Coral Calcium and the True-Believers

Related articles

Faced with a life threatening disease or chronic health problems, many patients decide to take matters into their own hands and experiment with alternative medicine. This is usually the result of one of two scenarios: either conventional medicine has failed to achieve desired results or patients simply feel the need to be more actively involved in the process of healing. These decisions are not necessarily harmful and might even improve the mood of the patient in some cases, but even when there are no direct negative health consequences, money is usually wasted when consumers believe extraordinary claims advertised in magazines, television infomercials, and websites, and their time and attention is diverted from treatments that work.

That was the case with Coral Calcium Supreme, advertised with claims that it could cure everything from cancer to heart disease, claims that many customers believed. Testimonials fill pages all over the Internet (over 180,000 sites), and the infomercials were quite tempting. After all, it's just calcium, it can't hurt, right? But now the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charging coral calcium marketers with making unsubstantiated claims. If all goes well, websites touting coral calcium as a miracle worker will remove deceptive information, per FTC warning letters reminding coral calcium sellers that it is illegal to make health claims that are not supported by scientific evidence.

Robert Barefoot is the man behind the hype and the one to blame for wasting consumers' hard-earned money and possibly endangering their health. Barefoot claims that coral calcium from Okinawa, Japan is the key to a long, healthy life free of the diseases that plague non-Okinawas. The basis of his belief is the fact that the people of Okinawa drink water that contains coral deposits and minerals because the land there includes many coral reefs. Barefoot claims that over 200 diseases are caused by calcium deficiency and acids in our bodies, acids that coral calcium can neutralize.

Absolutely no scientific studies have been done to prove the statements made by Barefoot, but he manages to win the hearts of vulnerable consumers.

What evidence exists regarding calcium shows that it, along with other minerals, may play a role in controlling high blood pressure and therefore heart disease. Further, since osteoporosis can result from stored calcium leaching out of the bones, increasing calcium consumption can be preventative or therapeutic. There is no research showing that calcium plays a role in any other disease. While it is true that only 25% of Americans are meeting the recommended dietary intake of calcium according to the United States Department of Agriculture, coral calcium is probably a poor choice to increase calcium consumption. There are many cheaper supplements available, and there are always low-fat dairy foods available.

Barefoot does an excellent job distorting information from research studies to fit his claims. One study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that increasing low-fat dairy products in the diet reduced growths associated with colon cancer. This study is an important one regarding cancer prevention, but it has no implications for cancer reversal as Barefoot would have us believe. Furthermore, the study used low-fat dairy, not calcium supplements, so it would be unfair to make sweeping generalizations about calcium-containing products.

Even Barefoot's credentials are false. Some sites claim he has a Ph.D. and his website says he is a world-renowned scientist. Neither of these statements are true he did some sediment research with no connection to human health and the thing he is best known for now is his conflict with the Federal Trade Commission.

After ConsumerLab, a private laboratory, reported lead findings above California's legal risk level of 1.5 mcg, and the Council for Responsible Nutrition submitted complaints, the government decided to take action. Although it is unclear whether the lead content of 2.5 micrograms poses any health problems, it was the catalyst for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to charge marketers with fraud. Robert Barefoot, Kevin Trudeau, Shop America USA, and Deonna Enterprises were all charged with violating the FTC Act. Claims about curing multiple sclerosis, lupus, and heart disease went beyond existing research on calcium's benefits. Trudeau had previously been charged with making unsubstantiated claims and has now violated a 1998 court order prohibiting him from making such claims about any product.

Though there are hundreds of websites that have been selling coral calcium, all claiming to be the real "Barefoot Coral calcium," a familiar thirty-minute infomercial about the product will no longer be seen on television, pending a court hearing. Websites are now legally obliged to state that the FDA does not approve their product, but few sites have added such statements.

With luck, consumers will take note of this episode and ask their doctors for advice before risking their money and health on products rooted in pure publicity rather than science.


September 17, 2003

What I really think about this article is: here again the REAL medicine users are attacked. Let's look at it from a scientific point of view then, shall we? When did the wording change from "medicine" to "conventional medicine"-versus-"alternative medicine"?

"Medicine," as it states in the dictionary, is: any DRUG or REMEDY for use in TREATING, PREVENTING, or ALLEVIATING the symptoms of disease.

Let's look now at "conventional," which reads: following the accepted customs and proprieties, esp. in a way that lacks originality (as in habits).

Now "alternative": a possibility of CHOICE, esp. between two things (MEANING the FREEDOM of CHOICE?).

So what this lady and many other authors are saying is that to eat mud, worms, leaf, or fodder is "alternative medicine"?

Sorry, for all you learned people out there, it is called "medicine" by the Native Americans and aboriginals as are coral grinds or Morinda Citrifolia fruit for lots of different folks around Polynesia and Asia.

A "scientist" is a person who STUDIES or PRACTICES any of the sciences or who uses scientific methods. The studies should include "OLD KNOWLEDGE" and deliberately "SUPPRESSED KNOWLEDGE." Why waste such a huge effort by previous scientific researchers? Does the almighty dollar influence your love for science?

I despise any person who for any scientific reason denies any other person or living organism the food for living and a healthy and fruitful life. That includes mud, mudpies, worms, leaf, and coral calcium plus thousands of other non-Pharma-registerable natural products. Of course, there must be manufacturing cleanliness and control on overdoses of ingredients and known poisons.

Take your own medicine and see: