Same Snake Oil, Different Day

Knowing that I have an interest in investigating the evidence behind claims for veterinary healthcare products, clients and colleagues sometimes pass along materials concerning veterinary supplements, herbal remedies, and other similar products and ask my opinion. Since there are hundreds, if not thousands of products marketed to pet owners to preserve or restore their pets’ health, I can only look into a few. However, the more of these I investigate, the more clearly I see the patterns of disregard for science and manipulation of the consumer that they have in common.

The latest in this category is a collection of products from a company called The website and pamphlet for this company exhibits nearly all of the warning signs of quackery. The company systematically tries to frighten the consumer by suggesting that pets cannot be healthy without their product and that the food and healthcare they are currently getting is inadequate.

Give Your Pet a Fighting Chance

If you are feeding your pet one of today’s popular processed pet foods, then chances are, your pet’s body is depleted of the primary enzyme precursors nature provides abundantly in all living foods.

The fact that we continue to feed our pets such enzyme-less food over an entire lifetime may contribute to the growing list of animal health problems we witness today including; osteoarthritis, inflammation, joint pain, hip dysplasia, pano, OCD, HOD, shedding, hair loss, dry skin, itchy skin, digestive disorders, gastritis, pet food allergies, epilepsy, fatigue, hot spots, and many other stress related symptoms contributed to by a weakened immune system.

The whole “living enzyme” argument is complete nonsense, and there is no evidence for the suggestion that commercial diets are nutritionally deficient or responsible for this long, redundant list of random symptoms and disorders. Some of these problems may be related to nutrition, but that has nothing to do with the claim made here, which is baseless.

But the pseudoscientific nonsense doesn’t stop there. The web site also blames pet food, vaccines, and medications for a variety of ailments, again without paying any attention to the real, and complicated, risks and benefits of these interventions. Classic quack nonsense like claims about the Pottenger cat “study,” about boosting the immune system, about mysterious “toxins” as a cause of unrelated diseases,  and about Candida yeast infections as a common cause of many health problems are all over the company web site.

So, what are they selling with all this fear? Apparently, miraculous panaceas with uncounted benefits and absolutely no risks! Since they aren’t allowed to claim they can actually prevent or treat any disease without having evidence to support it (though they effectively do, despite the Quack Miranda Warning here and there), they promise to “support”

Healthy Joint function, Healthy Muscle Function, Healthy Skin and Coat, Healthy Nervous System, Healthy Immune System, Healthy Circulatory System, Healthy Endocrine System, Healthy Lymphatic System, Healthy Digestive System, Healthy Urinary Function, Healthy reproductive Function, Healthy respiratory System, Healthy organ Function, General Overall Wellbeing

I like how they throw in “Healthy Organ Function” and “General Overall Wellbeing” just to cover any possible body part they might not have thought of. So if you’re afraid the imaginary causes of illness they mention have caused your pets’ problem, or might cause something bad someday, you can take comfort from knowing they this product can treat or prevent absolutely everything (except when it can’t, in which case it’s because of the food, the water, the medications, or anything else except the lack of benefit of their product). 

What, exactly, are the miracle elixirs offered by

Ox-E drops
This consists of 5% sodium chlorite, a chemical related to bleach. Properly diluted, this chemical is a safe disinfectant, killing infectious organisms through oxidation. With a pH of 13, if not diluted the chemical can cause burns, especially to the eyes and mucous membranes. Accidental overdose can be fatal.

The company advertises this as helping in “the removal of potentially dangerous free radicals and toxins,” and claims that is boosts the immune system, supports digestion, and enhances “performance.”  Impressive claims for a potentially toxic disinfectant that is actually an oxidant rather than an anti-oxidant.

As the accompanying quack Miranda warning attests, and a simple literature search confirms, there is absolutely no evidence for any of these claims. Plenty of testimonials are offered, of course, which is always the evidence of choice for products that are based on pseudoscience and have never been tested in any reliable way.

Antioxidant Treats
The antioxidant hype is a common marketing ploy for supplements because it’s vague, and there is enough suggestive preclinical research to suggest the general idea is plausible. Unfortunately, there are few clinical trials which show significant real benefits from particular anti-oxidants in particular conditions, and the evidence is growing that some such agents, such as Vitamin E, can actually increase the risk of disease.

