).

  23. The Dave says:

    “Re overpricing in general: There are various reasons that OVERpricing something may add to its appeal.”

    The idea that “you get what you pay for”, which, sometimes is valid, while other times is not. Example: store brand knock-offs of name-brand cereal/cake mix/whatever: most are processed and packaged by the name brand manufacturer, just slap the store brand label on it for them.

  24. Narad says:

    certain oils do have medicinal benefits

    Fun fact: The essential oils tend to have corresponding amphetamines. The estragole in basil oil gives 4-methoxyamphetamine, which caused fatalities when it hit the street as “Chicken Power.”

  25. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    The Dave,

    While you are usually correct about store brand products, in some cases the recipes are slightly altered between the national brand and house brand. It usually occurs in the higher profit items like ketchup. My local grocery’s house brand, although made by Heinz, uses a different formulation and there’s definitely a difference. The Heinz version lists tomatoes higher up in the ingredient list while the store brand lists water higher up and more sugar. To allow the store to bring it in at an attractive price some corners are cut.

  26. mousethatroared says:

    Regarding house brands. I often buy the house brand of Shake & Bake and frozen potatoes, a few other things. The Kroger Shake & Bake has more simple ingredients, no MSG* and is cheaper. The frozen potatoes tend to be just frozen potatoes without as many extra ingredients and also cheaper. Some house brand ice creams are better than name brands. I suspect that house brands are becoming less about being a cheap option and more about promoting store branding.

    *I know MSG isn’t harmful, but I’m still leery of a food additive that’s sole purpose seems to be to replace actual seasonings that I know and enjoy.

  27. The Dave says:

    Marc Stephens is Insane
    (always been curious if you’re referring to yourself, or someone you know :) )

    You are absolutely correct. I shouldn’t have made such a blanket statement, especially with no citations to support it. Another example to support your comment: store-brand sugar cereal and name-brand sugar cereal may basically be the same, but they will at least change the shapes of the marshmallows they throw in.

  28. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    You don’t who Marc Stephens is? My friend, you are in for an afternoon of entertaining reading if you Google him. Hint: he was Burzynski’s “PR” guy for a few days until he threatened the entire blogging community.

    Start with Popehat. And govern yourself accordingly!

  29. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    The Dave,

    Here’s a good executive summary. This website is not mine, nor do I know who set it up. It did inspire my ‘nym, however.

    http://www.marcstephensisbatshitfuckingloco.com/

  30. mousethatroared says:

    Marc Stephens Is Insane said “You don’t who Marc Stephens is?”

    I have a relative by that name…glad to hear you are talking about another guy, cause it was kinda creeping me out.

  31. Sialis says:

    *I know MSG isn’t harmful, but I’m still leery of a food additive that’s sole purpose seems to be to replace actual seasonings that I know and enjoy.

    I searched this site for information about MSG the other day. I’ve read conflicting information elsewhere about it. Maybe a future topic about MSG would be a good idea, or has it been discussed in sufficient detail elsewhere? If I eat something with MSG or the other similar additives of yeast extracts, my face swells and I become dizzy. The morning after eating Chinese restaurant food my face is at it’s worst, all puffed out. If MSG is not harmful, why does to happen to people, or am I just special? :-) I don’t eat those foods for this reason.

    @Narad, your breadth of knowledge impresses me.

  32. mousethatroared says:

    @Sialis – I’m not a medical person, but that sounds like an allergic reaction to me. If that is the case, then it wouldn’t be harmless to you even if it was harmless to others (like a shrimp allergy). I figure, as my laymen’s rule of thumb, if your face, lips or tongue swell or you have hives after consumption, it’s good to avoid.

  33. Lytrigian says:

    For the record, I find the Amazon price to be a very reasonable markup. Once you get past the $1.00 or so for the oil itself, packaging, warehousing, processing and so on, $6.00 isn’t outrageous. And I’m aware of the studies that show things like wine being rated more highly by tasters when it’s known to be an expensive label. It’s just very hard for me to think well of any marketer who manages to charge upwards of $60.00 as in Dr. Hall’s example for stuff that must have originally cost the seller $1.50-2.00 at most.

  34. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    This reminds me of a calculation someone once did concerning the price of a box of a Boiron homeopathic cold product (the stuff made from duck liver, apparently). Since the ingredients only listed various forms of sugar, based on the selling price for 14 pills Boiron was selling sugar for something like $6000 a pound! OK, subtract packaging, manufacturing, shipping and retail profit and it still worked out to well over $5000 a pound.

  35. Lytrigian says:

    @Sialis — MSG is not intended to replace any other seasonings. It carries the savory flavor note the Japanese call “umami”, picked up by receptors on the tongue for L-glutamate, and which is now recognized as distinct from other flavors we can detect. (Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that any seasonings it might replace are rich in the same amino acid, and they’d be added for the same reason.)

