Canine Health from LifeVantage–Protandim by Any Other Name & Still No Real Evidence

I was recently asked to comment on yet another “kitchen sink” mélange of herbs and supplements promoted w/ claims of broad benefits for dogs: Canine Health from LifeVantage. This proved easier than I had expected since the product is identical to Protandim, except for a couple of additional ingredients.

You may recall that Protandim is a supplement which I have reviewed previously (1), and which Dr. Harriet Hall has discussed at Science-Based Medicine several times (2,3,4). The theoretical justification for the product rests on the supposed anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the ingredients. None of the ingredients have well-demonstrated benefits or clear evidence that there is negligible risk in using them, though several have interesting properties that warrant further study. It would not at all surprise me if compounds derived from some of these ingredients turned out to have therapeutic value, but that is a far cry from justifying the kind of claims made for this product.

In any case, there is growing doubt about the hypothesis that oxidative damage is a significant cause of many disorders or that anti-oxidants are necessarily safe and beneficial (5,6). And all well-studied anti-inflammatory medications have significant potential risks as well as benefits, so it is almost certain the same would be true for compounds like those in Protandim if these turned out to have significant anti-inflammatory effects.

Of course, it doesn’t appear that scientific research and evidence is necessarily the primary concern for the founder of the company that sells Protandim, based on his own explanation for why he has discovered a miraculous remedy the scientific community has overlooked:

I already mentioned this in Entry #1: Motivations, but it bears repeating here. All the details you’re about to read concerning the development of Protandim mean nothing – absolutely nothing at all – without acknowledging that God used me as a vessel in brining Protandim to fruition. For almost 35 years scientists were looking for this tool after Dr. Joe McCord and Dr. Irwin Fridovich discovered Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) in 1969. For almost 35 years the pharmaceutical industry failed. For almost 35 years the nutraceutical industry failed.

Then God intervened . . . and has taken us on this unlikely, exciting journey.

The bottom line for this supplement hasn’t changed since my original review:

The underlying theory used to promote this product, that anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects are always safe and beneficial, is highly doubtful. There is only weak in vitro and animal model research to indicate that the ingredients in Protandim, or the combination product, have potentially useful effects on cells or biochemical markers. There is absolutely no clinical trial evidence to indicate Protandim has any of the claimed benefits in humans or animals. While the absence of evidence is not proof the product is unsafe or ineffective, it is absolutely a reason to be skeptical of wild claims of miraculous benefits. At best, using this product is simply rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

Like Protandim, CanineHealth is said to prevent or improve a wide range of seemingly unrelated conditions, including problems in the joints, brain, heart, and eyes. It is purported to do so by reducing “oxidative stress.” The difference between the two products is the inclusion in Canine Health of omega-3 fatty acids” and “Type II chicken sternum collagen.” As with Protandim, no details or dosages of these ingredients is disclosed.

The most common source of omega-3 fatty acid supplements is fish oils. There is good evidence that these can improve symptoms of allergic skin disease (7), some weak evidence suggesting a benefit for arthritis treatment (8,9). It has been suggested that their inclusion in diets can improve signs of dementia in dogs, but the mmore specific evidence in human isn’t very supportive(10, 11). It isn’t clear if fish oil is even the source of essential fatty acids in Canine Health, but if it is it has only weak evidence to suggest a benefit, and there is no reason to mix it with all of the other untested stuff in the product.

With regard to Type II Collagen, despite a number of studies there is insufficient evidence to support any benefit of this supplement as a treatment of arthritis in humans (12, 13). There is also no convincing evidence supporting use in dogs.

As for the product itself, the company claims to have paid another organization to conduct a double-blind, placebo controlled clinical study showing “a reduction in oxidative stress, improvement in mobility and improved cognitive function.” Naturally, the results of this study have not been published and the details are not available to the public, so we have to take LifeVantage’s word for the results.

So we have another catchall, anti-oxidant based mixture of herbs and supplements claimed to have wide-ranging benefits but with no convincing scientific evidence supporting these claims. Numerous red flags of quackery are present, and there is heavy reliance on testimonials and celebrity endorsement rather than scientific research to promote the product. None of this is definitive proof that it doesn’t have some or all of the miraculous benefits claimed, only that there is currently no good reason to believe it does. Yet another roll of the dice with our pets’ health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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66 Responses to Canine Health from LifeVantage–Protandim by Any Other Name & Still No Real Evidence

  1. Vogel says:

    In fact, the situation with LifeVantage and their products (Protandim/Canine Health) is worse than a mere lack of evidence. There is overwhelming evidence that the company and its distributors have purposely deceived the public form the get go. The deception is rampant — in the faux research (and the study where Protandim was bested by a placebo); the secretly paid-for endorsements from spokespeople who violate FTC regulations by not disclosing their financial connections; the executives and distributors who willfully ignore FDA laws about medical/therapeutic claims; the misleading of investors; the strong-arm cult culture; etc.

    This company can no longer even pretend to be reputable, because reputable companies simply do not behave in such a manner. It’s a blatant snakeoil-stock fraud-pyramid scheme — a triple whammy of deceit. To make matters worse, after telling all those incessant lies about how great Protandim is (to justify the absurdly high price), they had to order a massive product recall because it was contaminated with metal fragments — cost the company millions. LifeVantage isn’t just dripping with deception, but incompetence too.

    The whole premise is a transparent insult to anyone whose intelligence quotient cracks the 3-digit mark. The very idea of Protandim is laughable — a few specks of curry powder and tea and that’s supposed to be a panacea? I leave more turmeric behind on my napkin when I wipe my mouth off after eating Indian food. The claimed ‘magic synergistic ratio’ of ingredients is also idiotic; if it were true then drinking a few sips of tea would negate the effect.

