Joseph Mercola

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Joseph Mercola is among the top misinformation vectors of our time when it comes to health, medicine, food, parenting, and more. He promotes chemophobia and spreads fear of chemicals, GMOs, and vaccines, all while peddling alternatives to line his pockets.
—Kavin Senapathy[1]
Mercola injecting himself into interjecting at the 2009 International [anti-]Vaccine Conference.
Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Joseph Mercola (1954–) is an American anti-vaxxer, conspiracy theorist, pseudoscience promoter and absolute quack, best known for making false and misleading health claims.[1][2][3] Mercola, an osteopathic physician, is a popular guru of alternative medicine and naturopathy.[4] He is a member of the right-wing quack outfit Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Mercola advocates and provides a forum for many classic crank medical ideas, such as vaccine hysteria and the belief that modern (sorry, "allopathic") medicine kills more people than it helps. His website is a veritable spring of pseudoscience, quackery, and logical fallacies. He is also a promoter of the idea of an AMA/Big Pharma/FDA conspiracy.[5]

Despite his claim that unlike other doctors, he is not interested in profit,[6] he advertises all manner of unproven products, and has a health center that dispenses alternative medicine for a steep price.[7]

Mercola funds 40% of the budget of the anti-vaccination National Vaccine Information Center's budget.[8] He had previously promoted the false idea that Vitamin C and Vitamin D could prevent measles, and not coincidentally his top sales products are supplements.[8] Despite claiming to follow a ketogenic diet for four decades, Mercola announced in 2023 that it has ruined his health and he needs to add more carbs to his diet. He is currently a supporter of Ray Peat's pseudoscientific diet.


Mercola has promoted many different low-carb fad diets. Mercola and James DiNicolantonio advocate the pseudoscientific oxidized linoleic acid hypothesis of coronary heart disease. In 2018, Mercola co-authored a book with DiNicolantonio Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health, published by Hay House.[9]

In 2022, Mercola was supportive of the carnivore diet and interviewed his friend Shawn Baker.[10] Mercola supports the carnivore diet as he claims it is "really low in omega-6 fats, which is a primary driver of chronic disease."[11]

In 2023, Mercola announced that he is quitting the ketogenic diet as it had ruined his health. However, he later removed his public announcement and his articles and videos about this from the internet.[12][13] Despite claiming to have quit the diet, Mercola has authored several books on the ketogenic diet which he has not denounced and he continues to sell ketogenic supplements.

In June 2023, he appeared in a video "Why You May Need More Carbs in Your Diet" with Ray Peat follower Georgi Dinkov.[14][15] Mercola is now a supporter of Ray Peat's diet.[16] It is clear that Mercola goes from fad to fad.


In addition to the aforementioned issues, Mercola promotes various disproved crank health ideas such as:

  • Toxic metals in vaccines and dental fillings. The idea of heavy metal poisoning as being responsible for many common health problems is a popular one, and completely wrong. The studies of mercury in dental amalgams and vaccines are conclusive – there is no danger (which is more than can be said for the unnecessary chelation therapy that quacks prescribe to fix the "problem").[17]
  • Statin denialism, Mercola claims that statins are harmful and that 99% of people do not need them. He says they cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy and increase the risk of diseases.[18][19] This one is particularly horrible, as few medications or interventions have been found to be as safe and effective as statins. Failing to prescribe a statin to someone with coronary artery disease is very much against the standard of care (meaning that it could be construed as malpractice).
  • Microwaves "kill nutrients in food." No more than ovens do.[20]
  • Modern medicine kills you dead, but homeopathy works! (Fractal wrongness).
  • HIV doesn't cause AIDS and death from HIV is due to the "psychological stress" of having the condition. But he has a cure![21]
  • GMOs are every bit as harmful as excessive sugar and processed food.[22]
  • Eyeglasses denial[23], which is as pointless and harmful as it sounds.
  • Seriously, just pick a scientifically unsupported concern out of a hat, anything from aspartame to water fluoridation.
  • Magnesium woo, he is supportive of the crackpot ideas of Carolyn Dean.[24]
  • Promoting misinformation about linoleic acid from vegetable oils which he claims is driving chronic disease.[25] In reality, linoleic acid from vegetable oils has been found to lower the risk of mortality from all causes, CVD, and cancer.[26][27]


See the main article on this topic: COVID-19 pandemic

In March 2021, the Center for Countering Digital HateWikipedia published a list of twelve individuals entitled the "disinformation dozen", e.g. the individuals most responsible for spreading anti-vaccination misinformation online. [28] Topping the list was Joseph Mercola, who by July 2021 had published more than 600 articles on Facebook that cast doubt on COVID-19 vaccines since the start of the pandemic. [29]

On April 29, 2021, Mercola published a book entitled The Truth About COVID-19, in collaboration with noted medical woo pusher Ronnie Cummings, and with a forward from notable anti-vaccination pusher Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Depressingly, on July 24 2021, this book was listed as the #1 best seller in the Kindle "Preventive Medicine" category on AmazonWikipedia, [30] in spite of the book being a massive pile of bullshit conspiracy theories mixed in with unproven and disproven "treatments" (that happen to coincide with some of the supplements that Mercola sells). [31] Mercola also endorsed (via an Amazon editorial review) a "behind-the-scenes" novelized account of the bullshit non-documentary Plandemic. [32].