    It’s not clear what people who seem to be sensitive to it are actually reacting to. MSG has never been shown to cause the reactions often noted when given under controlled conditions. (You have to give it in capsules when performing a placebo-controlled double-blind study, as the taste is otherwise unmistakable.) Me, I bloat noticeably whenever I get too much sodium. Given that MSG adds sodium as well as glutamic acid, on top of any salt added to a meal, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that had something to do with it.

  36. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Mushrooms and anchovies are very rich in “natural” MSG. Cook’s Illustrated recipes will often call for a small amount of either to be added to enrich the “meatiness” of a dish without adding any flavour of its own. It’s like adding a small amount of salt to many desserts: you don’t taste it but it enhances the dish.

  37. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Of course the MSG in vaccines comes from da ebil pHarma, not from mushrooms or anchovies.

  38. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    I’ve always contended it was the enormously-high levels of sodium in Chinese food that caused any negative reactions, not MSG per se. There’s MSG pretty much everywhere but people who claim sensitivity usually only seem to react to Chinese food.

  39. Narad says:

    MSG is not intended to replace any other seasonings. It carries the savory flavor note the Japanese call “umami”, picked up by receptors on the tongue for L-glutamate, and which is now recognized as distinct from other flavors we can detect.

    Well… I wouldn’t overlook the cation in the overall picture; salt itself is a flavor enhancer. (I’m well aware that straight MSG has a flavor, as for some reason I used to directly consume Accent meat tenderizer as a child.)

  40. Sialis says:

    @Lytrigian, It was MouseThatRoared who mentioned MSG as being a food additive meant solely to replace seasonings.

    I have a unique response to many substances, MSG is a more noticeable response in that anyone can visually see it’s effect on me. I don’t have such a profound reaction to plain salt, but I do have a reaction to it. It ‘burns’ my tissues, inside and out. Same for other foods and substances. I can’t touch the inside of a tomato or even a raw butternut squash without feeling like it is burning my skin. When I eat those foods and other more ‘acidic’ ones like vinegar, fruits, certain vegetables, all my salivary, lacrimal and other glands throughout my head, neck and under my collarbone ‘burn’ as well and I get a slight edema (swelling) throughout my body. $10 to the first person who comes up with an accurate, definitive diagnosis and treatment plan.

  41. Harriet Hall says:

    Simple. MSG intolerance. Avoidance.

  42. Chris says:

    Actually, lots of people react to butternut squash. It has a sap that is protective, and some people get a rash from it.

    I react to butternut squash, but not tomatoes. Though I can understand some of the acidity in the tomato, plus it is in the nightshade family. The stems do seem to irritate my hands, so I try to use my garden gloves around the plants.

    I also find I have some reactions in my mouth from foods with lots of tannins, like walnuts, dark dark chocolate, etc. But it is because of the dry sensation, and I remedy that by following with fluids. (Coffee or red wine after the chocolate!)

    You might want to check to see if you are a “super taster.” Last year I spent an entire evening trying to get the horrible taste of the test paper out of my mouth. It did seem to explain some of my sensitivities which include cilantro (I hate soap flavored food), and my revulsion to places with heavy scents like candle stores, cosmetic stores and any place that burns incense (as a college student in the late 1970s there were several stores near campus that I would put one step in and immediately spin around to leave).

    By the way there are other weird genetic food sensitivities that go around. The cilantro bit is actually separate from the super taster bit, and many folks of Asian descent have their faces flush with red after drinking alcohol (which is why some of my friends could not hide from their parents their first experience with beer or wine).

  43. mousethatroared says:

    @Lytrigian – Yes it was me who maligned the use of MSG in my Shake n’ Bake. If it’s the primary flavor in Accent, then that may be why I’m not crazy about it. I always hated Accent…and chicken bullion that has no actual chicken in it – only salt and MSG. Although I love Udon from our local restaurant and the seaweed has something similar, doesn’t it?

    Am I allowed to dislike particular flavors without scientific evidence?

  44. mousethatroared says:

    @Chris – You should see the women in my family dodging through the perfume section at a department store. Those perfume tester ladies are a hazard.

  45. mousethatroared says:

    Whoops “Am I allowed to dislike particular flavors without scientific evidence?” Was much snippier than called for.

    Sorry about that Lytrigian.

  46. Narad says:

    By the way there are other weird genetic food sensitivities that go around.

    I’ve come to suspect that this is in play with some component of wormwood, as Jeppson’s Malört has become a “thing” in Chicago, and at a gathering last summer, there were two of us out of perhaps 50 who had no unpleasant response to its bitterness at all. This was a good number, as the place only had two rocks glasses to start with.