  2. Diane S says:

    Sorry, but I had to comment on this. While at the Thanksgiving dinner at our church, a Protandim devotee/distributor was sitting in the ladies room, and we were talking about our dogs. Rocket had been recently diagnosed with diabetes, and put on insulin. Her claim? Protandim could “cure” him of his diabetes. I was “thanks, but no thanks, we’ll stick with the insulin. He’s doing well on it.” I’m wondering what the next woo will be after Protandim.

  3. Protandim and Canine Health are natural and herbal supplements that have helped many people. The sooner people use the earth elements for healing and stop supporting big pharma the better the world will be. The medical industry is the real enemy here Protandim is also the only way to reduce oxidative stress in both humans and dogs.

  4. skeptvet says:

    The real enemy is ignorance and superstitious nonsensical beleifs like that ignore the evidence of both histroy and science.

  5. skeptvet says:

    Posted on Behalf of E-com due to spam filter issues:

    With the launch of the new pet formulation of Protandim (Canine Health), LifeVantage continues its tradition of shoddy tainted science and fraudulent marketing, established previously with the human version of Protandim. The company and its distributors are claiming that the new canine supplement has been validated through research; the alleged research in question is referred to by the company as the Canine Health Study. It appears that the company has taken measures to misrepresent and bury the results of the study.

    The so-called Canine Health Study is unpublished, so the design, data, and conclusions cannot be properly scrutinized. Additionally, the study was not an independent study but rather was initiated by LifeVantage using a dubious looking contract research lab by the name of Animal Health Consulting, LLC (run by Craig Woods, DVM). AHC’s website went defunct at the beginning of this year; and it now redirects to a placeholder page with the message: “As of January 1, 2013, we are not accepting new clients.” It is suspicious to say the least that this company appears to have gone defunct at almost the exact same time that they were being cited by LifeVantage as the source of the research on the Canine Health supplement.
    http://animalhealthconsulting.com/

    Aside from a press release (see first link below), the only discussion by the company of the alleged Canine Health Study has been in: (1) a 30-minute audio recording of a February 2013 Science Call, hosted by LifeVantage sales VP Jon McGarity, in which former CSO Darlene Walley provides details about the alleged study…
    http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2013/01/22/517708/10018682/en/LifeVantage-Introduces-Canine-Health-Product.html
    http://mylifevantage.com/video-player.aspx?key=53He8DQp

    …and (2) a printed promotional document from February 2013 – dubbed The Canine Health Study White Paper — which also features Darlene Walley. LifeVantage once had that document available on their media page but the link is no longer operative (see dead link below); I was however, able to find a copy on the website of Nicole Rexing, a Protandim distributor/pet cremator.
    http://www.lifevantage.com/media/90669/13011301.02_canine_study_summary.pdf
    http://loyalcompanions.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/8/5/11857964/canine_study_summary.pdf
    http://www.loyalcompanionscrematory.com/

    It is remarkable that the webpage for Canine Health contains no information whatsoever about any supporting research. It seems that LifeVantage is deliberately burying details of the Canine Health Study out of view of the general public
    http://www.lifevantage.com/products/canine-health/

    Note that Darlene Walley became the company’s CSO in October 2012 and then abruptly resigned in early 2013. Her sudden departure was only revealed when LifeVantage President/CEO Doug Robinson was pressed for details in a May 10, 2013 earnings call.
    http://globenewswire.com/news-release/2012/10/12/496903/10008245/en/LifeVantage-Appoints-Darlene-R-Walley-Ph-D-as-New-Chief-Science-Officer.html
    http://www.protandimscams.com/darlene-walley-the-new-lifevantage-chief-science-officer/
    http://seekingalpha.com/article/1423061-lifevantages-ceo-discusses-f3q13-results-earnings-call-transcript?page=1

    The details provided in the company’s 2 sources on the Canine Health Study and the inconsistencies between them raise unmistakable red flags and render the associated claims and conclusions highly suspect to say the least.

    The white paper claims that the Canine Health Study was carried out at 2 sites — Prescott Animal Hospital in Prescott, AZ, and Animal Health Services in Cave Creek. AZ. There is no apparent evidence that either of these clinics is equipped for or experienced in the conduct of clinical research trials. The study bears the ID number V011413F and a date of January 14th, 2013, which is presumably when the report was issued.
    http://loyalcompanions.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/8/5/11857964/canine_study_summary.pdf http://www.prescottvets.com/
    http://ahsvet.com/

    The research, the stated aim of which was to measure oxidative stress, was described in the white paper as a 60-day study conducted in 80 dogs (including both arthritic and healthy animals) with a mean age of 8.6 years. Four dogs dropped out before completion leaving a total of 44 dogs in the arthritic group and 32 in the healthy group (the reason for the imbalanced group sizes was not given). According to the white paper, “veterinarians and owners assessed these dogs for clinical disability outcomes and for hematological and biochemical changes”.

    The white paper claims that there was a 27% reduction in Overall Disability Scores, as assessed by the owners on a 33-point scale, in dogs with bilateral hip disability that received the active product (n = 13) versus a 2% reduction in the placebo group (n = 17). Note that there are several problems with this claim. First, the number of animals doesn’t add up. If there were 44 dogs in the arthritic group and 32 in the non-arthritic group, why are they reporting data for only 30 arthritic dogs (i.e., 13 that got the product and 17 that got the placebo). In the best case-scenario, one might assume that the data presented are from a subgroup analysis of only those dogs in the arthritic group that had bilateral hip involvement. However, using a post-hoc analysis of a subgroup of arthritic dogs with bilateral involvement while arbitrarily excluding those with unilateral involvement would be an example of cherry-picking. Presumably, the product did not have an appreciable effect on disability scores when all 44 arthritic animals were included in the analysis.

