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Dionaea muscipula, the venus flytrap.
Potentially edible!
Food woo
Icon food.svg
Fabulous food!
Delectable diets!
Bodacious bods!
Not to be confused with Carnivora,Wikipedia the order of meat-eating placental mammals.Wikipedia

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.


Chemical structure of plumbagin, the active ingredient of Carnivora™. Chemical formula: C11H8O3, IUPAC: 5-hydroxy-2-methyl-naphthalene-1,4-dione).[1]

The main claim is support for the immune system. It is not a cure for canceroh no.[note 2] However, it "selectively responds to abnormal cells" (nudge, wink).

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 [sic] and a bell went off in his head. If this carnivorous plant could digest insects without harming its own cells, it must possess a very powerful Immune System.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]


Quackwatch lists Carnivora™ as a "dubious treatment."[5]

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 [sic] Carnivora, who also has a large financial stake in a clinic that administers the drug and in the company that manufactures the drug.[6]

Other Venus fly trap preparations[edit]

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".[7]

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",[8] which puts paid to the lie that herbal medicines have no side-effects.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. The Latin name Carnivora is pronounced with stress on the second syllable, the nutri-wossname emphasizes the third.
  2. 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.