Thursday, April 14, 2011

Saving Face: Dr. Oz escorts us into a wrinkle-free world

    (April 14, 2012) The stupidest remark I've ever heard Dr. Mehmet Oz make was this:
     "Nothing is more embarrassing  than looking older than you should. Let's all get busy and prevent embarrassing wrinkles!"
      Did you really mean to make such an asinine statement, Dr. Oz? What is wrong with you? You're the one who should be embarrassed.
   Oz knows that his 25-54 age demographic is freakishly obsessed with wrinkles, and his show targets their anxieties with one miraculous, magical, surefire, exotic, secret pill or potion after another. Day after day, he hauls out "the ultimate discovery" that will "keep you beautiful forever." There'll be a new one tomorrow. And how's your face doing? Any miracles yet?
 
 Dove, a major Oz sponsor, wants women to rethink their abhorrence of wrinkles.
    Paradoxically, a reporter who interviewed Oz in 2010 said the doctor looks youthful on TV, but he more than looks his age when he isn't "expertly lit and wearing makeup."
Has he lost his youthful radiance? Didn't his miracle solutions work?
    "His skin is really quite wrinkled, and he has dark circles and bags under his eyes," the reporter said. 

    Oz showers his viewers with endless "surefire" ways to "erase the years." So why doesn't erase a few of his own, if it's so easy and so important?  
    "Eat just one cucumber a day (peeling and all) to look five years younger!" he exhorts his ever-trusting fans. 
    You eat one, sir!
    I have never heard Oz suggest that women can be beautiful while simply letting nature takes its course. He characterizes wrinkles, as I noted earlier, as "embarrassing."
    This is cruel, clueless and irresponsible.

