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Snake Oil

Kevin Trudeau’s Snake Oil Empire

The time has come to take up the case of Kevin Trudeau. His pernicious book has hit the top of the New York Times best-seller list, a fact that the paper itself seems to find surprising. This 570-page doorstop is an ax job on my industry and my field of research, and accuses my peers and me of complicity in terrible amounts of human suffering. (“The drug industry does not want people to get healthy” is one of his favorite lines.)
How, you wonder, do people like me accomplish such awful things? Why, by denying consumers wonderful all-natural cures for just about everything that could possibly be wrong with them. And how do you find out about these wonders? By forking out for Trudeau’s book, naturally. And when you find out that there’s hardly a paragraph of specific information in the whole thing, then you can go pay him more money to get access to the untold amounts of crap on his web site. $499, according to the Times, will buy you a lifetime membership. This from a man who says “I changed my priority from making money to positively impacting people.”
The medical rationales Trudeau offers are hardly worth even discussing, and make me feel like positively impacting the man with a spiked club. Readers who know some biochemistry might be forgiven if they haven’t heard that “If your body is alkaline, you cannot get cancer. . .and if you have cancer, it goes away.” I would be interested to hear what on earth he means by a person’s body being alkaline – last I heard, my blood was at pH 7.4. But there’s really no sense in arguing with the sort of person who can get things like this out with a straight face.
This is someone who spins tales of herbal clinics that cure cancer, every time. Of wonderful all-natural cures that will reverse type I diabetes. Of simple cures for multiple sclerosis, for heart disease. These are not harmless ideas – these are lies that can kill people, and given the number of books Trudeau has sold, they probably have. Perhaps his next book will detail the story of his consciencectomy. No doubt Kevin Trudeau moves around from mansion to mansion, but how he can sleep at night in any of them escapes me.
Update: Longtime reader Don Hertzog sends along this recent demolition of Trudeau in Salon (free registration required.) If you have some time on your hands, the Amazon review pages for the book are worth a look, too – there are over 800 reviews there, and most of them are from some pretty ticked-off customers.
Update 2: Ha!

33 comments on “Kevin Trudeau’s Snake Oil Empire”

  1. Giagan says:

    Just yesterday on TV I saw what seems to be a new infomercial featuring Trudeau promoting his book. I used to sit and watch these in horrified fascination (as others on this site have mentioned), but I’ve now reached the point where the frustration exceeds entertainment value, especially so since the Vioxx verdict nonsense. It’s not fun seeing your industry under constant attack.
    Though I am quite curious to know what the book says, I wouldn’t be caught dead paying money (to Trudeau) for it, and I’m quite sure the aforementioned frustration would be overwhelming as I attempted to read it anyway. Callers on the infomercial frequently say that they’ve bought extra copies of the book for their children, friends, people they care for, etc. While I may be touched that they care for me, I swear I’ll blow my top if anyone ever gives me this thing. Amusingly, one caller said she thought every library should have a copy of the book. I may have imagined it, but I thought a saw a flicker of dismay on Trudeau’s face at that comment, but I’m sure that people buying multiple copies (for crying out loud) would make up for it.
    Thanks for the links, Derek. Those were both extremely informative. I’ll bet owners of his book would also find them interesting.

  2. Puff says:

    The problem is everyone can run their own experiment here, take some of these herbs, vitamins and minerals, and in most cases you will feel better. The modern American diet is utter crap and most of us are running under very sub optimal conditions. Take baking soda and the “make your body alkaline” thing, you all think its bogus because you know bumping blood ph from 7.4 will do very bad things. Quite a few people who take a little bit in the morning know damn well it makes you “feel better”. Y’all are talking past each other here. I theorize that the baking soda makes me feel better because most of the time I sit in front of a computer and my amount of carbonic blood buffer is low, and any time I engage in moderate activity I overrun the buffer capacity and my body brings online the less effecient methods of dealing with acidosis which make me feel “down”. A simple explanation, but one that doesn’t cure cancer or raise the dead so I won’t get heard in the “alternative” community. The unscientific folk make the mistake of extrapolating “feeling better” to cures anything, and pharma/MD’s discount everything, thus “proving” to those who feel better that pharma knows nothing.