The specific ingredients include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and a proprietary freeze-dried sprouted soybean meal claimed to contain:

The amount of the vitamins in the supplement are far in excess of what is recommended to prevent deficiency.

Vitamin A- 1000IU (recommended daily dose 50IU/kg, safe upper limit 2,099IU)
Vitamin C- 30mg (recommended daily dose 0, dogs and cats make their own)
Vitamin E- 5IU (recommended daily dose 1mg/kg)

These amounts are probably not high enough to cause harm, but given that most pets are fed diets already supplemented with more than enough of each, the amounts in this product are unnecessary as nutrients. The use of excess amounts of these vitamins as medicines to prevent or treat disease, is not proven, and has often turned out to do more harm than good when tried in humans.

As for the sprouted soybean meal, there is no scientific evidence to suggest health benefits from this either. The company sites a variety of epidemiological studies in humans indicating an association between eating tofu or other soybean food products and lower cholesterol levels, rates of some cancers, and a few other health problems. (They do not, of course, refer to any of the research in humans showing lack of benefit or potential risks from soy supplement products). All of this, unfortunately, is entirely irrelevant to whether or not this particular soy-based product has any benefits for dogs and cats.

The amino acids, vitamins, and minerals listed are all provided in adequate amounts in good quality commercial pet foods. The enzymes are of no benefit, particularly when taken orally since they themselves are destroyed by normal digestion. And none of the phytochemicals have yet been demonstrated to have any health benefits in dogs and cats. So while it is unlikely to be harmful, to is an expensive way to get a few nutrients your pet probably already has enough of and some chemicals that may or may not have any health effects, positive or negative. 

Black Leaf Tincture
This is an herbal product containing black walnut extract, olive leaf extract, and cayenne in 75% alcohol(!). The usual vague and unscientific claims are offered about supporting the immune system, the circulatory system, the digestive system, and so on.

Black Walnut- There is insufficient evidence to support any of the claimed health benefits despite traditional use for a wide range of unrelated problems. There is some concern about possible toxicity, from the walnut itself and from possible fungal contaminates.

Olive Leaf- The evidence in humans suggests some possible beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but it is weak and not conclusive. There is no eveidence on the possible effects in dogs and cats.

Cayenne- There is a fairly large amount of preclinical research suggesting possible benefits in humans, but little in the way of clinical trial evidence, and nothing in dogs and cats. 

I’ve written extensively about probiotics, and this is an area in which I think some real benefits are possible. Unfortunately, we have yet to develop an adequate understanding of the normal gut ecology to be able to influence it in significant ways, and the evidence for real clinical benefits from specific products varies from weak to non-existent. does nothing to change this. Their product contains a variety of typical probiotic bugs, and there have been no clinical trials to show that the specific combination has any value. The product was tested, however, in a study looking at quality and label accuracy for veterinary probiotics. It was found to contain only 2.7% of the number of bacteria claimed on the label, suggesting even the ingredient claims made for this product may be questionable, much less the claims of health benefits. 

“A Veterinary Study”
The company does claim to have one rather large veterinary clinical study from 1989 showing that dogs with musculoskeletal pain benefit from its sprouted soybean product. The study was never apparently published, and the information provided on the web site does not make it possible to evaluate it extensively. Six unnamed veterinarians apparently diagnosed dogs with “musculoskeletal inflammation” based on their own exams and the opinions of owners. They gave the supplement to 387 dogs, and 340 of them were reported as improved in one of more of these measures: energy, alertness, stamina, appetite, and accelerated healing. Most cases improved within the first week.

This is almost a cartoon caricature of what a scientific study shouldn’t be. No randomization, no placebo control group, no standardized diagnostic evaluation, no objective diagnostic evaluation (all subjective), no clearly defined diagnosis, no blinding, no record of other conditions or treatments used, and no predetermined or even halfway consistent criteria for response. Any high school science class ought to be able to put together a better “study.” If this is the best the company has been able to do in over 20 years, there is absolutely no reason to believe they have any interest in the scientific validity of their marketing claims. 