GROW UP, OZ: WRINKLES ARE NOT THE DEVIL
    Why can't he be an adult, and a chivalrous man, about this frivolous obsession, and help women enjoy the quite interesting, normal process of aging? It's ironic that one of his most faithful commercial sponsors, Dove, ran a classy, artfully designed  "campaign for  real beauty," encouraging women to embrace each phase of their lives with grace and self-acceptance.
    (Dove has since switched its commercial allegiance to "Katie," which was launched by Katie Couric in September 2012.)    
    (Update: As of May 2013, Dove has abandoned its commitment to the "pure" products ethic and has launched a "tranquil" line of products that contain untested and unapproved synthetic chemical fragrances, such as almond creme, nectarine and "harmonious plum." No actual fruits were harmed -- or used in any way! -- in the formulation of these aromas.)
Wrinkles, gray hair and a little bit of loose skin don't bother Dove.
    "You're getting older, and everything's sagging," he says menacingly. "Here's what to do when it all goes south," promising to reveal the "anti-aging secrets of the top supermodels!"
    When celebrity dermatologist and best-selling author Nicholas Perricone was a guest last year, he said, "Wrinkles are a choice. If you consume an anti-inflammatory diet high in Omega-3 and in antioxidants from colorful produce, your skin will remain pristine."
    (Even so, Perricone has made millions selling creams, lotions, toners, serums and other "cutting edge" products. His latest is "Cold Plasma," $155 per ounce, which "helps correct the ten most visible signs of aging: wrinkles, enlarged pores, dryness, redness, discoloration, uneven skin tone, impurities, loss of firmness, loss of smoothness, and loss of radiance.") (He also sells a month's worth of skin-friendly vitamins for $85.) (I'm going to keep eating my chard.)
Just eat your Swiss chard, Perricone says.
    Following suit, Oz has come up with one "secret" and "mysterious" and "foolproof" recipe after another to "banish wrinkles forever" and give you "perfect skin." He promises to introduce you to the top ten anti-aging herbs and spices, a "wrinkle-fighting smoothie" and "breakthrough wrinkle fighters" as well as "exotic foods that smooth, strengthen and revitalize your skin for a lifetime." He will soon reveal a "new technique" that "made 100 percent of people look years younger."
     He promises to tell you how to "trick your face into thinking it's had a facelift. You'll lose 10 years instantly!" 
It's a show that's largely about his breathtaking ambition.
'MIRACLE PILL' HAS THE BITTER AFTERTASTE OF ABSURDITY
    "Could it be the fountain of youth?" one of his promos blared. He promised to share "the secrets the beauty industry doesn't want you to know." 
   "The miracle pill to stop aging -- even reverse it -- is l-carnosine," Oz declared majestically. This supplement "not only reduces wrinkles  -- it also improves brain function, energy and vision and may prevent Alzheimer's," he added.
    The Natural Standard Nutritional Supplement Database (an esteemed research organization to which Dr. Oz links on his web site and which provides the Mayo Clinic source material on supplements) doesn't even have an entry for carnosine or l-carnosine, although it lists hundreds of both common and obscure nutrients and herbs. Natural Standard provides letter grades for the effectiveness of substances in promoting a wide range of benefits.
    The exhaustive website of Dr Andrew Weil, a famed MD and holistic-health expert (and regular Oz guest), also has no mention of carnosine, nor does the prestigious Linus Pauling Institute's micronutrient encyclopedia. 
    Nutrition powerhouse Puritan's Pride didn't offer it among  its huge inventory of supplements until weeks after Oz mentioned it, and it remained "on back order" for several more weeks, until its first shipment arrived. 
     GNC has carried carnosine for some time, at $66 for a month's supply, and states only that it "protects cell membranes" (with a disclaimer that this is an unproven effect).
Age is something we should erase, not embrace, in Oz's world.
 OZ IS ROUNDLY OUTVOTED ON THE CARNOSINE ISSUE
   "There isn't enough information available to know whether or not carnosine is safe, and there certainly is insufficient evidence to know whether it is effective in slowing the aging process," WebMd concluded, despite Oz's assurance that it can miraculously reverse aging.
    Occasional Oz guest expert Dr. Joseph Mercola said on his website that "carnosine itself is not very useful as a supplement, as there are enzymes that rapidly break it down. It is likely best to get dipeptides such as this one them from foods rather than seeking to outsmart nature." 
    Oz regularly refers to his rigorous "medical research team," which he claims thoroughly studies every product and procedure he recommends. Yet time and again, he peddles pills that are flatly repudiated by his own favorite guest experts and by online databases, including those of the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine NCCAM), Linus Pauling Institute, WebMd, Natural Standard, and several prestigious university medical schools.   
    So where is his "team" getting its information?
    After naming carnosine the "fountain of youth," Oz switched gears (as always) to another anti-aging miracle.  (start your engines, ladies!)
Oz keeps stumbling upon fountains of youth everywhere he turns.
    Astaxanthin, he said, is “the No.1 supplement you’ve never heard of that you should be taking." 
    The FDA has approved it as a coloring agent for fish and animal feed. It also has antioxidant properties. This is one of dozens of formerly unheard-of supplements that was suddenly, out of the blue, in huge demand.
    The National Standard database  of herbs and supplements doesn't even acknowledge its existence.
   Dr. Andrew Weil's assessment is: "I've seen no human study that has shown that astaxanthin as an isolated dietary supplement delivers any of the claimed benefits."
    But Oz was already off on his Next Big Thing: He decided that "the SECRET ORGAN that's sabotaging your skin is your pituitary! Your growth hormone is falling off a cliff! That's where the wrinkles come in!" 
    Thank goodness he had an "unbelievably effective" solution (and now maybe we don't need to buy carnosine and axtaxanthin?): "Fenugreek tea stimulates growth hormone and fights sagging skin!"  
    "A few small studies have found that fenugreek may help lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes," according to the National Institutes of Health database. "There is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of fenugreek for any other health condition."
     The active ingredient in fenugreek is the amino acid l-arginine, which Natural Standard says is effective only to "diagnose a pituitary disorder or perform a growth hormone reserve test." 
    (Oz also urges viewers to use l-arginine for weight loss.)
    Dr. Weil credits l-arginine not with any dermatological or weight-loss benefits, but rather with "potentially helping to lower blood pressure," although no teabag would provide nearly enough of the active ingredient to have any therapeutic benefit on blood pressure or anything else -- a concentrated supplement would be required.
    Later, though, Oz found the ONE TRUE CURE that will keep you young, both inside and out. It will change everything you think and feel about your life. It is SHIZANDRA BERRIES.
   Another wild goose chase, Oz -- thanks a lot. It's like he's turned life into a big, long scavenger hunt! 
(Thanks for reminding us.)
THE CORNUCOPIA OF REMEDIES SPILLETHS OVER
    "Get rid of everything else and use only cocoa-butter cream," was one subsequent Oz tip of the day, in case nothing else was working (although a year earlier, he had denigrated this product and urged fans to look for moisturizers that contain onion juice and other "collagen-builders").
     And this is essential, Oz says: It has been determined that the most effective time to apply wrinkle cream is after 9:30 p.m.
    Have you noticed that he has schedules for us to follow that affect almost every aspect of our lives? First, his big no-protein green drink (but didn't he also advocate 30 g. of protein within 30 minutes of rising?), a jolt of high-powered tea, a yoga pose, a pita wrap, a cup of berries, or some string cheese, or a banana burrito (?), five minutes of mindful breathing, a canned-pumpkin facial masque, two tablespoons of something (?), a lavender bath, some meditation or maybe gratitude journaling, a particular bedtime prelude (valerian, pistachios, so many surefire tips)  -- it's all mapped out for us, with military precision.
    But now (how do we fit these in?): "There are five NEW superfoods to add years to your life and keep you looking young!"
    Oz confides that black garlic strengthens your skin, jicama eliminates crow's feet, and Jerusalem artichoke will fade dark spots. 
Maybe if you saw his wrinkles, you'd change your mind.
    Black garlic, according to Dr. Andrew Weil, may have a slightly higher antioxidant content, but it is basically for "foodies on the lookout for the next novelty item." It is also very expensive, he adds, recommending that we stick with good, old-fashioned garlic, which truly is a superfood, particularly when eaten raw. 
    Jicama, Oz explains, is good for your collagen due to its Vitamin C content. Of course, there are many superior sources of Vitamin C, but they aren't the NEW SUPERFOODS that Oz needs to hold your interest. It also has "more iron than potatoes!" which isn't saying much. Lots of foods have more iron than potatoes.
    Jerusalem artichoke's effect is attributed to iron, but the iron content of beans, greens and grains is higher, and its bioavailability has been definitively established, unlike the Oz choice.)
Jerusalem artichoke is crisp and has a nutty flavor. It's easy to grow.
    