  47. Chris says:

    I discovered my issues with the skin of butternut squash from the ones I grew for the first time in my garden. My solution, along with other foods like hot peppers is to handle them with gloves. I also am picky where I eat Mexican food (right now, it is one food truck near the hardware store), or make my own. I also make more Chinese dishes than I buy (I like the restaurant down the street, but it uses lots of oil).

    On some random podcast I listened to this morning I heard that every person has a unique genetic code. There is lots and lots of variation, so there is no reason why something as complicated as taste and reaction would be complicated even more by the variety of chemicals in food.

  48. pilotgrrl says:

    Six unnamed White Sox players. Most likely none of the team’s starters, and probably something Ozzie consented to back in the day. I believe this kind of snake oil would be of far more benefit to the Cubs, who will never win a World Series until the Billy Goat’s curse has been lifted. Just sayin’…as we Sox fans say.

  49. Amalthea says:

    As far as the discussion on Name brand vs Store brand, the following is my own experience with ready to eat French Onion Dip from the dairy section:
    Most expensive: Kraft Dip is vegetable oil with other ingredients, only one of which even comes from milk.
    Mid priced French onion Dip: Part vegetable oil and part cultured milk with other ingredients.
    Store brand Dip: Cultured milk with other ingredients.

    When I was a child buying Name Brand meant buying quality. Nowadays sometimes you are simply buying the name. You must look carefully at the ingredient list to determine whether or not it’s actually worth the price.

  50. Lytrigian says:

    Whoops “Am I allowed to dislike particular flavors without scientific evidence?” Was much snippier than called for.

    Not least because liking or not liking it isn’t even at issue. But you probably do since you like the seaweed, and not only is that rich in glutamate, it was the main source for it at the beginning of the 20th century. You probably don’t like it when it’s overused, which is easy to do when it’s in pure form.

    I’m not sure there’s anything in Accent *but* MSG. I’m also not sure there’s any bouillon that does NOT fit your description. Most of them will have at least a token amount of actual chicken in, but even bouillon that proclaims “NO ADDED MSG” cheat. Look for hydrolyzed vegetable proteins, since they provide lots of anionic glutamine, MSG in all but the sodium cation. Since they don’t add MSG per se, they can claim that there are “naturally occurring glutamates” instead. Only, that’s pretty much a flat-out lie, since there’s nothing natural about hydrolyzed vegetable proteins.

  51. Sialis says:

    I’m also not sure there’s any bouillon that does NOT fit your description. Most of them will have at least a token amount of actual chicken in, but even bouillon that proclaims “NO ADDED MSG” cheat.

    The Kitchen Basics brand of stock (broth) does not seem to have any of these types of additives. You can use it just like bouillon.

  52. Narad says:

    I’m not sure there’s anything in Accent *but* MSG.

    Only ingredient on the label. I would at least have expected an anticaking agent offhand, but apparently it’s not hygroscopic.

  53. mousethatroared says:

    I said – Whoops “Am I allowed to dislike particular flavors without scientific evidence?” Was much snippier than called for.

    Lytrigianon “Not least because liking or not liking it isn’t even at issue.”

    Well my original statement was – “I know MSG isn’t harmful, but I’m still leery of a food additive that’s sole purpose seems to be to replace actual seasonings that I know and enjoy.”

    Maybe – you are now mixing me up with Sialis, who has the health issues with MSG. But I think when I refer to seasonings I enjoy, that liking would be THE issue.

    It may be similar to my issue with sugar (corn syrup, etc) A lot of store bought food now relies on the sweet so much, there is no other flavor in it (at least that I can taste) or salt – Like you said, it may be when it’s over used, or overly relied on that I don’t enjoy.

  54. mousethatroared says:

    Regarding chicken bullion…Well there you go, I guess that’s why I always use stock or broth.

  55. mousethatroared says:

    Sialis – Has Sjögren’s syndrome been checked on?

  56. BillyJoe says:

    I didn’t know flies could get sjogrens.

  57. Sialis says:

    @Mouse – Yes, the Schirmer’s and blood tests for Sjogrens are both negative. Thanks for asking.

  58. Scott says:

    @ Sialis:

    I find it striking that you mention a reaction to tomatoes. Know what they happen to have a lot of? Glutamate.

    @ MSII:

    Somehow I’m not surprised to find another Cook’s Illustrated reader here. They do have a very scientific – one might even say skeptical – bent that I rather like.

  59. Chris says:

    This food detour is actually quite fascinating. Foods are made of chemicals, and some that one cannot pronounce*. I suspect there could be several SBM articles on food tolerances, reactions, disorders, allergies and on and on.

