Clear as mud

There’s a product called Joint Mud which the Express is wholeheartedly bigging up today. Apparently, it’s mud you rub on your joints which supposedly stops the pain of arthritis and improves joint flexibility; or so they claim.

This product is important, the Express says, because “The launch comes after a weekend expose revealed the NHS wasted £59million over four years on the anti-arthritis food supplement glucosamine sulphate, which does not work.“* Well then, I sure hope this Joint Mud works instead!

The Joint Mud site unfortunately doesn’t link to any of the studies to measure how effective the cream is. Instead, they simply give two very brief abstracts of studies:

Clinical Study # 1 – Results in 18 Minutes

“When used in accordance with intended package directions, Joint Mud demonstrated statistically significant reduction of joint problems by an average of 74% within the first 18 minutes with a maximum of 89% improvement reported after a single application.

Clinical Study # 2 – Long term results in 28 days.

“When used in accordance with intended package instructions in 28 days Joint Mud improved Joint Flexibility, Muscle Flexibility and Range of Motion by greater than 239%. Also, over the four week study, the number of applications needed to achieve the desired joint relief decreased from three times daily to twice a day”.

There’s no mention of how the studies were controlled or what placebos they used – after all, rubbing a cold cream into your joints normally soothes them anyway, regardless of how many organic essential oils your cream contains.

Nor does it say anywhere what improving range of motion and flexibility by “greater than 239%” means. Does this mean people went from being able to move their knees by 20° to 67°, or just from 1° to 3°?

I know what you’re thinking. “Aren’t you being too harsh on them? After all, they’ve at least released some clinical data, even if it is completely useless cargo cult science? I’m sure there’s nothing else dodgy about this product!”

Well first of all, let’s see which doctor the Express quotes to promote the product:

Dr Mark Binette, of Greek Island Labs, which produces Joint Mud, said: “I’ve been practising medicine for over 21 years and have never seen a product with such staggering results. I believe Joint Mud will help millions of people deal with aches and pains.

“I have seen impressive results in patients suffering from pain in their knees, back, hips, shoulders, hands and fingers.”

So the guy who sells the product is also the guy whose testimony they rely on to show the product works. Never mind, I’m sure Dr Mark Binette can be totally unbiased and impartial about a product he sells.

Secondly, check out the testamonials on the Joint Mud site:

I’ve had joint problems in my elbows in my knees for several years now. I was introduced to Joint Mud, I put it on and 18 minutes later I can totally feel the difference.

I’d applied the Joint Mud as instructed and within 18 minutes or so, I was feeling the results.

I’ve suffered from a really bad hip problem for several years now. I was introduced to Joint Mud and found that it works in about 18 minutes.

I was introduced to Joint Mud and at first, I was skeptical but I went ahead and tried it. Within 18 minutes, I saw tremendous results.

It’s all natural, put it on the joints where you have problems and within 18 minutes, you’re going to have tremendous results!

Funny how everyone found the product worked in exactly 18 minutes, isn’t it?

In the same vein, at the time of writing there were four comments on the Express‘s article. All four comments were posted by people who had never used the site before, three of whom claim to live in Aberdeen. Bear in mind this is a product that has not yet been released in the UK yet, so it’s unlikely three Aberdeeners and a Londoner have had a chance to try the product yet.

All four comments were posted within hours of the article going live, with the three supposedly from Aberdeen being posted between 2:03 AM and and 3:34 AM. There must be a lot of insomniac Express reading arthritics in Aberdeen!

The company that makes Joint Mud, the inaccurately named “Greek Island Labs”, is based in Arizona. Arizona is currently 7 hours behind the UK, meaning that, Arizona time, the comments were posted in the early evening – a much more convenient time to be posting on the Daily Express website.

Now, far be it from me to criticise a product promoted by Cascada, Bruno from Strictly, and David Hasselhoff’s daughter, but does that strike anyone else as odd?

* I can’t actually find any such exposé anywhere online. Curiously though, Greek Island Labs have previously promoted their products as an alternative to glucosamine, which makes me wonder how much of a part they played in writing this article.

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  1. #1 by Minority Thought on Thursday, 2nd December 2010 - 10:26 UTC

    Amazing… How anyone at the Express could think this was news is utterly beyond me… And those comments are almost hilariously obvious!

  2. #2 by Daz on Thursday, 2nd December 2010 - 20:40 UTC

    I can see the headline now. “Clinical trial shows that reading the Express leads to insomnia!”

  3. #3 by Enlightend on Monday, 6th December 2010 - 10:00 UTC

    Just saw a reference to this stuff in a Sunday paper article and thought it would be worth trying. Now having looked at the website and read the previous comments I’ve changed my mind and in addition will now also dump the Glucosamine sulphate supplement I’ve been taking for 12 years!
    I’m normally a level headed person when it comes to “magic” pain relief claims but the misery of suffering rheumatoid arthritis can tend to make you grasp at any new product and if you are reading this you will know that already.

  4. #4 by Sceptical on Saturday, 1st January 2011 - 13:13 UTC

    My mother was totally taken in by this hard-sell and has asked me to order some for her. She believes everything she reads in the Express, having lost the ability to discriminate between opinion and fact. I avoid reading the tabloids, not having lost that ability. One wonders whether Jo Willey, the author of the article, has any scientific or medical credentials at all judging by the range and content of her articles, certainly none are listed on journalisted.com. After reading this latest article, I find myself agreeing totally with Roy Greenslade of the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2010/apr/07/dailyexpress-health

    Oh, and I shall NOT be ordering this for my mother. There are more proven alternatives for which she will not be shamelessly ripped-off.

  1. Greek Island Labs and the Express – lazy churnalism or something deeper? « Atomic Spin

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