Quackery adopting the ResearchBlogging iconography?

July 22, 2010

A Twitt from Dirk Hanson, of the Addiction Inbox blog, pointed to the Mini Chill drink which purports to be:

..the world’s only drink guaranteed to make you feel great! Our all natural blend of herbs and aminos is Dr. formulated and proven to promote relaxation, improve mental focus and even boost your mood!

Dirk made some crack about this being an alcohol enhancer and, fascinatingly, the website for this product has a whole page for cocktail recipes. Mood enhancing, healthy…and a mixer! Oh joy…
MiniChillFACTS.pngAt any rate, I was searching for the Quack Miranda Warning when I clicked on the “Lab” page and I immediately noticed something funny. An icon right in the middle of the page is linked to the ingredients page which says the product contains:

four primary ingredients found in nature, all of which have been subjected to molecular research and clinical studies. These components are Valerian Root, Aminobutyric acid (GABA), Theanine and 5-HTP.

Oh this is a classic of misdirection and insinuation isn’t it? “Molecular research” and “clinical studies” eh? Yet I bet not one single clinical study showing that this product has the benefits that they claim. Just guessin there. Anyway I’d best leave the quack busting to the real experts like PalMD and Abel Pharmboy, so let’s return to the iconography.
ResearchBlogging.orgThat icon, linked to their supposed evidence mind you, reminded me of this ResearchBlogging.org icon. When you put them together like this it is obvious that the Mini Chill icon is not an exact duplicate. But still. It evokes the ResearchBlogging icon, does it not? Surely this is not just me?
If you will recall the ResearchBlogging icon is the descendant of a prior icon. The goal of this icon was, of course, to evoke rapid identification with the intent of ResearchBlogging.org itself. I.e., to form a sort of Good Housekeeping seal of approval that the post you were reading met certain basic standards.
If this is not simply a coincidence, I find it really interesting that some quack product would try to coopt the authority of ResearchBlogging.org. Among other things it would seem that marketing donks think that the ResearchBlogging.org is actually meaningful to people. That’s good at least.
I never did find the Quack Miranda Warning.

10 Responses to “Quackery adopting the ResearchBlogging iconography?”

  1. namnezia Says:

    I like when they say “Doctor formulated”. You just picture a couple of MD’s in the basement mixing up the stuff – “Dude, let’s add a little more GABA …yeah, like now I’m TOTALLY relaxed…”


  2. Holy cow, Brother! I have much to say on this topic but am swamped with processing the tremendous generosity of your readers and the rest of the world in supporting Bora Zivkovic over at the #IOweBora donation site.
    But, damn, these people are crazy and dangerous. Did you see the alcohol mixer page???
    “The natural herbs and amino acids in Mini Chill™ work with alcohol to enhance your buzz and keep you smiling!”
    …and help you careen into a bridge abutment at high speed.
    Indeed, it is a major violation for the manufacturer to not display the DSHEA-mandated FDA disclaimer (not that it matters to the consumer).
    But have you ever smelled valerian? It’s worse than the smell of BikeMonkey’s shorts after sitting on the floor for two days after a century ride. High doses of valerian do have anxiolytic activity, and may synergize with alcohol as a CNS depressant, but the stuff stinks to high heaven. If there’s any level of valerian in the stuff, you wouldn’t want to give it to your worst enemy.


  3. rijkswaanvijand Says:

    Cats tend to go completely nuts over Valerian root.. It tends to have a mildly soothing effect on humans, this however is not a statistically significant one as far as I’m aware.
    Kidney and liver damage are some other potential effects of regular Valerian root usage, I’d rather do without!


  4. Dave Munger Says:

    I don’t know if it’s a deliberate ripoff of our icon. Once you run a site like ResearchBlogging.org, you start to see green checkmarks everywhere. Lots of places use them. But obviously that’s the last thing wrong with this particular bit of quackery.
    At least they’re not using our actual icon to claim actual approval by our site — we’ve had that happen before too…


  5. DrugMonkey Says:

    Once you run a site like ResearchBlogging.org, you start to see green checkmarks everywhere.
    Fair point.


  6. Once you run a site like ResearchBlogging.org, you start to see green checkmarks everywhere.
    This is a phenomenon which occurs with lots of things … like that dress shirt you never saw anyone wear but once you got it, ten people at the party are wearing it too. Or the car you never saw on the road, but once you bought it, every other car is the same exact one (same color too).
    Happens all the time.


  7. DuWayne Says:

    Holy shit, I’m blown away by the price – though I always am with these sorts of things. I actually have about, oh, thirty grams of L-Theanine, maybe 200 grams of GABA and about fifteen grams of 5-HTP. I think I gave the valerian caps to my mom. While 5-HTP is rather expensive, that is relative. I would guess that for about $40 or so, I could make about 500 or so bottles of that shit – and have GABA enough to make five times that many. (I don’t actually take any of the above now, they are holdovers from when I wasn’t medicated)
    I have to wonder though, when they are going to get the notion of putting phenylethylamine in something like that.
    I would note that while that dose is minimal enough, I suspect, not to be a problem, I am not sure that mixing Valerian or 5-HTP with alcohol is a very good idea. Of course I am also kind of nutty, thinking that Redbull and vodka – or whatever the hell they like to mix it with is also rather dangerous. Party pooping bastard that I am.
    Abel –
    While valerian does stink pretty bad, there is probably enough sugar and flavoring to cover it up. Have you ever noticed the ingredients for energy drinks? While they don’t necessarily stink that bad, B vitamins taste awful and do have a smell. Inositol and guarana are pretty foul too – with guarana smelling like it tastes. While they have a bitter undertone, they don’t taste nearly like they rightfully should.


  8. James Says:

    just so you know – not sure if you cool cats saw, there is a scientific study behind minichill look carefully on the ‘lab’ page.


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