  3. SP says:

    Well, if he’s not in it for the money, maybe he can take some of his best-selling profits and submit an IND and take some of these herbs and buffers to trials so we can have some nice statistical evidence to look at. I won’t hold my breath (that might make my blood too acidic…)

  4. MedChem says:

    Yeah right, “all natural”! It amazes me how ignorant the average person is about basic science…or just common sense. Where’s FDA or whatever expensive govenment bureaucracy when you need them?? The media gives this con man a free ride and yet jump on any opportunity to demonize the pharmaceutical industry–the real life saver!
    But again, what’s really new?

  5. tim mayer says:

    And, if you didn’t have enough nightmares already, I hear Michael “Cheeseburger” Moore is making a documentary about the health care industry in the USA.

  6. MedChem says:

    A “Moron” propaganda piece is just what we need to put the last few nails in the coffin of the modern pharma industry…

  7. Roman says:

    I have seen Trudeau’s aforementioned infomercial many a night while hopelessly trying to navigate the insomniac highway. I think he has some good points but the problem lies in his delivery. If he wasn’t so adamant about the evil lurking within the pharma industry then maybe he wouldn’t seem like such a crackpot. Instead he rambles on aimlessly and in the process loses people’s interest. Laymen like me tune out very quickly. From laymen to professional- You have nothing to worry about. Trudeau does do one thing correctly…He gets me to sleep within 5 minutes.

  8. w h hall says:

    Is this jerk related to G Trudeau the junktoonist or that cretain that used to run Canada?

  9. monty loree says:

    If Michael Moore is making a movie on the drug industry in the U.S. I’ll be the first to sign up and watch it.
    The drug companies need to be exposed. Kevin Trudeau speaks the truth despite what you read in this blog. I have proven his methods even before I was aware that he was promoting his health philosophy.
    I highly praise people who put the spot light on the drug industry.

  10. SRC says:

    I can’t let the previous moron have the last word on this subject.

    Trudeau is an embarrassment to primates everywhere, whether they be acidic, alkaline, buffered, wearing magnetic pinky rings, tinfoil hats, yam suppositories, or whatever.

  11. SFix says:

    “I have proven his methods even before I was aware that he was promoting his health philosophy.”

    Thank you Kevin. So nice of you to take time from your busy time promoting fraud to, er, promote fraud.

    BTW, possible marketing abuses by big pharma != Kevin Trudeau is right.

    Trudeau is a **convicted** con artist.

  12. Ernie G says:

    Just for grins, I ran a Google search on the term “Kevin Trudeau” fraud. The first page bore the header “Results 1 – 10 of about 19,100 for “kevin trudeau” fraud.”
    Try it. There’s some interesting reading there, including a federal district court conviction for abusing customers’ credit card numbers.
    He has a long, unsavory history. This book is in keeping with his character.

  13. monty loree says:

    Martha Stewart is worshipped by millions of Americans. She was just in jail, and then wore an ankle bracelet, for SEC violations.
    Now she’s got TV deals etc.
    Why is Martha Stewart any better than Kevin Trudeau? She seems to be forgiven.

  14. mike hunt says:

    i love the book it has cured lung cancer i can still smoke 5 packs of lucks a day and not ever worry of lung cancer comming back i have found my own personal jesus im just kidding the book was full of lies there are maybe 3 cures in the book but its common knowledgs how to get rid of these problems anyway dont buy the book dont give this con man a penny he is a liar and a cheat

  15. Katherine says:

    Why is Martha Stewart any better than Kevin Trudeau?

    Martha’s chocolate chip cookie recipe actually produces chocolate chip cookies. That’s better than you can say for Trudeau.

  16. monty loree says:

    Hmmm… Selective worship…
    Martha’s chocolate chip cookie recipe actually produces chocolate chip cookies. That’s better than you can say for Trudeau.
    Well just for arguments’ sake:
    Martha Stewart is a criminal. PERIOD.
    Martha’s cookie recipes are not FDA approved. Martha’s cookie recipes haven’t been double blind tested.
    Martha Stewart, the cooking goddess criminal, has ‘sold’ way more food than Kevin Trudeau.
    This logic is just as irrational and dumb as the previous one sided comment posts.