    Another problem with the data is that it reflects only the disability scores as determined by the dog owners. However, upfront it was stated that disability was also assessed by veterinarians. Presumably, the failure to report that data and focus only on what would be considered less reliable data from pet owners (who are less experienced in the objective disability assessment), is because the vet scores showed no appreciable effect of the product. Thus, this is again suggestive of cherry-picking and negative data suppression.

    Lastly, the document claims that “technicians at Prescott Animal Hospital affirmed that they were able to identify which dogs were receiving the active product based on these abovementioned responses [i.e., energy, alertness, playfulness]”. Thus, by the company’s own admission, the study was, in effect, not adequately blinded – a major flaw.

    Regarding other data parameters, the white paper claims that at day 60, catalase was increased by 36% in the active group and decreased by 11% in the placebo group, and concludes that the active product may up-regulate the oxidative capacity of the dogs. There are numerous issues with this claim. First, it appears that the overlooked a typo when claiming that the product upregulated “oxidative capacity”; presumably they meant “antioxidative capacity” — that’s a major error. Second, the stated objective was to measure oxidative stress, but catalase is not a measure of oxidative stress, it is an endogenous antioxidant enzyme and whether it is up- or down-regulated provides no definitive evidence whatsoever regarding the degree of oxidative stress in an animal. Third, the data for catalase, unlike the disability data, inexplicably did not include the number of animals per group, which is indicative of either sloppiness or whitewashing, and it is not clear whether the data were from arthritic or normal animals or both combined. Fourth, the results are presented as percentage change from baseline rather than as absolute catalase levels (far preferable), which is a common trick used to gussy up bad data. Lastly, as with the disability data, no statistical analysis was described, so it’s not even clear whether any of the reported effects are statistically significant, let alone clinically relevant.

    Despite all these glaring deficiencies and red flags, the summary of the “study” in the white paper is followed up with staggeringly obtuse and baseless conclusions from a vet named Maureen McMichael, presumably a shill for the company. She states: “LifeVantage Canine Health meets all criteria for a safe, an easily administered, product that targets multiple oxidative stress pathways in canines… I believe this continuing study currently demonstrates the importance and utility of this supplement – for improving the health and quality of life of dogs as they age.” However, the study did not report on multiple oxidative stress pathways, or safety, or health, and what little data it did include was so flawed and poorly presented as to be worse than worthless.

    The second company source in which the Canine Health Study is discussed is the February 2013 Science Call audio recording, again featuring Darlene Walley, which took place just a week or so prior to the release of the Canine Health Study white paper.
    http://mylifevantage.com/video-player.aspx?key=53He8DQp

    The first glaring red flag comes at the 10:25 mark, where Walley says: “We measured TBARs, we measured catalase, which are the top 2 indicators in humans for oxidative stress”

    Two major problems here. First, these are not the top 2 indicators in humans for oxidative stress. In fact, as mentioned above, catalase is not even a measure of oxidative stress at all (it is an antioxidant enzyme) and the TBAR test is one of the worst indicators (it is an outdated test that has been supplanted by much better methods in the past decade or so). Secondly, recall that no TBAR data were presented in the company’s white paper, which purported to summarize all of the key results of the study. That’s the smoking gun. The company never released any TBAR data. http://loyalcompanions.weebly.com/uploads/1/1/8/5/11857964/canine_study_summary.pdf

    At the 14:45 mark, Wally claims that measuring the levels of 8-isoprostane (8-IP) is a better indicator of oxidative stress and that the company sent samples from the alleged dog study to an outside lab for analysis of 8-IP. Walley states that the results were expected later that month, which would have been roughly in late February. The obvious problem with that statement is that roughly 6 months have passed since then and the 8-IP data have never been mentioned again, and the only reasonable explanation for this, as in the case with the never-released TBAR data, is that (1) the results were negative and therefore suppressed or (2) the story was an outright fabrication.

    At the 16:25 mark, Walley says that the company is producing a “white paper” about the study that will be on the website “very soon”; she mentions that they are still doing statistical analysis on the data; and that the white paper will include 8-IP data. It is now late July; the white paper was released in February and contained no data on 8-IP or TBARs.

    At 10:30, Walley alleges that the study measured joint mobility and cognitive function. However, the white paper reported overall disability scores (not the same as joint mobility) and mentioned nothing at all about cognitive function. Nonetheless, at 14:20, Walley claims “the results were very exciting — we saw improvements in joint health; we saw improvements in cognitive function”?
    Aside from the 2 company sources discussed above, I also found 2 audio recordings on a distributor website (operated by distributors Jennifer Smith, Susan Kuhlman and Nancy Leavitt) that discuss the alleged Canine Health Study. One of the recordings (titled “Personal Testimonials Using True Science, Protandim and Canine Health”) is rife with illegal promotional claims positioning the product as a panacea (e.g., it cures cancer, heals lame animals, etc…).
    http://www.globaldreamachievers.com/uploads/5/1/3/5/5135143/8053601000-846353-134.mp3

    The other recording features an interview with veterinarian/LifeVantage distributor Lee Seward, who was hyping the alleged Canine Health Study (comments begin at roughly the 10:30 mark). Seward contends that the study proves that the product improves disability from arthritis. At the 32:00 mark, Seward directs listeners to Youtube to watch the “Cassie” video, which purports to show a dog’s seemingly miraculous recovery from lameness after being given Protandim.
    http://www.globaldreamachievers.com/uploads/5/1/3/5/5135143/dr_seward.mp3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ-NcuV0jlw

    In summary, the manner in which LifeVantage and its distributors are marketing Canine Health is extremely deceptive and irresponsible. The company made initial claims about the therapeutic efficacy of the product based on a study which by all appearances was so critically flawed as to be worthless and which the company has since attempted to hide from public view. The company CSO who was involved in the misrepresentation of the study abruptly resigned shortly thereafter, while the contract research lab that was allegedly responsible for conducting the study suddenly went defunct. Subsequently, the company’s high-level distributors held teleconferences to disseminate false claims about the product curing cancer and other diseases — a morally reprehensible act and a flagrant violation of US law.

