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PERSPECTIVES ON THE DR. OZ AFFAIR

by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dr-OZ1Dr. Mehmet Oz is a name that is so trusted for health advice in our media these days that he can make a recommendation for a dietary supplement or health product one day, and stores sell out of that same product the very next day.  As such, he belongs to a very exclusive club, the likes of which include such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey – who first invited him on to her show as her “go to” doctor to discuss various health issues of the day and make his recommendations.  With patronage from the most respected lady in daytime TV, it wasn’t long before Dr. Oz developed a huge following of his own.  The huge amount of trust and respect that Dr. Oz commands, and the huge influence he wields on the viewing public, have put him in a very enviable position indeed.

So, it is not that surprising that Dr. Oz has come under a lot of fire recently, ostensibly for hawking herbal and nutritional supplements which many have branded as “quack treatments”.  In fact, a group of ten doctors got together and wrote a letter to Columbia University’s medical school, at which Dr. Oz holds a faculty post, demanding that he be fired by the University for promoting these treatments.  He was even summoned before congress and cross examined for promoting what many have claimed to be dubious supplements and treatments that many claim have departed from what they call evidence based medicine.  In the process, Dr. Oz has come under a lot of fire from those who have their doubts about the safety and/or efficacy of the products and treatments he is recommending, whether they are motivated by a professional or industry agenda, or just plain skeptical about health supplements in general.

Dr. Oz chose to passionately defend himself and tackle his attackers head on, exposing them for who they were.  Many worked for conservative think tanks and had a vested interest in defending GMOs, or genetically modified foods, and the current anti-labeling status quo in the United States.  It turns out that another doctor who signed the letter had been implicated in major Medicaid fraud.  Defending the public’s right to know what is in our food, and advocating for GMO labeling is one of the things that Dr. Oz supports.  Dr. Oz passionately proclaimed that he would not be silenced in a TV announcement to confront his critics.  Identifying his critics, the ten doctors who signed the letter to get him fired, and their ties to the GMO industry, Dr. Oz brought the GMO issue front and center, suggesting that perhaps this was the real reason these doctors wanted him silenced.

And he may well be right.  Polls show that about 90 percent of Americans would like for GMO foods and ingredients in foods to be labeled as such.  From a moral, ethical, and even a common sense standpoint, GMO labeling just makes sense.  GMO advocates claim that GMO foods are no different from, and just as safe as, non-GMO food, whereas GMO opponents claim that GMO foods have not been adequately researched and tested, and may not be safe.  But leaving this obvious controversy aside, doesn’t the public have the right to know what is in their food?  Even ingredients which are not controversial are routinely labeled because someone can have an adverse reaction to virtually any food ingredient.  People are very health conscious these days, and many are choosing to buy organic – and these same people don’t want to be inadvertently buying and eating genetically modified foods.  And who can blame them?

Perhaps the real reason why Dr. Oz’s critics have mounted this attack against him for promoting what they claim to be “quack treatments” is because they know that they could get much more sympathy from the public on this issue than if they chose to attack him on what is their real agenda: his stance on GMO foods, and having them labeled.  With the vast majority of the American public supporting GMO labeling, they could not get any sympathy or support from the public on that issue.  But if they silence Dr. Oz and shut him down for these alleged “quack treatments”, they have also silenced a powerful voice for GMO labeling as well.  So, the recent attacks on Dr. Oz could very well be summed up as a stealth or false flag operation.

What the recent attacks on Dr. Oz have made clear is that there is still a lot of widespread skepticism and even downright opposition to herbal and dietary supplements, and how to regulate the industry.  The spectrum of opinion on these matters is quite diverse, and runs all over the map.  The supplement and health food industry still has powerful opponents in high places who would like nothing better than to shut it down for good.  Many of those who profess skepticism about dietary supplements even allege that the basic quality and purity of the ingredients contained in these supplements is highly questionable, but in my experience, if you do your research and homework, and buy your supplements from a reputable company, the quality, potency and purity is pretty consistent and reliable.

But what about the claims that Dr. Oz and others have made for these supplements?  Haven’t they gone way over the top in touting them?  Here again, opinions range from unqualified support and agreement with these claims, or at least the freedom of speech for Dr. Oz and others to make them in a free and democratic society, to downright condemnation of these claims as misleading and dangerous.  Those who make powerful claims for health and dietary supplements are often stigmatized as “snake oil salesmen” by skeptics in the media.  But where does the truth lie?  Are these health and dietary supplements powerful therapeutic tools and allies in the improvement of one’s health, or are they worthless frauds, preying upon the gullible and infirm?  Or does the truth lie somewhere in between?

In watching current videos on the whole Dr. Oz affair, I heard a very important point being made:  That Dr. Oz, or any other licensed physician who touts or makes claims for a certain health or dietary supplement on TV isn’t, in the strict sense of the word, practicing medicine – they are simply educating and informing the public about what their general opinion is on these products and what they can do.  The actual practice of medicine, on the other hand, is a much more personalized affair, and involves the personal clinical assessment of the patient by the physician in order to recommend or prescribe the treatment or remedy that is best suited for them – on an individual, personalized basis.  And so, if you see Dr. Oz, or any other media doctor or expert touting some nutritional or dietary supplement on TV, it is up to you to do your homework and find out if that would be the right treatment for you – and in that process, it is often, perhaps even usually, a wise option to consult with a physician or licensed healthcare practitioner.

As a general rule, herbs, vitamins and nutritional supplements are generally of a much milder nature and character than pharmaceutical drugs.  And because they are generally gentler and milder, they are usually not as sure to work for treating or correcting the condition or symptom that you are using it for as taking a pharmaceutical drug would be.  But then, on the positive side of the leger, you don’t have all the negative or adverse side effects that you experience with pharmaceutical drugs either.  In the United Sates, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements are classified as a food product, which reflects their generally gentler, milder, more nutritive nature and character.  Actually, supplements fall somewhere in between food and medicine, and when you take them, you are, in a sense, following Hippocrates’ dictum to let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.

And so, taking those pills of Green Coffee Bean Extract may not melt away the fat on your belly just as magically as Dr. Oz said it would.  It’s up to you to do your research and homework on that matter, and find out just how well those Green Coffee Beans are suited for melting away that fat in your case.  And, as part of that process, you shouldn’t be averse to seeking the personal advice and guidance of a physician or healthcare practitioner.  Those Green Coffee Beans, or those Sea Buckthorn Berries, or whatever, may have an impressive amount of clinical research to back them up, but this is no guarantee or substitute for personal, individualized guidance and treatment from a licensed physician or health professional.

Source Videos for Further Study

In the preparation of this blog posting, I watched several videos about my subject, and drew from them as source material.  I will provide you with the links to them below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY1ziaA6os8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkzGNDNovu4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgApDJwc4Ow

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