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Joseph Mercola

Joseph "Doc" Mercola, D.O. (born 1954), is an osteopathic physician, health activist, and entrepreneur practicing near Chicago. He is the author of two New York Times best-sellers, The No-Grain Diet (with Alison Rose Levy), and The Great Bird Flu Hoax, together with several other books. He is best known as founder and editor of the popular website On his website, he advocates dietary and lifestyle approaches to health. He criticizes many of the practices of mainstream medicine and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), particularly vaccination and the frequent use of prescription drugs and surgery to treat diseases. On the website, he also promotes and sells a variety of products. Mercola has received a pair of warnings from the FDA for marketing nutritional products in a manner which violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.[1][2] He is a member of the politically conservative Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, as well as several alternative medicine-related organizations.[3]



Started in 1997, is the website operated by Joseph Mercola. As of October 2006, the site had a ranking of 4534 out of all websites by, ranked first under key words 'natural health' in the United States, and one of the top visited for 'health'.[4] As of October 2006, had a ranking of 5,033 out of all websites at and was first for the "health/news and media/newsletters" category.[5][6]

The web site presents health articles, product sales, solicitation for new patients, and a video addressing newsletter readers.[7] There is usually a new google video in each weekly newsletter. If someone gives their date of birth and mailing address, they are even sent a surprise birthday card in snail mail.


Mercola is a 1976 graduate of the University of Illinois and a 1982 graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.[8] According to Mercola's website, he is a former Chairman of the Family Medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center in Illinois and served as editor of HIV Monograph (1989) by Abbott Laboratories.[9]


Mercola strongly advocates dietary changes to improve health, which he considers to be among the most important lifestyle changes for enhancing well being and longevity. Overall, he claims that a well balanced diet should include mostly natural, unprocessed foods, while excluding processed and artificial foods. He sees value in paleolithic diets, and advocates tailoring food consumption to the metabolic typing, developed by William Wolcott that Mercola offers more information on, in his book on the subject. He encourages using water filters or reverse osmosis to purify water content, and is against water chlorination and fluoridation.

Dietary recommendations

Examples of foods he recommends include fresh vegetables and vegetable juice, wild salmon, fish oil, (cod liver oil in winter), fermented foods like kefir, raw foods including raw milk products, raw eggs, grass fed beef, ostrich meat and traditionally used fats such as virgin olive oil and coconut oil.

Foods he recommends avoiding include pasteurized milk, homogenized milk, most fish (due to mercury content), trans fats, certain processed vegetable fats (such as corn and canola oil), soy products, artificial sweeteners, sugar, starches, and for those with elevated insulin levels (such as anyone who is overweight, diabetic, or has high blood pressure or high cholesterol) he also advises avoiding all grain products (including "even whole unprocessed grains, and alternative grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet and teff"), fruit juices, and canned, packaged or artificial foods. This is very similar to what is often called a Paleolithic diet and the diet promoted by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Controversial dietary advice

Joseph Mercola's dietary recommendations often put him at odds with mainstream dietary advice. The elimination of grains from the diet goes against the recommendation of the USDA food pyramid, where grains are viewed as a staple food. Mercola, however, points to theories on food intolerances involving gluten, such as celiac sprue[10] and wheat allergy, and the relatively new introduction of grains into the human diet and theories that sugar and starch are associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance.[11]

Some dietary fats he promotes are also high in saturated fats, including unrefined coconut oil,[12] which also contains medium chain triglycerides. While saturated fats are considered by the American Heart Association as contributing to heart disease[13], a number of scientists (such as those from The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics) dispute this claim, stating that the lipid hypothesis has not been validated to scientific standards. Some other fringe nutritional groups beside Dr Mercola also advocate saturated fat consumption. has hosted negative articles[14][15] about microwave ovens, calling them dangerous, citing accidents, lawsuits, biochemical changes and other health reservations about the chemical effects of microwaving food. He also offers non-microwave, convection ovens for sale in his store.[16] Mercola controversially[17] claims, "Microwaves may also cause pathological changes in your body. Once a food's structure is altered, it cannot perform the desired function in your body. Clinical studies show that microwave heating of milk or cooking of vegetables is associated with a decline in hemoglobin levels. These reductions may contribute to anemia, rheumatism, fever and thyroid deficiency."[18]