    Of course, all of the deception is necessary because Lifevantage is again using a horribly overpriced but essentially inert concoction of cheap mundane ingredients to lure desperate people into participating in a crooked pyramid scheme/cult.

  6. Bob Pauline says:

    We use lifevantage canine – Health and bottom line is that it works. I have a 90+ lb lab
    that is 19years old and going strong.

  7. ... says:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22020111
    this is a goverment peer reviewed site.

    and this one is from the american heart association. in page 11:

    CLINICAL PERSPECTIVE
    The presence of right heart failure increases the morbidity and mortality associated with pulmonary hypertension. The
    mechanisms by which right heart failure occurs in pulmonary hypertension are uncertain; however, the degree and duration
    of pressure overload do not explain sufficiently why the right ventricle (RV) ultimately dilates and fails. The present study
    shows in a rodent model that the RV is tolerant to chronic progressive pressure overload as long as this pressure overload
    is not associated with angioproliferative pulmonary vascular disease. This finding suggests that molecular, cellular, and
    hemodynamic lung-heart interactions explain the transition from compensated hypertrophy to RV dilatation and failure in
    pulmonary hypertension. It is further shown that important features of the failing RV include a loss of capillaries in the
    microcirculation and increased fibrosis. These structural changes are associated with evidence of oxidative stress and a
    biochemical uncoupling of hypoxia-induced factor-1 protein stabilization and vascular endothelial growth factor
    transcription. Moreover, this study shows that a dietary intervention can prevent RV dysfunction and pathological
    remodeling in the setting of persistent pressure overload. By inducing nuclear factor E2-related factor 2 and
    heme-oxygenase 1, the herbal supplement Protandim prevented a loss of myocardial capillaries, reduced the degree of RV
    fibrosis, and prevented RV dilation and loss of myocardial contractility.

  8. skeptvet says:

    You clearly don’t understand how to evaluate scientific evidence. Pubmed is not a “government peer reviewed site.” It is a database of published research articles that exists only to catalogue published studies. There is not givernment review of the research and not assessment of quality or endorsement of the results and conclusions.

    The studiy you refer to from Pubmed is available in full HERE. It is an in votro study, meaning Protandim was mixed with cells in the lab and various markers of oxidative pathways and gene expression were measured. This has nothing to do with whether or not Protandim has significan clinical effects. It shows that thre is some biological activity, which has never been in dispute, but it doesn’t show whether patients actually benefit from, or are harmed by, this activity.

    The second study was published in the AHA journal Circulation, but again its conclusions are not endorsed by the AHA. It is also available in full HERE. This study involved lab rats, which were injected with a variety of substances, inclusing Protandim in some cases. Again, some measures of oxidative pathways, gene expression, and right ventricular function were measured and some showed effects from the Protandim, while others did not. This is part of the process of establishing what bioogical effects the chemicals in Protandim have, but it says nothing about clinical effects in human or veterinary patients with actual heart disease. Would you take any supplement or drug that had been shown to do something in an artificial study of lab rats? I hope not!

  9. Krishna Murphy says:

    I was unable to get a copy of the Whitepaper.

    It was not in the Web Archive due to a prohibition on their site from it being visited by the index robot – do you have a copy?

  10. skeptvet says:

    I only have the links which were active as of the time I wrote the original post.

  11. Lisa says:

    There are several independently funded Protandim studies being conducted by Universities around the world.
    * Ohio State University
    * University of Minnesota
    * Vanderbilt University
    * University of Michigan
    * University of Colorado
    * University of Kentucky
    * Denver Health Medical Center
    * University of Florida
    * Glamorgan University, Wales
    * Sahigrenska Univerity Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden
    * University or Toronto/St. Michelle’s Hospital, Canada
    * University Hospital, Brno, Czech Republic
    * Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico City

    The health topics currently under scientific investigation or in planning stages deal with the alleviation of oxidative stress linked to the following conditions:

    * Altitude sickness
    * Skin cancer
    * Photoaging of the skin
    * Renal failure
    * Osteoarthritis
    * HIV/AIDS-associated lipodystrophy
    * Pulmonary hypertension
    * Periodontal disease
    * Heart disease
    * Coronary artery bypass graft failure
    * Asthma
    * Metabolic syndrome
    * Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
    * Optic neuropathy

    What kind of documentation or study would you, skeptvet, find to be conclusive and believable that Protandim’s reduction of oxidative stress and activation of Nrf2 and the accompanying enzymes (such as glutathione) are helpful to humans and other mammals? Please explain some of the requirements. Also, if you have any examples of scientifically sound medical studies that are not funded by pharmaceutical companies for reference, that would be helpful. Thank you

  12. skeptvet says:

    The hierarchy of evidence is quite well established. In vitro and animal model studies establish plausibility (it could work) and a potential mechanism (how it might work). High-quality controlled clinical trials etsablish efficacy (it does work). The trick is that “high-quality” means a lot of things: sufficient sample size to identify appropriate effect size; adequate control groups(s) and blinding of allocation and treatment; clinically relevant outcomes that differ between control and treatment groups to a degree not only statistically significant but clinically significant; adequate control for other sources of bias and error; replication (no single study ever proves anything).