CURRANTS ARE AU COURANT, BUT IMPOSSIBLE TO FIND
     He recommends black currants to protect your vision from the ravages of aging, but while everyone was out trying in vain to find some, they could have simply purchased blueberries, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, purple grapes or red wine, all of which are excellent sources of the anthocyanosides that are thought to protect vision. Black currant extract also comes with a long list of precautions and contraindications, as I outlined earlier. Oz chose not to mention them.
     Milk mixed with lemon juice and brandy is "an excellent, excellent wrinkle remover," he said a few days later.
    But then he urged the ladies to blend sugar, yogurt and almond powder to achieve "that ingenue complexion." 
    But then what is really TOTALLY cool is red wine and agave nectar, because of all that resveratrol. Sagging and blotchiness will vanish!
    An ancient remedy that's considered "a modern-day miracle for tighter skin and erasing wrinkles" is to mix one teaspoon of organic honey with two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream. (None of these will work -- ask your dermatologist.)
    Or "try green clay mixed with rose oil to draw the toxins out of your skin." (It won't draw anything out, ask your geologist) (or your dermatologist, if he's willing to answer more than one question per appointment -- good luck with that).
    Have you achieved a "flawless radiance" by applying these luscious concoctions to  your face? Have your wrinkles "evaporated"? Has your skin's "youthful elasticity" been restored? 
    
ALGAE FROM THE SEA MAKE WAVES IN WRINKLE WORLD
     Since your answer is very likely "No way!" there are countless  "revolutionary new advances" that have been devised by the beauty industry to keep you young, and Oz doesn't seem to grasp the incongruity of promoting them, after promising us that whipping cream was miraculous. 
    One of Oz's top picks for 2012  -- it's from the ocean deeps, how scintillating! -- is Sephora's Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum, which "boosts production of skin's key structural proteins: elastin, collagen, and proteoglycans to rebuild firmness and tone the skin. Facial contours are redefined to create a more toned and sculpted appearance."
    (Ah, Sephora.  Oprah loves this firm's overhyped, overpriced, but beautiful and fragrant products. Now Oz -- what happened to the brandy, almond powder and honey? -- has embraced them as well. This is another "cosmeceutical" that has dubious benefits, to say the least.)
    It contains a "never-before-seen anti-aging ingredient, alguronic acid," Oz says. The cream costs just $95 for one ounce, and takes only 10 days to work.
It just 'makes sense' that an acid which protects algae can protect you.
    According to the New York Times, this product has been scientifically tested only in a petrie dish, and even those data have not been released for peer review. Apparently, research isn't as important as a romanticized, picturesque promotional strategy.
    "A compelling 'story' about a product’s genesis can be just as important for generating sales as the product’s demonstrable efficacy," the Times added.
    Sephora's Allison Slater said it made sense to her that alguronic acid (a compound that purportedly protects microalgae cells) "could also protect middle-aged faces from environmental assault."
     It may make sense to Allison, who gets paid to make sense of these things, but it's only a theory, dreamed up by a very unscientific marketing department.
    “Think about how algae can live anywhere, live in the coldest of places, or the harshest of places, and think about translating that to skin care,” she said. 
    I'll think about better ways to spend that $95. I wonder how many millions of Oz's fans jumped onto this particular bandwagon. Have their wrinkles been "eliminated"?

AN EYE SHADOW THAT LASHES OUT AT CROW'S FEET
   A new eyeshadow, which contains the "miraculous" macadamia oil, erases wrinkles while bringing lovely pastel shadings to your eyes.
Oz loves cheating so much, you have to wonder about his medical degree.
       Other recent remedies and preventatives have included:
    "Take Vitamin E (an antioxidant) before going out into the sun to protect your skin from aging." 
    But don't consume antioxidants before going into the sun. 
    And don't wear antioxidant creams when you go into the sun.
    But do use antioxidant creams when you're not in the sun, to reverse sun damage. 
    (My own "panel of experts" tells me this is all bogus.)
    "Put cold potato slices or tofu over your eyes to smooth puffy skin," Dr. Oz advises (anything cool will decrease puffiness). Then, he adds, do 40 jumping jacks (!) 
    The soy in tofu, he claims, has been shown to increase collagen. Also, soy contains flavanoids that have been shown to decrease sun damage.   
    Neither effect has been documented via a topical application. If you want the benefits of tofu, eat it.
    Putting a cucumber slice on your lips will moisturize them, Oz says, because it's 96 percent water. Or you could just pat some water on your lips and get a 4 percent superior effect. Neither is really a bona fide moisturizer, of course --  the benefits will evaporate within moments. You need a product such as Vaseline, Chapstick, or lipstick that will seal in the skin's natural moisture.
    Topical applications of foodstuffs neither draw anything out of the skin nor put anything into it, according to research dermatologists. Oz repeatedly ignores this scientific fact. 

