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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 08:22 AM
Original message
Sambucol TV Ad is Misleading, and Probably Illegal
I saw an ad on TV this morning for Sambucol, an over-the-counter preparation of elderberry extract. It promised that it would "boost your immune system." The ad showed people suffering from the flu or a bad cold. The implication was that if you took Sambucol, you wouldn't get the flu. No disclaimer that I saw, either. I'll be reporting the ad to the FDA and the FTC today. The trouble is that by the time they could do anything, flu season will be over and they'll have sold millions of bottles of this snake oil.

Liars, and the lying lies they tell...
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
1. the fda is aware of the product, is testing it
Not sure why you call it "snake oil." Extract of elderberry has been around for years, and has been used appropriately in many developed countries.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 08:45 AM
Response to Original message
2. Yes, you do that. I'm sure the FDA is clueless without you....
Going to be difficult to control Elderberries, but give it a shot, that's really important stuff! I hope it's not too late for you to save the day for the comatose FDA! Occupy Berries!
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BuddhaGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #2
10. ROFL!
:thumbsup:
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-11 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #2
17. Yes, save the world from elderberries!!11! Otherwise your father might smell of them.
and your mother might be a hamster. ;)
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HysteryDiagnosis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 05:43 AM
Response to Reply #2
22. IMHO, Chuck Berry, get the flu. n/t
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deutsey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
3. I've been using Sambucol since about 2000 and it works for me
I learned about it while writing for an alternative healthcare website back then. I was very skeptical about it at first, but I swear by it now. When my kids and spouse have all been down with the flu at the same time and it's rampaging through the workplace as well, I've swilled the stuff and never came down with the bug. Unfortunately for my family, they don't like the taste of it so they rarely take it (I think it tastes fine for what it is).

Anecdotal, I know, but it's my experience.

The only thing I don't like about the commercial is that it may make it more difficult for me to get a bottle when I need it.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
4. Oh, they'll get away with it, I suspect.
They know how far to push the scam under the current lack of regulation.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:29 AM
Response to Original message
5. Implied and inferred are not the same thing.
I just read a bunch of material about this product, which is an extract of elederberries rich in anti oxidants, and all of it is clear that this is a treatment for, not a prevention of, colds and flu. What folks infer is all in their own heads. An inference does not indicate an implication. At all.
Are you under the impression that food does not contain useful elements of nutrition? Do you think our natural ability to fight illness is consistent when our nutrition is less than excellent, or is lacking some elements? When they fought rickets with vitamin D was that 'snake oil'? At first it came from the liver of the cod fish, then D levels were increased using light, yes, they shine uv light on the milk, and that increases the D, and that prevents rickets. So gee, fish livers and invisible lights are a cure? I mean, not snake oil, but fish oil, actual fish oil. Cured rickets. Fish oil.

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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:39 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Have you seen the ad? If not, then we're not talking about the
same thing. The ad clearly implied that the product would "boost your immune system." I didn't infer that from the ad. They implied it in the ad. I'm actually being generous by using that word. They actually came right out and said that it would do that. Does elderberry extract "boost the immune system?" I can't find any clinical studies that show that. Perhaps you can.

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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:50 AM
Response to Reply #6
7. "Boost Your Immune System?"
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/boost-you... /

This piece gets to the heart of the matter. There are some preliminary studies showing supposed benefits of elderberry extract. Of course, nowhere near the type of studies that need to be done outside of the supplement industry's free ride.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 09:58 AM
Response to Reply #6
8. I read all their materials and how doctors use it.
The immune system fights existing infections as well as staving them off in the first place. Anti oxidants do in fact support the immune system, they boost it.
Their online materials say it is a treatment for, not a preventative of, colds and flu. Treatment and prevention are different words, just like imply and infer are different words.
Here is the Mayo Clinic, purveyors of snake oil, on why you should consume anti oxidants and where to find them in natural foods. They start with berries, of course. I leave it to you to read up on the anti oxidants present in elderberry. All of the dark berries have lots of anti oxidants. This is fairly common knowledge, really.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/antioxidants/MY01593
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #8
9. Thanks for posting that
I seriously thought Sambucol and elderberry extract had been around so long that no one would see the ads and freak out. I have been taking the stuff for years for colds, etc. Seems to work pretty well, but then I think Americans want the "instant results" of drugs...damn the side effects.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 10:29 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. Note the silence following the Mayo link...
Mayo Clinic says eat dark berries, this product is made from dark berries. Mayo Clinic = Snake Oil? That's news to me!
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 12:00 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Mayo says eat berries. So does everyone else.
That doesn't defend Sambucol's claims.

BTW, Mayo has offered up snake oil: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/uff-da-th... /

More on the reality of Sambucol:
http://kfolta.blogspot.com/2010/02/sambucol-another-med...