    A key fact is that proxy outcomes, such as biomarkers like Nrf2, do not demonstrate actual clinical benefit. The fct that statins lower LDL, for example, suggests they might reduce cardiovacular disease risk given the understanding of how CVD works. But until studies showed actual reductions in CVD rates, that hypothesis remained weak. One of the biggest rpoblems with “antioxidants” is that many studies of them use proxy markers rather than actual disease. When actual disease is looked at, several of these presumably beneficial antioxidants (such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E) actually turned out to increase disease risk. Soconvincing evidence for Protandim will have to go beyond biomarker outcome measures and look at actual clinically meaningful rates and outcomes of disease.

    Such evidence takes time and money to develop, but that doesn’t change the fact that claims made without it are not reliable. As for the issue of funding bias, no question it exists. However, it is as much a problem for alternative therapies as for pharmaceuticals, so the bias cuts both ways. It is also true that we can only make judgments on the basis of the evidence we have. If there is potential funding bias in that evidence, that reduces the confidence we can place in it, but that isn’t the same as saying we should ignore any study funded by someone with a potential interst in the outcome, whether Big Pharma or Big Herb/Supplement or whomever. We simply have to factor that particular bias along with all the others into our critical evaluation of the quality of the evidence.

    The reviews I’ve cited discuss the existing evidence for Protandim and its weaknesses.

  13. Maureen Conrad says:

    To be clear, I do not sell or in any way profit from Protandim.
    I do work in the health care field (medical admin).

    I am reading this assault on the “lack of peer reviews” and lack of “scientific studies” and “evidence based protocol” with some interest. I invite everyone to view the website http://www.theNNT.com. It illustrates the horrific lack of effectiveness of the most common treatment protocols and pharmaceuticals used by the licensed medical community. Please take time to observe the credentials of the brave people who created the website.
    “Yet another roll of the dice with our pets’ health” Are you kidding me? The only roll of the dice I see is the risky (and frequently ineffective) treatment offered by our medical system. Skepvet, beware when throwing stones.

  14. v.t. says:

    Maureen Conrad, did you miss the part of insufficient evidence? There is absolutely no clinical trial evidence to indicate Protandim has any of the claimed benefits in humans or animals. While the absence of evidence is not proof the product is unsafe or ineffective, it is absolutely a reason to be skeptical of wild claims of miraculous benefits. At best, using this product is simply rolling the dice and hoping for the best.

    No one is arguing that pharmaceuticals are not without problems and risk. But, shouldn’t we expect the same rigorous standards in research and clinical trials from the alt crowd (and big supplement) making their extraordinary (and often bogus) claims?

  15. skeptvet says:

    You have completely missed the point of the web site you have cited. Those of us advocating for evidence-based medicine, including the folks involved in the NNT project and the AllTrials Initiative, are not only aware of the limitations of the scientific literature, we are the ones actively seeking to identify and correct them. This is how science improves the process of gaining knowledge. This is why science has been so stunningly successful at improving the length and quality of human life in the last two centuries compared to all of human history before then.

    To suggest that such efforts illustrate the “horrific lack of effectiveness of the most common treatment protocols” is complete nonsense. Science-based medicine, with all its flaws, is far more effective than the alternatives of faith-based or opinion-based medicine. And when specific therapies do turn out to be ineffective, its science and evidence-based medicine that identifies that and convincing people to abandon them. The alternative to EBM is what Protandim offers, which is medicine based on theories and testimonials, and that has proven a poor way to make such judgments for thousands of years.

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  17. Vogel says:

    Maureen Conrad said: “To be clear, I do not sell or in any way profit from Protandim. I do work in the health care field (medical admin).”

    Ah, I see. So you contribute as much to medical science as the guy who changes light bulbs and empties the trash at a medical clinic. OK, misleading statements and overblown non-credentials aside, dazzle me with your wisdom and say something salient about Protandim.

    Maureen Conrad said: “the website… illustrates the horrific lack of effectiveness of the most common treatment protocols and pharmaceuticals used by the licensed medical community. Please take time to observe the credentials of the brave people who created the website.”

    Oh fer the love of Pete! Need I point out that your comment has nothing to do with Protandim, and that pointless redirection of this sort demonstrates a serious lack of intellectual capability on your part? Is it asking too much for you to stay on topic instead of blurting out irrelevant nonsense?

    Maureen Conrad said: “The only roll of the dice I see is the risky (and frequently ineffective) treatment offered by our medical system. Skepvet, beware when throwing stones.”

    When you say silly things, you have to own them. Unfortunately for you, you will own that silly comment forevermore. You supposedly work in the medical field, remember? Yet here you are alleging that what you do is help sell treatments that are “risky” and “ineffective”. If you truly believe that, then it is immoral of you and hypocritical to do what you do.

    Can we get back on topic and talk about Protandim now?

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  19. lori says:

    I use Protandim, My husband with rheumatiod arthritis uses protandim both with amazing results. His testimonial is far greater than any word that any of you speak. He was able to cut his prednisone down from 6 a day down to 2 a day just 1 in am and 1 in pm and from 9 tylenol a day down to 2 maybe 4 if he labored really hard. My coworkers dog takes the canine health. The dog is 7 and has had a limp for over 4 years since being on canine health the dog no longer limps and has far more energy then before. This is proof enough for me.

  20. marcia says:

    I have SLE and have had the condition since 1984. I have been on prescription anti inflammation drugs such as prednisone and plaquenil since that time. My lab results for inflammation have remained quite high for all of these years and I experienced extreme fatigue, lupus rash on my face, etc. I have been taking Protandim since February of this year-my energy levels have returned to normal and my blood panels have improved for the first time in many years. I know many people who are seeing results from Protandim for a variety of issues. In regard to the dogs, we have a natural pet store and I have seen the product improve kidney issues, joint and mobility issues and many other problems. Why don’t you talk to people who actually have used the product- I think our day to day experience with it tells a totally different story than the nonsense you are promoting in this article.
    You also might want to look at all the research currently being done at a myriad of major universities before you throw stones.