THE FOOD GOES IN YOUR MOUTH, NOT ON YOUR FACE
    One guest expert rightly said, "There's no point putting vitamins on the outside. You need to get them on the inside."
    Nevertheless, Oz continues to whip up topical fruit concoctions because of the nutritional benefits that supposedly "seep" into your skin.  There was the avocado, the berries, the grapes, the melon, the banana, the kiwi. He exuberantly rubbed papaya onto his face recently, mentioning its "softening" and antioxidant effects, and ate a slice as well. 
Papaya is a beautiful, flavorful and nutritious fruit.
    Papaya does contain an enzyme, papain, which is commonly used as a meat tenderizer, but it works by "hydrolyzing the fleshly proteins." Does that sound desirable (hydrolyze means "the breaking down of a chemical compound")? And it's not clear that we would want our faces to be tenderized -- having the fibers "broken down" -- which isn't the same thing as "soft." Being tenderized makes it easier for our skin to be sliced and chewed! 
    The Natural Standard database warns the millions of  people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastrointestinal ulcers, and those using blood thinners or medications that suppresses the immune system to avoid papaya, because its active agent, papain, can exacerbate their conditions.
    Moreover, the FDA moved in 2008 to forbid the marketing of topical products containing papain due to reports of "serious adverse events."
    Dr. Oz consistently fails to mention such warnings when he is recommending various health and beauty strategies.  
    He recommends an equally useless remedy -- rubbing your face with tomatoes and sugar ("the lycopene will absorb right in there and bash wrinkles"), and this one at least won't hurt you, as long as your don't scrub too hard.
    UPDATE October 2014: A new breakthrough that makes every other miracle irrelevant! 
    "Dr. Oz proclaims Winter Cherry Extract "the secret to cheat your age".
Dr. Oz calls Winter Cherry Extract "the secret to cheat your age". - See more at: http://gtmskin.com/wrinkless.php?gclid=CPqa0p2Z0MECFQoJaQodKmsAmA#sthash.L1JwvS69.dpuf

   Oh boy -- more cheating! That is so sexy!
    "What Winter Cherry Extract & Gold Water do is get rid of all the old, dead layers of skin and help your skin generate fresh new ones. Our tests show that you can erase almost 20 to 30 years off your face in less than 14 days," he declared recently.
    So now we can stop slurping those gross, slimy sea urchins, which he had called "the ultimate cheat."


HAVE YOU TRIED 'POWER WASHING' YOUR WRINKLES AWAY?
    Among the foods that can "power wash" those wrinkles away, that can "make you look years younger" and "turn back the clock" are liver, squash, spinach, and salmon. Apricots give your skin "a healthy blush," he says, and cucumbers, blood oranges and eggplant offer "stunning" results. These are all nutritious foods that are good for our bodies, including our skin, but they do not "power wash" wrinkles.
    Almonds keep your skin soft by filling it with moisture, Oz says.  I don't think so.  No nut fills your skin with moisture, but any nut or healthy oil fortifies the sebaceous infrastructure, which helps your skin retain water.
    After Oz had told us to eat our broccoli and apples and peppers and all those other common age-defying foods, he had to branch "way out" to keep us coming back for more and to keep the ratings on their upward trajectory.  

'DRAGON FRUIT' REARS ITS HELPFUL HEAD
    So he urged us to imbibe the "ageless miracle" of Mexican Dragon Fruit "which reverses sun damage," (it is rich in lycopene, just as tomatoes are) (but tomatoes are so much easier to find!)  and sea cucumber (an animal) "for extraordinary skin" (it is high in protein and Vitamin A, as are many common and much less icky foods). 
Sea cucumber: Slurp it up for ravishing skin. Yuck!
      Oz recommends sea asparagus "for perfect skin"(it is high in Vitamin A and folic acid, which help repair the dermis. If you don't feel up to going on an expedition to find some, the same nutrients are found in spinach, green vegetables and beans. Other natural sources of folate include asparagus, bananas, melons and lemons). 
    Use Irish Moss, to "eliminate dark circles under your eyes," Oz advises. (So why does he still have dark circles? Anyway, if you want to use something that's a bit more convenient, you will get high amounts of Vitamin K -- the active component of Irish Moss -- in leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, kale, parsley and spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, liver, soybean oil and wheat bran, all of which avoid the questionable element of carrageenan in Irish Moss, which Dr. Weil says may cause ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.)

AN IDEA THAT MERITS AN ICY STARE
   Oz recommended applying "parsley ice cubes" to the under-eye area for a "firming effect" and an "infusion of antioxidants." (I wouldn't think of freezing the skin under my eyes; it is the thinnest and most fragile skin on our bodies. And no antioxidants would be infused.)
   The next big thing was Black African soap (which you get from Ghana. Its secret is that it is made from plantain skins!) But maybe it's better to use olive oil soap, which "penetrates deep into the skin" (no it doesn't).
    Is the sheer volume and absurdity of all these wrinkle-avoidance techniques beginning to change your perspective about the most constructive ways to spend your time and energy? 
    If you want more, they keep on coming -- and maybe one day, Oz will unveil a "fail-proof" remedy for aging which will actually work, and he can turn his program into the talk-show format that he's been yearning for. He wants to be the next Oprah, and I think he'd do very well in that role.
    In the meantime, don't forget to chew one Acerola Cherry capsule every other day to "bring the youthful elasticity back to your skin." 

