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- August 5, 2004
By Phil Kaplan
had many guests on my radio show, but my favorite so far has
been Brooke. She didn't say very much and she tried to eat
the microphone but she was a great guest just the same. That
aside, let's get down to business . . .
There are some issues
that keep recurring, issues that have people confused and
in desperate need of clarity. That's precisely why I'm here.
Clarity is on the way. Let's start by discussing a nutritional
supplement that has been selling like hotcakes.
Whoever came up with
that? Do hotcakes really sell all that well? What is a hotcake
anyway? A pancake? Hmmm. I make some good blueberry whole
grain pancakes. Maybe I should start selling them. Phil's
Healthy House of Pancakes. PHHOP doesn't have the same type
of ring as IHOP. Am I getting a little off track? Didn't I
promise news about a hot-selling supplement? OK, forgive me.
I'm back on track. Here we go.
Before you read this complete article
I'd first direct you to my previous
assessment of the product Cortislim.
Then c'mon back and pick up right here where you left off.
Now, then hit the back button and pick up where I
say . . .
Welcome back! The last few months
have been interesting in watching the expansion of Cortislim's
advertising campaign. When that many dollars are pumped into
an ad campaign, you know that campaign is generating lots
and lots of money. Let me share some new insight into this
"best selling" product.
I'll start by saying
I enjoy listening to radio personality Phil Hendrie. I would
even call myself a "fan." If you've never heard
Phil, it may take a while to catch on to his humor, but once
you "get it," you too will become a fan.
I've seen Phil
Hendrie in person. He's large. He's also been up and down
and up and down in the weight department. If you listen to
the ads on the stations that carry Phil Hendrie, it's only
a matter of time until you hear him promote CortiSlim. He's
lost weight, his family is losing weight, and now apparently
his listeners are losing weight. Well, that's what the ad
says. I'm sure you know that radio personalities are paid
for their endorsements. Some, such as I, are extremely selective
in the advertisements they connect with (the salespeople at
WIOD hate me). Others count their "spots" and watch
their bank balances escalate.
Phil Hendrie, who
is not a weight loss expert but rather a very entertaining
talk show host, mentions that CortiSlim acts upon the hormone
cortisol, and this evil hormone is the culprit America should
blame for making everybody so fat (I'm paraphrasing). He also
says it's important to drink lots of water when you take Cortislim.
OK, let's stop there. Why should you drink a lot of water?
If CortiSlim did in fact act upon the endocrine system, the
glandular system responsible for producing hormones, if it
went right to the adrenal gland to limit the production of
cortisol, what does ingestion of water have to do with the
supposedly hormone-adjusted weight loss? Nothing. Absolutely
lots of water" is certainly important, and most Americans
fall short on the old rule of eight glasses a day. Products
such as the 24-hour miracle diets facilitate water loss by
asking users to drink the product, and . . . drink lots and
lots of water. Oh, and these diets also suggest that for two
days you avoid food. If, for two days, you fail to eat, and
you literally flush your body with water, two things happen.
One, you go to the bathroom a lot. Two, you lose water weight.
The scale may tell you "it's working," but water
loss is a common trick used by diet sellers. Take an individual
who does not drink even a modest amount of water and start
increasing water intake. I guarantee some pounds will drop.
Water loss. Temporary and meaningless in the quest of long
term weight reduction. If people take a supplement and the
scale tells them the pounds are going, they falsely believe
the supplement is "working."
of the ingredients in Cortislim is green tea. Green tea contains
alkaloids of our old friend caffeine. I can't find caffeine
content on the bottle so I have no idea how much is in there.
Caffeine, aside from being a stimulant, is diuretic which
further aids in water loss. Interestingly, green tea also
contains L-theanine, an amino acid that seems to facilitate
relaxation. This can balance out the stimulant effect without
impacting the diuretic effect of caffeine.
in their creative marketing efforts, "invented"
Cool names. It
makes it sound as if there are some drug-like compounds at
work here. Cortiplex obviously relates to cortisol, at least
in name, leptiplex draws a connection to the little messenger
that plays a role in satiety, Leptin, and Insutrol sounds
a lot like the pancreatic hormone we're all familiar with,
insulin. Let's look beyond the names and see "what's
Magnolia Bark, beta-sitosterol, theanine
is an herb. It's used in Chinese medicine to treat "upset"
stomach. It appears to have a tranquiling effect, as do
the herbs kava kava, valerian, and scores of others. Since
cortisol is "the stress hormone," relaxing and
minimizing stress would certainly be important. They insist
in all the CortiSlim ads I've seen or heard that the product
is scientifically proven. I can't find anything anywhere
in the annals of science that illustrate that Magnolia Bark
lessens adrenal activity or in any way shape or form controls
cortisol. You know what though? If you take a tranquilizing
herb, and also take theanine, you very well may "feel
better," and there's another trap that lures you into
relying upon the supplement you bought as a weight loss
aid . . . not because it helped you lose weight but because
it relaxed you.