  17. Jason says:

    Funny how most of the ones who don’t like Trudeau’s book are in the pharmaceutical industry or have direct ties to it. Irony is a tricky thing.

  18. Daniel says:

    Wow, this is funny, i was reading all these comments when i realized that they are just comments and your talk has no more truth then the things you are barking at. The one thing i found the most humor in was
    “”Though I am quite curious to know what the book says, I wouldn’t be caught dead paying money (to Trudeau) for it, and I’m quite sure the aforementioned frustration would be overwhelming as I attempted to read it anyway.””
    I started laughing when i read that statemnet. Someone who would put shame on something with out even reading it…
    In short not every thing you read boys and girls is true because the truth is how each of us see it. So my advice is take every thing with a grain of salt.

  19. Walter says:

    No, Kevin Trudeau is not related to the cartoonist.
    I think that Kevin is about 51 years old, adopted, grew up in a working class city (Lynn, MA?), and spent a bit of time in prison for (I believe) tax evasion.
    I don’t believe that he has a college education. I would say that he is intelligent, but uses his smarts to misuse people. Mental illness might run in his family.

  20. Apesnake says:

    For all you commenters who think that these pharmaceutical people are just propaganda peddlers or are just closed-minded wet blankets, can I ask that you engage in just the tiniest little bit of thought about this.

    This natural cure enthusiast is claiming that having an alkaline body cures and prevents cancer. As mentioned above, everyone’s blood is slightly alkaline including cancer patients. If it is not you have acidosis

    “Acidosis is an increased acidity (i.e. hydrogen ion concentration) of blood plasma. Generally acidosis is said to occur when arterial pH falls below 7.35, while its counterpart (alkalosis) occurs at a pH over 7.45. Arterial blood gas analysis and other tests are required to separate the main causes.”


    The following page explains alkalosis:

    The next one deals with acidosis:

    You do not need to be a doctor or even an evil member of the pharma conspiracy to understand that this fairy tale about the alkalinity of the body being the cause and cure of cancer is complete and utter bu11-sh1t. You just need to entertain the idea that, in the centuries since Francis Bacon, the medical and scientific communities have actually learned one or two things that do not change as quickly as the latest fashion of skirt length; things that remain true even if you write a 570-page book claiming that they are not.

    If this Trudeau guy were to tell you that there are no such things as cells would you believe him just because of the hostility he would (rightly) engender from everyone who has ever looked through a microscope?

    It truly amazes me that there are so many people out there who are absolutely certain that people who spend their lives learning, researching and working in their field of interest (real scientists, doctors, archaeologists etc.) are actually just making stuff up and anyone who calls himself an expert, hangs out a shingle and makes bizarre claims with nothing more than pleasing storytelling abilities to back them up deserves respect equal.

    Why is it that the skepticism these natural remedy fans show to the medical profession (which while not perfect, at least has a measure of safety and effectiveness testing) is absolute (unlike healthy skepticism) while they never questioning the proponents of natural remedies who work for an industry that is just as profit driven but completely unaccountable? Actually, they work for two profit driven and unaccountable industries: the popular press book publishers and the natural medicine industry.

  21. John Cornett says:

    Exactly how many “major pharmaceutical companies”…have you worked for “…since 1989” DEREK?
    I think it was Emmet Fox who once said that the rewards we receive in life are in direct proportion to the service rendered….
    I personally believe that Kevin Trudeau is reaping the rewards of helping to refer people to options that do not involve organized, greedy and overly zealous capitalists running amuck. One problem, certainly not the only one, is that there are far too many professionals have lost touch with their own humanity and ability to discern.
    Kevin Trudeau (and others like him) will lose his audience (and profits) when the misguided individuals involved with setting far reaching policy are allowed to operate in an atmosphere of corrupt corporate entities concerned “only” with profits.
    You don’t know me, and I certainly do not know you DEREK, but I do know, you will NEVER convince me that you are right!
    I did graduate college but do not feel as though I need to flaunt my credentials in order to be perceived as credible…I hope they paid you enough.
    John/ Forest Grove, OR

  22. Derek Lowe says:

    Mr. Cornett, if Kevin Trudeau is not an “organized, greedy and overly zealous capitalist running amuck”, then I couldn’t tell you who is. Yep, he’s fighting for the little guy by offering a $30 book with no information in it, and a $500 web site membership.