Bottom Line
These products are being marketed with an impressive number of the myths and warning signs of snake oil and pseudoscience. The theories offered for why these remedies should help your pet range from complete nonsense to vague unproven hypotheses. There is no scientific evidence to indicate any specific benefit from any of these products for any particular condition in dogs and cats. All the testimonials in the world can’t prove any of the company’s claims to be true, nor can they guarantee that the products cannot hurt your pets. Just as there is little evidence regarding the claimed benefits of these products, there is little to demonstrate that they are safe.


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32 Responses to Same Snake Oil, Different Day

  1. zyrcona says:

    I often wonder with these products how much could be achieved if the people responsible for thinking up this nonsense would instead spend their time on something useful, for example, acquiring a scientific degree and doing real research to discover and test real medicinal products and marketing them, or at least volunteering at a local animal shelter if this isn’t possible. :-)

  2. Rita says:

    “osteoarthritis, inflammation, joint pain, hip dysplasia, pano, OCD, HOD, shedding, hair loss, dry skin, itchy skin, digestive disorders, gastritis, pet food allergies, epilepsy, fatigue, hot spots, and many other stress related symptoms contributed to by a weakened immune system.” – many of these could be prevented by giving up intensive breeding, though, couldn’t they?

    As for the product….. :(

  3. Cathryn L. says:

    I just read this whole article on Nzymes, and I definitely have to call BS. I used to be the BIGGEST skeptic of all of this kind of stuff. When I first came upon their website, I read all the testimonials, and thought ‘this is too good to be true’. But, at the time I had a young paralyzed dog who’d been given no hope. We were told to put her to sleep. However, I thought that I could at least give this stuff a try, and less than two weeks after her paralysis, she started taking her first ‘purposeful’ steps, and since then, walks, runs and does everything she used to. If this was a ‘snake oil’ deal, then how could it have helped such a broken dog? If you understood ‘what’ Nzymes are, and that they are a ‘dietary live supplement”, and truly knew that YES, todays dog foods are all over processed and our animals get no way NEAR the amount of nutrition they need, hence leading to degenerative ‘diseases and conditions’. This was the case with our little one. She had IVDD, and had been born with it. A young dog shouldn’t be in such bad shape. Not only did I use this product on my paralyzed dog, but also on an older 10 and 12 year old cat and dog. Both of them had cloudy eyes, and very immobile due to arthritis. After a short time on Nzymes, I had a puppy and a kitten again. Eyes cleared up, and the havoc in my house created by those two, was just incredible. I’d also read up on how Nzymes could help children with learning disabilities, and having a young child with exactly this, I decided to start him with them too. In less than 2 months, the school contacted me and asked me ‘what I had done to my child?’ He just continued to get better and better! Proper nutrition applies to much more than just animals. I’d had Lyme disease since the age of 4, dealt with Interstycial Cystitis, Ulcerative Colitis, and debilitating daily migraines since the age of 10. For over 30 years, my daily life was about pain and discomfort and ‘fear’. Fear of the constant pain, and what I’d have to endure each and every day. After seeing what it did for our dog, I started Nzymes in January of 2013, and I am proud to say that I have had NOTHING for almost 11 months now. No pain, no problems at all. My migraines started turning into manageable headaches, and as the weeks went by, none whatsoever My husband, has spina bifida his whole life. He spent a lot of time in bed, unable to move or walk, intense pain. He too, started Nzymes in January, and has not had ONE occurrence with his back since then. So……if this is a ‘snake oil’ myth, then how come it did so much for us? I could go on and on with the animal and people success stories we ourselves have encountered by bringing this product into our very extended circle of friends and family and co workers. Women who tried for years and years with no luck with pregnancies and many miscarriages, getting pregnant in no time while on Nzymes. People and Pets with ‘auto immune deficiency’ diseases. ‘Incurable’ diseases like Pannus in Dogs, with INCREDIBLE results. I could go on and on. Nzymes are NUTRITION. Bottom line. NONE of todays food, either for animals or humans has the proper nutrional value as they used