As for the supposed need for pills that act fast, the other side of that is the apparent need to sell pills that don't really add benefit to one's own immune response, which will work in time. Yet, because one gets better, one believes the pills helped!

See:
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/not-treat... /

For more on this.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 12:39 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. It is not about the Mayo link, which says nothing about
"boosting your immune system" as does the ad. You're really stretching the logic here.

If you can find evidence that this specific extract of elderberries either prevents or treats influenza, I'd be happy to read those studies.

My objection is not to the selling of extracts of berries. It is to the claims of this company, which are unsupported by clinical research.

As for my "silence," I'm working on a project today, and cannot reply instantly. I'm very fortunate to have work to do.
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JanMichael Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #6
11. I have seen the ads
Not sure what set you off so badly. Boosting the immune system through the use of certain foods isn't exactly horrifying.
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BuddhaGirl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-11 10:26 AM
Response to Original message
12. Sambucol is the bomb
Good to see it in the mainstream! Nature's Way makes great products. :thumbsup:
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Crunchy Frog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-11 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
16. I've found it helpful myself. It doesn't prevent you from getting things
but it seems to help with severity and duration. I use it for myself and kids. I also had some success using it for viral infections in animals when I was doing wildlife rehab.

If it's suggesting that it will keep you from getting the flu, well then, that is definitely misleading.
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HysteryDiagnosis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 01:38 PM
Response to Original message
18. You may want to turn in the Israelis as well.... snake oil and all.
You can read, can't you?

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12455180

Isr Med Assoc J. 2002 Nov;4(11 Suppl) :919-22.
The effect of herbal remedies on the production of human inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines.
Barak V, Birkenfeld S, Halperin T, Kalickman I.
Source

Immunology Laboratory for Tumor Diagnosis, Department of Oncology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel. barak845@yahoo.com
Abstract
BACKGROUND:

Some herbal remedies are sold as food additives and are believed to have immune-enhancing properties.
OBJECTIVES:

To study the effect of five herbal remedies--Sambucol Black Elderberry Extract, Sambucol Active Defense Formula and Sambucol for Kids (with known antiviral properties), Protec and Chizukit N (containing propolis and Echinacea, claimed to be immune enhancers)--on the production of cytokines, one of the main components of the immune system.
METHODS:

The production of four inflammatory cytokines (interleukin-1 beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and IL-6 and IL-8) and one anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10) was tested using blood-derived monocytes from 12 healthy donors.
RESULTS:

The Sambucol preparations increased the production of five cytokines (1.3-6.2 fold) compared to the control. Protec induced only a moderate production of IL-8 (1.6 fold) and IL-10 (2.3 fold) while Chizukit N caused only a moderate increase in IL-10 production (1.4 fold). Both Protec and Chizukit N caused moderate decreases in IL-1 beta, TNF alpha and IL-6 production. Lipopolysaccharide, a known activator of monocytes, induced the highest levels of cytokine production (3.6-10.7 fold).
CONCLUSIONS:

The three Sambucol formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines production, while the effect of Protec and Chizukit N is much less. Sambucol could therefore have immunostimulatory properties when administered to patients suffering from influenza (as shown before), or immunodepressed cancer or AIDS patients who are receiving chemotherapy or other treatments.
Comment in

Isr Med Assoc J. 2002 Nov;4(11 Suppl) :944-6.
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HuckleB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-25-11 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Still pushing self-selected, small, preliminary studies?
Edited on Fri Nov-25-11 05:27 PM by HuckleB
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SidDithers Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-26-11 07:21 PM
Response to Original message
20. Good post...
:thumbsup:

Sid
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helenmoore Donating Member (5 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 12:19 AM
Response to Original message
21. Good post!
Good post! :thumbsup:! Thanks for such a good discussion.
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Celebration Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-29-11 08:41 AM
Response to Original message
23. the pictures in the ad
This is a pretty standard advertising technique, really. I doubt seriously that the ad is illegal, because there is evidence that Sambucol boosts the immune system, and our courts have taken a pretty broad view of free speech.

On the other hand (and I have not really researched this, though I like Sambucol), there may not be enough evidence for the stuff to make the claim that it shortens the duration of colds or flu. I'm actually not sure if it is the FTC or the FDA that has jurisdiction over this???

But, their use of clips of people who are obviously suffering from colds, without explicitly mentioning that it helps with colds, is quite a common technique.

Did Alka Seltzer ever actually say that it was good for hangovers? All they said was plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is. And then they shows a guy with an obvious hangover. Yes, we got the picture. So was that against the law?? Or was there actual scientific evidence that Alka Seltzer helped hangovers? I kind of doubt it. I don't think they had much scientific evidence of that (though Alka Seltzer, IMHO, does help with hangovers).

To be against the Sambucol ad because of the images of people in the background is pretty much a non starter. But, I suggest you boycott Sambucol if you don't like the ad. Personally, I like Sambucol, but I rarely have it around when I need it.
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