Internet trailblazer Dr. Joe Mercola is one of the most controversial figures in the world of alternative medicine and has millions of online followers. However, the government and the mainstream medical establishment see many of his unconventional views as misleading and possibly even damaging to your health.
A strong proponent of alternative medicine, supplements and holistic treatments, Dr. Mercola has been called a charlatan by pharmaceutical companies and traditional practitioners. First off, Dr. Mercola believes that the mainstream medical community is too apt to put patients on prescription drugs, which relieve symptoms but often don’t address the underlying causes of disease. Recently, Dr. Mercola has expanded his mission from providing provocative information to openly advocating his health-care beliefs and going up against what he sees as powerful corporate interests controlling the health-care industry.
Dr. Oz disagrees with many of Dr. Mercola’s remedies and treatments though he does appreciate how Mercola pushes physicians to think differently about medicine. To help you better understand the controversial medical issues raised by Mercola, here’s a rundown of some of his primary beliefs, as well as Dr. Oz's bottom line.
Dr. Joe Mercola’s 3 Key Areas Where You Can’t Trust Your Doctor
1. Best Sources of Vitamin D
Dr. Mercola was one of the earliest champions of the importance of vitamin D, which most doctors now recognize as important to overall health. First, Dr. Mercola feels you need to have your vitamin D level tested; he recommends it should be somewhere between 60 and 80 nanograms per milliliter. However, most doctors think this level is too high. As an alternative to getting tested by your doctor, Dr. Mercola recommends sending away for a self-test kit online.
Dr. Mercola believes that the best way to get vitamin D and other important compounds is through direct sun exposure – about10 minutes a day. He claims that many doctors mislead you to think that the sun is always bad for you, and that you must always wear sunscreen.
“Safe” Tanning Bed
Dr. Mercola’s most controversial recommendation for getting vitamin D involves using a tanning bed during cold winter months, or simply whenever you can’t get enough sunshine. This is not recommended for tanning but rather to support health, and should be used for no more than 15 minutes with no applied sunscreen. This is a highly controversial suggestion since the World Health Organization has recommended that no one ever use a tanning bed, labeling the devices as carcinogenic.
Dr. Mercola proposes that people use a “safe” tanning bed that uses electronic ballasts versus magnet ballasts, and one that relies on UVB rays (which convert cholesterol in your blood to vitamin D) instead of UVA rays. If you pursue this method, Dr. Mercola recommends you ask the manufacturer or owner of the salon for a bed with at least 5% UVB radiation or better yet, 10%.
Vitamin D Supplements
There are two types of vitamin D you can take orally: synthetic or plant-based vitamin D2, which most doctors advise taking. Dr. Mercola recommends taking 8000 IUs of vitamin D3, which your body makes after being exposed to UVB rays. Ideally, it should be taken daily with 150 mcg of vitamin K.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Vitamin D levels should be checked, but be sure to have this done by a physician.
- Dr. Oz recommends 1000 IUs per day instead of 8000 IUs.
- Studies must be done to determine the value of UVB radiation. In the meantime, take note that no tanning bed is safe and there is no such thing as a safe tan. Avoid tanning beds entirely and enjoy up to 15 minutes of natural sunlight without sunscreen to get the benefits of vitamin D. To learn more about how to get your daily dose of vitamin D safely, click here.
2. The Need for a Flu Shot
Most doctors will argue that the flu shot saves lives, but Dr. Mercola disagrees. He cites that the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) own website shows a wide discrepancy on the benefits of the flu shot from season to season. The CDC reports that the flu causes 36,000 deaths per year, but Dr. Mercola feels that this number is exaggerated because it includes deaths from bacterial pneumonia; he claims that deaths directly caused by the flu are very rare.
Dr. Mercola is against the flu shot because it’s based on strains that are present in Asia preceding our own flu season. The logic is, if those strains don’t become common in the States, than the shot is worthless. Second, the vaccine contains dangerous preservative ingredients such as mercury, aluminum and even antifreeze.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Dr. Mercola is not including all the lives that are saved by the flu shot because of fewer heart attacks. (Good data indicates that the flu virus can invade the arteries and cause inflammation in general.)
- Battling the flu is also a quality of life issue. You don’t want to be laid out for 5 days.
- If you are concerned about mercury, ask your doctor if they can obtain a flu shot made without it.
