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Glenn Braswell's Advisors
Stephen Barrett, MD
Glenn Braswell, doing business primarily
under the name Gero Vita International, markets pills and potions
through the mail . During the past 25 years, he has probably
taken in more money and more people than any similar marketer
in U.S. history. One reason for his commercial success is his
association with health professionals whom he lists as advisors
and/or authors of articles in his publications. Some of them are
also quoted with their picture in his advertising brochures.
Each of the people listed below has been
named as an advisory board member of Braswell's Journal
of Longevity (previously called the
Journal of Longevity Research), a monthly magazine that Braswell
publishes. Those marked with an asterisk (*) have also been listed
as advisors to Braswell's Medi-Plex Physicians Nutrition Network,
whose members are said to be eligible to purchase his products
at 40% to 50% discounts for resale to their patients.
The names listed in this article were
obtained from the mastheads of Braswell's magazines published
between 1995 and today. Some have appeared on only a few issues,
while other have been listed throughout the entire time. Since
Braswell is known to have used people's names and pictures without
their authorization, it is possible that some names were used
without permission. However, since most of them promote nonstandard
health methods, it seems likely that the most, if not all, knew
that they were listed. The late Ted Ponich, who was Braswell's
chief operating officer from 1997 through 1998, told me that some
of the articles appearing in Braswell's magazines were written
by their authors and some were ghostwritten and sent to them for
approval; and that authors were paid for the articles. Mike O'Neil,
who served as Braswell's chief financial officer from August
1998 through January 1999, recently informed
a Congressional committee that:
The "Journal of Longevity" . . . . claims to be
"a journal of medical research reviews in the preventive
medicine fields." The fact is that it is neither a journal
nor does it present any reviews of any preventive medicine. Every
word in the magazine is composed by Braswell staff and furthermore
every word is designed to do one thing—sell Braswell product.
The magazine is presented in such a manner so as to suggest that
it is a legitimate medical journal with articles written by various
medical professionals. In the articles they describe a variety
of medical situations that are painful, debilitating or life
threatening. These articles run three to four pages with medical
detail and facts. In these articles they describe various non-traditional
herbal supplements that can solve these medical situations and
restore health to whatever you are bothered by. Then, as luck
would have it, there is an ad in the journal for a nutritional
supplement sold by a seemingly unrelated company that contains
the ingredients just described in the previous article and an
800 number where you can order the product. It is a nice clean
process except that nowhere in the journal does it tell anyone
that it is an advertisement. Further, the articles are not written
by medical professionals but rather by Braswell staff. Finally,
the articles and ads contain outright false statements. The articles
and ads routinely toss phrases such as "thousands of doctors
have praised whatever product" and "millions of men
use whatever product" which are blatantly false. One product
claims to improve memory, sex drive and reduces a chance of heart
attacks by 83%. The articles routinely describe medical problems
as life threatening, potentially deadly, causing severe illness
or death. They are designed to scare and threaten the reader
into purchasing the "antidote" or at the very least
trying the product for $29.95. The products sold by the Braswell
companies are rotated through the Journal with new product names
and articles concocted as necessary. That is, if a product does
not do well, it is renamed and given life in treating some other
malady. New products were introduced at marketing meetings with
Braswell retaining the right to override any conclusions from
meetings. On more than one occasion, products were deemed to
be ineffective and ads too outspoken and provocative for publication
in marketing meetings, only to be overridden by Glenn Braswell
many times to the disbelief of staff. What makes this inappropriate
is the nature of the articles and advertisements. What makes
this activity inexcusable is that it takes advantage of people
with legitimate medical needs who are susceptible to a message
of miracle remedies and cures. What needs to be considered is
not what the person, who is in pain, is thinking when they read
the ad, because they want to believe, almost need to believe,
but rather what does the person writing the ad know to be true.
To the extent that there is a difference, there is fraud .
Hans J. Kugler,
Braswell's closest collaborator appears
to be Hans J. Kugler, PhD, who is identified as an author in Body
Forum, a magazine Braswell published in the late 1970s and
early 1980s and has written in many articles and appeared
in many advertisements during the past decadeAmazon
Books lists Kugler as author of seven books related to "anti-aging"
strategies. The earliest title I could locate was Slowing Down
the Aging Process, which was published as a hardcover in 1973.
Throughout the 1980s, Kugler identified himself as president of
the International Academy of Holistic Health & Medicine (IAHHM)
and edited its monthly newsletter "Preventive Medicine Up-Date."