  21. skeptvet says:

    Sadly, there is ample reason to doubt such anecdotes, as persuasive as they seem. And I have paid a great deal of attention to the research put forward to support Protandim, as you can see from this article and those written by Dr. Hall. This evidence and anecdotes like yours do not provide reliable evidence that the product is safe and effective. You aare entitled to your beliefs, but others are entitled to the facts.

  22. Vogel says:

    I’d go a step further and say that not only is there ample reason to doubt such anecdotes, there is ample reason to be incensed by them. People who post these silly mealy-mouthed sales pitches about Protandim don’t provide their full names, any concrete evidence, or any means of follow-up, and they surely know full well that the claims they are making are illegal under US law, which explains why they are always predictably vague and untraceable. Then there’s the matter of the history of jurisprudence and the standards of scientific evidence which both dictate that anonymous testimonials are unreliable, inadmissible, and worthless.

    The worst part is that despite all of this, the people who post these asinine fairy tales have the gall to actually get irate when other people exercise due skepticism. It’s somewhat mind boggling.

    Marcia won’t go public and redress any of these issues either, out of fear of recrimination from the company, which if it learned of her transgressions would have no choice but to enforce their policies and revoke her distributorship, and from the FDA whose job it is to guard the public against pernicious snakeoil peddlers.

  23. marcia says:

    ya know vogel, I would respond to you but I really don’t have time for negative energy in my life-I wish you the best in your future endeavors-

  24. Vogel says:

    What I know Marcia is that the claims you were making are illegal and have no basis in science or logic, which is why you won’t respond or try to put forth even a crumb of evidence to back it up. That’s why scams like this are so laughably flimsy. A house of cards.

  25. ProtandimBS says:

    Skeptvet can you recommend a good book for a lay person to read to learn about scientific studies? I know enough to know Protadim is a scam, but I would like to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. I know some people participating in this scam who are wasting a significant portion of their time and money on it, and would like to be able to discuss it more intelligently, and perhaps convince them to get out of it. What is especially bad is that since these people really believe in this stuff, they go out and convince other people to waste their time and money on it as well, with the best intentions.

    What LifeVantage is doing is actually quite ingenious. They can’t make definite claims that Protandim does anything…but by operating as an MLM, they get the folks participating in the MLM scam to do it by proxy. The people selling Protandim do not understand the legal/medical/ethical aspects of claiming that a product works, and make outrageous, unproven claims about what Protandim can do. These are everyday people who will sit there and spin facts about free radicals like they are a scientist or medical professional. I think it borders on unauthorized practice of medicine. But of course, Lifevantage can just point to the FDA disclaimer on the bottle and plead ignorance.

    The entire promotion of Protandim seems to work through a fallacious appeal to authority. They use language to mislead people into believing that this stuff is proven to work. One thing they never fail to point out is that Protandim has several patents, because this sounds impressive. It is, of course, meaningless. Anybody can get a patent; just because something is patented does not mean that it works or is useful. They make it a point to always refer to Pubmed.gov, as if having something published on a government website gives it legitimacy. They have been using a brief mention on an ABC news show from 6 years ago to promote Prodantim (if they featured it on the news, it must be true!).

  26. skeptvet says:

    I’ve been meaning to put together a good bibliography for some time, but other tasks get in the way. Here are at least a few resources that might be of interest.

    Alternative Medicine
    Print Resources
    Barker Bausell, R. (2007). Snake Oil Science: The Truth about Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Boston: Oxford University Press.
    Ernst, E. Singh, S. (2008). Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
    Ernst, E. Pittler, MH. Wider, B. (Eds.) (2006). The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. Philadelphia: Mosby Elsevier.
    Ramey, DW. Rollin, BE. (2004). Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Considered. Ames: Iowa State Press.
    Sampson, W. Vaughn, L. (Eds.) (2000). Science Meets Alternative Medicine: What the Evidence Says about Unconventional Treatments. New York: Prometheus Books.

    Critical Thinking and Philosophy of Science
    Print Resources
    Burton, R. (2008). On Being Certain: Believing You’re Right Even When You’re Not. New York: St. Martin’s Press
    Carroll, RT. (2000) Becoming a Critical Thinker – A Guide for the New Millennium. Boston: Pearson Custom Publishing.
    Gilovich, T. (1993). How We Know What Isn’t’ So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life. New York: The Free Press.
    Kida, T. (2006). Don’t Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking. New York: Prometheus Books.
    Park, RL. (2001) Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud. Boston: Oxford University Press.
    Sagan, C. (1995). The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House.
    Shermer, M. (1997). Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time. New York: Holt, Holt & Company.
    Tavris C. Aronson, E. (2008) Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me):Why we Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Boston: Mariner Books.
    Burch, D. (2009). Taking the Medicine: A Short History of Medicine’s Beautiful Idea and our Difficulty Swallowing It. London: Chatto & Windus

    Electronic Resources
    The Skeptic’s Dictionary
    skepdic.com

    Veterinary Medicine and the Philosophy of Science
    vetmed.wsu.edu/courses-jmgay/EpiPhil.htm

    Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine

    Cockroft, P. Holmes, M. (2003). Handbook of Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine. Oxford: Blackwell.
    Ramey DW. (Ed.). Evidence-based veterinary medicine. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Equine Practice. 2007 Aug;23(2).

    Schmidt, PL. (Ed.). Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice. 2007 May: 37(3).
    Smith RD. Veterinary clinical epidemiology. 3rd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC/Taylor & Francis, 2006. 280 pgs. ISBN: 0849315662.

  27. papalove21 says:

    Although I am involved with LiveVantage, I am well aware of the tendency of these products to become the be-all-end-all for whomever is evolved, basically blinding them from other powerful/wiser solutions given their condition.

