I was recently asked by a reader to take a look at a product that had been recommended for deworming their dog, Verm-X. Unfortunately, there is little I can say about this product since, as is all too often the case, the manufacturer manages to make a good living selling it without having to generate any scientific information about the effectiveness or safety of the product. There are, as usual, many classic signs of snake oil:
Broad claims of efficacy and safety given without evidence.
A “kitchen sink” combination of ingredients with no research evidence on the combination and little to no evidence supporting use of the individual components.
Vague references to scientific validation with no actual published studies.
Reliance on testimonials to convince potential customers.
What Is It?
The company web site lists the ingredients for the dog product as:
Ingredients include: Allum sativum [garlic, should be allium];
Cinnamomum zelandicum [cinnamon, should be zeylanicum]
Mentha piperita [peppermint]
Thymus vulgaris [thyme]
Galium aperine [herb with various names]
Capsicum minimum [cayenne pepper]
Brown Rice, Poultry Meal, Refined Chicken Fat, Beet Pulp, Potato, Potato Starch, Verm-X Canine Blend, Brewers Yeast, Chicken Liver, Salmon Oil, Seaweed, Green Tea Extract, Prebiotic FOS, Prebiotic MOS, Minerals and Vitamins.
Though I haven’t gone through every one of their products, the herbal components appear to be the same for all species, with some differences in the other ingredients (flavors, vitamins, etc)
Does It Work?
As is so often the case with these unregulated concoctions, the bottom line answer is “who knows?” Apart from the garlic, which has been demonstrated to be ineffective as a flea control product and can cause an oxidative anemia in dogs and cats, I was able to find no published evidence concerning the safety and effectiveness of these ingredients, nor the combination, as parasite control. One of the company sites does say, “ Successful trials at Plumpton College, West Sussex have been carried out on its action as repellent of internal parasites.” I have not been able to locate any such studies in any directory of published research or on the company sites.
As usual with such products, the absence of evidence probably is evidence of absence, since any convincing scientific research support would be an invaluable marketing tool. The company has been fined in New Zealand for unsupported medical claims about its product, but enforcement of what little regulation there is for veterinary herbal products in the U.S. is virtually non-existent, so no proof of any sort is likely to be required here.
With a hodgepodge of unproven herbal ingredients, no apparent research evidence to show the product is safe or effective, and a number of warning signs, I would not recommend this product. Available conventional parasite products have abundant research evidence of safety and efficacy and are a better choice.