• Member Since 20th Aug, 2015
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A British Gentleman


I am a fan of many things, particularly the fine works of Sir Terry Pratchett (may he rest in peace). After spending a long time lurking, I have elected to create an account.

More Blog Posts74

  • 205 weeks
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    6 comments · 587 views
  • 279 weeks
    [Non Pony] Purest Snake Oil

    Good evening, my good ladies and gentlemen. I hope to find you alive, well and, preferably, tipsy.

    A video recently dropped on YouTube, concerning the vexing topic of Anti-Vaxxers. Some of it, however, featured a firm called Coseva. A seller of outrageously overpriced snake oil, it's claims about its products are mindbogglingly stupid and wrong.

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    [Non-Pony] CERN Controversy: An Impartial Scientist's Perspective

    Greetings my good ladies and gentlemen. I hope to find you well.

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    9 comments · 675 views
Jan
8th
2019

[Non Pony] Purest Snake Oil · 11:26pm Jan 8th, 2019

Good evening, my good ladies and gentlemen. I hope to find you alive, well and, preferably, tipsy.

A video recently dropped on YouTube, concerning the vexing topic of Anti-Vaxxers. Some of it, however, featured a firm called Coseva. A seller of outrageously overpriced snake oil, it's claims about its products are mindbogglingly stupid and wrong.

Which brings us to the Detox industry, one of the biggest scams in the world today.

First, for the sake of anyone who wishes to watch it:

With that done, let us briefly discuss, and define, the concepts of toxicity, toxins and detox (as it exists in this context). It's possible that some of my follows my be a touch confused on the topic. This is completely understandable, as the detox industry has invested considerable sums in confusing you; Indeed, they require this confusion if they are to continue to exist.

First, toxicity. The most important thing to understand about toxicity is that it is a function of dose. In a high enough dosage, anything and everything will become toxic, including water, table salt and sugar.

A toxin, in the technical definition, refers to acutely toxic compounds originating from living cells. These include a number of things with "tox" in their name (of which Botox is probably the most well known), which are often spectacularly dangerous, being lethal at incredibly tiny doses.

In the conventional sense, a toxin refers to anything which is acutely toxic in small doses, which is not intended to be consumed in any way by human beings. So even though eating a pound of table salt will kill you just as surely as eating a gram of sodium cyanide, only the latter is considered a toxin in the conventional sense, as it is lethal in small doses and isn't generally consumed by non-suicidal people.

A layman refering to toxins, then, may refer to a wide and varied group of wildly different compounds, with massively differing chemistry, which display toxicity through diverse selection of different mechanisms.

This brings us to the concept of detox. Detox begins with the premise that "toxins" will build up in your body and cause you any number of ailments and general poor health, and a lack of well-being.

Unless, of course, you buy products to cleanse yourself and remove these toxins, thus detoxing yourself. As luck would have it, the same snake oil salesman alternative medical practitioners and well-being experts that have alerted the world to this problem are also quite helpfully able to sell you a range of products and services to deal with it.

One such helpful firm is Coseva, who offer a range of natural snake oils to remove toxins from your system. One such product is "Advanced TRS". From Coseva's website:

Toxin Removal. As pure and concentrated sources of zeolite detoxification, Clear TRS and Advanced TRS are total solutions for safely ridding harmful toxins from your body.

There are a few problems here.

First, if you are a medically healthy human being, your body detoxifies itself all day, every day. This is the main function of the liver and kidneys, as well as a good number of enzymes within your cells. These will process any toxins (in the conventional sense) you would normally encounter on a daily basis as well a number of acutely toxic substances your body produces as a matter of normal function (for example: converting ammonia to urea).

If your body is not adequately performing this task, then you have a life threatening medical condition and should seek immediate help. Anyone who tells you differently is either trying to sell you something, or is under the undue influence of some who is.

Further, if you have been exposed to a dose of an acutely or chronically toxic substance, you should also seek immediate medical attention.