to. Grandma and Grandpa lived till they were 100! Why? They didnt have the ‘conditions’ which we have today. Hmmm…makes sense doesnt it? In the last 100 years ‘conditions’ and diseases have increased dramatically. What do you think the reason for that is??? We don’t EAT properly!!! We heat our food to temperatures, which kills the natural enzymes. Processing kills it also. We dont eat healthy anymore. Most people cant afford to feed their animal raw food, which is of course the best source, nor can people afford to buy expensive groceries in order to get all their daily needed proper nourishment. So, you mentioned that there are no ‘published’ studies, or ‘research’. Who needs ‘research’ when you read, listen and watch all the success stories??? I’d rather hear from a ‘real’ person than some piece of paper? Do you think that ALL the good that Nzymes has produced is just hog wash? Having lived, and continue to live every day, the “Nzymes” life, and using every single product, I can say YES YES YES. We use all of their products, as do many others, and there is just no way that you can deny that they DO work. Its NUTRITION!! If you had seen what I have all seen, with my animals, my family, friends etc etc, and how the ‘quality of life’ has improved, with only the simple addition of Nzymes once a day, there is just no denying it. And how you can say that their claims of “Animals need more than processed foods” is untrue?? It IS true. People feed their dogs junk food, not realising that they are not getting anything beneficial from it. Without being properly educated, how would they know otherwise??? I get upset when I see pet food commercials that claim they include ‘fresh grains and fruits’. Since when do dogs eat grains and fruits? In the wild they most certainly dont, so we feed it to our pets thinking its ‘ok’ because…..???? Bottom line, all I can say is, Yes, there are a lot of ‘scams’ out there to do with ‘natural’ approaches. But as for Nzymes, once you understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ it works as it does, you cannot deny it. “Give your body what it needs to do what it does” Thats not so hard to understand…..when your body is nourished as nature intended, it functions as it should. Not weighed down with all these ‘conditions’. And who cares that there’s not “scientific evidence” on the Nzyme granules or Ox E or Black Leaf. Do you ever really read all the ‘scientific evidence’ on the prescriptions you take? Now THAT is a scary thing. Side effects etc, which just lead to needing more and more meds to ‘band aid’ all these ‘conditions’. If you had seen what I’ve all seen, dogs who become very ill after vaccinations, people fighting terrible ‘diseases’, allergies, etc etc, you most certainly wouldnt be able to sit behind your desk and knock down products that you yourself haven’t witnessed. I will never vaccinate my animals again, I can guarantee you that my animals are healthier and have stronger immune systems than if they were getting their shots. I’ve seen too much, and after living what I’ve lived through, seeing your article, I couldn’t stay quiet. I understand its ‘your’ opinion, and since you haven’t tried these products on yourself, or a pet you know, maybe you should? Maybe if you were to see the results yourself, you’d see that this is NOT a ‘snake oil’ remedy. It is simply just ‘nourishment’ for the body. Easy as that. Everyone can form their own opinion, but full out ‘knocking’ something that has helped so many people and animals, with 100’s of success stories, does that not hold a validity? Your site was the first ‘negative’ thing I found about Nzymes, and I really had to dig. So that says a lot too. There is so much ‘good’, and just this little bit of bad? I truly hope people give themselves a chance to try Nzymes. I know that if it wasnt for Nzymes, my quality of life, my pets, and friends and family, would all be very different. So if you want to deem this a ‘snake oil’ remedy, then I guess I’m hooked on this ‘remedy’ and we all will never be without it. I challenge you to try it.

  4. skeptvet says:

    One long string of anecdotes. I can find equally passionate testimonials for every other therapy on the market, for faith healing, and anything else. So is everything true? Just the things that work for you? Without science, medicine becomes just another religion in which every person’s belief is just as good as anybody elses and we can’t ever prove or disprove anything by any standard but personal faith. Historically, that approach failed us for thousands of years, and in only a couple centuries science has done more to immprove the length and quality of our lives than the entire preceding history of civilization. Quite a lot to just dismiss with a wave of your hand and a personal story.

