While watching TV today (the cricket if you must know), I saw a promo for ‘A Current Affair’, featuring the typical line-up you’d expect, but one caught my sceptical eye – Elmore Oil. I seem to recall this from days past, and sure enough a quick google revealed the same story on Channel 7 (Today Tonight) in 2007.
The claims made for this stuff are pretty extraordinary, so I thought I would do some quick investigation, and the findings are interesting.
At the outset, I’m not saying that the stuff doesn’t work; but, like Glucosamine, it seems to be supported mainly by testimonials, anecdotes and a s**tload of advertising and media saturation. So let’s have a look.
The claims are that Elmore Oil can help you if you suffer from back pain, neck pain, arthritis, hip pain, joint pain etc etc. The components are well advertised : olive oil, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and vanilla. But it’s how they are put together that’s the secret. I’ll let the inventor tell you about them himself:
Elmore Oil is manufactured using a process known as Triple Maturation. It’s unique to Elmore Oil and it bonds the actives in the essentials oils to the circulatory components found in Vanilla so we have a product which enters the body quickly and gets to the source of the pain and inflammation quickly.
The underlined emphasis is mine. I didn’t understand it either. Not off to a good start in my book.
Looking at their website (I’m reluctant to give it to you – just google Elmore, and you will be deluged!), I see that they speak of clinical trials – yay. And not only clinical trials, but double-blind, placebo-controlled and crossover. Things are looking up.
The results summary on the site is quite promising, and yes, shows some benefit. Let’s have a look at the trial report itself then.
Not that I’m a medical research expert or anything, but the first thing that strikes me about this report is that it’s a total of 4 pages long – actually 3 and a bit, of large font, well spaced text. No header, footer, and no confidence that it wasn’t just run up at home. OK, it may be the summary of the actual research, but where is the actual research?
I tried to find it, but they haven’t made it accessible on the web, and worse than that, it doesn’t appear to have been published in any journal let alone a credible, peer-reviewed one.
So as for research on Elmore Oil, there hasn’t been the opportunity for any peer review or replication, and the sole evidence for its efficacy is from one brief trial at none other than the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, in Quezon City, in the Phillipines. What? Haven’t heard of this august research institution? It’s a government funded hospital for the retired personnel of the armed forces of the Philippines and their dependents. Among all government hospitals in the Philippines, VMMC is apparently the only one that’s not under the supervision of the Department of Health. It’s under the administration of the Department of Defense. Now your confidence is sky-high, right?
Ok, well let’s keep our cynicism in check for a bit longer. Surely the researchers cited in the paper are very experienced, and well known in the research community? Let’s see:
Dr Ruth S Sy – Principal Investigator – has no other research reference I can find. Maybe they are just not published to any online repository that I can get to.
The ‘clinical trial coordinators’:
Dr. Leticia Lucero – Palma – as for Dr Ruth. Very modest online presence until Elmore Oil.
Dr. Bill Paspaliaris – Hello… Dr. Bill is all over the net. In 2007 Dr. Bill was charging a fortune for autologous stem cell therapy (i.e. therapy using one’s own stem cells), which is, it seems, to this day unproven and frowned upon by a whole host of organisations. He appears to be part of a world-wide consortium pushing this therapy, known as the ICMS. This link features a number of practitioners, one of whom has been in the gun from a number of corners, including this from the ASCC, and this from the US Food and Drug Administration.
This final article from the journal Nature, rounds off the current thinking on autologous stem cell therapy. In summary, while the use of stem cells to treat a variety of conditions works because we are replacing stem cells being killed off with cells performing the same function, the use of stem cells to treat conditions where we expect the introduced stem cells to behave in different ways, is clinically unproven.
So what to make of all this?
Clearly, we can’t say that Elmore Oil is bogus.
But if they were serious about proving their product’s efficacy, surely they would not settle for:
- one clinical trial
- done in a veterans’ hospital
- in the Philippines
- not published in any journal for peer review
- not replicated
- using an unpublished principal researcher
- and supported by a researcher known to peddle unproven (and controversial) therapies.
If they were serious, surely an invitation to others to replicate the work to prove its efficacy would be to everyone’s benefit – those suffering with debilitating joint conditions and those who seek to make a buck.
I’ll leave any further judgements to you.
Update: For a follow-up to this article, in which I talk to some local researchers about Elmore, read this article.