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Are Those Pills HELP or HYPE?
How to use the web to learn more about those pills you're taking.

For my friend "Betty" it started with a visit to a local health professional. After the exam, she was told she had adrenal fatigue syndrome, but she wasn't referred to an endocrinologist for help. (An endocrinologist is a specialist who's trained to deal with glandular problems like adrenal deficiency.)

Instead, she was told to buy a lotion that the local health professional just happened to sell.

"Betty" bought it and immediately called me. She wanted to know, what could I tell her about that tube of very expensive lotion she had just purchased?

Normally when I need information about a product like that, I simply ask my research team to give me a report. But this time I requested a little more. I wanted to know step-by-step HOW my researchers went about investigating products. Then I decided to share their methods, and their results with you.

The product I was asked to look into is called Prenolone + (with DHEA).

United States Patent & Trademark Office Step One: Find the manufacturer's website. When you do a search, you have to weed out the websites that SELL the product from the one that MAKES the product. If the manufacturers website isn't listed on the product, go to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (www.uspto.gov). Click on Trademarks and Trademark SEARCH, then enter the name of the product.

Go through the website to see all the claims the manufacturer makes of their product.

Doing that with Prenolone shows me that Aromatic Research & Technology, LC. DBA Young Living Essential Oils is the company responsible for Prenolone. I also learn that Prenolone is classified as a "skin lotion."

 PubMed, a service of the National Library of Medicine, includes over 15 million citations from MEDLINE and additional life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950's. Link Step Two: Look for clinical trials. The largest collection of clinical trial information is on a website maintained by the US National Library of Medicine. It's (www.pubmed.gov). Enter the name of the product and see what comes up. If there are lots of results, narrow it down by combining the name of the drug with the condition you wish to treat. You want to see how effective the drug has been for other people in similar situations.

In the case of Prenolone, it's not mentioned once in over 21 million studies available in the database.

FDA Food and Drug Administration Link Federal Trade Commission Link USDA - United States Department of Agriculture Link

Step Three: Check with the government. Make sure the product you're buying isn't part of an investigation or recall. Use (www.fda.gov) to see if it's a legal drug.

Then check out (www.ftc.gov) and (www.usda.gov) to see if the product or company that makes it has been mentioned in any regulatory action.

Prenolone wasn't in the FDA database because it's not a drug and it didn't appear in the other two websites either. The company that makes it, Young Living Essential Oils also didn't show up as having any regulatory action taken against it.

Quackwatch.org Link Step Four: Check for fraud. There are several websites designed to expose worthless products and treatments. One of the most in-depth is a non-profit called (www.quackwatch.org). Search both the product name and the company name to see if there are any concerns raised by the QuackWatch team.

Prenolone didn't appear in the QuackWatch site.

Step Five: Analyze the ingredients. In the case of Prenolone, there were no clinical trials and it's not a drug so there was no way to know if it might be a treatment for the condition it was given.

That's when I repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 with each of the ingredients. My goal is to see if any of them may help the condition.

None of the ingredients in Prenolone have been approved to treat any adrenal gland deficiencies. But there were a couple promising studies.

Step Six: What are the doses and how is it administered? When you take medicine, doctors prescribe a specific dose that's given a specific way. If any ingredients show promise, find out how much of them are in the treatment. Then look at the clinical trials to see if success happened by taking a pill, using a patch or getting an injection. The effectiveness of a drug rests on how people take it.

In the case of Prenolone, I couldn't compare it to the limited promising studies, because the label and the company won't share exactly how much of any ingredient is in the lotion. What's worse, the promising studies all show the ingredient being taken orally, not applied as a cream.

After going through each step, the results were clear.

Prenolone is not a drug, it cannot be marketed to treat any condition (including adrenal fatigue syndrome) and it has never been tested in a published clinical trial. Also, none of the ingredients have been approved for use to treat the condition and even if they had, there was no clear indication of how much you get of each ingredient in the tube.

What "Betty" had bought was a very expensive tube of skin lotion, nothing else. The next time someone tries to sell you a "treatment" for your ills, spend a few minutes going through these six steps. If the treatment is a fraud, you can move on to finding something that works.

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10/14/2012