As for Coseva's product, it's utter junk. For the real science explaining that, this guy has us covered:

“Zeolite”, “blood-brain barrier”, ‘detoxify toxins and heavy metals” and “cellular level”.
Incredible how much amount of BS claims can be packed in such a small vaporizer. Not only this was enough BS, the owner of this page went the extra mile and claims it is an “autism detox” as well.
I call this an utter amount of BS and since I am a scientist, I will explain why it is an utter amount of BS.

1. What are zeolites?
Zeolites are crystalline structure made of aluminum, silicium and oxygen. These crystals are formed by the aggregation of 4 oxygen atoms around aluminum Al3+ and Silicium Si4+ (notice how Avers that yells “shark” on aluminum in vaccines are fine absorbing aluminum from zeolites).
These frameworks of AlO4 and SiO4 can form 3-D geometrical structures harboring charges and possibly acting as a caging structure as shown below (Moshoeshoe et al., Am J Mat Sci 2017):

As you can see different structures exist. Now, which zeolites are used in the product described in this “detox”? According to the vendor website (https://www.coseva.com/toxin-removal/advanced-trs/), clinoptilolite (CLI) (amongst water and a proprietary formula). According to Mosheoshoe and colleagues, CLI harbors the following chemical composition ((Na,K)6(Si30Al6O72) •20H2O)) and harbor the following crystalline structure:

Notably, CLI also display one of the lowest cation exchange capacity (CEC) of 2-2.6 mEq/gram. In summary, CLI is a small zeolite crystalline structure with limited cation exchange (against Ca2+, K+ and Na+). First, it shows that these compounds have a molecular weight exceeding the size recommended for small molecules (~832 Da>500 Da), a ring size bigger than the tight junction pore (5.6 Angstroms>4 Angstroms) and an non-negligeable amount of molecular charges. All these features make CLI very unlikely to cross the blood-brain barrier and no studies have provided a direct experimental evidence that CLI crosses the BBB.

2. Does zeolites even cross the GI tract?

Good question! The only paper that I found discussing about zeolites is a paper from Cefali and colleagues (Cefali et al., Pharm Res 1995). Unfortunately I cannot access the paper but the abstract provides two important parameters: Cmax and AUC. In particularly, it also provides the value of aluminum hydroxide (yep, that stuff found in vaccines).
Cmax is indicative of the maximal concentration reached upon administration via extravascular route (IM, PO or SC). The AUC is representative of the total amount that reached the circulation from the time of administration until the time the drug becomes undetectable in blood. From the abstract we have the following information The mean plasma silicon AUC values (+/- S.D.) were 9.5 +/- 4.5 [Note: Zeolite A], 7.7 +/- 1.6, 8.8 +/- 3.0, 6.1 +/- 1.9 mg.hr/L [Note: Aluminum Hydroxide] and the mean plasma silicon Cmax values (+/- S.D.) were 1.07 +/- 1.06 [Note: Zeolite A], 0.67 +/- 0.27, 0.75 +/- 0.31, 0.44 +/- 0.17 mg/L [Note: Aluminum Hydroxide] for Zeolite A, sodium aluminosilicate, magnesium trisilicate, and aluminum hydroxide respectively. Although mean silicon AUC and Cmax values were elevated when compared to baseline after administration of the silicon containing compounds, only the AUC from Zeolite A reached statistical significance (p = 0.041). The mean plasma silicon Tmax values (+/- S.D.) were 7.9 +/- 6.4, 5.8 +/- 4.6, 6.9 +/- 6.3 and 8.5 +/- 3.4 hrs for Zeolite A, sodium aluminosilicate, magnesium trisilicate and aluminum Hydroxide respectively.”. Since we have a Cmax and AUC value for Zeolite A and aluminum hydroxide very similar, we can assume that both compounds may likely show similar bioavailability. Considering the bioavailability of Al is very low (0.3%), it is very likely that zeolite and CLI may not show a higher value that this one. Thus, out of 100g ingested of zeolite, maybe less than 0.3g will likely reach the bloodstream. In conclusion the amount of zeolite capable to cross the GI is very small and considering the volume of a TRS “Detox” (28mL), the amount of zeolite capable to cross the GI tract after swallowing a whole bottle of it is likely to be ZERO.

