More, poor advice from the merry old land of Oz

Dr. Mehmet Oz recently came under fire for using his TV show–and his medical reputation as a cardiothoracic surgeon–to promote questionable weight loss supplements. Of course, asking a heart surgeon for advice about dietary supplements makes about as much sense as asking your plumber for advice on brain surgery.

A Senate subcommittee grilled Dr. Oz for hours about his overly enthusiastic endorsements of three products that he described as “miracles” and “magic bullets.”

You probably know that doctors are generally very reluctant to criticize other doctors. This physician code (medical omerta) of silence makes it difficult to pursue malpractice cases since you can’t get one expert to testify against another regarding standards of care.

But–many of Dr. Oz’s peers did break their normal code of silence and spoke out about his antics. The medical news website Medscape even opened up a forum for other doctors to comment on the Dr. Oz situation.

One doctor called him, “…an embarrassment to the medical profession.” And another doctor–an “insider” from the “high pressure” world of surgery–said Dr. Oz was a skilled heart surgeon who liked to make difficult procedures appear easy compared to others. But he’s actually a skilled self-promoter who made you see what he wanted you to see.

Of course, for the typical mainstream doctor to comment on dietary supplement claims at all reminds me of the story by H.G. Wells about being in the “land of the blind, where the one-eyed man is king.” Or it may be more the case of the blind leading the blind.

Mainstream medicine just doesn’t trust the dietary supplement world. And unfortunately, we could describe this conflict with another Wells story, The War of the Worlds.

The sad truth is that dietary supplements should be a perfect example of truly complementary medicine. So many standard drug therapies cause nutritional deficiencies, it makes perfect sense to supplement patients routinely with effected nutrients. Unfortunately, too many mainstream doctors don’t have the right attitude or information for such sensible approaches.

In this case, however, the mainstream doctors are well justified in their criticism of Dr. Oz and his irresponsible promotion of unproven weight-loss methods. In fact, Dr. Oz’s antics make my job all the more difficult. And it makes it more difficult for the average consumer to separate fact from fiction.

In the end, we can’t worry about spilt milk. But I do want to make a few points clear:

First, you won’t find me recommending any “magic bullets.” As I always warn, the very idea of a magic bullet is a flawed concept. One that has gotten medicine into more trouble than it’s worth. . (More on that flawed “magic bullet” concept in the next Daily Dispatch.)

Second, every once in a while, I will describe something that occurs in Nature as being miraculous, such as South African red bush (rooibos) or Sutherlandia (kankerbos). But you won’t find me referring to any weight loss supplement as a “miracle.”

And finally, you won’t find me recommending any weight loss supplements –period. Again, it’s a flawed concept that any dietary supplement can make you achieve long-term, healthy weight loss. Healthy weight loss and maintenance comes from the right dietary and nutritional choices. Not from a pill or a fad.

To learn more about how to lose weight effectively and keep it off, subscribers to my newsletter can read my special report called The Top-of-the-Food-Chain-Cure for Obesity. If you’re not yet a subscriber, now is the perfect time to get started.

This fiasco should have been three strikes and you’re out for Dr. Oz. But amazingly, millions of Americans still appear to worship his every word and even quote him. I hope I have done a better job than that of educating you about the real challenges and complexities of achieving good health and healthy weight.

One doctor summed up what is perhaps closest to the truth: Dr. Oz is not a physician; he is an entertainer.

Of course, for years, actors sold products by proclaiming the infamous byline, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on television.” And that seemed to be good enough. But it shouldn’t be.

So perhaps the best advice of all is not to watch Oz on television at all. In fact, you’d be wise to turn off the TV altogether, get off the couch, and go outside for a nice walk.