    * Conversation with my niece, she said she does not lie buying things where she cannot pronounce what is on the label. I told her some of those things are everyday stuff that one encounters in food without question.

  60. mousethatroared says:

    @Chris – the thing that makes it confusing for me (a person who is neither chemically or phonetically talented) is the mixture of unpronounceable thing that are perfectly harmless, unpronounceable things that you should limit, pronounceable things that are harmless, pronounceable things that you should limit. You got your kinds of fats and your kinds of fish and your salt(s) and sugars (not so much which suger, but how much) fibers, then dietary issue (husband lactose intolerate allergies of schoolmates)…And that doesn’t even cover what I like or dislike or the question of quality of flavors.

    The one thing about pronounceable ingredients is that they are slightly easier for me to remember and recognize on a label – although I don’t always recall what I’m supposed to do about it.

    It is this modern age, I guess, I have just enough information to make me slightly worried about what I’m supposed to eat, but not enough knowledge, memory or determination to easily understand or practice intricate requirements. hehe.

  61. Lytrigian says:

    Well my original statement was – “I know MSG isn’t harmful, but I’m still leery of a food additive that’s sole purpose seems to be to replace actual seasonings that I know and enjoy.”

    Yes, and I stand by my point that the way MSG is used it’s not meant to replace anything. It’s meant to add a flavor to the food that otherwise wouldn’t be there at all.

    That may not have been clear as I said it originally, but my confusion over who said what where was purely momentary. Can’t edit posts here though.

  62. Lytrigian says:

    I find it striking that you mention a reaction to tomatoes. Know what they happen to have a lot of? Glutamate.

    But the other foods he (or she?) mentioned don’t. Again, even pure MSG has not been shown to elicit any reaction from people in controlled double-blind studies, even when the participants are people who are sure they’re sensitive to it.

    A former (now retired) co-worker of mine claimed a sensitivity to anything from the nightshade family, including tomatoes and potatoes, with a reaction similar to what Sialis describes. It cannot have been a glutamate sensitivity in his case because he also ate a whole lot of miso and seaweed — actually, he put the seaweed in his miso, for a double glutamate whammy — and it didn’t bother him in the least.

  63. Scott says:

    Oh, I’m not claiming it’s significant – just interesting.

  64. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Scott,

    After over 15 years I am finally cancelling my CI subscription. I am fed up of their relentlessness trying to sell me more and more products (it’s like scientology!) and every second recipe in their online data bank is now “premium” and requires an additional payment. I get more spam from them then from all other spammers.

    I also read a very revealing piece on the founder of the CI empire in The New York Times and he came off like a real, first-class, humourless dick. He is autocratic, treats his staff like crap and lives a hypocritical lifestyle. I decided I didn’t need to support someone like that anymore.

    I get all the recipes I need for free at the King Arthur site. I’d gladly pay them an annual fee for access, but I do buy many of their products so I guess that’s their payoff.

    Didn’t mean to derail this thread. Back to MLM oils.

  65. Chris says:

    MSII:

    After over 15 years I am finally cancelling my CI subscription.

    I cancelled all but specific hobby magazines, and then just go to my local library to read them. There are plenty of places online for recipes.

  66. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Chris,

    As much as I’ve embraced the digital age (Kindle instead of books, I just ripped my 1000-CD collection to a hard drive using FLAC in order to rid myself of most physical media like discs and books) I still enjoy opening a brand-new issue of a magazine and reading it wherever and whenever. I do get other magazines but cancelled CI on principle. I admit after 15 years I will miss it, but will get over it.

    I live in a city with very few English language librairies and the ones we have are not convenient to me, but I used to check out magazines regularly when I lived in a different city. I saved a ton.

  67. Chris says:

    Ah, I see. Having lived overseas, I understand. When my brother switched to a job that means moving to a different country every other year his purchases from Amazon skyrocketed (he was the one that turned me onto checking movie DVDs out from the library).

  68. Narad says:

    I also read a very revealing piece on the founder of the CI empire in The New York Times and he came off like a real, first-class, humourless dick.

    Some of the rather long interviews that aired on their companion radio show last fall gave me a strong sense that Kimball is quite open to food-related nonsense. One was on biodynamics, but I don’t recall the others, and their audio archive doesn’t seem to be well indexed.

  69. Narad says:

    Oh, and the butterflied turkey recipe is simply bad. I’m surprised they still pimp it.

  70. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Biodynamics: don’t get me started. many people, including my city’s wine writers and food critics, think it’s another word for organic. I once tried explaining to an up-and-coming sommeliere what it really means, including the superstitions, the phases of the moon, Steiner, racism, etc. I might not have made an immediate impression but she seemed like the kind of person who would look into it on her own. Sometimes Google has more effect than a human-to-human conversation.

  71. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Having been hooked years ago on Chris Kimball’s brand of science-based cooking and lush magazines, I hate the fact that every year I drop easily a couple hundred dollars on website memberships, premium memberships, magazine subscriptions and at least two cookbooks every year. I hate the fact that I own the same pie dough recipe six times over (and now seven, with the purchase of The Science of Good Cooking).

    Hate it. But can’t stop myself.

    That is a damned good pie dough recipe.

    Did you know you can buy the annuals for Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country and get all that year’s recipes in a single bound hardcover, for roughly the price of a website membership or magazine subscription? Why don’t I just do that instead? WHY DO I OWN SEVEN COPIES OF THE SAME PIE DOUGH RECIPE!?!?!?!? WHY CAN’T I STOP!?!??!??!! DAMN YOU CHRIS KIMBALL AND YOUR FHTAGN BOW TIES!!!! YOU ARE MY FOOD OPRAH!!!!

    Thus proving that skepticism and critical thinking is not applied universally across all domains. Fhtagn.

  72. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    The recipe with the vodka? Me too, I’ve seen it reprinted and reused in many of their publications. It’s one of their signatures, but if you read the NYT profile there are allegations it was stolen from someone else and CI took credit for this “breakthrough”.

    I thought they made you buy the print subscription before you could buy the bound annuals. You also need to be a print subscriber before you can sign up for the online version. There’s no way to only get the online version, unless things have changed.

    That was one of the biggest bones of contention on the CI discussion boards a while ago.

    I’d ditch the paper version for a digital version but don’t need to be forced to buy both.

  73. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    It looks like things have changed then, I’ve had a subscription to both website and magazine (Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country) as well as just a website subscription.

    I still like both – I like the searchability of the website, and the browsability of the print versions. Plus, they seem to be covered in powdered cocaine, since I can’t seem to stop buying them on a quasi-monthly basis.

    Fhtagn them.

    But, unlike most SCAMs, at least the recipes do indeed work, even if you’ve got six of them.

    You might be thinking of the almost no-knead bread, that was stolen-and-modified from a NYT food editor.

    Fhtagn good bread though. And super easy.

  74. pilotgrrl says:

    The book Cooking for Geeks is a lot more fun and omits all the pushiness/preaching in CI. Some of their product reviews are just plain stupid. One needs very few dedicated household chemicals. A solvent (isopropyl alcohol), an abrasive (sodium bicarbonate and in some cases, short-grain rice), a bleach (sodium peroxide), and a soap (dish soap of your choice) will take care of a lot of your cleaning needs. You might need a bit more elbow grease, a plastic/soft wire scrubber, some q-tips/toothpicks and stuff like that, but most people have that stuff anyway…

  75. Narad says:

    Biodynamics: don’t get me started.

    I guess I’ve been complaining about this… elsewhere since before last fall. Behold episode 112.

  76. Marc Stephens Is Insane says:

    Why can’t they just stick to testing the best blenders and designing recipes? Why the woo, especially since the magazine cuts through a lot of myths and shatters traditional thinking.

    That detox doctor has also appeared on, and I’m shocked, Dr. Oz. And Martha Stewart.

    It seems like he’s another real doctor who has gone over to the dark side. What a shame:

    Dr. Alejandro Junger was born in Uruguay. He graduated from medical school there in 1990 and moved to New York City for his postgraduate training. He completed three years of training in Internal Medicine at NYU Downtown Hospital and three more years of fellowship in Cardiovascular Diseases at Lenox Hill Hospital.

    His drastic change in lifestyle and diet from his move to New York City soon reflected as irritable bowel syndrome and depression. Becoming a patient of the system he was practicing was such a shock, that it started a journey to search for an alternative solution to his health problems.

    His findings are the subject of his first book, Clean. In it, Dr. Junger describes how he became aware of the toxicity of our planet. He also explains how detoxification and cleansing have been around for thousands of years, but knowledge about them has been lost at at time when it is more important than ever before. Most importantly, Clean is a manual for readers to learn how to turn our detoxification systems on full speed while supporting our bodies to maximize their effectiveness.

    Dr. Junger now lives in New York City, where he practices at the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and is also designing an Integrative Medicine Service at Lenox Hill Hospital, for which he was asked to be the Director of Integrative Medicine.

  77. Narad says:

    Why can’t they just stick to testing the best blenders and designing recipes?

    I don’t think they have enough content. The choices made to fill the void (and the show airs in repeat a lot anyway) can to some extent be blamed on the production staff, but the ongoing credulousness suggests that it has an editorial imprimatur.

  78. mousethatroared says:

    Lytrigian “But the other foods he (or she?) mentioned don’t. Again, even pure MSG has not been shown to elicit any reaction from people in controlled double-blind studies, even when the participants are people who are sure they’re sensitive to it.”