    On the other hand, you can read my opinions for free.

  23. Giagan says:

    Daniel said:
    “Wow, this is funny, i was reading all these comments when i realized that they are just comments and your talk has no more truth then the things you are barking at. The one thing i found the most humor in was “”Though I am quite curious to know what the book says, I wouldn’t be caught dead paying money (to Trudeau) for it, and I’m quite sure the aforementioned frustration would be overwhelming as I attempted to read it anyway.”” I started laughing when i read that statemnet. Someone who would put shame on something with out even reading it… In short not every thing you read boys and girls is true because the truth is how each of us see it. So my advice is take every thing with a grain of salt.”

    Daniel: I should revise my quoted statement. After thorough research on the internet and viewing Trudeau’s infomercial myself, I am no longer curious to know what the book says since I’ve already gotten a good idea what it’s about: a known con-artist swindling people out of their money $30 at a time and, for the extra slow, another $500 for a website full of more empty promises. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable for not wishing to fill Trudeau’s pockets any more than has already occurred.

  24. Giagan says:

    It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. This is from the customer book reviews at Amazon:

    “This is a dangerous book that is written by a layman, not a physician. Mr. Trudeau’s book lead my sister to stop her medication (dilantin) needed as a result of radiation for a brain tumor. She had a grand mal seizure one week later. Luckily her husband was with her. She is back on her medication.”

  25. Giagan says:

    I can’t resist.

    monty loree says: “People who don’t spend money on personal development books, especially health books are fools. YOU SHOULDN’T RELY on what a pharmaceutical company preaches to you without some back up third party proof. If you’re not willing to spend $30 on a health book, you’re either poor, or you don’t value your health.”

    That’s right, Monty. Demand back up third party proof, like Trudeau has. Those preachy pharmaceutical companies probably throw any old crap out there without any data or validation at all.

    Trudeau is never preachy!

    $30 on a book that would actually improve one’s health would be fine. This, however, is not one of those books.

  26. Brett says:

    Well, for those who are curious, I found this book prominently displayed in the medical school bookstore near where I work, and after perusing it for 20 minutes or so, I can say pretty decisively that 100% of everything I read was pure, unadulterated, bullshit. HIV doesn’t cause AIDS, AZT does!

  27. ASLAN says:

    Mr. Trudeau proposes that drugs today do not cure diseases. Is he wrong? Mr. Trudeau proposes that drugs can and do make lots of people sick and die. Is he wrong? Mr. Trudeau proposes that pharmaceutical and publicly traded food companies are extremely interested in increasing shareholder profits. Is he wrong? Mr. Trudeau proposes that there are natural cures for every disease. Is he wrong? Why don’t dugs today cure diseases? Why after polio was cured was there never a major cure again? Why do drugs only treat the symptoms? Can anyone honestly dismiss $$$$ as the answer?? I read Mr. Trudeau’s book, and a lot of it is hard to believe. Nevertheless the majority of the advice he gives in regards to health and wellness are lifestyle changes and I agree completely.
    The cure for diseases humans suffer from will not come in the form of a little white pill – though we have been conditioned to believe so. They will come when people realize that ingesting toxic chemicals (drugs), eating processed foods laced with pesticides and chemicals, drinking toxic water (chlorine / fluoride), lack of exercise, proper nutrition, and sunlight are some the real reasons Americans are sicker today than ever before in history. THINK ABOUT IT.

  28. pdj says:

    As far as I know, there is no cure for polio. There is a vaccine, but no cure. Remember, a vaccine does not equal a cure. You can look at the W.H.O. site for more details on polio (
    Vinegar for Acid Reflux? How does that work? hmmm….placebo…..?

  29. Brian says:

    I always find it interesting the people that scream the loudest about how bad the drug companies are rarely have a major medical problem of their own. They seem to always know someone close who has a medical problem but they themselves, rarely. I have Multiple Sclerosis and have been taking a drug call BetaSeron now for 6 years. This drug stopped the progression within months after I started taking it so I for one love the pharma industry, because I can still walk. If you yourself had a crippling disease, would you really take Kevin’s advice over the doctors/scientists? I can tell you, No you wouldn’t!