    However, as a holistic health practitioner and nutritionist I continue to be blown away by the testimonials from people on Protandim on a daily basis. Many of the results are measurable such as skin disorders, cholesterol numbers and GFR levels (I had a client inexplicably avoid being put on dialysis within two weeks of starting Protandim) , while others are immeasurable and intuitive such as sleep quality, pain levels, recovery, anxiety relief etc…

    Ultimately I have seen no claim of side effects ANYWHERE that go beyond classic symptoms of intense detoxification because of the potent function of nrf2 in the body.

    Although I greatly appreciate your commitment to people doing quality research, it saddens me that you are so committed to cynicism in a way that justifies your sense of self-importance and professionalism. There may be a thin line between wisdom and ignorance and knowledge is usually the deciding factor. Educate yourself on real world testimonials for whatever product you discredit before making such righteous and blanketed statements.

    I’ve had my hesitations about LifeVantage the company, but I’ve only seen and felt positive things from their products in a way that no pharmaceutical or store bought product can bring.

    Bottom Line: YOU ARE HURTING PEOPLE, PERIOD.

    Your skepticism may balance the MLM fanaticism in a way, but there are many people that have seen this page that have now closed their mind to simply trying something that could vastly improve their quality of life.

    I hope you post this. Be well…

  28. skeptvet says:

    Sorry, but this is utter nonsense. Testimonials simply do not have the value you give them. If they did, we’d still be practicing bloodletting, and prayer and Lourdes water would be far more widely substituted therapies than vaccines and antibiotics. You would likely see this as a good ting, but I believe the evidence of history is quite definitive that science simply works better than anecdote and faith in determining what works and what does not in medicine.

    The appearance of beneficence and humility your style creates (“it saddens me,” “Be well,” etc.) is extremely ironic coupled with the refusal to accept the limits of individual perception, judgment, and experience, including your own. This dissonance is heightened by your need to imagine that any disagreement with you on this point is evidence of “cynicism” or that you have the right and the ability to take guesses at the psychological roots of my opinions. Ultimately, you venerate anecdotes and I believe they mislead us. You think that it harms people to discourage grasping at straws based on anecdotes, and I think it harms people to make unjustified claims about the safety and benefits of untested therapies. I am happy to agree to disagree about all of this, but I see no moral high ground in your position.

    “Real world testimonials” can be found for any and every idea ever tried in medicine, and your faith in this form of evidence is unjustified. It is the kind of faith that supports most of the untested, or outright disproven stuff marketed under the banner of “holistic.” Your own “righteousness” about this kind of evidence reinforces that “holistic medicine” is, for the most part, a variety of faith healing and religion largely incompatible with the scientific way of understanding health and disease. And again, this scientific approach has improved our health and well-being in ways never seen before in history despite millennia of experimentation based on unaided individual experience and judgment. I think you are clinging to a failed way of understanding the world, and that represents the real danger in the alternative approach to healthcare.

  29. Liz says:

    Lol is all I have. All I know is I have systemic lupus and have been in remission for a few years now after starting protandim. Not so much as a cold. Also my family and I and my 3.5 lb dog had black mold exposure. My dog developed horrible asthma and I was told she would always have it. I have been giving her a small dose of protandim for a few weeks and she’s bouncing off the walls after laying around for months, no more wheezing… Ignorance is bliss in some cases. But not in this one. I guess you skeptics will never know what it doe. Try it. I dare you. You might be surprised. John Kenyonis was!

  30. skeptvet says:

    And the fact that the same kind of miracle stories exist for everything else, from ritual sacrifice to bloodletting to prayer, doesn’t bother you at all? Nothing as blissful as the completely unshakeable faith of a true believer in their own experience and judgment. Who needs science?

  31. Chance says:

    To whomever didn’t allow my post where I mentioned “Group A vs Group B”…

    [gratuitous abuse deleted]

  32. skeptvet says:

    You are welcome to post arguments and evidence that disagrees with my perspective. However, any post that contains insults, abuse, or simply angry ranting with no actual substance will be deleted. If you aren’t capable of civil and rational debate, you won’t be allowed to participate here.

  33. chris says:

    I was shown the life vantage presentation and was told that this study was done on people and showed protandim worked. I don’t really understand what I am reading but it seems to state that it worked on actual people. Is this not accurate?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16413416

  34. skeptvet says:

    What this study shows is a decrease in some specific chemicals measured in the blood in healthy humans. Nobody had any health problems, and there are no studies that show the product improves health, treats diseases, slows or reverses aging, or any of the other things claimed for it. At best, this study suggests it might influence the level of certain oxidative compound sin the blood, but this has not been linked to any meaningful health outcomes. It’s a first and necessary step in finding out what, if anything, the ingredients in the product might be doing physiologically, but it is a long way from showing the product “works” in the sense of having any actual effect on health.

    Here is another article which discusses this evidence.

  35. chris says:

    I read all of those articles before I came to this one. I went back and asked the guys who gave me the presentation, and they told me they were aware of all of these articles. They directed me to this website. I thought it responded well to a lot of the criticism the company and product have gotten, but its still so hard for me to make a decision because there are so many people attacking it but the retorts of those attacks also seems to make sense. Ugh.. here is the link.
    http://protandimretort.com/

  36. skeptvet says:

    The bottom line is really about what kind and level of evidence one requires to make a decision. Without high-quality, replicated clinical trials, we are ultimately just guessing. Anecdotes are simply not reliable. This company makes strong, even dramatic claims of benefits without doing clinical trials. That’s dishonest. It doesn’t mean the product doesn’t work, it just means nobody really knows. It also means nobody really knows if it is safe.