OZ WOULD BE SWEETER TO ADVISE BETTER EATING HABITS
   GTF chromium "stops wrinkles by cutting the amount of sugar in the blood," Oz says.
    (If you have enough sugar in your system to cause wrinkles, you have more important things to worry about than your skin.)
    If you do a search for chromium and wrinkles, all you'll find are references to Oz's statement; there is no corroborating evidence. Several leaps of logic, based on conflicting research, were required to make this recommendation.
    It is true that a lifetime of eating excessive amounts of sugar can damage the collagen and age your skin (although, ironically, being fat seems to prevent wrinkles quite well). To reverse the damage, you need a good retinoid cream, preferably one that is prescription-strength. But the important thing -- for you skin and for your health in general -- is to slash your sugar intake, not take a pill.
    To recommend the use of chromium as a wrinkle-fighter is a cavalier "take" on a very complex and still controversial aspect of our metabolism. 
    There are conflicting data on the effectiveness of chromium in controlling blood sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic.  WebMd says its only "likely" benefit is to address chromium deficiency. Researchers are still "looking carefully" at the data to determine who might benefit from the mineral. Some experts believe that only people who are malnourished or have below-normal chromium levels should use the supplement, or have any hope of benefiting from it, WebMd adds. 
   "Not all studies agree, and if chromium does help reduce blood glucose, it' s not clear how big the benefit might be and who might benefit. More research is needed," according to the University of Maryland Medical School database.
    There are significant contraindications and interactions pertaining to chromium. It seems prudent to lower blood sugar by eating less sugar rather than to take a supplement to clean up after one's poor dietary habits.

JUST PLAY CHINESE EMPRESS INSTEAD -- THAT'S MORE FUN
    Trying a jade roller is more amusing than pill-popping anyway. Oz says it is "a secret weapon of the Chinese Empresses."
    "It is very cooling, so it closes your pores, increases firmness and elasticity in your skin and decreases puffiness," he says, quoting online promotional material. (The emperors used it too -- how vain! And it also provides a lymphatic drainage massage for the breasts. You don't know what you're missing).
Just $40, but they sold out long ago. 
The Asian websites are having a meltdown!
    There were many Chinese empresses who lived practically at the beginning of Time, and who had "secrets" that our nation's hardy "beauty experts" have somehow excavated. It's refreshing to play Asian royalty for awhile instead of dealing with reality and taking pills. So I have rounded a few secrets up to help Oz expand on this lovely concept.
    Empress Dowager Cixi kept sliced ginseng in her mouth to keep her body free of toxins, and she ate pearl powder -- yum -- to refine her skin. Pearl powder was a big deal back then, to be used both topically and internally.
    Empress Lü Zhi, of  the Han Dynasty (206 BC – AD 220), supposedly adored  Tremella fuciformis. She started each day with a bowl of soup made from this edible jelly fungus, and she reportedly had great skin.
     Princess Yonghe's Herbal Bean Cleanser is legendary for "expelling wind, stimulating the circulation, nourishing the skin and moisturizing the complexion." I love the multitasking involved in expelling wind and nourishing the skin simultaneously. It's exhilarating just to contemplate.
    Also: ox hide gelatin is a MIRACLE WRINKLE FIGHTER.   
Empress Dowager Cixi thought jade rollers were nothing more than media hype!
   Oz promised to present "24-hour remedies that will make you look years younger." Just rubbing in a mixture of olive oil, coffee grounds and sea salt will restore the "youthful you," he said. The audience member who had this mess smeared all over her face seemed to feel that it might really work. Unfortunately, she wasn't invited back the next day so that we could see how effective that 24-hour miracle had really been. 

TEA FOR TWO: YOUR SKIN AND YOU
   A secret three-herb tea "makes your cells think you're younger."  (Do cells think?)
   Or brew wormwood tea, drain the water and place the leaves directly on your face for 10 minutes, "to leave your skin looking radiantly smooth and refreshed." Dream on, people!
    White tea, combined with green tea powder and lemon juice in a paste is the "amazing revelation about why Chinese women (as distinguished from Chinese empresses) are wrinkle-free," Oz says unpersuasively. 
    In Italy, women mash grapes over their faces "to pull toxins out of their skin and to keep them from having to go under the knife." (No they don't -- look at the data! A larger percentage of Italian women "would consider cosmetic surgery" [28 percent] than American women [25 percent]. Or just ask my boyfriend Giuseppe -- he's from there! Or fly over and attend the annual Miss Cosmetic Surgery contest in the lovely Italian coastal town of Rimini). The Florentine newspaper calls cosmetic surgery "a craze that's growing exponentially." Use those grapes either for wrath or for wine, like the good lord intended.
    If you are drawn to the "flawless porcelain skin of a Geisha," just smooth saki, blended with oil, into your skin overnight, Oz counsels. (Actually, I think the porcelain flawlessness is from the opaque white foundation they wear. Have you ever seen what's underneath?)
   
