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Health Guru Angers Followers with Baby-Formula Plans

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Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: Heard of Dr. Joseph Mercola? If you're a certain kind of crunchy parent -- wary of vaccines and chemical exposure, committed to exploring holistic and non-Western health practices with your family -- you likely have. Mercola isthe author of a pair of bestselling books, "The No-Grain Diet"and "The Great Bird Flu Hoax." He is a giant in the natural health and parenting realm, an entrepreneur whose website toutsdozens of products, including air filters, juicers, vitamins and krill oil. Heis also an osteopath. (Osteopaths hold an O.D., as opposed to an M.D., and are considered doctors; they are often sought after by those who mistrust what they see as an arrogant medical establishment.)

Dr. Joseph Mercola
Although I'm solidly on the crunchy end of the spectrum in some parenting categories (breastfeeding, for instance), I'm a vaccinator and milk drinker and overall a fan of Western medicine. So my first exposure to Dr. Mercola occurred when a Facebook group I follow (Peaceful Parenting) erupted with news that he had betrayed his legions of followers by breaking with their philosophy on two key fronts: He refused to condemn routine infant circumcision, and he was planning to produce and market his own line of "all-natural" infant formula. (He made the formula announcement in an online article attacking soy formulas for containing manganese, a mineral he claims is dangerous to infants.)

For a man whose fortune is built on the idea that natural is always best, it was quite the reversal, and his fan base responded with outrage, launching a Facebook page asking if Mercola is "for or against unethical practice in medicine." I have to say, while I understand their disappointment -- especially those who are strong breastfeeding advocates -- I find their anger a little surprising. Did they really think Mercola was another Dr. Schweitzer? Is there such a person, actually?

For all its lofty self-regard, the natural-health movement is lousy with quacks, from the anti-scientific anti-vaccine advocates to those who are clearly only in it to make a buck. With his million-dollar business plan (and his FDA-issued warnings), Mercola was pretty clearly not one of the good guys, even before this latest news. It's a bitter homeopathic pill to swallow, I suppose, but maybe the fall of yet another quack will help nudge more well-meaning parents away from the more cultlike aspects of natural health and into a saner, more balanced approach.

And you know nobody really liked krill oil, anyway.

next: Why Kids Make Messes
34 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jilly November 3, 2010, 7:01 AM

Hello people, not everyone CAN breastfeed so what shall these people feed their babies? I don’t kow squat about this guy, I am far from crunchy, however an avid supporter of breastfeeding and did so with both of mine for as long as they wanted.(Mind you I did not let it carry on till the age of 7, GROSS…18 mos and 2 yrs, they both stopped on their own)
Anyway, I digress, point is, although this may be a money making plan and appearing to be a sellout, there is need for this product. People who want the most natural food, who can’t breastfeed….go for it dude!

Angie November 3, 2010, 8:23 AM

It is funny how opposite people are on things. Who cares if some people believe in natural things? I couldn’t breastfeed more than like 10% of my son’s infancy and I nearly fell into a deep depression when I researched the ingredients in market formula. If I had a natural approach I would have been so much more relieved and you better believe I would go Dr. Mercola’s route with formula. Quit bashing people who want to be educated in the health and well being of themselves and their family and why don’t you go ahead and keep feeding your family chemicals.

Jennifer Lo. November 3, 2010, 8:57 AM

It’s not often that I think the writers of momlogic do a good job in balancing their perspectives, but Ms Tuttle here does an excellent job. There is a reason that medicine exists, and that reason is that nature cannot heal all sicknesses nor cleanse most wounds. If nature had been the wonderful source of treatment naturalists prescribe it to be, the modern Western medical movement would never have had a reason to get started. Medicine does wonders. It’s a far better treatment than praying to god.

That said, Ms Tuttle is also right in being suspicious about why a man like this would suddenly go against his (apparent) principles and begin his own line in baby formula. She, however (probably through professionalism) did not state clearly enough the reason why, so let me be clear: money. That’s right, MONEY. This man apparently (I never heard of him until now) has millions of followers. If he spits on something, they buy it. If he recommends a particular wine, they buy it. If he asks people to stop breastfeeding their babies and buy his formula insteaad, they, of course, buy it. MONEY is this man’s reason for existence. The anti-marketing dollar is just as powerful as the marketing dollar - the organic movement is a demonstraion of that; so successful was the movement that farmers who would have previously masturbated on a crop if they thought it would deter insects are now willing to let those crops grow and rot just so that they can sell the ones that survive for ten times the price, are everywhere in our society today. Coffee and cocao growers everywhere are willing to keep their children out of school and on the farm so that they have enough hands available to help them win the coveted organic label for their products, and you all are buying it up.

