Tuesday, October 5, 2021

#2487: Josh Axe

Joshua Lee Axe is not a medical doctor, but a celebrity quack who practices chiropractic and naturopathy in Tennessee. He has, for what it’s worth, degrees in both fields (though his chiropractic license might have expired), but that doesn’t exactly make him a worthwhile source of advice about medical issues. People seem to listen to him, however, and to visit his website to be exposed to discredited and unproven cancer treatments as well as a cornucopia of other woo and quackery, particularly related to diet – Axe is apparently a “Certified Nutrition Specialist”, which is not anything to be proud of. Josh Axe is not a medical doctor.


As for dietary advice, Axe is currently a fan and promoter of low-carb diets and the ketogenic diet, and he sells a range of ridiculous and ridiculously expensive nutritional supplements that aren’t going to have any beneficial effect for anyone. He has even written a book, Eat Dirt, whose title is apparently intended to be taken literally: yes, he promotes geophagia, no less, and his supplement selection includes for instance a “Soil and Plant based probiotic and prebiotic blend” supposed to facilitate bacterial growth. Now, the familiar toxins gambit is an important part of Axe’s marketing schemes, and he warns his customers – seemingly reasonably – against consuming heavy metals; he nevertheless pushes bentonite clay, a quack-treatment that contains potentially hazardous levels of arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead. There is a good takedown of his tortured inconsistencies here – ostensibly, his clay is supposed to remove toxic metals from your body, though he struggles mightily with trying to explain how, ending up with magic (specifically, he ends up referencing “positively charged electrons”, which would be … antimatter). His struggles, of course, stem from the fact that Axe earns money by pushing things like bentonite clay through commissions: you’ll see it if you look at the hidden, encoded Amazon.com affiliate link; he does of course not tell you that – legally, a good doctor is supposed to clearly disclose affiliations when directing you to buy anything, but Axe is not a doctor. And note that Axe’s nonsense is sufficiently popular for him to be invited on the Dr. Oz show to promote his nonsense.


Axe is also a proponent of curing leaky gut syndrome, which he describes as a rapidly growing condition that millions of people are struggling with and don’t even know it.” That is, unsurprisingly, false; leaky gut syndrome is not a recognized medical condition but a pseudo-religious myth pushed in alternative medicine circles: fake diagnoses are an important feature of the quack industry, insofar it is easier for quacks to push nonsense for fake diagnoses they have convinced their victims that they suffer from (e.g. through fake diagnostic tests) than to push nonsense for real medical issues, which would be somewhat easier to detect and might lead to complaints – the more complex and far-reaching the lie, the harder it is to unpack. The NHS has stated that there is currently little evidence to support the theory that a porous bowel is the direct cause of any significant, widespread problems.” People visiting Josh Axe’s website are unlikely to be aware of that.


Among the impressive array of “natural” health products Axe pushes (as stated in small print on his website, he receives commission from pushing you to other vendors for products he doesn’t sell himself), you’ll also, of course, find a number of the usual suspects, including apple cider vinegar, Himalayan pink salt and colloidal silver. He also, unsurprisingly, promotes coffee enemas, which have no medical benefit but are associated with numerous risks (burning, rectal perforation, infection and electrolyte imbalance). His essential oil program, meanwhile, is a steal at a mere $197 – according to Axe, essential oils are apparently useful for everything from healing broken bones to preventing brain tumors; he even claims that there is scientific evidence for his claims, since anyone can claim whatever they want (he has a Quack Miranda Warning, though he has apparently tried to hide it as well as it is possible to hide it without inviting legal trouble). There isn’t.


Some of the brands quackery he endorses are more disconcerting, including dangerous and unproven alternative cancer treatments such as the Gerson therapy. He also recommends chelation as a treatment for autism, which has been decisevly shown not to work but, equally decisively, to be hazardous to the patient.


Of course, Axe’s understanding of science leaves a lot to be desired – not that he seems to care when deciding what nonsense to push. For instance, he doesn’t understand the difference between ionizing radiation from a nuclear reactor and non-ionizing radio waves from a microwave oven – yes, of course Axe claims that cellphones and microwave ovens cause cancer, and based precisely on the kinds of fundamental misunderstandings just mentioned. Cellphones and microwave ovens do not cause cancer. But then, he also states that he is a creationist (“I personally am a creationist”), something that is presumably useful to endear him to segments of the population that don’t really like evidence anyways.


There is a short, balanced and fair discussion of Josh Axe and his advice here.


Diagnosis: The pseudoscience, nonsense and conspiracy theories pushed by Josh Axe rivals NaturalNews, but is more obviously a grift. We have no doubts that Axe is a true believer, though. It’s insane, and scary.


Hat-tip: Rationalwiki


Addendum: We’ll offer an honorable mention to actor and celebrity loon Dan Aykroyd for his nonsense alien claims. They won’t qualify him for a full entry, though.


  1. Yeah, why buy high priced supplements when you can buy higher priced pharmaceuticals? Pfizer, like you, would say that doesn't make sense!

    1. Get back to us when Pfizer recommends that we eat dirt and shove coffee up our butts.

  2. Kentucky EDUCATIONAL Television aired an infomercial for “Dr. Josh Axe” a chiropractor, several months ago. He was touting “ancient remedies.” Every ten seconds or so of his spiel, the camera does a close-up of the grinning/nodding zombies in the audience nodding their heads in total agreement. Some of the things he says about eating better made sense, but why couldn’t they get someone reputable to say that?

    A lot of the “ancient remedies” seem to based on symbolism.

    “Tomatoes have four chambers, just like your heart.”
    “Mushrooms are the same shape as adrenal glands”
    “Carrots in section look like the eye’s iris”
    “Walnuts look like brains”
    “Celery looks like bones”
    “Beets are the color of blood…”
    “The color of the food will tell you what part of the body it will heal.”

    I emailed the station and got this reply:
    “I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Thank you for taking the time to express your concern. We appreciate your feedback and I have forwarded your email on to the Programming Manager for future consideration. We did want you to know when receiving the program from the distributor that the standard protocol is to have a disclaimer at the beginning and/or end of a program saying to consult a doctor prior to making any dietary changes.”