If you think the reputation of politicians couldn’t possibly sink lower, at least one potential presidential candidate proves you wrong. Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas and a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, starred in an Internet commercial for an “alternative” treatment for diabetes.
Or, as the New York Times described it, a “dubious” treatment. Even that is being kind.
From a wood-paneled study, the folksy Huckabee implores viewers to ignore “Big Pharma,” and treat their type 2 diabetes with a “weird spice, kitchen-cabinet cure” of dietary supplements.
“Let me tell you, diabetes can be reversed,” Huckabee says. “I should know because I did it. Today you can, too.”
The American Diabetes Association, as you might expect, is not among Huckabee’s medical campaign supporters.
His motivation for giving medical advice, according to The Times, is because on his first try at the White House, he ran out of money. So the Internet pitch is one of the “highly unconventional income streams” he has pursued. In addition to endorsing the diabetes “treatment,” he has sold ads on email commentaries distributed to his supporters.
A spokeswoman for Huckabee told The Times that he had ceased to be a spokesman for the diabetes cure a couple of weeks ago, possibly because such endorsements made him look less than presidential.
That seems to us the lesser of two evils – isn’t it more important to avoid promoting not only bogus but possibly harmful medical advice when you’re wholly unqualified to do so?
At least former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bob Dole was paid to advertise a legitimate drug (Viagra), never mind the damage that campaign might have done to his statesmanlike image.
Huckabee has been applying snake oil for some time, as The Times reported. An ad accompanying one of his emails in January claimed that a miracle cure for cancer was hidden in the Bible. The ad linked to a video offering a booklet about the “Matthew 4 Protocol,” which was free … if you bought a $72 subscription to a health newsletter.
As The Times story said, “Although a disclaimer on the emails says Mr. Huckabee does not endorse these products, that might not be enough to dissociate him, as a future presidential aspirant, from their claims, which are designed to pry open the wallets of small-donor conservatives, some of whom distrust mainstream sources of information.”
At least one fellow conservative, Erick Erickson, founder of the blog Red State, has criticized ads for products and outside political groups that he calls “hucksters.”
The “Diabetes Solution Kit” Huckabee’s hawking is a $19.95 booklet with advice on eating, exercise and dietary supplements. He promises the information will disclose “all the natural secrets that are backed by real science that really work.”
Uh, huh, and if you believe that, you might want to invest in oceanfront real estate in Arizona.
One video isn’t science, it’s science fiction, and peddles a diabetes “cure” consisting of cinnamon and chromium picolinate, a chemical compound sold as a nutritional supplement.
The American Diabetes Association says such dietary and herbal supplements are about as effective for treating diabetes as bourbon is for treating dehydration. And we’re paraphrasing here…
“Most big pharma companies don’t know squat about how to reverse your diabetes,” the video says, and Huckabee, who lost more than 100 pounds after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, states, “Techniques just like you’re going to find in this kit worked for me.”
But earlier this month at a political appearance in Iowa, he was asked if he had used cinnamon and chromium picolinate to reverse his diabetes, and Huckabee said, “No, I reversed it by taking better care of my health.”
“Pressed about the dietary supplements promoted by the company he endorses,” according to The Times, “for which he was paid an undisclosed fee, he said: ‘I’ll do anything that promotes good health. Yes, sir.’ ”
Maybe he meant, “I’ll do anything to make money for my political coffers, even if it encourages people to ignore proven medical treatment and risk their health chasing dreams.”
Even though Huckabee supposedly ceased promoting the Diabetes Solution Kit earlier this month, its producer, Barton Publishing of Brandon, S.D., still included his endorsement on its website.
Customers of Barton Publishing have posted objections online to the company making exorbitant and unauthorized charges to their credit cards. A Times reporter ordered the booklet Huckabee promoted for $19.97 for a downloadable copy and $19.95, plus shipping, for a printed copy, and found a $120.08 charge to his Visa card, which included a $67 coaching video that was not ordered.
A slimy business making slimy product claims.
“Although supplements line the shelves of pharmacies and supermarkets,” The Times explained, “scientific organizations say the evidence for their help in treating diabetes, the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, comes up short.”
According to the American Diabetes Association, “Research has not been able to prove that dietary or herbal supplements (including omega-3 supplements, cinnamon and other herbs) help to manage diabetes.”
Read the cautionary information about herbs, supplements and alternative treatments provided from the American Diabetes Association here. And see Patrick’s newsletter about nontraditional medicine.