PUT SOME SPICE IN YOUR STRIFE
   For a "very effective, simply beautiful effect," dissolve cinnamon and nutmeg into hot water, Oz advises and apply to the skin. "It is a delightful wrinkle eraser, and it smells wonderful."
   But then he told everyone a few weeks later to use cumin and coriander in hot water to achieve the same thing. Are we all wrinkle-free yet?  I don't think so! Will we ever rise up and tell Oz to cease and desist with all this hooey?
    When can we start using our kitchens for cooking again, instead of spending all this time on wrinkle recipes?
Beauty problems are so embarrassing -- and so easily treated!
     If you want to avoid all of his fruity, spicy hassles, just take two baby aspirin a day. According to Oz, "it will have a dramatic effect on the youthfulness of your skin. It kills inflammation, which causes the visible signs of aging."
    (Didn't he say it was the drop in growth hormone which did that? And then didn't he blame it on blood sugar? And so many other things?)
     Or use a bit of Evening Primrose Oil. "It won't let you down," he said.
   Egg whites give you "an instant facelift," he added. 
   One of his "3 Mystery Ingredients" for a "more youthful you" is Argireline, which Oz characterizes as "a Botox alternative." It "works by inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters released by the brain that tell these facial muscles to tense." 
    This "remarkable cream relaxes the muscles that cause wrinkles," he says.
   (So now it's muscles and neurotransmitters that are the problem! Should we still be doing the Dragon Fruit thing?)
    A blog by and for pharmacists discusses the claims for Argireline, which have only been tested by scientists employed by the firm that is marketing it.
     "Even if the product can actually inhibit the release of neurotransmitters, this would be problematic," editor Sharmai Pillay wrote. "Many of these neurotransmitters, such as epinephrine and dopamine, are required by your body to maintain your health. Inhibiting their release could have long-term health impacts."
    If you are fond of "Dollar Store Age Defiers," buy a can of pumpkin and smear it on your face for a "smooth, even radiance," Oz counsels. Or get a Vitamin C moisturizer (good luck finding that in a dollar store) to firm and tone your skin. Guest dermatologist Audrey Konin said she had found some of the best brands of "C" serums as well as lip plumpers ("normally at least $15") in dollar stores. What bizarro world does she live in?

PUT A BAG OVER THAT BULKED-UP FACE
    "Over the years the muscles in our face have gotten big and bulky," Konin said. "Relax the muscles and wrinkles with a cold compress of ginseng tea bag."  
    Are your facial muscles big and bulky? If so, I think you may need more than a teabag. A complete medical workup might be a more sensible strategy. 
Dr. Oz is such an impish, naughty boy. He loves trickery!
     Oz's "Anti-Aging Cheat Sheet" includes noni juice ($30 per bottle), which he says was "discovered in the farthest reaches of the globe" (actually, it was Hawaii). "It is  known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can help fight the formation of wrinkles by fortifying your skin's collagen infrastructure," Oz proclaims.
    But his trusted friend, Dr. Andrew Weil counters, "Despite the health claims and the enthusiastic testimonials of customers, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that noni juice is an effective treatment for anything at all."
    The National Institutes of Health database says, "Noni has not been well studied in people for any health condition." Lab results may "warrant further research for conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease," the agency concludes.
    On his web site, Oz sensibly lists red bell peppers, brussels sprouts and guava as vitamin C-rich foods that build and protect collagen. 
    But he also recommends DERMAdoctor Photodynamic Therapy Noni Lotion, which is $85 for a 30 ml container. Its marketers claim that noni somehow "specifically captures the sun's rays, then converts and emits this energy as a highly focused visible red wavelength of light...that works to firm the skin."
   At last, thanks to this breakthrough product, the sun and our skin can be friends again.
     During a "no embarrassment" segment, an audience member said, “I heard using Preparation H can reduce bags under my eyes. Is that true?”
Pfizer is telling Oz to just 'bag' his suggestion.
 
    Oz answered: "Yes. Bags are caused by loss of elasticity in the skin. Luckily, hemorrhoid creams help tighten skin temporarily by constricting the blood vessels in the skin and reducing the swelling that causes bags under the eyes."

THE 'PREPARATION H' PEOPLE ARE 'HORRIFIED'
     My call to Pfizer Corp., which produces Preparation H, elicited an unequivoval denouncement of the ointment's use for anything but hemorrhoids. "It can be dangerous," the representative said. A few days later, I received a follow-up email, stressing that the company does not endorse "off label" uses of the product, "which can cause a number of serious side effects, including hypertension."
    Dr. Marc Siegel, a FOX News medical contributor, told FOXNews.com that the ointment can cause uncomfortable side effects such as rashes, as well as more serious systemic problems.
    Oz said he was impressed by two "cosmeceuticals" that "really cheat your age," L'Oreal Revitalift Double Lifting Treatment (yet another retinol lotion) and Brazilian Peel Professional Strength Glycolic Acid ($78 for four applications). 
    But if his simple yet "miraculous" homemade remedies work so well, why spend all that money on costly, chemical-filled treatments?
    And why feature one segment after another on advancements in expensive, temporary cosmetic surgery -- injections, ultrasound, lasers, peels, abrasions and "lifts" -- since Oz's "wrinkle erasers from Nature" are so effective?
    I would love to know how Mrs. Oz preserves her youthful beauty. Does she whip up her husband's surefire concoctions in the kitchen, or does she have another surgeon in her life?
    The same dermatologist who advised women to crush the decongestant pseudoephedrine into their eye creams for an "immediate lift" nevertheless injects very expensive hyaluronic acid under her patients' eyes to address the same problem. She demonstrated on the program. 