    Do you have a link to this study that isn’t behind a pay wall? One of the wiki-reference to a study says “In a different study done by Geha et al. (2000), they tested the reaction of 130 subjects that reported sensitivity to MSG. Multiple DBPC trials were performed and only subjects with at least two symptoms proceeded. Only two people out of the whole study responded in all four challenges. Because of this low prevalence, the researchers concluded that the response to MSG was not reproducible.[23]”

    The source link doesn’t give enough info to explain why the two subjects were not considered to have a true intolerance or if the conclusion was merely that intolerences were considered rare.

  79. mousethatroared says:

    @Sialis – Tell me if I’m annoying you, but here’s another one.

    Has Salicylate sensitivity been considered?

  80. Sialis says:

    @Mouse – You’re not annoying me. It’s more than a sensitivity though. I get those transverse nail ridges following the flares. I have other symptoms like tremors, spasms and severe muscle tightness in the neck and along the spine with weird head pressure and pain. It’s not sudden onset.

  81. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Late comment to Chris and MTR:

    Conversation with my niece, she said she does not lie buying things where she cannot pronounce what is on the label. I told her some of those things are everyday stuff that one encounters in food without question.

    the thing that makes it confusing for me [snip] is the mixture of unpronounceable thing that are perfectly harmless, unpronounceable things that you should limit, pronounceable things that are harmless, pronounceable things that you should limit

    I had a similar conversation with a co-worker recently. My comments were:
    - this disregards the work that goes into testing the safety and efficacy of food additives
    - the dose is in the poison, generally you’re getting tiny amounts of these ingredients
    - they serve a purpose, by avoiding 5-3′ L-guadalawhatheveraminovespuchi you may:
    – increase your risk of food poisoning (if it’s a preservative)
    – increase the cost of your food (if it increases shelf life)
    – reduce the pleasure of eating (if it improves flavour)

    I believe my final comment was along the lines of “if you really want to reduce your risk of cancer, don’t smoke”. When they’re not even sure if something causes cancer after years of study, perhaps there’s better things to worry about. I trust the experts, even if they’re wrong, they’re generally not spectacularly wrong.

    I see these concerns as along the lines of the SCAM claims that if we just do X (where X is eat or do not eat something – meat, wheat – or do or do not do something – use cell phones, vaccinate) we will live forever in perfect health. The reality seems to be we all die of something but we reduce the risk if we take some basic, well-known steps. Get vaccinated, exercise regularly, don’t smoke, eat well and try to enjoy yourself. A compound that might, if consumed by the pound, increase your risk of one type of cancer by less than one percentage point, is something I am comfortable eating once a month.

    The discussions of credulous woo on Cooks Illustrated – where do people see it? The editorials? I’ve read the NYT piece and agree with most readers that it’s not really worth reading (in Cooks Country the only reason I spend tim on the page is to look for the rooster). I’ve read a lot of magazines cover-to-cover, the only time I’ve ever seen mention of something close is when they review organic products (i.e. ketchup, chickens) and they don’t seem to recommend organic stuff any more than nonorganic. I’m curious, since biodynamic would perk my skeptical antennae and I would have complained about it to my significant other.

  82. mousethatroared says:

    WLU – You see my concerns over mercury in fish, different kinds of fats consumption and heart health and overall sugar consumption and finding foods to suit someone with lactose intolerance and protect classmates with food allergies as similar to concerns with cellphones?

  83. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    @MTR

    Naw, my reply is a mish-mash of three differeint things – Chris’ statement, yours and my co-worker’s. Really my comment about cellphones and vaccines is aimed more at my co-worker’s statements – worrying about whether eating this box of phenylalanine-containing ice cream over the course of a couple weeks causing cancer. Your statements about mercury, fats, sugars, lactose intolerance and food allergies are (in my opinion, for the hapenny it is worth) valid, evidence-based ones, the kinds of worries that make sense to me. Your concerns about being able to pronounce all the ingredients in the list however, is not something I would worry about.

    Again I default to experts. Genuine experts say that we should limit mercury-containing fish consumption, as well as certain types of fats and sugars. The consensus of the medical community is that lactose intolerance is real, uncomfortable and treatable in a variety of ways. Food allergies are deadly. Genuine experts place cellphones in a totally different category. The failure to recognize an ingredient on a list of ingredients is less of a concern to me than the fact that there isn’t an international consensus that it is harmful.

  84. mousethatroared says:

    Sialis – My next guess was going to be histimine intolerance. But it sounds like I’m stumped. I suppose I could make up something about an intolerance throwing off your system enough to cause hormonal imbalances that cause the other issues…but that’s grasping at straws and sounds pretty suspect. :(

    Hope your medical folks are working on finding you some relief.