He also marketed "Dr. Kugler's Maxima Formula," which
was claimed to provide "Maximum nutrition support, maximum
fitness potential, maximum longevity, maximum brain power, and
maximum prevention." The ingredients were said to be "High
potency B-complex. Mulit-minerals. Full-range antioxidants. Herbs,
enzymes, special amino acids, RNA and energy substances, DMG,
octacosanol, and more; a total of more than 55 special ingredients."
 Kugler has also been president of the National Health Federation,
a group whose primary goal has been to abolish government regulation
of health-care activities .
Braswell's current publications identify
Kugler as president of the International Academy of Anti-Aging
Medicine and of the International Academy of Alternative and Anti-Aging
Medicine. IAHHM was founded in 1979 and is listed in California's
database of charitable trusts. The other
two organizations are not listed. None are listed in the Encyclopedia
of Medical Organizations and Agencies, which means they are
probably very small and have little or no genuine organizational
In 1982, Kugler testified as an expert
witness in a U.S. Postal Service case in which Braswell was ordered
to stop making false representations for more than a dozen products.
After hearing from experts on both sides, the administrative law
Dr. Kugler attempted to substitute quantity
of testimony for quality. He talked at great length, in generalities
and frequently wandered from the subject. He did not support
many of his conclusions with logical information. Additionally,
I had questions with regard to his credibility, especially when
he was asked whether he relied upon various articles. I felt
that in many instances he was not truthful. There were contradictions
in his testimony. I found him to be an unreliable witness .
Susser, MD, who heads the Longevity
Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, is listed in a 1999
Medi-Plex Physicians Nutrition Network brochure as chairman of
Gero Vita's medical advisory board. He entered general practice
in 1967 after completing a one-year internship but "evolved"
into "clinical nutrition" within a few years. A description
of his facility stated that it offered
"acupuncture, homeopathy, nutrition, chelation therapy, heavy
metal detoxification, physical therapy, stress management, weight
management, oxidative therapies, and detoxification therapy."
A biographical sketch published iin 1990 stated that he had also
worked as medical director in the offices of Robert Atkins, M.D.,
and has been president of the American Association of Medical
Preventics, "an organization composed of doctors who primarly
give chelation therapy." 
Like Kugler, Susser has been associated
with Braswell for a long time. In 1980, Susser testified on Braswell's
behalf in a case in which the Postal Service had filed False Representation
Complaints in regard to 15 products. After hearing both sides,
the administrative law judge concluded:
Complainant's witnesses spoke openly,
answered questions frankly regardless of which party the answer
might favor and gave informational background, when needed, in
support of their answers. Respondent's witnesses hedged, wanted
to indulge in word games, and verbally squirmed in their responses
to questions. Instead of answering questions about the effect
of ingesting a certain nutrient, such questions were used as
spring boards for adorning the record with anecdotes of spectacular
cures of such problems as underdeveloped children, people with
bad memories, and excess weight effected through the use of vitamins
Complainant's witnesses testified clearly
and unequivocally that Respondent's products would not, and could
not, perform as claimed for them in the statements in the advertising
literature. Respondent's witnesses came behind them with oblique,
indirect language suggesting various possible situations never
shown really to exist, and sought to suggest, without saying,
that the products would perform as represented.
The evidence presented by Complainant
is representative of the consensus of the best scientific and
medical information and opinion currently available on the issues
in this proceeding. The evidence presented by Respondent does
not reflect, incorporate, or express the consensus of current,
informal medical and scientific opinion. The Complainant's witnesses
are entitled to full credibility, whereas Respondents witnesses
are simply not so entitled. I say this with respect to Respondent's
witnesses because of their appearance and demeanor on the stand
in some cases (Gushleff and Susser) because of their extreme
partisanship as reflected in the tenor of their answers to certain
questions (all of Respondent's witnesses) and because of the
evasive responses to many questions which could, and should,
have been answered simply and directly (all of Respondent's witnesses).
In 1995, California's medical licensing
authorities charged Susser with unprofessional conduct, gross
negligence, incompetence, repeated negligent acts, and excessive
use of diagnostic procedures. The complaint charged that he had
failed to diagnose gallstones in one patient and colon cancer
in two others. In each case, he ordered inappropriate tests, failed
to order appropriate tests, and prescribed vitamins and other
inappropriate treatment. In 1997, Susser signed a stipulated settlement
under which he paid $15,000 for costs and served three years on
probation [8,9]. In January 1998, he surrendered his New York
State medical license without contesting that he had been disciplined
by the Medical Board of California for gross negligence and incompetence.
In 2005, the California licensing board fined him $5,000 and placed
him on probation for five more years .
Other Current Advisors
The masthead of Braswell's Journal
of Longevity has listed the following people as advisory board
members during all or most of the past four years.
