More Elmore Oil nonsense

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I thought we’d moved on from Elmore Oil.

But in the last several days, hits on this blog for any article discussing our old friend have gone through the roof – double or triple my normal traffic.

Is it the fact that they claim on their website to have won a ‘national price comparison survey’?

Or is it that they have finally revealed the ‘7 secret uses’ of the stuff. I kid you not. There are secret uses – maybe that’s the reason for the spike. As you would expect, these secret uses are just more non-specific ailments which come and go in a natural cycle – things like recovery, sleep, heel spurs, and RSI (wow, is there nothing this stuff can’t do?).

No, it’s another almost completely credulous report on A Current Affair. This is not so much a report, as an advertisement for the stuff.

And I say ‘almost completely credulous’, because after assaulting us with constant reminders of the price of the stuff and how it’s cheaper than everything else, and shoving those hokey anecdotes from a couple of elderly folk down our throats, at about 3:40 into the piece, a spokesman from Arthritis Australia tells us:

“.. it’s a harmless remedy that people apply to the skin, I don’t think it can hurt you, but I don’t think we have good evidence to recommend it”.

But then again, she’s a doctor, what would she know, right?

The reporter then goes on to explain the lack of any clinical evidence (which is at odds with Elmore’s claims), and that users could be enjoying a placebo effect.  In fact I followed up the evidence here, and it’s paper-thin to say the least. Interestingly, there website now cites the study at Latrobe, saying:

In 2007 a pilot study was conducted by Latrobe University in Australia, (McBURNEY, Helen, PhD, B AppSc (Physio), on the effects of Elmore Oil on patients diagnosed with osteo-arthritis. Although only 11 people eventually completed the study it was clear that there was a preference by most participants to Elmore Oil in terms of pain relief and stiffness that was beyond the minimum clinically important levels.

Well, I spoke to Dr. McBurney back then, and reported the conversation here. At the time, I couldn’t get hold of the paper by Dr. McBurney, but having now read it, I think my synopsis based on the discussion was spot on. Clearly, Elmore have cherry-picked and paraphrased perhaps the only slightly supportive comment in the report, in the very last paragraph. To be honest, in my opinion this paragraph is not really supported by the rest of the data. By any reasonable interpretation, there is no difference between rubbing this oil in, to any other oil, which is what Dr. McBurney told me. Still, most of the ‘faithful’ won’t go to the clinical trials page, so why even worry?

The doctor on Current Affair goes on to say:

“..it’s not a miracle cure. I think some people will get a little relief of their symptoms, and that’s a great thing, but it certainly isn’t a cure for arthritis.”

And if you heard it on ‘A Current Affair’, then it must be so.

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