The next ingredient
in the "Cortiplex Blend," Beta Sitosterol, is
a plant sterol that appears to block the absorption of cholesterol.
It's also been well documented as an aid in reducing enlargement
of the prostate. The research, however, that led to the
continued study of this sterol as a cholesterol-lowing aid
used between 500 mg. and 10 grams per day. I don't see any
science to support that Beta Sitosterol is a weight loss
aid. I also have no idea how much Beta Sitosterol is in
Cortislim. Because each capsule contains only 155 mg of
the entire "Cortiplex Blend," I think it's a safe
assumption to say that, even if cholesterol were the target,
the amount of Beta Sitosterol in the product is insignificant.
Green tea extract, bitter orange peel extract
discussed green tea, but let's turn our attention to bitter
orange. Bitter orange is an herb from which we get synephrine,
an isomer of the compound used in Neo-Synephrine nasal spray.
It it safe? Who knows? It's only recently been integrated
into thousands of weight loss formulas to replace ephedrine
when the FDA pulled it from the shelves. Together with caffeine
it can work to alter neurotransmission resulting in decreased
appetite (remember, eating less and flushing the body with
water is an old and misleading diet trick). Is there reason
to suggest that synephrine may be potentially harmful. Absolutely.
You can find that information in an article I've written
on Synephrine. Go ahead. Read
it. Then . . . come back!!!
banaba leaf extract, vanadium
Banaba leaf is
yet another herb that has found its way into many of the
newest breed of weight loss supplements. Animal studies,
and even some human studies, do show that it may potentially
help to stabilize blood sugar or lower blood glucose levels
in individuals with Type II Diabetes. With that said, the
effects of banaba in research studies used up to 48 mg.
and some of the "results" were nothing more than
a 5% lowering of blood sugar. Is this significant? Sure.
It shows that this can play a role as a tiny piece of a
puzzle with the goal being healthful blood sugar levels.
Does the research prove this to be a magical weight loss
compound? Absolutely not. How much banaba leaf extract is
in Cortislim? Good question. One capsule contains 16.5 mg
of the "Insutrol Blend." Again, even if it's virtuous,
the amount of banaba leaf extract in Cortislim is hardly
finish off the ingredient list, Cortislim's label claims 100
mg of Vitamin C, 150 mg of calcium, and 50 mg. of chromium.
These micronutrients (vitamins
and minerals) do play a vital role in stress recovery, but
the dosages included here are less than you'd find in most
drug-store multi-mineral formulas.
Now that we understand
the ingredients, and the potential value of these ingredients,
let's look at some of the claims:
what makes us fat
9 times the
weight loss with Cortislim!
reduces stubborn "stress" fat!
With the claims
out of the way, let's better understand the realities. Let's
start with the first claim, "Cortisol is what makes us
is an adrenal hormone, is vital in normal metabolism. Excessively
high production of cortisol can negatively impact blood
pressure, immune function, brain function, and maintainance
of lean body mass. It can also contribute to the accumulation
of fat. That doesn't make it "the reason" America's
fat. Americans are fat because they don't move enough, they
supersize their meals, and they're very misled about the
obesity solutions (read my
last update). Cortisol is but a tiny player in the orchestral
act of fat accumulation.
Nine Times the
There is a research
study referenced by the "9 times" claim. The study
was of course brought to you by the fine folks who manufacture
Cortislim. There were two groups, one being a control group
that used a placebo plus diet and exercise, the second group
being the group that was given Cortislim through a 12-week
regimen of calorie restriction and personal trainer-supervised
exercise. There are many variables that would have to be
considered to determine whether the supplement played a
significant role in weight loss, but the outcome states
the placebo group lost bodyweight (-.7%) and the Cortislim
group lost more bodyweight (-5.3%).
Time out. I want to understand
those numbers. It's always helpful to come up with examples,
consider a 200 pound person as an example. If a 200 pound
person lost 5.3% of bodyweight, that would equate to a 10.6
pound weight loss in 12 weeks. That would be good. Keep
in mind, supportive eating and exercise in and of themselves
can stimulate the loss of 1-2 pounds of fat per week. If
that same 200 pound person lost .7%, that would equate to
1.4 pounds lost. 9 x 1.4 is 12.6. At the very least there's
an exaggeration here.
It's also significant
to note that 32% of those in the control group dropped out
of the study before it was complete. A study such as this
would have to be replicated to gain relevance, as with any
two groups, one group will always achieve a better result,
even by accident. The "diet+exercise+cortislim group"
might have lost more weight even if they hadn't taken the
supplement. I don't see this "study" as being
"conclusive." I see it as a marketing aid for
the product sellers.