3. What about the rest of the claims?
As far we have seen:
1) CLI absorption at the GI tract is likely close to ZERO, even if you sip a whole bottle at once (see 2).
2) CLI cannot cross the BBB because of the physicochemical constrains (see 1). The only paper listed in Pubmed is a letter written to a journal with no scientific evidence or experimental data backing up the claim (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224491).
3) The claim of detox is utterly BS: there are two organs that do it for you. The liver and the kidneys. Thats it.
4) Heavy metal detox mostly occurs via renal (kidney) filtration. Even if zeolites can trap ions like Na+ or K+, I still have to find a paper that shows me it can trap heavy metals (Cd2+, Pb2+, Hg2+…..). CLI has been shown to only trap three ions (Ca2+, Na+ and K+) with the poorest ability.
5) Claiming that autism be cured is not fallacious but criminal. Until now, there is no cure for autism. There is no evidence that chelating ions cure autism (chelation therapies have even been proven to be dangerous and responsible for the death of at least one boy). There is also no published mechanism of action demonstrating how a treatment can reverse a condition mostly identified as genetic.

Yours for the low low price of $88 for 28 ml!

To conclude from the biologist above, the "active" ingredient in Advanced TRS:

1) Is the least efficient material of its type for the application, even if this was a remotely viable treatment for anything.
2) Cannot enter the blood stream in any measurable amount.
3) Having failed to enter the blood stream, cannot pass the blood brain barrier.
4) Could not pass the blood brain barrier even if you injected directly into your blood stream.
5) Almost certainly cannot bind and remove acutely toxic heavy metals.
6) Definitely cannot bind and remove acutely toxic organic molecules.
7) Even if it could bind those things, it would be hopelessly drowned out to binding capacity by the abundance of sodium and potassium cations in the blood, that it can, in limited quantities, bind.

In short, utterly useless. Even if it functioned at all, it would still be redundant; the body continually detoxifies itself.

Remember, my good ladies and gentlemen: the snake oil salesman have not gone away. They have merely changed their patter. They thrive now as they never have, using scientific terms of art to dress up their nonsense, bullshit and straight up falsehoods in a veneer of authority. The Flim-Flam Brothers would do very well in this business.

Indeed, the next time you see someone who is trying to sell you on detox, picture the Flim-Flam's faces in your mind, because that's basically the sort you're dealing with.

And for the love of God, don't buy any product or service that claims to detox you.

Report A British Gentleman · 1,485 views ·
Comments ( 12 )

Too bad the sort of people who would buy into this dangerous nonsense are the sort of people who are generally resistant to science and critical thinking.

BTW, are you familiar with the International Skeptics Forum (formerly the James Randi Educational Forum)?

My facebook feed includes the Credible Hulk and the Insufferably Intolerant Science Nerd, I've been set against this BS for years.:coolphoto:

Thank you for this detailed information. I’ve never bought into the “detox” scheme, and it’s good to know I already have a system which does it for me.

But this whole ploy doesn’t surprise me. There will always be gullible people falling for things like this, and, thanks to you, there’s one less.

Utterly useless as in biologically completely inert, right? Look at it this way: At least they aren’t selling something outright poisonous.

Having been poisoned in this manner by my own mother on one occasion, I can attest this is an improvement over the more usual kind of snake oil.

4993976

Utterly useless as in biologically completely inert, right? Look at it this way: At least they aren’t selling something outright poisonous.

