Few things waste more time in my office than the mention of Dr. Oz. While he he does not endorse products (or so he told me), his exuberance is an endorsement all its own. Oz’s show is filled with biologically inaccurate demonstrations—carny set-ups, really—which are masterfully engaging. He is a terrific showman. What my patients bring to me, though, is Oz’s latest non-endorsement of a miracle cure.
One of the most useless things I’ve seen on his site is his “3-day Detox Cleanse“. What is it? What is it supposed to do?
Eliminate harmful toxins, restore your system, and reset your body with this detox cleanse from Dr. Oz. All you need is 3 days, a blender and $16 a day!
This particular Ozism isn’t a product endorsement, but it is still senseless. What does it mean to “eliminate harmful toxins” or “restore your system” or “reset your body”? From the standpoint of biology, it is meaningless. For the sake of argument, let’s posit that there are “harmful toxins” you need help eliminating. What are they? Why are they in you? Does this “cleanse” really do anything to get rid of them?
Of course not. It’s another sideshow gimmick, a way to call in the pigeons. It probably won’t hurt you, and it may just make you trust Oz all the more. Your body produces toxic substances in abundance, some of which are useful, some of which are not. Carbon dioxide, for example, is potentially toxic, and you manufacture it in great quantities. Your body eliminates it quite efficiently through the lungs and kidneys. The liver is a whole detoxification factory. It’s pretty damned remarkable. Panaceas don’t exist. You can’t treat a specific problem with a non-specific “cleanse”. That’s just not how biology works.
It’s really very simple: anything that sounds to good to be true usually is. Remember laetrile, which was supposed to be a miracle cancer cure? If it worked you’d know a lot more about it. Remember acai berries? It wasn’t that long ago. Is everyone now walking around thin and happy? How about those Meuller belts and steam boxes from old films. Seen one lately?
None of these “miracles” has traction because there are no short cuts.