  5. Pingback: Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation (VOM)-A Familiar Tale of Quackery | The SkeptVet Blog

  6. Jenny says:

    Thank you, Cathryn L.
    I know many people are getting good results from such holistic treatment, including me. It’s definitely not a snake oil, or I would still be going to conventional vets for hard drugs and injections to suppress the symptoms that later would come back with vengeance. I treat my dogs with more natural treatments like Nyzymes, nutritional supplements, homeopathy and herbs, along with healthy diet. My dogs are healthier because of these wellness remedies. I don’t go to conventional vets any more, because I care about my dogs’ wellness. I’d visit my holistic vet for some homeopathic and herbal meds for my 15 year-old Maltese that has many ailments including glaucoma, tracheal collapse, and heart murmurs. He’s been on only holistic treatments, no pharmaceutical meds for the past couple of years. He’s doing well; in fact, he seems to be healthier because of the overall wellness care.

  7. skeptvet says:

    I don’t go to conventional vets any more, because I care about my dogs’ wellness

    This sort of thinking is exactly why alternative medicine is so dangerous. Your blind faith in things which, like homeopathy, have been proven to be ineffective, puts your pets’ health at risk. The fact that you’ve been fortunate and gotten away with this is a good thing for you animals, but it is not evidence that alternative therapies work. This is the same thinking that led these people to let their daughter die of a treatable disease because they trusted homeopathy and their own judgment more than science.

  8. Stef says:

    Skeptvet, your answer to Cathryn L. disturbs me. Anecdotal information is so important for doctors of both people and animals to honor and merge into their medical practice along with their knowledge of scientific principles. People’s testimony (and animal’s, by their recovery) is so important to the progress of medical care. Without it, “science” can’t really help.

    I don’t advocate rejecting conventional medicine, but complementary professionals bring alternative and conventional practice together and for my family and friends have been amazing practitioners. For example, a good diagnostician knows how to use gut instinct to support her/his medical knowledge. Another example: the majority of doctors in my early lifetime, just twenty or thirty years ago, did not place value on nutrition and food in their practices, and of course now we know the value of illness prevention and recovery as per dietary practices. Dietary practices for disease prevention are no longer “alternative.”

    The specialist vet I saw for my dog’s limping at Blue Pearl in NYC recommended this supplement, amongst other things. I am going to try it.

  9. Sue says:

    I have to disagree with this article. My 6 year old bulldog suffered terribly with allergies. We spared no expense trying to treat his symptoms from change of foods, to seeing an allergist and giving him weekly injections and medications. My poor boy was getting worse and we were increasing the steroids to no avail. Someone mentioned this product and we thought what do we have to lose. When we began his skin was black, his fur was missing and he had sores all over. Within in three months his skin was pink, sores were gone and fur grew back. He was off the temaril p, antibiotics and Benadryl. All he was on was the nzyme products. I wish I could post his before and after pics. I wish we knew about this years ago and would suggest anyone going through this with their pet to please give it a shot. My vet was so skeptical when we told her and she can’t believe the outcome.

  10. skeptvet says:

    Unfortunatelys, stories like this don’t tell us much about which therapies work, for reasons I’ve talked about in detail before. The exact same kind of anecdote has been told for every other therapy in the world, from bloodletting and astrology and ritual sacrifice to modern surgical and medical therapies which have later turned out not to work. As hard as it is to believe, these kinds of anecdotes lead us astray all the time, which is why we bother with scientific research in the first place. So while I’m happy your dog is doing well, it isn’t a reason people should have faith in a remedy like this.

  11. PJ says:

    My five pound Shih Tzu suffered from eye and ear infections and horrible itching and scratching issues due to allergies. I spent a fortune at the vet, who would put him on medication only to cure the symptoms not the problem. I bought the Nzyme product and did everything they said to do in terms of changing shampoos and food. Within one month he was a different dog as the yeast issues cleared up. I used all the product I had and stopped it when it was done. It has been over a year since I gave him any of the products and he is still allergy and yeast free. I have spent zero dollars on vet visits for ear or eye infections this year and that is amazing. Yeast is a very real issue for animals and humans.

    I bought the human version of this product and my Candida has been gone for over six months. You can be as skeptical as you like. I am a true believer that we all have to prove things for ourselves. I swear by this product for dog and human alike.

  12. skeptvet says:

    One year without the product and still symptom free, and you believe the product is the reason why? So it cured his allergies? If this is true, it should be a slam dunk to prove in a clinical trial, and these folks will become super rich. On the other hand, allergy symptoms come and go on their own all the time, so the natural course of your pet’s disease is a lot more likely to be responsible for the good year you’ve had than this product.