Biologically completely inert is the most likely scenario in this case, yes, but I should point out that this is may be by accident rather than design; these people may well think that they are selling an actual chelating agent (which it is, to be fair, although not in this application), but are too scientifically illiterate to understand that it is incapable of crossing the GI tract, much less the BBB.

Although even that is most likely giving them too much credit; they probably just don't give a shit. Or, at best, they give enough of a shit to know better than to actually poison anyone. It depends if these particular snake oil salespeople are knowing conmen or earnest quacks. I think the former is much more likely, but it can difficult to tell them apart.

In truth, this stuff will most likely just go in one end and straight out the other. In this manner, it is at least better than some chelation "therapies", which are actively harmful and in some cases fatal. In that respect, an earnest quack may be more dangerous than a simple con-artist; the con-artist at least knows not to poison you.

As your own experiences would indicate, the quack doesn't.

4993572

BTW, are you familiar with the International Skeptics Forum (formerly the James Randi Educational Forum)?

It's a name I'm familiar with, but I'm not a reader myself.

4993976
4994000

My experience is that the con-men are significantly less dangerous than the earnest quacks, but still far from harmless. The stuff the con-men sell is usually harmless in and of itself, but it can prevent people from getting necessary medical attention from real physicians.

The quacks, though, will sell you anything, no matter how risky, dangerous, and otherwise harmful it may be, because they are True Believers. Because of them, you get stuff like "Miracle Mineral Solution", where parents are actively harming their autistic children with bleach enemas to "cure" their autism. And unneeded chelation therapies that are occasionally fatal. And various "natural" herbal "treatments" that themselves can range from moderately to severely harmful, and have also been known to have fatal reactions and interactions.

I grew up with my parents being heavily into the "natural medicine" thing, and have health issues that went untreated for a long time, and as a result are more seriously than they should have been.

4994024

The stuff the con-men sell is usually harmless in and of itself, but it can prevent people from getting necessary medical attention from real physicians.

True. I recall one incident where someone was trying to sell homeopathic remedies for cancer. Bad. Really bad idea.

4994028

Yeah, there's a recent news article that has popped up on Facebook, about a woman who is suing a quack cancer cure provider, because she didn't get proper medical treatment early on when it was still Stage 1 or 2, and she is now Stage 4.

Actually, I'm not sure you've got the mechanism of the drug correct. It's designed to only absorb from the GI tract in extremely limited quantities, and to bind to the sodium and potassium in blood. That way, when it works, it will deplete you of electrolytes by a very small amount, which will cause you to eat food, which will make you thirstier, which will stimulate you to drink more water. That causes your kidneys to activate — which cross the blood-brain barrier and destroy enough brain cells to make you want to buy the product again.

Hap

I had some quack at the hospital try to sell me some snake oil called EDTA and told me it would detox my blood!

Good thing I don't believe in that. Now, I'm going to eat a few more of these paint chips. They're surprisingly sweet!

4995422

Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid, is the stuff they were trying to give you. Like the zeolite outlined in this blog, it is a chelating agent: it forms a "cage" around metals, bonding very strongly with them.

While it's certainly true that it will chelate any heavy metals it encounters, it will also chelate anything and everything else; it's very general. Far too general in fact.

By way of explanation, consider bleach. Bleach, I'm sure you will agree, is very toxic to living cells. I'll bet it has a high degree of biocidal activity against cancer cells! Ingesting bleach will certainly kill any cancer cells the active component of bleach (Sodium hypochlorite) may encounter. Along with any and all other, healthy cells it bumps into along the way.

And unless you are in fairly dire straits, your going to have rather more healthy cells than cancerous cells.

The only time I'd expect to see an actual medical professional consider EDTA as a treatment is in a case of acute lead or mercury poisoning, where they were desperate to purge the metal ASAP if they were to save the patient.

Using it as a routine health supplement is completely insane and ludicrous. Enjoy your paint chips, by the way.

Hap

4995629
(I was making a joke about being treated for lead poisoning, but thank you for taking it seriously)

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