IF OZ'S 'MIRACLES' DON'T WORK, COSMETIC SURGEONS AWAIT YOU
    The latest advance for facial rejuvenation a year ago was  focused ultrasound (Ultherapy), but it required two to three months for the full effect to appear.  
     Then there was a "revolutionary surgery" in which "you can lose 10 years in 30 minutes. One treatment. No downtime. No cutting."
    A robotic face lift was described in another segment. It "involves the fast and accurate injection of fillers."
After all the wrinkle-fighting miracles, it finally comes down to this. Why?
        On one show, Oz "revealed two-cutting edge lasers that can treat multiple issues simultaneously, saving time, money and discomfort." 
    The Alma Pixel Q Switch and Sciton Broadband Light Microlaser Peel were portrayed as major breakthroughs.
    Earlier this year, New York City’s Dr. Yan Trokel was introduced as "the only surgeon in the world" who performs the “Y-Lift” procedure. "It can take years off your face in a matter of minutes, all without stitches." He referred to it as the "lunchtime facelift" and said the entire procedure takes 15 to 45 minutes and lasts up to two years. Cost: $8,000. (Holy papaya!) The patient is able to resume daily activities "immediately."
What message are we sending to our children?
    It seems odd, if not suspect, if not outright hypocritical, for Dr. Oz to claim that his dozens of nutrients, foods and do-it-yourself preparations are "incredibly effective at erasing the ravages of time" and then to  promote, with such fanfare, the industry of cosmetic surgery and of exorbitantly priced age-defying commercial preparations.
    Most dismaying of all, of course, is that so much time and energy are devoted to the issue of wrinkles, which we should be encouraged to accept gracefully or ignore, and focus our energies on more important things.

STOP THE PRESSES! Toss out all those pills, potions, lotions, exotic foodstuffs and ancient remedies Oz has been enticing you to buy. ALL YOU NEED is coconut oil! Not only is it "the fat that fights fat," but it is also an unparallelled miracle for your skin (and your hair). Slather it everywhere, and watch as the wrinkles disappear and a rosy, radiant fullness flows onto your face, especially if you have given yourself a "remarkable" KITTY LITTER FACIAL beforehand. "I am astonished," Oz declares solemnly. He almost always is. 
    BUT THEN, HE DISCOVERED THE TRULY MIRACULOUS MIRACLE THAT WILL MIRACULUIZE YOUR SKIN FOREVER!! It was "BB Cream." Pretty boring. Then he went back to alpha-hydroxy acid lotions, which were the big thing 15 years ago. 
    BUT NOW, IN JANUARY 2014, it's "CC Cream," which "outdoes anything I've ever seen," Oz declares. Its "secret ingredient is the B vitamin niacin.

COMING NEXT (BUT OZ MIGHT NOT REALIZE IT YET: The alphabet soup stops here—DD does it all, according to Sephora, a brand that Oz "adores." 
    "This Dermatologists’ Dream Cream defines, delays, defends, delights, and delivers. It provides 15 healthy skin benefits, a mineral based SPF 30, and a white sapphire complex that brings out the beauty of everyone’s unique skintone. No skintone matching to product shade is required: the white sapphire complex is self-adjusting and brings out and enhances the beauty of one’s own unique skintone beauty. It infuses skin with a dermatologist developed beautifying cocktail that leaves skin healthy and naturally gorgeous. Additional benefits include the following: self-adjusting coverage; antiaging; hydrating; defending; evening skintone; minimizing pores; blemish soothing; reducing redness; firming; brightening; priming; enhancing vibrancy; refining; mattifying; and nourishing." Thank god it mattifies! Now we really don't need Oz anymore, right? Unless we're addicted.

The preceding article is an excerpt from Oz1, located behind the tab at the top of the page. Oz 1 describes the evolution of his media empire, the elementary-school atmosphere of his TV show, and his transformation from "America's Doctor" into "America's Boyfriend" (http://kronstantinople.blogspot.com/p/oz-1.html).

If Dr. Oz's miraculous, effort-free butt-blasting and belly-busting weight loss secrets work, why is is wife such a meaty girl? Getting rid of excess pounds isn't just for vanity, he says. FAT KILLS! 
http://kronstantinople.blogspot.com/2013/01/is-there-dr-oz-in-house.html 