How many times? Breastfeeding is best. And for those of you who ask what should you do if you can’t breastfeed, well, what did women fifty, a hundred, three hundred, a thousand years ago do if they couldn’t breastfeed? Did they let their children starve? No, of course not, they paid for a wetnurse. I know most of you will think that’s disgusting, but, quite frankly, I’m of the opinion that it’s a hell of a lot more disgusting to let a marketing team determine the food your child will eat rather than a team of professionally trained doctors and nurses. Follow the research, do what is best for your child, put YOUR convenience on hold for a moment and stop believing in propaganda. YOU wanted the child whose life is now in your hands, GIVE that child the food it needs. Breastmilk is the only free source of nutrition that child will ever know. Take advantage of it while it lasts. Jilly and Angie, I’m talking to you: wetnurses.

Interestingly, I read today that Indonesia is in the process of outlawing formula for children under the age of six months old. Please discuss, momlogic readers. I’m looking forward to the kind of immature flame and troll war this kind of article always provokes. Enjoy.

Jennifer Lo November 3, 2010, 9:14 AM

Ugh, when are people going to realize that natural doesn’t always equal better or safe? Things like bitter orange are “natural” but in some people it causes heart attacks.

KS November 3, 2010, 10:14 AM

Good for him. I think it would be fantastic for parents to have a better alternative to the formula that is now being sold. Not everyone is able to breast feed. Not just for lack of trying hard enough, but for legitimate reasons that are frankly non of anyone else’s business.

Anya November 3, 2010, 11:07 AM

What on earth is wrong with making all-natural formula? Good for him!!

I proudly fed my extremely healthy babies formula. My babies were never sick, always slept through the night and now are flourishing toddlers.

Not everyone wants to or can breastfeed. Why not give them more options? I think it’s quite strange that all those “mothers” demanding the freedom to breastfeed anyone they choose would deny women the freedom to choose how to feed their babies. Those who demand the most are typically the most close minded

Autumn November 3, 2010, 3:52 PM

We are all entitled to our own opinions, but, as a writer especially, Ms. Tuttle should be presenting facts accurately. An osteopathic physician is a D.O., not and O.D. An O.D. is a Doctor of Optometry. A D.O. is as equally a licensed physician as an M.D., so not only are they considered to be doctors, they are doctors. They work side by side with M.D.s in hospitals and clinics all over the country. is an excellent resource to educate yourself on D.O.s and the whole body approach to medicine of Osteopathy.

Medicine and the wisdom of man can only do so much for us. As the wife of a physician, and yes, a D.O., my husband and I get to see the other side of medicine (from M.D.s and D.O.s) from what the patient sees. And to be honest, it makes me pray even more. I’m thankful that the “treatment” of praying to God, as was mentioned in a comment above, IS far superior to any medicine or treatment or surgery available. I appreciate and am grateful for modern medicine, but I’m grateful that God heals and restores in miraculous ways that medicine will never be able to. I am continually floored by the testimonies of the those in my life and in the lives of my husband’s patients. Those who have been healed when doctors had already said there was nothing that could be done and no medicine was given. Cancers or tumors one day, completely gone the next day. Those whose cases stumped the doctors. I would say it’s prayer to God that wins out. Just because a person doesn’t believe God to be real doesn’t mean He isn’t.

As for response to this blog, many women have trouble breastfeeding, cannot breastfeed, or have adopted children and desire a safer alternative to the other formulas available. It’s great to see a medical professional offering that option. Thankfully as adults and caring mothers we can do our own research and make the most loving and intelligent decision for our own children and situation. Maybe Dr. Mercola is just appreciated for providing an alternative against the companies who are willing to let us poison our children to make their money. We shouldn’t get so worked up over wanting the best for our children…

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Barb November 4, 2010, 4:29 PM

Not every woman produces milk or enough milk!!!

mike November 15, 2010, 4:07 PM

Whoever wrote this article did not do any research. First an osteopathic doctor is a D.O. not an O.D.. Second he does not sell air filters - he sells water filters. Third he commented he is formulating this formula for women who cannot breast feed and he recommends breast feeding 100%. I think the integrity of the author of this article should be questioned, but it’s easy for anyone to write a poorly researched crappy piece of work.

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