In supporting raw milk, Mercola is very critical of requirements for pasteurization, stating that it is unnecessary if cows are raised under healthy conditions.[19] He claims that raw milk is one of the finest source of protein and calcium available,[20] His main concern is that the high temperatures during pasteurization will destroy the valuable enzymes in milk and create converted proteins the body was never designed to handle.[21]

Mercola is also against homogenization.[22] He asserts that it causes fat globules to surround the enzyme xanthine oxidase (XO), which prevents the stomach from breaking down XO and allows XO to be absorbed intact into the bloodstream. He relates this additional bovine XO as a possible source of harmful oxidatitive stress contributory to heart failure and increased uric acid levels associated with gout.[23]

Drugs and supplements

Dr. Mercola advises elimination of most prescription drugs and immunizations for treatment, and favors natural food choices, lifestyle modifications and energy psychology tools to address emotional challenges. He views these as safer and more effective options, because they address what he believes to be the 'root causes' of disease rather than simply treating symptoms by palliative means. He states that drug companies profoundly influence both government health agencies and the mainstream medical community, which in turn promote medical practices that are beneficial to drug companies but harmful to the patient.[citation needed] Typical supplements he promotes are krill oil, fish oil or cod liver oil, products containing vitamins such as vitamin D (when lacking adequate sun exposure) and vitamin K, probiotics, and anti-oxidant supplements.

Pharmaceutical industry criticism

I am quite confident that if gravity had to be approved by the FDA it would clearly meet strong resistance from the multi-national drug corporations.
                                                    -Joseph Mercola

Mercola is especially critical of new drugs, as well as the economic and political powers which might influence their acceptance.[24] He wrote an early drug warning on rofecoxib (Vioxx),[25] a drug later withdrawn from the market by its manufacturer due to adverse reactions.[26] He dismisses many conventional health concerns and medications as useless, prescribing exercise, good diet, good sleep, specially filtered water, chlorella, omega-3 fats focusing on fish oils, and energy psychology methods like Emotional Freedom Techniques as cures for most ills.


Among Mercola's most controversial recommendations are his expressed concerns that too many vaccines are used too soon during infancy.[27] He believes that some subpopulations (e.g. neonates, elderly, chronically ill) may be less suitable for certain vaccines, and that flu vaccines are still formulated with thimerosal and other undesirable adjuvants unsuitable for use.[citation needed] He asserts that the slow phasedown for millions of existing doses of childhood vaccines containing mercury is against the public's greater interests.

Mercola hosts vaccine critics on his webpages, advocates preventive measures [28] as part of an alternative immunization schedule, and strongly criticizes influenza vaccines.[29] He questions the projected epidemic threat and severity of influenza, the flu vaccine's safety [30] and efficacy,[31] and the possibility of harm to an individual's immune system.[32]

Mercola claims that some chemicals used to control fungi and bacteria within certain vaccines are toxic to infants and can harm young children if too many shots containing mercury-containing Thimerosal are given within a period of time. He also expresses concern about potentially cancer-linked components in vaccines such as thimersol, and historically, SV40 virus contaminating early polio vaccines. Medical research and views in this area are contentious. Thimerosal is an organic compound used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent in vaccines, containing mercury which is classified as a poison in its pure form, and is used in small amounts as a preservative in vaccines. Thimerosal is no longer recommended in vaccines given to young children in the USA, though it is still present in US-made vaccines exported to other countries.[citation needed]

In his book The Great Bird Flu Hoax[33] he appears to take a stronger anti-pharmaceutical industry stance by accusing them of a fear-mongering marketing campaign against the public, as allegedly occurred with the Swine Flu scare of the 1970s.[34][35]

In supporting this stance, Mercola often has wholly critical views of those working in governmental health care, as well as towards international health organizations. Mercola makes an extensive argument that disease alerts such as swine flu and their resulting immunizations were actually false alarms put forth to terrify the public.[citation needed]

Alternative medicine

Mercola promotes treatments based upon methods that have not been accepted by mainstream medicine, such as metabolic typing, the traditional Chinese medicine originated acupressure-based Emotional Freedom Technique, herbalism, naturopathy and chiropractic including vitalism.[36] Proponents of conventional medicine claim that these methods are unproven.

While stating that he believes in the scientific method, he distrusts many commercial and institutional applications of it in medicine. He has stated that the only value he finds in mainstream medicine is diagnosis and emergency accident survival.[37] Mercola paints a picture of most medical science as being corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry, and the majority of medical doctors as being frequently deceived and misled by multinational corporate drug interests.