  30. triticale says:

    The interesting thing to look at when researching * “Kevin Trudeau” – fraud * is to look at the dates and nature of the activities. He was selling a memory system via infomercials decades ago, a set of cassette tapes which would reveal mental secrets “they” don’t want you to know. He’s done a couple of multi-level things, at least one with himself at the top of the pyramid. Never in the past has he had anything of actual value to sell, I would be surprised to learn there was any value in what he is selling now.

  31. J Dowling says:

    Derek: I tend to agree with all your observations about Mr. Trudeau. I did get the book and I noticed one very interesting statistic that Mr. Trudeau conveniently overlooks in all his gloom & doom stats = Americans now have an all time high average life expectancy of 72 years and it just keeps increasing every decade. Gee, I guess all you evil pharma & medical people are falling down on your goal at wiping out the human race in the name of huge corporate profits ! (No, I’m not in the pharma or medical industry & never have been). He’s right – “It’s all about the money” and he’s making it all. Read the book and count the number of times he urges you to “support my cause” by joining his web site and subscribing to his newsletter. We are talking about a convicted felon here folks !! He was convicted of stealing the credit card numbers of his legitimate customers for one of his very early scams to personally enrich himself. I’m sorry – that wasn’t just a minor lapse in judgement of a guy in his 20’s who didn’t know any better – what it was = “It’s all about the money” for him !!! He is charming – He is persuasive – he is articulate – but most con artists are and always will be. They tend to believe their own B.S. after awhile. Sorry – he’s just another snake oil salesman. Good luck if you entrust your heath to this guy. It’s like letting a used car salesman do an emergency appendectomy on on you !!! No thanks.

  32. Gary Yantis says:

    I never heard of the guy until I was channel clicking a bit ago and saw Tammy Faye then stopped out of curiosity of what she was doing these days (kind of like how some people slow down to gawk at a traffic accident — I don’t do that but Tammy Faye being a born huckster I HAD to stop and watch). I ended up watching the entire infomercial. Part of my living depends on “reading” people and spotting con artists. Full scale with bells and red flags added on Kevin Trudeau.
    BUT that’s not the reason for this post. I read the several comments about “body pH”. Not disagreeing with anyone but I’d appreciate clarification for my own personal health. I’ve battled low body pH for years and it’s become acute (until recently). Most M.D.’s I’ve seen just know that blood pH MUST remain VERY close to 7.4 or you die. They know nothing about body pH. Blood pH is rarely even tested as, if it is not very close to 7.4, you don’t need a test — you’re dead. The body pulls acid or alkalinity out of bones or anywhere it can find it to maintain the 7.4 (slightly alkaline). Most people are to the acidic side as the world and most foods tend to the acidic side so what gets pulled out to maintain the blood at 7.4 is usually calcium from bones and other chemicals/minerals that are alkaline. Blood pH is not the same as body pH. Body pH goes up and down depending on your health and what you eat. Most people even with poor health habits still manage to keep their body pH above 6.0 and do OK. Drop below that and bad things happen. From low energy to immune system deficiency to — well, Google it and you can read for yourself. Abnormally low body pH can be a sign of cancer (or something else wrong). A terminal cancer patient almost always has a body pH below 4.5. Their blood pH remains 7.4 until death.
    Most health food stores sell $10 15′ rolls of tear-off pH litmus test paper. Like thin Scotch tape except yellow paper. Test with urine or saliva, the color changes then compare it to the color chart on the box. After many attempts on my own with pH alkaline supplements, an N.D. put me on a number of herbal drugs (natural but they are still drugs to me) and my body pH has increased from 4.3 to 6.8. The reason found for the low body pH was finally diagnosed (Lyme disease) and is being treated. So, I agree, blood pH is 7.4 (or you’re dead) but does someone disagree that body pH is different and/or is not important? BTW — Bob Barefoot Coral Sea calcium is one of many supplements I tried on my own. Didn’t help a bit. Comments?

  33. Kevin Trudeau’s “Natural Cures” Book.

    Natural Cures "They" Don’t Want You To Know Abo…

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