    As a basis for comparison, most prescription medications have to go through as much as 10 years of testing, including large clinical trials in humans. Yet even with this evidence, much more than we have for Protandim, unexpected harms happen with such medicines. The site you link to has a post on “Large Scale Clinical Trials.” If you read it, it cites two small trials which measured only surrogate markers, not actual disease. That’s exactly what critics have said, so the company hasn’t produces any additional evidence. they simply want you to take their word for the fact that the evidence that exists is enough to use the product. Obviously, they are selling the product, so clearly this is in their best interests. Dr. Hall and myself have no personal or economic stake in whether or not anyone buys the product, just an interest in informing people about the evidence so they can make an informed choice. That is something to consider when comparing different perspectives.

  37. Rob says:

    Why is it not letting me comment?..it said it seemed spammy

  38. skeptvet says:

    Often that’s because of links in the comment.

  39. Rob says:

    Oh ok…but I didn’t put in any links and no I’m not a lifevantage distributor…I actually used to be but I started digging deep in that company and found out it’s all lies and fibs…I can put more later as I don’t have time at the moment…but I just like speaking my mind on protandims nonsense..thanks

  40. yanny deen says:

    If testimonials donot have value, what does? What comprise the so called evidence base science? An observation from the other side of a glass partition?

  41. skeptvet says:

    The evidence bas of scientific research has all kinds of flaws and limitations. And, it is also much more reliable than anecdote. Because the one is imperfect doesn’t mean we should trust the other when history has shown us how dramatically better science works than anything else we’ve tried.

    Here are a few reminders of this history:

    Life Expectancy

    Life Expectancy by Age

    Maternal Mortality

  42. Deborah Danilow says:

    I fed my dogs Canine Health monthly for YEARS at a cost of $150/month thinking it was a wonderful product. Eventually one of my dogs refused to take it. I paid attention to that.
    In August of this year, my female was diagnosed with an unidentified rapidly growing soft tissue sarcoma. Subsequent extensive and expensive testing has to date still not produced a diagnosis. Biopsies clearly state ‘moderate numbers of individually scattered interstitial dendritic cells that did label for CD 204 (histiocytic sarcoma)’ but not consistent with previous testing. I lost my beloved baby in only two months to a fast growing and unidentified cancer.
    I must admit I have concern about having given this product for so many years. I no longer give it to my other dog and I am interested in finding out if it may have contributed to the cell abnormality which created a catalyst for this cancer.

  43. Lauren Ford says:

    @Deborah Danilow – how many years did you give your dogs Canine Health?

  44. Deborah Danilow says:

    At least five and possibly as long as seven years. I need to go back to my account to confirm when I began purchasing the Canine Health although I can say it was within a few months of the product becoming available on the market for sale.

  45. Lauren Ford says:

    Interesting – because Canine Health only became available in Jan 2013. So it’s only been out for 3 years.

    I’ve had my 5 dogs (including my now 16 and 13 year olds) on it since it came out.

    I had them on Protandim prior to Canine Health coming out. Started them on it in July 2012.

    My vets are always impressed with the blood work of the seniors, and how healthy the younger 3 are as well. Especially as the oldest has pancreatic insufficiency. He was in miserable health prior to starting on Protandim, but has vastly improved. I had been worried I was going to have to make a decision on him back in 2012, and was devastated since he’s been with me since he was 3 months old – I rescued him from a local kill shelter.

    At any rate – my dogs are awesome.

  46. skeptvet says:

    As are mine and thousands of others without any magic supplements. These products are really about managing our own anxiety, achieving a sense of control by doing something. even when there isn’t any real reason to think what we’re doing works. It’s an understandable and inevitable aspect of human psychology that companies like this exploit.

  47. Deborah Danilow says:

    I will make it a point to go back and find out when I started the Canine Health but I believe it has been longer than three years ago I began giving it to my dogs? Of course, I could be mistaken (until I find my files) and it just ‘seems’ much longer? I took the Protandim myself for years as well so I KNOW it has been longer than three years since I started THAT product. Time marches on and since I have run a dog rescue for over twelve years, I have had many products come through my doors which I have tried and used. I have been an Essential Oils Practitioner since 2003 so I lean toward only organic and holistic products and admit I can be somewhat naïve.
    I was introduced to LifeVantage by my holistic chiropractor with whom I have had relationship since 2003 so I just have to check. I could be mistaken but I thought it was longer. Regardless, I simply question the REAL benefits at this point in time and having just gone through an horrendous ordeal with a beloved dog getting undeterminable cancer and having spent upwards of much more than $10,000 seeking answers which never came, it is only natural one would question ANY AND ALL SUPPLEMENTS GIVEN FOR YEARS after such an experience! I pray you don’t have to endure such a thing as the devastation is unimaginable.

  48. Lauren Fordd says:

    So blood tests are inaccurate, now? When my vets look at the previous tests and compares them to tests done since the advent of Protandim/Canine Health? You are seemingly disingenuous.

  49. Lauren Ford says:

    I’m sorry you had to experience that. But cancer happens, unfortunately. With all the chemicals in our food and water and even the air we breathe…

  50. skeptvet says:

    The problem is not with the blood tests, it is with the assumption of cause and effect. If I wash my car and it rains, that doesn’t mean washing the car caused it to rain. And if I give an untested supplement and something in the patient’s condition changes, it doesn’t mean the supplement is responsible. If life were that simple, we wouldn’t need scientific research and studies comparing groups of patients to see if the changes are consistently associated with the product or the same in dogs getting and not getting it. It isn’t a case of being disingenuous, it’s a case of understanding that cause and effect relationships are often much more complicated than we realize. You might want to read up on the false cause logical fallacy or the many reasons Why We’re Often Wrong when we make judgments about the effects of what we do.

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