Of homeopathy he says, "I have never been formally trained in homeopathy, and as a result I don't use much of it in my practice, but I am convinced it can be used as an effective tool for many conditions if properly utilized."[38] He has also contributed to the water fluoridation controversy and has published several anti-fluoride[39] articles.[40]

Religious beliefs

"When symptoms arrive as a result of how poorly you've neglected your body and mind, rather than taking personal responsibility for your own wellness (restoring wholeness) and trusting in the God-given recuperative powers of your body, many seek those who are now only too willing take on this role for you."

Mercola was raised as a Catholic. Later in life he switched to evangelical Christianity, but now calls himself spiritual rather than religious. Dr. Mercola was formerly a member of the Christian Medical Society but stopped his membership in 2002. He promotes religion and prayer as having health benefits, and focuses strongly on studies that advocate this position.

Mercola hosts the theistic writings and beliefs of other website contributors such as Carol Tuttle,[4] who speaks of angels among us,[5] that want to help everyone,[6] and can be petitioned to do so.[7] He refers to her as a master energy therapist of energy psychology and energy medicine. Says Mercola: "energy psychology is one of the greatest tools I have ever encountered in the healing modalities." As with his involvement with Emotional Freedom Technique, his support for these modalities gives such approaches value in his spiritual views, frequently presented on the website.


Mercola's web site, articles, and weekly newsletter constantly promote food, mechanical and information products sold from the site. He claims that all income goes towards maintaining and enhancing the Web site.[41]

Mercola sells meditation tapes which he claims reduces stress as "the number one cause of illness" [42] or disease (as stated in his newsletter). His advertisement also claims that they increase creativity, energy, and focus.

FDA Warnings

On February 16 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent Mercola warnings on multiple products about misleading claims for products that he advertised on his website.[1]

In defense for having the inaccurate statements for his products up in the first place, he claimed that six months prior to the FDA letter he had hired a Washington DC law firm to proactively review the claims he had already posted on the website for legal validity.[citation needed]

Mercola claimed that due to their internal miscommunication the law firm never completed his request. He claims to be unaware of their failure to review his website for statements until he received the letter from the FDA.[citation needed]

On Sept. 21, 2006 Mercola received a second warning letter from the FDA for claims made on his website in relation to "various product labels..."[2].

Criticisms of Mercola

Some of the criticism of Joseph Mercola is similar to criticism made against non-mainstream and alternative medicine in general. Mercola is often viewed in this light by his promotion and marketing of non-pharmaceutical approaches. While certain advice, such as good diet and exercise, are not so criticized, he promotes a variety of alternative medicine that often take the place of the pharmaceutical approaches he mostly discourages.

  • In October 2000, Stephen Barrett, operator of Quackwatch, filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against Mercola (a resident of Illinois) for libel. This was in response to allegedly defaming comments quoted on his website from Tim Bolen, a critic of Quackwatch. Quackwatch is a site that is critical of Mercola. In June 2001, Barrett withdrew the suit [43] on jurisdictional grounds and refiled it in Illinois on July 30, 2001 at Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. On April 17, 2003 the suit was dismissed by mutual agreement. [44]
  • In May 2006 BusinessWeek published an article [45] about Mercola's aptitude as an online health and medical entrepreneur . Columnist David Gumpert writes: ' Mercola gives the lie to the notion that holistic practitioners tend to be so absorbed in treating patients that they aren't effective businesspeople. While Mercola on his site seeks to identify with this image by distinguishing himself from "all the greed-motivated hype out there in health-care land", he is a master promoter, using every trick of traditional and Internet direct marketing to grow his business '


Mercola has authored sixteen health books and has published many alternative medicine related articles on his website. He has authored a review article in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, as well as several letters to the editor in conventional journals.[46][47]

Affiliates and friends

Mercola employs a variety of alternative medicine practitioners in his website, the Optimal Wellness Center [48]. He hosts physicians who employ alternative treatments such as chelation therapy, acupuncture, auriculotherapy, and cranial osteopathy. His literature covers alternative nutritionists, some of whom also support practises of homeopathy [49] and laser-assisted detoxifying. He similarly consults alternative psychotherapists who promote Emotional Freedom Technique (which he sells tapes for) or a variety of other concepts like bioenergy systems and energy medicine. Friendly relations have been formed with others in the alternative natural health industry some of whom also maintain their own websites.