3. Health Benefits of Saturated Fats
For years, doctors have warned that saturated fats are the cause of high cholesterol and heart disease. Dr. Mercola believes that you can actually benefit from one saturated fat – coconut oil. He bases this belief on the fact that Pacific Islanders have very low rates of cardiovascular disease. Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids that can be alternative fuel for brain cells. Coconut oil also supports the thyroid gland to improve lean body mass. In addition, it contains the fatty acid lauric acid, which is an important stimulus to the immune system, and is the same compound found in breast milk.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Pacific Islanders may have a lower incidence of heart disease because they eat mainly a plant-based diet, not just coconut oil.
- Coconut oil is high in compounds that have antiviral and antifungal properties as found in breast milk.
- It also has the added benefit of lowering blood sugar.
- First, you don’t want to replace healthy fats like olive oil with coconut oil. Instead, you want to replace unhealthy saturated fats, such as butter.
- Coconut doesn’t go rancid. You can cook with it because it does not oxidize due to the saturated fat content when you put it in a pan.
The RX Drugs Dr. Mercola Doesn’t Want You to Take
Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs taken by 1 in 4 Americans. Dr. Mercola believes cholesterol is not necessarily as dangerous as it’s been made out to be. He feels too many people are taking statins based on the guidelines that have been reestablished in the interest of big pharma companies. According to Dr. Mercola, statins have serious side effects such as causing muscle damage and diabetes and should also never be prescribed during pregnancy. If you do take them, Dr. Mercola recommends the supplements coEnzyme Q10 or ubiquinol.
Dr. Mercola supports natural ways to lower cholesterol, such as avoiding non-vegetable carbs and sugars (bread, sugar, soda, etc.) and eating – rather than avoiding – healthy fats such as olive oil and avocados. Also, he supports the idea of niacin supplements to help lower cholesterol.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Too many people use statins as an excuse not to make the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to prevent high cholesterol.
- If you have heart disease, there’s no question statins are a very important part of your health-care regimen. If you don’t have heart disease, there could be other options for you to explore with your doctor.
- If you’re cholesterol numbers are high, request more detailed tests to determine if you need a statin drug.
2. Blood Pressure-lowering Drugs
Approximately 25% of the US adult population is taking drugs for high blood pressure. Dr. Mercola believes that most Americans who are taking hypertension drugs are pre-hypertensive, and it’s not necessary for them to take full-blown high blood pressure meds. He also proposes that about 1 in 4 people have “white-coat hypertension,” which means they become fearful or anxious when their blood pressure is being taken, and that’s what elevates it.
Similar to the cholesterol issue, Dr. Mercola believes that with hypertension you need to treat the underlying cause of the disease – which involves insulin and leptin resistance – by optimizing your diet and replacing refined carbohydrates with plant-based carbs and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
In addition to a healthy diet, Dr. Mercola believes hypertension can be treated naturally, with a magnesium supplement and with bitter melon and olive leaf extracts, which are both rich in vitamin C and amino acids. There is also a strong link between caffeine and high blood pressure, so reducing your caffeine intake can help.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Olive leaf extract is shown in studies to help lower blood pressure.
- Bitter melon is used in African folk medicine, and there is evidence to support that it can lower blood sugar.
- 400 mg of magnesium is recommended as a first line of defense against high BP.
- The most important step, though, to lowering blood pressure is weight loss.
Dr. Mercola supports the theory that, in certain published studies, no significant clinical difference exists in taking SSRI antidepressants versus placebos. He feels that prescribing SSRI antidepressants takes away the focus of treating the underlying causes of the disease. Plus, there are too many serious side effects of SSRIs, including stroke, diabetes, a weakened immune system and an increased incidence of suicide.
Dr. Mercola recommends treating depression with the natural herbal remedy St. John’s Wort. In addition, he recommends warding off depression by eliminating stress through exercise and counseling.
Dr. Oz’s Bottom Line:
- Major new research shows that we don’t fully understand how SSRIs work to treat depression, and that they may not be as effective as talk therapy.
- Severe depression may still require medication to get you on the road to recovery.
- People with mild to moderate degrees of depression are overmedicated in this country and should seek out alternative solutions.
More in Alternative Health
The Health Benefits of AlcoholToast to your health with a glass of your favorite alcoholic beverage.
What Your Astrological Sign Can Tell You About Your HealthSee what your astrology sign reveals about your health.
Why You Should Meditate Every MorningThis ancient practice can help you lead a calmer and more organized life.
7 Ways Tea Tree Oil Can Improve Your Skin and Hair ProblemsFind out how this healing essential oil can help your skin and hair conditions.