Organic activists reject science, propose ‘natural’ Ebola cure, claim government conspiracy


As the death toll of Ebola continues to rise, especially in the hard-hit West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the need for a viable cure is growing more and more urgent. Even more concerning is the possibility that once approved, vaccines may not be widely available for several months.

As often happens in times of medical crises, fringe groups come out from hiding–in this instance, organic activists in the form of the most high profile organic lobby group in the United States.

According to an article on the Organic Consumers Association website, modern medicine should be replaced by the use of supplements to treat Ebola. The OCA claims there are alternative natural treatments that individuals and health workers could currently be taking to prevent and treat the spread of Ebola.  OCA cites one study that shows that the Ebola virus relies on selenium–which it quickly depletes from the host’s body, further weakening the immune system. Replenishing selenium is vital to patients’ survival once infected. However, there is no empirical evidence that selenium supplements would have any effect on patient recovery or survival.

The organic activist group also claims that administering supplements of vitamins C and D in patients and those at risk could also help to reduce the impact of the virus–again, claims that no credible medical authority would support. This is especially critical in poorer areas where nutritional deficiencies are common, the OCA claims.

So why hasn’t more stress been placed on these measures, which could effectively treat Ebola and potentially save lives? According to the OCA, this might be the result of the government putting greater stock in the profitability of drug companies than actually treating the virus. In other words, the organic group claims the government is in a conspiracy with Big Pharma to deny people inexpensive life-saving remedies.

“The status quo in which government creates and protects drug company monopolies was always outrageous. Now with the threat of major and deadly pandemic in sight, it is completely unacceptable. It is essential that voters become aware of what is going on behind closed doors in Washington so they can speak up and move the political system-before millions of lives are needlessly lost and our economy also dealt a savage blow.”

The OCA is not the only group to challenge modern science and promote fear around the Ebola crisis. As David Gorski writes in Science-Based Medicine, anti-vaccine activists are already warning against an Ebola vaccine, even though one hasn’t been approved yet and is unlikely to be for quite some time.


Meanwhile, in Africa itself, faith healing is being promoted by at least one Nigerian pastor, Ituah Ighodalo, as a means of curing Ebola, including laying on hands, which is a great way to infect oneself with the virus if those hands happen to come into contact with any bodily fluids of the sick and then happen to touch a mucus membrane.

Here in the “developed” world, we have similar claims being made, for instance, in this article entitled Can Gingko and Turmeric Help Stop Ebola? I could have saved them the trouble and said “almost certainly not,” but the author of this article insists on all sorts of handwaving about JAK-STAT signaling p38 MAP kinase and the effect of Gingko and Tumeric on these pathways. It might be worth a detailed deconstruction elsewhere. For now, let’s just say it’s “speculative,” to put it kindly. The editors of Inside Surgery should really know better. Or maybe not. I saw another article on Inside Surgery entitled Can Rife Therapy Help Stop Ebola Disease? Then I saw that the editor of Inside Surgery, L. “Skip” Marcucci, MD, has completed “a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona” and that he’s also “a formally trained medical acupuncturist.” Well, OK, then. That explains a lot. It also rather saddens me to see an article on a website called Inside Surgery that is not too different from this article by Mike Adams about “natural” cures for Ebola (one of which is based on traditional Chinese medicine).

The Food and Drug Administration has been moving against some quack promoters, most notably Adams. The FDA issued warning letters to three companies over fraudulent health claims regarding Ebola treatments. The warning letters, viewable here, single out the Natural Solutions Foundation and two essential oil companies “Young Living” and “dōTERRA” whose distributors, the FDA says, were making claims that their oils could treat or prevent Ebola. The FDA sent agents to Mike Adams on September 23 to immediately desist in spreading false claims promoted by Natural Solutions.

The warning letters threaten all three companies with possible criminal prosecutions if they do not immediately answer the FDA and Federal Trade Commission with explanations of how they plan to halt the making of such claims. The e-commerce website of the Natural Solutions Foundation removed any mention of Ebola.

Will the federal government have the gumption to confront organic activists?

Jon Entine, executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, is a Senior Fellow at the World Food Center, Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy, University of California-Davis. Follow @JonEntine on Twitter

  • mem_somerville

    I cannot believe people trust these guys with food policy. Morans.

    • TecumsehUnfaced

      Right, they’re real “morans”.

    • Nemo_of_Erehwon

      For those unaware, this spelling of “morons” is a meme in some corners of the Interwebs.