In late 2007 Mercola has voiced support for the presidential candidate Ron Paul for his supportive stances on homeschooling, raw milk, and health freedom in general.

See also


  1. ^ a b FDA warning 1: Living Fuel Rx, Tropical Traditions Virgin Coconut Oil, and Chlorella issued to Mercola for promoting products on his website "for conditions that cause these products to be drugs", contrary to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act), Public Health Service of the FDA (February 16, 2005).
  2. ^ a b FDA warning 2: Vibrant Health Research Chlorella XP, Fresh Shores Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Vitamin K2TM, and Momentum Health ProductsTM, Cardio EssentialsTM, Nattokinase NSK-SD, and others 21 Sept 2006. issued a year later, sent following a personal investigation of facilities on April 24, 2006 by FDA authorities.
  3. ^ My Background
  4. ^ Mercola statistics at
  5. ^ for current website rankings.
  6. ^ Health Website Rankings: is Now World's #1!, accessessed 23 Dec 2006
  7. ^ Weekly Google Video Update
  8. ^ Nutrition4Health biographies: JOSEPH MERCOLA, DO World Renowned Dietary Physician , Retrieved September 27, 2006
  9. ^ My Qualifications, accessed 11 Jan 2007
  10. ^ Study finds enzyme to control Celiac Sprue (Gluten Intolerance). Oct. 9, 2002.
  11. ^ Scientific Proof Carbohydrates Cause Disease.
  12. ^ Low-Fat Diet Myths and the Advantages of Coconut Oil, Part III
  13. ^ Fat - American Heart Association
  14. ^ Wayne A, Newell L. The Hidden Hazards Of Microwave Cooking
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Aroma Turbo Oven
  17. ^ Article critical of the microwave claims made on the Mercola website
  18. ^ Lesson 5: Get Rid of Your Microwave
  19. ^ Mercola J, Droege R. The Real Reasons Why Raw Milk is Becoming More Popular. 24 Apr 2004.
  20. ^ FDA Continues to Harass Raw Milk Providers, 9 Dec 2006
  21. ^ [2] Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer With the Right Fat,] 3 Nov 2005
  22. ^ [3]
  23. ^ Milk May Worsen Heart Failure, 10 Jul 2002
  24. ^ FDA is "Virtually Incapable of Protecting You From Unsafe Drugs"
  25. ^ New Painkiller Might Be a Bitter Pill for Some Patients (Vioxx warning)
  26. ^ $30 Billion Vioxx Recall - The Dangers, Powerful Lessons & Safe Alternatives that Everyone Must Know
  27. ^ Vaccination Schedule
  28. ^ (Rachel Droege, coauthor) Six Ways to Avoid the Winter Flu--and a Flu Shot Isn’t One of Them
  29. ^ Vernon Coleman Vaccines
  30. ^ Blaylock Vaccine Coverup
  31. ^ Flu Vaccine 1
  32. ^ Flu Vaccine 2
  33. ^ J. Mercola, The Great Bird Flu Hoax: The Truth They Don't Want You to Know About the "Next Big Pandemic,"Nelson Books, September 19, 2006 ISBN 0-7852-2187-5
  34. ^ T. Stone, Open Letter to Pediatricians on Flu Vaccines
  35. ^ The Flawed 1976 National "Swine Flu" Influenza Immunization Program Suburban Emergency Management Project Biot #177, February 22, 2005
  36. ^ Lerner B. Vitalism--Turn Your Power On!
  37. ^ When Should You Use Conventional Medicine
  38. ^ (Rachel Droege, coauthor) "Impossible Cure" book review
  39. ^ Masters RD. Why is the CDC Covering Up a Fifty Year Old Mistake? Pure Water Gazette. September 20, 2001.]
  40. ^ [ Is Fluoride Really As Safe As You Are Told?]. 2 Feb 2002.
  41. ^ Mercola Store
  42. ^ Discover Infinite Possibility with the Most Effective Mind/Body Resources Available: Insight & Focus Audio CDs!
  43. ^ First case withdrawal (called dismissal by site)
  44. ^ Case dismissed by mutual agreement on April 17, 2003. Judge: Casciato, Joseph N.
  45. ^ Business Week Online, May 23, 2006
  46. ^ Background
  47. ^ PubMed search for J. Mercola (author). Accessed July 7 2007.
  48. ^ staff
  49. ^ Homeopathy advocacy
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Joseph_Mercola". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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