Health Canada Approves…for October 20th

Welcome to Health Canada Approves… where we ask you to determine which products have been licensed by Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate.

Here are the results from last week’s poll.

  • Gammadyn I: Oligotherapy Remedy to be used on the advice of your health care practitioner. A factor in the maintenance of good health. Helps in the function of the thyroid gland. (77%, 17 Votes)
  • Sushininum 18: Torotherapic treatment for improvement of fatty belly. Use on advice of your health care practitioner. (23%, 5 Votes)
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I guess I wasn’t fooling anyone.  Fact is, I had eaten some particularly delicious toro the night before and thought, “now this should be an alternative remedy, I feel fantastic.”  But in fact, the real Health Canada approved product is Gammadyn I, Natural Health Product Number 80011439.

Gammadyn I bills itself as an oligotherapy product, and I’ll admit this discipline was new to me.  To clarify things, I found this on the intertubes:

Oligotherapy uses individual trace minerals for therapeutic support, supplementing the necessary minerals for enzymatic functions.  Oligotherapy remedies are considered as catalysts that speed up metabolism at the cellular level.  Oligotherapy remedies also provide essential nutrition to stop free radical activity which destroy body tissue.

Oligotherapy supplementation in believed to enhance the movement of ions, essential for life, into and out of the cell.  They work by optimizing the ionic channels on the surface of cells allowing flow to occur.

So basically, homeopathy with minerals.  Got it.  At least this week won’t lead me into any furry nether-regions.

The mineral in Gammadyn I is iodine — 24mcg worth (24/1000 of a mg) — not a particularly dilute dose, so certainly the potential for pharmacological effects.  I knew from past articles that too much iodine could lead to hyperthyroidism, so there also seemed to be a plausible connection between the ingredient and the recommendations of use.

The good folks at Merck were kind enough to inform me that trace amounts of iodine are indeed required for the maintenance of good health — deficiency could lead to goiter and cretinism, among other ailments.  The guideline for adults is about 150mcg, with an upper limit somewhere between 4-8x that.

So unlike most of the remedies we’ve profiled in this series, the claims of Gammadyn I are plausible — if you’re iodine deficient, popping one will give you about 1/6th of your daily recommended dose.   And indeed, the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, an independent source of science-based information on natural remedies, gives Gammadyn I a 9/10 rating, indicating its effectiveness and relative safety in treating certain thyroid conditions.  Finally, some redemption for the NHPD!

Still, a few caveats.  First, in this day and age, iodine deficiency is relatively rare, as iodine is already added to much of our salt.  In Canada and the U.S., iodized salt contains the equivalent of 77 mcg of iodine per gram, so our recommended daily salt intake (~2g) gives us our recommended daily iodine intake.  Most of us get more salt than we need, and thus more iodine than we need.  Add to that the fact that it’s abundant in eggs and cheese — staples of the North American diet — and also in fish, for those with healthier eating habits.

Second, I continue to be concerned about the weak safety and contraindication warnings on NHPD-approved products.  The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database indicates a strong potential for interactions with anti-thyroid drugs, and moderate potential interactions with a variety of others.  Heatlh Canada lists none.

Third, I’m a bit baffled by the term “oligotherapy”.   Gammadyn I appears to be a simple iodine supplement, so why wrap it in magical mumbo-jumbo?  I have to believe that this is simply marketing.  Like many supplements, Gammadyn I is useful for a select group of individuals with a diagnosed deficiency, but is of little value to everyone else.  But calling it oligotherapy allows them to use a whole slew of clinically meaningless claims about how it can  “speed up metabolism at the cellular level”, “stop free radical activity,” and “enhance the movement of ions, essential for life.”  That sounds like something everyone can use, which I imagine is the point for the vendor, though why they’re allowed to get away with it is beyond me.

Still, this week is a qualified pass for Health Canada.  If your physician diagnoses iodine deficiency, Gammadyn I does indeed provide therapeutic benefit with a reasonable safety profile.

Will they make it a streak?  Check your choices below to find out.  And remember, the real product “has been assessed by Health Canada and has been found to be safe, effective and of high quality under its recommended conditions of use.”

  • Horny Goat Weed: TCM used to tonify the kidney and fortify the yang, for symptoms such as frequent urination, forgetfulness, withdrawal, and painful cold lower back and knees. (59%, 19 Votes)
  • Dr. Yang's Qi Tonic: Envigorates the blood Qi to remove Damp-Heat from the bladder and splenic systems; tames the fire dragon. (41%, 13 Votes)
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Answers next week…naturally!

One Response to “Health Canada Approves…for October 20th”

  1. Eamon Knight says:

    Any time I read the phrase “…on the cellular level…” I get flashbacks to Star Trek episodes, and I hear it in Dr. Crusher’s voice. And then I know how seriously I should take the speaker.


  • Erik Davis

    Erik is a technology professional based in Toronto, focused on the intersection of the internet and the traditional media and telecommunications sectors. A reluctant blogger, he was inspired by the great work Skeptic North has done to combat misinformation and shoddy science reporting in the Canadian media, and in the public at large. Erik has a particular interest in critical reasoning, and in understanding why there’s so little of it in the public discourse. You can follow Erik's occasional 140 character musings @erikjdavis