  13. PJ says:

    I would say that it is more the reality that the yeast is gone and their current diet isn’t promoting regrowth. I’m not going to argue as I find that people believe what they want to believe, no matter what. I spent a fortune going to doctors for Candida treatment and tried some holistic ones that didn’t work; however, within a few weeks of starting this product my yeast issues I suffered from for four years no matter what medicine I took, are now gone and have not returned. The only thing I would say is try it for yourself and see if it works for you or your pets. Oh, and my vet put her dog on it also after she saw the changes in my Shih Tzu. It has been dramatic. As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and I will keep eating this pudding.

  14. skeptvet says:

    Well, while I understand why the sequence of events leads you to your conclusion, the “proof” you talk about is very vulnerable to all sorts of other causes being the real cause. Here, for example, is exactly the same kind of “proof” showing that bloodletting is the best way to treat infants with fevers. So why don’t we do that anymore?

    “I bled my eldest daughter when she was but six weeks old…and I bled one of my sons twice, before he was two months old, for an acute fever…In both cases, life appeared to be saved by this remedy. I could mention many more instances in which it has snatched from the grave children under three and four months old by being used from three to five times in the ordinary course of their acute disease.”

    Benjamin Rush
    A Defense of Bloodletting, 1815

  15. Jacquemix says:

    Love articles written by people who don’t use the products before judging them!
    All I know is when I followed the treatment for my dog with yeast issues it worked !!!
    After countless visits to the vet $$$ and no results I tried the nzymes products .
    The detox kit , oxydrops and recommended food change did the trick.
    I have had a health happy Maltese for the last 3 years! She is now 14 with no return of the yeast .
    On one other note, my granddaughter had a wart on the bottom of her foot and nothing would clear it up until we used oxydrops on it . Two days later the wart was gone ! I am a believer !!

  16. skeptvet says:

    Unfortunately, trying things isn’t the best way to figure out if they work. Seems like it should be, but by that logic psychic, astrology, bloodletting, and ritual sacrifice all work too.

  17. GGsMama says:

    Well, Skeptvet…you’re article was written over two years ago. Two years and the only negative comments regarding the use of Nzymes are yours. I’m thinking…by now, there should be a disappointed Nzyme’s customer somewhere, don’t you? I was skeptical about the product, and started searching the internet for answers, when I came across your article. I gotta say…I think I’m going to give it a try. It breaks my heart seeing my little G miserable, and as your article has validity, so do the testimonials written here. Thanks for your time and efforts on the subject.

  18. skeptvet says:

    One of the many problems with testimonials is that they don’t collect and publish those that are negative, and people tend to rave about things they like but rarely comment on things that don’t seem to work. The accumulation of anecdotes doesn’t add up to evidence, otherwise we’d still be practicing bloodletting and ritual sacrifice to treat disease, both of which have had far more positive anecdotes over the centuries than this product. It might work or it might not, but without any real evidence, no one knows.

    Best of luck.

  19. dogowner says:

    Dead people don’t write testimonials.

    A year ago I was going through websites with my friend, who was looking for something to treat his cancer. On one of the lovely, well-made, professional websites there were dozens and dozens of testimonials from people who had been cured, full details of their names and addresses.

    We crosschecked those with the obituaries from the relevant areas. Some people had died five years ago of the disease they had taken the treatment for and were still on the website as having been ‘cured’.

  20. skeptvet says:

    Excellent point, thank you.

  21. Stef says:

    After spending the last few days agonizing over a decision on whether to try the Nzymes for my semi-paralyzed Chi from IVDD., this post has swayed my decision to Purchase them. I appreciate Skeptvet for allowing me to find real people who have used the product and are passionate about it. That’s the only thing I appreciate. As a small business owner I know how devastating bad publicity can be – especially without validity to their claims. You seem to be hell-bent on working against the company and it’s product instead of finding the truth about it. That makes me skeptical of your intentions and judgments as a ‘vet’. I agree that the website may use several marketing tactics to encourage people to buy with emotions, but that is Marketing 101. That doesn’t make any of their claims any less true. I would say that many of your posts do the same thing. Oh and lo and behold! You do not back up any of your claims with any sort of validity yourself. Mr/Mrs ‘it doesn’t matter who I am’. If you want people to listen to you and take your information seriously then you should offer up your credentials as a ‘vet’ because to me you are just another person with a power trip that thinks you know more than everyone else.
    I’ll be back with a follow up on the Nzymes – either way, because I am not afraid to admit I could be wrong.