In a win for science, On September 29, 2021, Mercola (along with Kennedy) was booted off YouTube for being a prominent spreader of anti-vaccination bullshit.[33]

Trouble with regulatory committees[edit]

Mercola has received two warnings from the FDA for hyping coconut oil, chlorella, and the Living Fuel RxTM diet.[34][35] He received a third warning for selling infrared cameras that he claimed could be used to diagnose a number of illnesses.[36]

On February 18, 2021, Mercola received yet another warning from the FDA. This time, the warning was for Mercola promoting vitamin C and vitamin D as a COVID-19 cure on his supplements website, as well as promoting quercetinWikipedia (a flavonoidWikipedia that, like the aforementioned vitamins, is present in many fruits and vegetables) as a cure for COVID-19.[37] (The quercetin-cures-COVID bullshit claim, uncoincidentally, happens to also be promoted in Mercola's depressingly best-selling Truth About COVID-19 book). [31]

In addition, in April 2016, Mercola was forced to settle with the Federal Trade CommissionWikipedia for false advertising, due to Mercola selling tanning beds that he claimed not only didn't cause cancer, but somehow actively reduced the chances of getting it. Because this claim was 100% bullshit, Mercola was forced to pay refunds to his customers and leave the tanning bed business. [38][39]

This all came to a head in August 2021, when Mercola announced that he'd be wiping much of his old article archives and deleting new articles after a 48-hour period, claiming that President Biden had "targeted [him] as his primary obstacle that must be removed."[40]

Birds of a feather…[edit]

In what can only be termed a alternative medicine practitioner group hug, Mercola has recently come to the defense of the Burzynski Clinic despite the obvious pitfalls of doing so.[41]

See also[edit]

  • Megavitamin therapy — for some of Mercola's products that exceed the maximum recommended daily dose

External links[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1
  2. Dr. Joseph Mercola Ordered to Stop Illegal Claims
  3. 9 Reasons to Completely Ignore Joseph Mercola
  4. About Dr. Mercola
  5. When Should You Use Conventional Medicine?
  6. Dr. Joseph Mercola's Qualifications "But clinical trials conducted by heavily biased "researchers," advertisements, and news stories carefully scripted to scare you into belief, highly polished corporate offices and corporate websites, and an extreme focus on whatever has the most profit potential – not lifesaving or life-enhancing potential – are not qualifications. They are scams."
  7. Optimal Wellness Center Tour: A Total Health Transformation Can Be Yours! Mercola (archived from February 3, 2007).
  8. 8.0 8.1 A major funder of the anti-vaccine movement has made millions selling natural health products by Neena Satija & Lena H. Sun (Dec. 20, 2019 at 8:15 a.m. PST) The Washington Post.
  9. Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health
  10. The Carnivore Diet - Discussion Between Dr. Shawn Baker & Dr. Mercola
  12. Why I Quit the Keto Diet
  13. Dr. Mercola's Exit from Keto Diet: Mortality Concerns & Speculations
  14. Mercola is now a Ray Peat follower
  15. Why You May Need More Carbs in Your Diet - Interview with Georgi Dinkov (Dr Ray Peat) by Dr Mercola
  16. Crucial Facts About Your Metabolism - Discussion Between Georgi Dinkov & Dr. Mercola
  17. Somewhat ironic that he got on the anti-mercury bandwagon, considering that his last name kind of sounds like mercury.
  18. Statin Denialism
  19. Statin drugs are dangerous
  20. The Claim: Microwave Ovens Kill Nutrients in Food, New York Times
  24. Magnesium—The Missing Link to Better Health.
  25. Linoleic Acid: A Narrative Review of the Effects of Increased Intake in the Standard American Diet and Associations with Chronic Disease
  26. Biomarkers of Dietary Omega-6 Fatty Acids and Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality
  27. Dietary intake and biomarkers of linoleic acid and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies
  28. "The Disinformation Dozen: Why platforms must act on twelve leading online anti-vaxxers", Center for Countering Digital Hate, 24 March 2021
  29. "The most influential spreader of coronavirus misinformation online" by Sheera Frenkel, New York Times, 2021 July 24, mirrored at the Seattle Times
  30. "Amazon Best Sellers: Best Sellers in Preventitive Medicine", archived on 25 Jul 2021 02:14:49 UTC
  31. 31.0 31.1 "The Upside-Down Doctor Joe Mercola is a doctor at war with medicine. His take on the pandemic is a lucrative, conspiratorial fever dream" by Jonathan Jarry, McGill Office for Science and Society, 2021 June 4
  32. "Amazon Is Selling a Bogus ‘Plandemic’ COVID Conspiracy Book in Its ‘Science’ Section" by David Gilbert, Vice, 2021 July 6
  33. "YouTube bans all anti-vaccine misinformation" by Davey Alba, New York Times, September 29 2021
  34. FDA warning, Feb. 16, 2005
  35. FDA warning, Sep. 21, 2006
  36. FDA warning, Mar. 22, 2011
  37. Warning Letter:, LLC, MARCS-CMS 607133, issued by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2021 February 18
  38. "Accused by feds, sun bed-selling doctor settles for up to $5.3 million" by Kim Janssen, Chicago Tribune, 2016 April 14
  39. "The burning truth about indoor tanning" by Seena Gressin, Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC, 2016 April 14
  40. A top spreader of coronavirus misinformation says he will delete his posts after 48 hours, by Davey Alba (04 August 2021) The New York Times via The Seattle Times.
  41. Quoth Joe Mercola: I love me some Burzynski antineoplastons, Respectful Insolence