  85. mousethatroared says:

    WLU Actually, your example of your coworker is a perfect example of my aversion to long chemical names.
    “worrying about whether eating this box of phenylalanine-containing ice cream over the course of a couple weeks causing cancer”

    I can’t take most cold medicine because the main ingredient, Pseudoephedrine makes me hyper, sleepless, irritable. To be more accurate, I can take it. I won’t kill me. But it’s not worth the misery.

    But all I can remember in the store is ‘long word that starts with a P’. I’m sure that’s rather pitiful to those of you who are scientically inclined. So, forever, I got Phenylalaine confused with Pseudophedrine. This is before all the publicity about meth and Pseudophedrine, so I just thought they may be the same or related chemicals which may or may not have the same effect, but not worth the misery of an experiment. :)

  86. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    I will admit, having a bit of a science background (enough to break the words down into more memorizable chunks, not enough to understand what they mean) does make it easier to parse ingredient lists. Didn’t prevent me from buying two bottles of cough syrup that had exactly the same ingredients, in exactly the same dose, in different packaging. I literally bought one bottle of Benadryl Cough and Cold (red box) and another bottle of Benadryl Mucous and Phlegm (green box) without realizing they both contained 200 mg of pseudoephidrine and 20 mg of dehexobromide (colours, names, quantities and ingredients altered to protect me from having to be accurate). Felt quite stupid when I got home.

    But if I’m reading your comment right, you’re concerned over the specific effects of specific chemicals on your body. When there is evidence of specific harm (mercury in fish, allergies, fats, sugar), you incorporate this into your buying decision but you are less worried about chemicals you don’t recognize being carcinogenic. Put another way, you’re worried about phenylalanine wiring you up, not about a scoop of ice cream with phenylalanine causing cancer in 26 years. Correct?

  87. mousethatroared says:

    That’s right WLU – I’m more concerned about short terms effects AND/OR just trying to comply with recommendations.

    Regarding cancer, One thing I find helpful in the “foods that may cause cancer” realm is to look for sources that put the risks into an understandable perspective. Often risks are stated to be 200 times greater risk (for example) But then if you can find a good analysis, it will explain that that 200 times greater actually equates to a 6 month (or 6 weeks or 1 year) greater lifespan give or take a few years. This helps and if you tell someone else, you’ll often see the light go on.

    The was a good analysis of the “red meat causes cancer” research that I read recently that showed this. I’ll have to see if I can remember where I found it.

    To be honest, I don’t worry about cancer to much, maybe I should worry more, considering that all my deceased relatives have died from cancer or strokes. Maybe I just figure I’m doomed in that respect. :)

  88. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Somewhere I once read that if people are serious about reducing their risk of cancer to live longer, the best thing to do is avoid smoking. Nearly every other cause of cancer contributed, in relative terms, so small a burden or increased risk that it was almost not worth worrying about for the individual. Perhaps worth intervening at a population-level.

    Not to mention, the greatest source of carcinogens seem to be plants. Dr. Hall linked to a journal article a while ago by a biochemist who looked into common chemicals in food and found a surprising number of them. The take-home message seemed to be “it’s complicated”, as is all science.

    I’m with Michael Pollan – eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

  89. Narad says:

    The discussions of credulous woo on Cooks Illustrated – where do people see it? The editorials?

    WLU, I’m talking about some of the interview segments I’ve been hearing on “America’s Test Kitchen Radio,” which is another of their products (basically designed to get you to sign up for endless marketing after being led to the Web site).

  90. mousethatroared says:

    WLU -”I’m with Michael Pollan – eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Yeah – he also said eat what your great grandma ate… :)

  91. mousethatroared says:

    WLU “Somewhere I once read that if people are serious about reducing their risk of cancer to live longer”…

    Just wanted to add that I like how you put this, so often people say “to avoid cancer” or similar. My father smoked for years, then quit in his mid-forties because he was experiencing the beginning of hardening of the arteries. He was incredibly healthy into his 80′s. He did die from cancer at 82, and it was from the kind of cancer caused by smoking, but it’s pretty hard not to be convinced that his life was much better, most probably longer because he quite smoking.

    Those of us who never smoked are helpless, though. :) I suppose regular exercise is the next best step for interventions that can improve your health (long term, short term).

    Now I’m thinking about this because my husband’s getting new insurance and I think it’s going to be a program that has health incentives (or fines, depending upon how you view it). I’m wondering how evidence based their criteria and interventions will be.

  92. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    WLU, I’m talking about some of the interview segments I’ve been hearing on “America’s Test Kitchen Radio,” which is another of their products (basically designed to get you to sign up for endless marketing after being led to the Web site).