  22. skeptvet says:

    You exemplify the problem that makes progress in medicine so difficult: You trust the anecdotal reports of strangers and are irritated by scientists who ask for real, objective evidence. If I make any claims, I provide evidence for them. But you’re entirely missing the point of this article, because I’m not the one making claims without evidence. I’m simply pointing out that the company selling this product is doing so, and that this is misleading.

    Under your logic, if I were selling a therapy here and claiming it worked based on anecdotes, you would have no problem with that. Buyer beware, despite the evidence of history that such an approach to medicine failed miserably for thousands of years. But if I expect someone else to provide scientific evidence before claiming the products they sell work, that is unfair despite the evidence of history that science has improved our health and well-being far more in the last 200 years than all the anecdotes of the millennia before.

    It is this fundamental psychology, the inability to accept the emptiness of anecdotes and a reflexive distaste for criticism and demands for evidence that leave so many of us, and our pets, vulnerable to snake oil salesmen. I hope your dog does get better, but whether he/she does or not tells us nothing useful about this product.

    And just to be clear, my credentials are available through my FAQ page, which you’ve obviously read but not understood. But honestly, will they make any difference in your opinion? If it turns out I have a Nobel Prize in medicine, am I suddenly right in my criticism of Nyzmes? And if I’m a janitor at a veterinary hospital, does that prove I’m wrong?

  23. Holly S says:

    I have a 4 yr old GSD who for the pasts 2 yrs has been suffering from horrible yeasty skin. Constant scratching, yeasty ears and blackened skin. Nothing my vet did worked. Rounds of steriods, antibiotics and “special” shampoos. All of which just made her worse. It broke my heart to see her suffer and the alternative was to put her to sleep so I had nothing to loose.

    After some of my own research I desided to try Nzymes products and the recommend food and shampoo.

    With in a week her itching was 1/2 of what it was. During her by weekly baths her blackened skin was coming off, turning pink and her coat was coming back. She is a much healthier, happy dog because of these Nzyme products.

    My conclusion is this. All of the “clinically tested” products did nothing for her but make it worse. I highly recommend their products to all my clients who’s dogs suffer from allergies, skin products and ear infections.

    Like someone said, the proof is in the pudding.

  24. skeptvet says:

    Wow, it’s a miracle! Or, it’s just one more anecdote. I have heard stories like this for every treatment ever tried, so either they all work (in which case why haven’t we eliminated all disease yet?), or anecdotes don’t really tell us anything.

    I’m glad your dog is better, but there is no real evidence yet to say whether the Nzymes had anything to do with it. If he gets worse again in the future, what will you think? Will it be that the product never worked at all, it just happened to coincide with an improvement due to something else? Or did it work for a while and then stop? Or did something else come along and change things? Will you announce to everyone the next time your dog gets a flareup that Nzymes didn’t work?

    Anecdotes about medicines are a bit like stories about fad diets. Everyone loses weight initially on a crazy new diet and tells all their friends how great the diet is. Over 90% of the time, they eventually gain the weight back, but they don’t necessarily announce to the world that the diet didn’t work in the long run after all. And then the next fad diet comes along and the same thing happens. If every time it seems like a diet (or a medical treatment) worked miracles it actually had, we’d have solved all our health problems by now. Instead, we have collections of glowing testimonials for thousands of diets and products that people later abandoned. At some point, we need to figure out that such stories don’t really tell us much.

    For those interested, here is a great summary of all the reasons therapies can seem to work when they don’t.

  25. Holly S says:

    Of course there hasn’t been any studies done on my dog. Nor do I care. I see it for my self. Thats the only proof needed. What I do know is that when she was treated with meds that have been tested they failed and actually made her worse.

    And what is with all your talk about about bloodletting and diet fads? You do realize the world was once flat.

    All your doing is giving free advertisement to Nzymes.