  • Loren Eaton

    Uhhh. They just crossed the line from being a mere nuisance to being aggressively dangerous.

    • First Officer

      They did that back with Marie Mason

      • JoeFarmer

        Supposedly she has determined she is transgendered and is now going by “Marius Jacob Mason”.

        I swear I’m not making this stuff up!

    • I think they did that already with the whole anti-vaccine thing.

  • agliterate

    Organic, huh? Read this: 22% of organic lettuce has fecal contamination. (and the organic industry itself admits it!) I’m done with organic food (the little I buy when I could afford it, that is).

    • inanmaz

      But feces is natural! :))))))

      • BBunsen

        And also might be gluten-free.

  • agliterate

    Like Idi Amin going around telling people that AIDS was a U.S. conspiracy, and refusing to let his people get prevention / treatment. These guys do terrific harm.

  • First Officer

    Wow, Mike Hitlister Adams is at it again. Who is he going to send his 12 monkey army against this time?

  • Jorge Blasio

    Oh god, more bullshit to counter…

  • August Pamplona

    Genetic Literacy Project is a website with relatively high traffic, I would guess. I would suggest that when you link to someplace like the OCA you use “rel=”NOFOLLOW” so as to not elevate their Google ranking.


  • August Pamplona

    Given that the OCA appears to be a front for a system of agriculture that was founded on the communications of someone who never set foot on a farm and who got his “knowledge” through a clairvoyant connection to the “akashic records”, I can’t say that any level of nonsense coming from them should be considered surprising.

  • Amelia Jordan

    This is pretty disgusting. Organic farmers need better organic activists, because no sane person wants the OCA on their team. Too bad they can’t kick them out.

  • Ivar Ivarson

    If these propeller-heads are so confident, they can join the true heroes in W. Africa while taking their guaranteed cure medicine. What could possibly go wrong?

  • Brandon Osborn

    The only “government conspiracy” I can see is one to keep these nutbags and they’re nuttier-than-squirrel-poop ideas away from vulnerable people. West Africa has it’s own “traditional medicine culture” which recommends having sex with a virgin to cure AIDS and that western medicines implant nanobots to monitor and control those receiving them (that’s where Snoop Dogg got his “information.”)

    Here is the Amazon link – this trashlet ($2.99 – Kindle edition), has almost a 5-star rating! I did my bit to bring it down – please help.

    • Steve Brickman

      The US government shoots itself in the foot, resulting in unintentionally giving credence to these nuts. The government sent health care workers into Afghanistan to collect blood samples from the locals. In addition to whatever legit purpose this served, the CIA used the DNA from these samples to help build a terrorist database and track some of them down. Hope it was worth it.

  • mad Mike

    Claims there is an organic group claiming “government conspiracy.” Says the organic industry has lobbyist to influence policy makers to create laws in their benefit. Hypocrites.

  • Verna Lang

    It wasn’t that long ago that the South African government used diet and vitamins to treat AIDS instead of adopting antiretrovirals like some of their neighbors. They cherry picked western experts (quacks) that agreed with them to back their reasoning. The resulting toll of unnecessary deaths was over 300,000. Some of those same western experts are still pushing their disinformation and selling their “cures.”

  • Steve Brickman

    There’s another part of this conspiracy ‘theory’ I’ve been hearing from people who never met one they didn’t like. Supposedly Obama is deliberately engaging is mass murder in Africa to depopulate it, using something like Ebola. They claim Ebola doesn’t exist; that it’s a ‘disease’ made by the USA. These people have no shame. Probably the same ones who accused people of being stunt actors falsely claiming to have had a child murdered at Sandy Hook.

  • Joe Smith

    Wow! The parasites always come out when there is medical uncertainty and push their quack medicine!

  • BBunsen

    How about something called “putting your money where your mouth is”: if the OCA is so sure that supplements will cure Ebola, let’s have 10 of its members go to Africa, get infected, and then start taking supplements. We’ll see how that goes.

  • Dan

    The only “natural” way of stopping ebola, would be a total quarantine and it would inhumane to suggest, especially while there are possible cures.

  • Skeptical

    I was curious by this fairly reactive analysis. True, a lot of “organic” and “natural” internet content is fairly untrustworthy, but the selenium studies are actually real science, with studies. There is just as much reason to rationally be skeptical of the myriad pharmaceutical solutions suddenly ready to be tested on great quantities of people in Africa. The fact that Ebola and HIV are major epidemics in a place with deficieny in selenium and selenium has multiple scientific studies connecting it with intense immuno responses seems like something to actually take a rational look at.