(UPDATE: Dec. 9, 2013: Dr. Oz appeared on our local Fox station while he was here on a skiing vacation. He was painfully scrawny. His hair was badly dyed (shoe-polish brown) and shellacked into place. But most startling were the major bags and dark circles under his eyes. 
Dr. Mehmet Oz shares his eye bags and beauty tips in a visit to Salt Lake City on December 9.
   I was shocked, despite what the reporter had said earlier about Oz's tired, aged eyes. What makes this all the more revealing is that he has touted literally dozens of "miraculous," easy ways to "literally smooth away" those imperfections. All it takes is a teabag, an herb, a little yogurt, a spritz of rosewater -- whatever -- and your skin will be "flawlessly smooth." As all you ladies who have repeatedly tried his cures for everything from belly bloat to sciatica already know, his advice is almost always absolutely useless.
    Here is the video of Oz on Fox so you can see for yourself what he looks like when the local hacks -- instead of his own makeup people -- apply all that concealer: http://fox13now.com/2013/12/09/dr-oz-answers-health-questions-on-good-day-utah/)



Just use kiwi, or eat parsley, Oz has told us. It's so darn easy!
    UPDATE June 17, 2014: Oz was assailed in a Congressional hearing today for his "fraudulent" and "deceptive" claims about weight-loss scams, such as his recent show on "3 Ways to get your fat to eat itself." He defended himself by saying merely that he tends to use "passionate and flowery language." He was warned to tone down his "huckster" approach and to show more respect both for his audience and his medical credentials. He was referred to as a "buffoon" and a "charlatan." The same could be said for many members of Congress, but the proof about Oz's disrespect for the truth can be found in my three stories behind the tabs above: Oz1, Oz2 and Oz3. I'll tackle the damned congressmen later. Or not -- it's too boring.



ANOTHER 'ANCIENT REMEDY' WITH A SALTY PREMISE
    Oz advises that you use the Himalayan Salt Inhaler Immunity Booster if you're feeling "run down." This $30 "ancient remedy," a ceramic container filled with Himalayan salt crystals, is used as an inhaler "to calm and cleanse your airways," he says, probably quoting the package. How does it calm? How does it cleanse? (What about the Neti Pot? What about snorting garlic puree and one-nostril beathing? How do we juggle this wonderland of nasal options and still have time for our eyes, ears, noses and throats, not to mention our bellies and butts (and wrinkles!)?
    The whole inhaler premise is confounding to me. How can we tell if our airways aren't "calm"? How does the inhaler moisturize our airways? Where does the moisture come from (there is no water in the inhaler)? How does the salt get into our membranes? Wouldn't salt particulates draw moisture out of our membranes rather than adding moisture?
    I checked several online sites, and everyone of course -- including Amazon.com -- had sold out.


Exotic, ancient, inscrutable -- just what we need! But Himalayan salt is pink.

     The salt (which is "completely pure, since it's from the Himalayas") (get real, Oz, no place is pure anymore. And do you really think the salt is from there? ) "(makes your mucus membranes) better able to clear irritants."  (I wonder if Oz knows that the world-famous pashmina goats are hanging out up there, in the Kashmir region of the Himalayas, undoubtedly peeing and pooping up a storm, as they are certainly entitled to do. So much for "completely pure" salt!)

They mess up the salt, but they give us cashmere. Seems fair.

    Actually, a 2002 investigation by by the international nonprofit Tourist Watch and the Pakistan Holistic Health Society agreed that there are no salt mines in the Himalayas. The salt is actually mined in the Khewra mine in Pakistan, one of the largest, busiest salt mines in the world (and probably not very sanitary -- it's a big, industrial operation). The salt can contain up to 84 trace elements, some of them metals. It is unclear to me how this would benefit -- or damage -- your lungs and nasal passageways.

Himalayan salt: Is it a spiritual wonder, or just pretty? And is it true that some
 of it  is dyed to convey the desired magical and otherworldly radiance?

    "I recently reviewed the mineral content of Himalayan salt sold by several natural products companies and wholesale suppliers. I became alarmed when I saw the fluoride content at whopping 192 mg.," says a 50-year nutrition health researcher and editor of Natural Health News. "I no longer recommend it for anything except as a gourmet conversation-starter. I certainly wouldn't breathe it."

   Regular Oz guest Dr. Joe Mercola is peddling Himalayan salt for kitchen use, even though "the suppliers of this salt have no standard infrastructure available and we have to work through people that have no idea of how normal business operates. It has to be hauled through several countries and takes two years to get here." That doesn't sound too pure!

Mercola's 16'' x 8 '' Himalayan salt slab is $40.00.

'VIBRATIONAL ENERGIES' -- SOUNDS LIKE IT'S MANY SPLENDORED

    "It has vibrational energies," he adds. That doesn't sound too scientific! But it is representative of the wind-chimey, mystical benefits that are attributed to this salt by those who are trying to sell it.

    In fact, none of the claims for this "miracle" substance, which is used in lamps and for bathing, as well as cooking and inhaling, has been substantiated, according to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

    Himalayan salt, along with olive oil, has been named as one of the top ten global products that is most likely to be deceptively labeled, diluted or tainted. No health claims have been substantiated for the salt, according to a review of the literature by eHow.com, which concludes that it is yet another foodie fad.

    It seems that Oz would have done a bit more homework on this product and the science behind it before causing an online stampede that has yet to end.

      I find that irrigating my sinuses with a $1.00 turkey baster and plain old American salt works pretty well. Clean as a whistle without actually whistling. And much more thorough than a Neti pot.

When he's done, he'll be mining Himalayan salt for your inhaler.