    Ah, the one media by ATK that I do not consume :) And how correct you are about the “endless marketing”.

    That being said, my wife bought me their recommended spatula (Wustof fish spatula, at an absurdly profligate cost of $60) and it is a great spatula.

    @MTR
    Ya, the next step is indeed exercise. In fact, I’ve heard that if you’ve the choice between doing both (exercise and smoking) or neither (no exercise or smoking) you’re actually better off to puff away while jogging!

    But overall the best thing to do is to be born with good genes. In the same classes I heard “if you’re going to smoke, for God’s sake do it while jogging” I also heard about those few fortunate souls who can do whatever they want to their bodies and die peacefully in their at the age of 103, their sole concession to their advanced age being they gave up wrestling alligators. Life’s not fair :)

    Feel free to tag this post with [citation needed], dearly would I love to have said citations!

  93. mousethatroared says:

    Oh well, I would have thought that the smoking would make the jogging more difficult, thus less jogging in smokers.

    But I don’t know that, just speculation.

  94. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

    Hah, it’s not like my comment is anything beyond vaguaries and fourth-hand information :) I see your speculation and raise you a decade old anecdote!

  95. Narad says:

    That being said, my wife bought me their recommended spatula (Wustof fish spatula, at an absurdly profligate cost of $60) and it is a great spatula.

    Mercy. But, yah, the product reviews (at the end) are the highlight of the radio program. The recipes are dealt with in a sketchy fashion that is meant to drive listeners to the site, whereupon a signup is required to view the goods.

  96. Narad says:

    Oh well, I would have thought that the smoking would make the jogging more difficult, thus less jogging in smokers.

    I cannot help but be reminded of William Hurt in Body Heat.

  97. Lytrigian says:

    I also heard about those few fortunate souls who can do whatever they want to their bodies and die peacefully in their at the age of 103, their sole concession to their advanced age being they gave up wrestling alligators.

    I don’t think my 85 year old uncle skydives as often as he used to, if that’s a useful data point.

  98. Calli Arcale says:

    mousethatroared:

    WLU -”I’m with Michael Pollan – eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    Yeah – he also said eat what your great grandma ate…

    I can live with that. After all, *my* great-grandmother’s dying words were “always use real butter.” Seriously. ;-)

  99. operabuff100 says:

    I’m a registered nurse; the hospital I work in is offering classes in aromatherapy and even offers an annual bonus for certification in aromatherapy. Seriously.

  100. Rrite says:

    Well, I am an open-minded person, so I like to try new things – as long as their legal! I purchased one of the intro kits from doTerra – the Family Physician’s kit. I tried the following oils and personally saw the following results on me:

    1) Melaluca – rubbed on throat where glands were swollen and sore – soreness went away within minutes, no sore throat developed.
    2) Eycalyptus – rubbed on chest when I felt a chesty type of cough coming on – feeling went away that day.
    3) Uncontrolled coughing – dabbed a little peppermint oil on my tongue – swished it around because I was in the car and didn’t have any water, cough immediately stopped and did not return until hours later – did the peppermint drop right away again – cough went away – next day, no cough at all.

    And, going back to the second day of what I figured was going to be a horrible cold/sinus infection – I put two drops of peppermint, two drops of lemon and two drops of melaluca in a veggie cap and took three times a day for three days – plus I drank a drop of melaluca in my water during the day for five days. All cold symptoms were gone within 6 days, and I never developed anything more than a runny nose and sneezing. No sore throat, no cough, headaches, and best of all, no sinus infection! Three others in my office developed the sinus infection!

    Sleeping through the night. I usually have insomnia – and I will admit, there have been a couple nights the blend didn’t work, but 99.9 percent of the time when I rub doTerra’s Serenity blend on my feet, I fall asleep within a short time and sleep soundly through the night. (Despite my husband’s snoring!)

    My husband breaks out with a rash on his legs – this last time, I put Lavender on him, the rash went away, and no itching.

    Right now, I’m using Oregano on a mole – it is rather large, noncancerous, but in a bad location, so it makes me uncomfortable – I have been applying Oregano on it daily – I’ll let you know when (if) it falls off.

    I believe that doctor’s are still necessary, but why rush to a doctor if you can cure yourself? The oils aren’t going to hurt you, and the ones that are used most commonly really aren’t that expensive, especially when I think how much I usually spend on cold remedies, that really don’t remedy anything!

    It’s good to be skeptical, but don’t poopoo doTerra because it is a MLM – that’s just the price of business – plus, I love that they have soo much info and training on how to use the oils – if you bought this from the healthfood store – you wouldn’t know half of what to do with the oils.

    So, go blow a few bucks – buy an oil that might help you!

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