One final note
on this topic. Driving home from the gym today I heard a
Cortislim ad on the radio that said, "subjects lost
nine times the weight and twice the fat of the control group."
Let's think about that (I know I'm asking you to do a lot
of thinking, but I'm thinking along with you . . . and besides,
brain activity burns calories). If someone lost nine times
the fat of someone else, that would certainly be impressive,
but I've already expressed my confusion about the numbers.
Let's put that aside and suppose there were in fact a "nine
times" variable. That would mean that if the control
group lost 10 pounds the supplement group lost . . . 90??!?
Now let's consider the "twice the fat" comment.
At most, in the example I provided, the control group could
have lost 10 pounds of fat, after all, they lost 10 pounds
in total. If the supplement group lost twice the fat, that
would amount to 20 pounds. This statement, using the fabricated
numbers I provided, would indicate that 70 pounds of the
weight loss was something other than fat. That indicates
a loss of lean body mass! Somehow the numbers just don't
cortisol can lead to increased abdminal adiposity (body
fat) but once that fat is stored, it is simply bodyfat,
indistinguishable from any other adipose material stored
in the body's adipose cells. In order to burn fat, you first
have to release it, and the body releases fat systemically,
proportionately from all over the body. I don't see how
a supplement can target fat that was stored as a direct
or indirect result of stress. Do you?
July 12, 2004, the Superior Court of the State of California,
Orange County, initiated a class action suit against the marketers
of Cortislim. 27 disappointed customers from 26 different
states banded together to begin taking actions to halt the
proliferation of what they believe to be fraudulent and deceptive
information. The action seeks redress for "fraudulent,
deceptive, and otherwise improper advertising." The claimants
feel they were deceived into buying a product promoted under
the guise of "Scientific Research" when, according
to the claimants, the claims are unsubstantiated and the product
just "doesn't work."
continues to sell. I just received an oversized direct mail
postcard with a picture of Dr. Shawn Talbott dressed in a
white lab coat and the quote "Our new study suggests
you may not have taken Cortislim long enough. That's why I
want to give you a 30-Day Supply FREE." That sounds incredibly
noble of Dr. Talbott . . . until you call the toll free number.
You do recieve a 30 day supply free, with the purchase of
a 60 day supply! Allow me to translate the marketing ploy
into layman's terms. "Even if Cortislim didn't work,
you should buy more!"
You may be surprised
to hear me say I find Dr. Talbott to be insightful, knowledgeable,
and well informed. There are a few things that infomercial
marketers do that can take insightful knowledgeable people
and coax them over the lines of integrity. On the Cortislim
infomercial, the language suggests that Dr. Talbott is a "doctor."
He is a PhD. That's not lying. It's just working to create
a false and powerful assumption. The infomercial is one of
the contrived pre-taped "television shows" fabricated
to make it appear as if the "host" is conducting
is called "Breakthroughs." I'm certain you won't
find that show listed by name anywhere in your TV Listings,
despite the fact that the infomercial probably airs in your
area dozens of times each weekend. If you watch the show you'll
hear somebody call in to report great success with the product.
Think about this. If the show is taped in a studio, and never
aired live, how in the world can anyone call in? They can't.
The caller is obviously scripted.
The claims made
on the show are questionable at best, and the references to
Cortislim being "the first weight loss product that addresses
cortisol control" and Cortislim addressing "the
key areas of metabolism that drive you down the road to weight
gain" further open the door for FTC scrutiny. Before
CortiSlim, there were many far less publicized products that
targeted cortisol ranging from the herb Holy Basil to phosphatidylserine.
I don't believe CortiSlim was first, nor do I believe it "sets
lawsuit documents use some pretty strong language directed
at Dr. Talbott. "Talbott has misused the corporate
form of Window Rock (the corporation that controls Cortislim)
to commit an intentional fraud upon the public, and in an
effort to defeat the ends of justice and otherwise evade the
law . . . "
I had Dr. Talbott as a guest on
my show. A real show. A live show. You can listen to the show.
It isn't scripted. Find it at my Radio
Show Archives Menu. It aired February 14, 2004. You'll
hear him say, "no one's going to get those benefits
from a simple pill." He also says you'll want to
supplement with 1000 mg of Vitamin C per day. That's 10 times
what you find in CortiSlim.
Here's what I believe
is unfortunate. Cortislim may actually have value. Magnolia
Bark very well may lower the stress response, banaba may very
well work to reduce cravings and blood sugar. I think the
research on these compounds should be continued. It's sad
that when a product may have some value, advertisers and marketers
feel compelled to present it as a miracle, and make claims
such as "14 pounds in 2 weeks" and "9 times
the weight loss of diet and exercise." Perhaps with continued
research on some of the compounds in Cortislim, a valuable
aid may be developed, not as a weight loss solution, but as
a helpful supplement.
Now, I'm anxious
to see how the class action suit progresses. I'll keep you
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