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Carnivora™ is the brand name of yet another pseudoscientific herbal dietary supplement (the manufacturer prefers the term nutriceutical) that dances around the law prohibiting hyperbolic claims for such things. Easily confused with the Latin name for the order of meat-eating placental mammals,[note 1] this is an extract of Dionaea muscipula, the venus flytrap, a species of carnivorous plant. The active ingredient is plumbagin.
Other websites are more blatant: Breast Cancer Conqueror promotes Carnivora™ as "A Plant Extract that 'Eats' Cancer Cells", claiming:
The original research behind this extract began in the late 70’s by Dr. Helmut Keller, an oncologist. He was frustrated with the dismal results from the traditional oncology treatments. After purchasing a bouquet of flowers for his wife, he haphazardly noticed the activity of a Venus Fly Trap [it must possess a very powerful Immune System.] and a bell went off in his head. If this carnivorous plant could digest insects without harming its own cells,
Many other organisms include insects in their diet, so it's unclear why the Venus fly trap should be better at combating cancer than a toad or a shrew. Even humans can eat insects for safe consumption.
Additional claims are in the category of "at least it can't do any harm", viz:
- No toxic or mutagenic effect
- Manufacturing process uses superior technology
- 100% pure. No excipients or fillers
Contrary to the claims, plumbagin was known to be mutagenic to Escherichia coli since at least 1985.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) information page points out that:
Most of the studies done on the herbal extract were conducted by the physician who patented the drug [] Carnivora, who also has a large financial stake in a clinic that administers the drug and in the company that manufactures the drug.
The overnight woo-radio show Coast to Coast AM in the United States, justifiably taking its audience as extremely gullible, heavily promotes Carnivora™. The script emphasizes that "in the 1980s, only President Reagan himself could obtain Carnivora".
Other Venus fly trap preparations
Other companies sell or promote extracts of Venus fly trap. VFT-100 is a herbal preparation claimed to "safely digest and shrink the causes of many diseases", as well as to "increase or normalize body temperature" and "dramatically increase a sense of well-being and energy".[dead link]
Another online vitamin store offers Venus fly trap extract as either injection or topical treatment for "the treatment of several forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, chronic arthritis, herpes infections, and even AIDS". Worryingly, it notes that injecting venus fly trap may have side effects including "fever, vomiting and nausea", which puts paid to the lie that herbal medicines have no side-effects.
- Product web site
- Carnivora Immune Defense Supplement : Critical Review of Research by "Supplement geek"
- The Latin name Carnivora is pronounced with stress on the second syllable, the nutri-wossname emphasizes the third.
- Or, indeed, anything else. The official disclaimer is This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease in the United States.
- , Breast Cancer Conqueror, accessed Oct 27, 2016
- Toxicity and mutagenicity of plumbagin and the induction of a possible new DNA repair pathway in Escherichia coli by S. B. Farr et al. J. Bacteriol. 1985 Dec; 164(3): 1309–1316.
- Quackwatch page
- Carnivora information from the American Cancer Society
- Discover the power of plant-based medicine with Venus Fly Trap herbal drops, Alternative Choices Healing Centre, accessed Oct 27, 2016
- 5 Venus Fly Trap Benefits, Side Effects, Reviews And Dosage, Vitamins e-Store, accessed Oct 27, 2016