Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ignore Dr. Oz on Sage Leaf Tea and Alpha Lipoic Acid


Contrary to what some may think, I don’t enjoy blogging about Dr. Oz.  Why? It requires a lot of effort to identify the facts and if I don’t exert the effort, I am ultimately no better than him with his inaccurate proclamations.  Having written about the good doctor ad nauseum, I had planned to ignore his most recent show called "Snack Attack: Eat More and Weigh Less" this past Friday that originally aired February 17, 2012.   

As fate would have it, one of my guests at Friday night dinner asked me about the show and specifically about the Sage Tea he recommended to lose weight.  My short respite from analyzing the products Dr. Oz recommends was over.

So here we go again. The episode started with Dr. Oz claiming that “recent studies prove that snacking on the right foods at the right time can turn your body into a fat-burning machine.” He then went on to present that eating certain snacks of 200 calories or less two hours before dinner will result in less food consumed at dinner. One of those snacks he presented included prosciutto, a cured ham, which he recommended wrapping around 2% mozzarella cheese, and adding 2 olives, 1 cup zucchini, and 1/4 cup chickpeas.

I’d like to see a study that showed that eating prosciutto and mozzarella cheese two hours before dinner helps you lose weight. I highly doubt it. What do you think? He also states on his website in reference to this episode that “Get your metabolism going with a pre-dinner snack, 1-2 hours before your main meal. Doing so will help you stop eating once you're full, which is sometimes hard to do.” Why would snacking help you stop eating when you are full if eating non-snack food often doesn’t do that?  Enough said.

http://www.glasbergen.com/wp-content/gallery/fitness/fit26.gifOf course, he also recommended a product—in this case a cup of Sage Leaf Tea--as a way to lose weight. After a few hours of research, including pubmed.com, Cochrane.org, naturalstandard.com, and infopoems.com, I could only find one reference to the use of Sage Tea for anything whatsoever related to weight.

It was a study titled “Antihyperlipidemic effects of Salvia officinalis L. leaf extract in patients with hyperlipidemia: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.” This single study involving a whole 67 people showed that Sage Leaf may be useful in decreasing lipids. Mind you, that doesn’t mean losing weight. 

By the way, where do you think the study was done. Wait for it, here it comes—Iran.  Yes, that’s right--The People’s Republic of Iran, that bastion of scientific integrity known for its war-mongering, terrorist-supporting, Holocaust-denying oppressive government. Now that’s a source of a study I’m not sure anyone should rely upon.  There was not a single additional scientific reference to the use of Sage Leaf tea for weight loss, metabolism booster, etc. that I could find.

But Dr. Oz wasn’t done for the day pushing pills.  He then recommended 200 mg. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) as another weight loss aid.  Now here’s where it gets good. 

Like with Sage Leaf, I began an intensive search and here’s what I found--a South Korean study titled, “Effects of Alpha-Lipoic Acid on Body Weight in Obese Subjects” published in early 2011, that stated to the authors’ knowledge, “this is the first study to show that alphalipoic acid treatment led to a significant weight reduction in obese human subjects.” There appears to be no published study since, so this seems to be the first and only study of its kind. 

Second, the study initially involved 360 obese subjects (of which about 1/3 dropped out for different reasons including adverse side effects) consuming 1,800 mg (9 times the dose recommended by Dr. Oz).  

After 20 weeks of treatment with 1800 mg per day of alpha-lipoic acid, the results showed “modest but statistically significant reductions in body weight and BMI.” How much weight did they lose after 20 weeks of 9 times the dose recommended by Dr. Oz? They lost 1.8% of their weight. In a two hundred pound person that would be 3.6 pounds.  At 1,200 mg (or six times the Dr. Oz’s recommended dose) the weight loss was even less at about 2 pounds for a 200 pound person.

For full disclosure, there was another study, published in 2010, for which I could only access the abstract titled, “Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation: a tool for obesity therapy?” The conclusion of this Italian study according to the authors was “Our study indicated that LA is an ideal antioxidant candidate for the therapy of obesity related diseases. Further clinical studies should be considered to highlight the role and efficacy of LA treatment.” However, this was not a double-blind randomized controlled study and no data on caloric intake was given. By the way, they consumed 800 mg, or 4 times the dose recommended by Dr. Oz. Apparently, the South Koreans discounted this study as well based on their statement that they had performed the first study on the effects of ALA on weight loss.

Need I say more? Dr. Oz has little scientific basis (and for that matter, no business) recommending such a product at a dose that has no valid and conclusive scientific evidence to support his recommendations.

Of course, that never seems to stop him and it didn’t here.

12 comments:

  1. I get so frustrated with Dr. Oz for making claims like this. Where is a good source to go for good (correct) weight loss advice?

    AndreaPomMom@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. The Mayo Clinic so far appears to be the most reliable website. Paste http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/symptoms/SymptomIndex in your browser.

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  2. There was also an Italian study (Carbonelli 2010) showing efficacy of ALA for weight loss using much lower dosing, 800 mg/day.

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    Replies
    1. I referenced the study in my blog. As far as I can tell from the study's abstract, the Italian Study (Carbonelli 2010) was not a randomized double-blind controlled study, the gold standard and most reliable form of study. If you have access to the complete study, please forward it to me at steven.charlap.md@mdprevent.net and I will review it and further comment.

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    2. ALA does work with "weight management" with proper dosage. I can testify to it because I take it consistantly. ALA helps regulate your blood sugar levels, so that your body does not produce insulin. It is rare I listen to Doctors because all they do is prescribe a bunch of pills. But he got that "one" pill right

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  3. Personal experience is not scientific evidence. Without knowing your full medical history, your diet, your exercise routines, etc., it would be impossible to verify your statement. Notwithstanding, controlling blood sugar whether with ALA, as you claim, or with metformin, the commonly used prescription drug, that control insulin levels, do NOT reduce weight. That's a fact.

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  4. But, let's not forget these 2 products are used for other things beside weight loss.

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    Replies
    1. True, but their overall effectiveness for any clinical/therapeutic use is still debatable.

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  5. ALA is used by many body builders and athletes alike who want to regulate insulin and lose weight. While it is not directly linked to fat loss, what it does, lowering blood sugar levels and helping curb appetite IS. However, in order to get the benefits of such a product, the dosage has to be correct. Ive seen guys take 3000 mg of this stuff a day and by god, it works as long as you maintain a diet and work out regular. There is NO magic pill though. Remember that.

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