  26. skeptvet says:

    You’re missing the point. Studies aren’t done on individual patients because the experience of one individual doesn’t provide a reliable guide to the underlying causes of disease or the truth about whether our treatments work. You can only truly see patterns in those things by controlled studies of many individuals. And the point about bloodletting and fad diets is that people have said the same things about those that you have said about your dog: “I tried them and got better so they work.” The fact that you try something and your dog improves doesn’t mean the something you tried worked. If it did, then the same exact stories told by others would mean every therapy works, and that simply isn’t true. Did you read the link I provided talking about some of the many reasons therapies can seem to work when they really don’t? Or are you so convinced that nothing could ever change your mind, in which case we’re really talking about faith here, and there’s no point in trying to suggest other explanations.

  27. Carmen Czachor says:

    My pets and I have never taken nzymes and we are completely healthy! Whee! That conclusively proves you don’t need nzymes but do need to live where I live and quilt for a hobby. Im pretty sure I and my pets are so healthy because of the finish put on new fabrics. That little exposure to the chemical is all it took for us to be so healthy. I will never do another hobby and stay healthy forever! I need to bottle that chemical and sell it – I am going to make a website with testimonials and sell lots of it!
    It is an anecdote just as valid as any of the others…I know it works because it did for me!
    Seriously people – most of you mention a food change plus the nzymes supplement- do any of you think that might be the change that improved things rather than nzymes? How do you know if there are no studies to show it? I change the diets on my skin patients to a single protein source regularly especially if they are yearround itchy- because the experts (veterinary dermatologists) suggest that as a reasonable elimination trial.
    Chronic things wax and wane and people seek relief when symptoms are at their worst- the natural rhythm of the disease at its worst is to improve- is it the thing you are doing or the natural rhythm…studies can ferret that out. Your opinion or feelings cannot.
    The best book on this stuff is SnakeOil Science by Barker Bausell- he explains how people are fooled and how not to be fooled. Trick or Treatment by Edzard Ernst also is an easy read and explains it too. I dare all you testimonial anecdote types to read one of these cover to cover and then say your anecdote is enough evidence. Science is more complicated than you realize especially when you include human psychology.

  28. simba says:

    Carmen Czachor- well said!

  29. Darryl L says:

    May this dis-spell any further debate over enzymes! Product name “Nzymes”;
    Enzymes break down your food
    Enzymes are the workhorses of the body. When you eat, enzymes break down the food into tiny particles which can be converted into energy in the body. The process starts in the mouth, where an enzyme called amylase attacks all incoming food particles. Like a well-drilled team of engineers, different enzymes continue to break down the food all the way to the stomach and intestines.
    The breakdown of food is an essential part of the conversion of food into energy. Undigested food is unable to pass on the energy stored within it. The enzymes involved in the digestion process carry out the final cutting of the food particles so that they can be easily converted into the essential energy needed by all parts of our body. Without enzymes you would die from starvation, even sitting in the middle of a restaurant waving your gold card.

  30. skeptvet says:

    Well, technically enzymes are catalysts of biochemical reactions, so they do a LOT more than help digest food. But as far as digestion goes, our bodies make all the enzymes we need without any help from supplements like this.

  31. Kelly says:

    I have a 10 year old Pitt-lab mix last year he was really starting to slow down. He had great difficulty climbing on the couch and bed (Which are his favorite places to sleep). I was looking online for something that would possibly help him naturally. I found the Nyzymes website and gave it a try. Around 2 weeks from starting the antioxidant treats, I threw one of his toys and it landed on the couch, without hesitating he jumped on the couch just like he used to. I was surprised and called my daughter over to watch, he repeated it again without hesitation. I had done nothing different except give him the “treats”. I am sold on them and buy them for him religiously.

  32. skeptvet says:

    “Religiously” is certainly the right word. Despite the overwhelming evidence that anecdotes and testimonials are untrustworthy and mislead, people develop a kind of faith in practices based on personal experiences and stories. The fact that exactly the same faith has been invested in every failed therapy ever tried, including many nobody would even consider today, doesn’t seem to shake this kind of belief. It’s an intrinsic part of how the human brain works, but unfortunately it often misleads us.

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