A.k.a. the MegaVitaminMan
Andrew Saul is a self-proclaimed expert in nutrition and proud holder of a PhD from a “non-traditional PhD program”, the non-accredited diploma mill mail order program Greenwich University. (It never ceases to surprise us that those who defend people like Saul so rarely stop to consider why he would feel the need to mislead his audience by claiming such expertise.) Saul has written several books with titles like Doctor Yourself and Fire Your Doctor; his website takes its name from the title of the former, whereas Fire Your Doctor refers to how important it is that you, his reader, doesn’t consult anyone except him about the contents his advice, and especially not anyone who might have any real competence in any of it, since they’ll only disagree with him and tell you things he doesn’t want you to know. On his website – which Saul refers to as “his peer-reviewed website” and claims to be “one of the largest non-commercial natural health resources on the internet” – and in his books, Saul will tell you what they don’t want you to know and why “a grandmother is worth two doctors” (probably relevant to understanding his claim about his website being “peer-reviewed”), and he promotes a range of demonstrably useless dietary supplements. One reason you need supplements is apparently that much of today’s food is crappy and much of it GMO. No, Saul really doesn’t like doctors: “Doctors command far more respect than they've earned. It amounts to a religion, almost a perverse opposite of Christian Science, when we have so much faith in people.” Moreover, medical science was wrong about much in the past, so it is clearly not to be trusted. Instead, you should trust him, whose degree is at least not from a real medical school.
Also known as the MegaVitamin Man, Saul is best known for promoting huge doses (at least 15,000 mg, but he has also mentioned “½ million to 2 million milligrams”) of Vitamin C as a miracle cure; “[n]ow, I don’t believe in ‘miracle cures’ or silver bullets,” says Saul, “but high-dose Vitamins sure come close”: apparently megadoses of vitamin C are effective for anything from scorpion bites (according entirely to himself, Saul detoxed himself from a venomous scorpion bite using vitamin C, “which acts as a potent anti-toxin;” it most assuredly does not) to chronic disease to compromised immune systems to the flu; vitamin C ostensibly works as an “antibiotic, antihistamine, antitoxin, antipyretic, antidepressant and will even curb your appetite.” Indeed, Saul “personally worked with a woman who had HIV, drug addiction, alcoholism, you name it. I told her to consider really shoveling in the Vitamin C, quit drugs and drinking, and clean up her diet. Well, she got off of drugs and eventually the alcohol. She tried to clean up her diet, and she took an awful lot of vitamin C. I ran into her 20 years later and she told me that the last three times she was tested for HIV they couldn’t find any.” In short, C vitamins clearly fits the definition of “miracle cure”, but for marketing purposes it is probably strategically advantageous to give a more modest first impression lest people think Saul is as ridiculous as he is. “Wouldn’t it be great if your doctor would teach you how to use common Vitamins for healing chronic illness, reversing disease and injury, or just for maintaining health? But most can’t … or won’t – and there’s a surprising reason why.” It is not very surprising. The reason is of course that Vitamin C demonstrably does none of what Saul claims it does. This is not the answer Saul gives.
Indeed, according to Saul, “medical doctors have been using high doses of vitamins to cure disease for over 70 years”; in fact, they “have been stopping and curing Polio with high doses of Vitamin C since the 1930’s. In the 1860’s and 70’s they were curing pneumonia with Vitamin C therapy” (it probably doesn’t need to be pointed out that these claims have nothing to do with reality). Elsewhere he claims that doctors don’t use vitamins to cure disease because “doctors are pretty indoctrinated by the time they finish med school” and will never even consider any alternatives, even though researchers according to him constantly publish on the almost magical efficacy of vitamins; in any case “[i]t could have something to do with money” because doctors are “basically funded by the pharmaceutical industry from the moment they enter med school to the moment they hang up their stethoscope”, and the pharmaceutical – unlike himself and the supplement industry – cannot make money off of vitamins.
Of course, the evidence Saul is talking about is studies published in things like the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Orthomolecular medicine is of course one of the more deranged branches of dangerous pseudoscience out there. In fact, Saul has managed to become one of the more, uh, recognized figures in orthomolecular medicine – he is editor of the “peer-reviewed” Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (he keeps using that expression; I do not think it means what he thinks it means) and was “inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2013” – and according to the grand old man of orthomolecular medicine, Abram Hoffer: “Andrew Saul’s website is great. And it’s accurate. I read it all and it’s very accurate.” Hoffer, who died in 2009, was also Saul’s co-author on the book The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, one in a series of books that also include The Vitamin Cure for Depression (with one Bo Jonsson), The Vitamin Cure for Children’s Health Problemsand The Vitamin Cure for Infant and Toddler Health Problems (both with Ralph Campbell). Saul’s website, which is certainly not accurate by any stretch of the imagination (you should, for instance, emphatically not trust Saul’s advice on niacin), is mostly a series of links to various articles from a wide variety of quacks and crackpots claiming things that fit Saul’s narrative.
Saul has also branched out a bit and written Vegetable Juicing for Everyone (with Helen Saul Case) and I have cancer, What should I do: Your orthomolecular guide for cancer management (with Michael González & Jorge Miranda-Massari). What you should is to listen to your doctor and stay as far away as possible from Saul’s book.
Diagnosis: Certainly a crackpot and pseudoscientist, but his own promotion of his fake degree makes it hard to maintain the position that he is merely a true believer. Dangerous.