Last week I had a rather lengthy conversation with a friend regarding Dr. Oz and the products that he recommends on his show. She suggested that I capitalize on his “hype” by carrying the same products and featuring them in our dispensary. I replied with “Maybe, but we just have to make sure that the products he endorses really work and have research to support them before we put our professional reputation behind them. Our customers trust us, and we can’t take Dr.Oz’s word on blind faith before we examine the scientific literature and form our own assessment. He’s right quite often, but occasionally he completely misses the mark” My reply set off a whirlwind of fury as she firmly reminded me that Dr. Oz is an expert and he only has experts on the show. Boy did I overstep my boundaries.

In health sciences there is something called Evidence Based Practice (or EBP or EBM). Two of the measuring sticks of effective evidence based practice are research evidence and clinical expertise** Many heavily marketed health claims, including those that appear on the Dr. Oz show (or similar shows) have neither the research nor the clinical support to back it up despite what (again) marketing websites and television shows insist. Believe it or not, just because a single authority figure makes a health statement, or an advertising label makes a claim does not make it true, those are called logical fallacies. The fact of the matter is that a significant portion of marketing claims on TV and in print are without any real basis whatsoever nor are they required to have any scientific validation. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? The fact that Shelly and I haven’t capitalized on every heavily marketed product or hopped on the Dr. Oz hype-train either means that we have the guts to stand up for consumers in the face of a complete lack of scientific evidence / disproving evidence, or that we’re completely crazy as businesspeople. As individuals who pursued our passion in the field of health sciences, I bet you can guess the answer.

Furthermore, as someone who is heavily passionate about science and health sciences in particular, I find that each passing year paints a more vivid picture of the dissociation between the marketing of products or services to consumers, and the level of scientific support for these products. Will the products or services actually work as promised? Is there a justification for the cost of the product? Is the consumer wasting their time and money with a product without substance when more proven, effective products and strategies (albeit less marketed) are available? It should be no surprise that the product or service with the most effective marketing plan generates the most sales at first, followed by several years of dormant sales…until the ineffectiveness of such products are forgotten by the general public and the marketing cycle starts over. Rinse and repeat….rinse and repeat. During these same marketing cycles, old faithful’s like high-potency omega 3 supplements, curcumin, AHCC, NAC, and pantethine continue to persist year after year, not because they sold like hotcakes during a hype-frenzy, but because they can actually work for consumers when used properly, long after the placebo effect of ineffective products has worn off…..just as the scientific evidence supports.

**Research evidence involves looking at peer-reviewed published information that has accumulated over time to draw a consistent picture of specific effectiveness in measures that are consistent with the patient. Second is clinical expertise or experience in which all of the various evidence for a variety of therapies and products are put to use, and the most effective strategies become more mainstream as scientific consensus amongst experts in the field start picking out the most effective health solutions from a pool of proven solutions.