- Ilona Abraham, MD,* who practices in
Encino, California. The Cognitive
Enhancement Research Institute's directory
states that her practice includes intravenous nutrition, chelation
therapy, total mercury detoxification, neural therapy, electrodermal
skin testing, adrenal stress index tests for immune enhancement,
"natural" hormone replacement therapy, and that she
"prescribes smart drugs in connection with nutrition, anti-aging,
and detox therapies."
- Ronald Di Salvo, PhD,* director of
research and product development, Paul Mitchell Cosmetics.
- Another doctor who was said to practice in Ohio and do chelation therapy. Other information on the Internet said he promoted "Bioactive Cell
Complex," a product made from organ cells of young animals,
that, when taken by mouth allegedly "congregate at the human
counterpart of the organ from which they were taken and "imprint"
their vigor and vitality upon like organs in the human body"
to give the user vigor; renewed sexual satisfaction, and a more
youthful appearance . (This claim is nonsense because any
such cells would be digested and not enter the body intact.) In 2010, the doctor whose name and picture appeared in Braswell publications contacted me and said that Braswell used his name and photograph without permission and that he did not belong to Braswell's advisory board or write the articles in which his name and picture appeared.
Hunt, MD,* who practices in Burbank,
California and has hosted a radio show. The directory of the
American College for Advancement
of Medicine (ACAM) lists his specialties
as allergy, bariatrics, chelation therapy, hypoglycemia, metabolic
medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine, and "yeast syndrome."
(ACAM is a professional organization that promotes chelation
therapy and many other dubious treatment methods. In1998,
the FTC secured
a consent agreement barring ACAM from making unsubstantiated
advertising claims that chelation therapy is effective against
atherosclerosis or any other disease of the circulatory system
- Ron Kennedy, MD, who operates the Anti-Aging
Medical Clinic in Santa Rosa, California, and a large Web site
called The Doctor's
Medical Library The ACAM directory
lists his specialties as chelation therapy, bariatrics, cardiovascular
disease, degenerative disease, diabetes, endocrinology, and nutrition.
- Ronald M. Lawrence, MD, PhD,* a neuropsychiatrist
in Malibu, California, who is executive director of the Council
on Natural Nutrition, a nonprofit organization whose purpose
is to educate physicians and the public about supplements, vitamins,
and herbal products. He is an associate professor at the UCLA
School of Medicine and a former member of the National Council
of Aging at the National Institutes of Health. He is also president
of the North American Academy of Magnetic Therapy and written
books promoting magnets and methylsulfonamide
(MSM) for pain relief.
- Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D,* who writes
books promoting the use of herbs in treating the gamut of disease.
The jacket of his 1986 book The Scientific Validation of Herbal
Medicine states that his PhD is in psychology and psychopharmacology.
The jacket and/or various Web sites that that he has been director
of research and development at Amtec industries (now called Nature's
Sunshine Products); director of the Nebo Institute of Herbal
Sciences; president of the American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory;
director of the Mountainwest Institute of Herbal Science; and
a consultant to Health Data Development Corporation. Nature's
Sunshine has marketed many dubious products intended for the
treatment of health problems . During the mid-1980s, Health
Data Development marketed Nutri-HealthData, a nutrition software
program that provided "specific dietary, vitamin, mineral,
and herb recommendations" for more than 120 health conditions
[14. The listed conditions included appendicitis, dandruff, measles,
venereal disease, and many others for whom such recommendations
were not appropriate. Mowrey also appears to have been involved
in a scheme to enable Solaray Corporation to convey unsubstantiated
claims for herbal products that would be illegal to place on
its product labels. During 1984, Cormorant Books of Lehi, Utah,
sent retailers a four-page flyer and a 40-page booklet by Mowrey
called "Proven Herbal Blends: A Rational Approach to Prevention
& Remedy." The first page urged readers to ask for the
booklet at their health-food store; the next two pages reproduced
the table of contents listing health concerns and ingredients
and the code number used to name each herbal bland.. The booklet's
text explained in detail what each numbered blend was intended
to accomplish. Mowrey has also produced a newsletter called "The
Herb Blurb," which stated that its contents were "confidential"
and "meant for retailer eyes only." .
- Gary S. Ross, MD,* practices in San
Francisco and teaches nutrition and clinical science at Meiji.College
of Oriental Medicine in Berkeley. The ACAM directory lists his
specialties as allergy, chelation therapy, degenerative disease,
family practice, nutrition, and preventive medicine.
- Robert Schiffer, MD, a gastroenterologist
in Newport Beach, California.
- Carol Uebelacker, MD,* who practices
in Milwaukee and is listed in the ACAM directory with specialties
of allergy, cardiovascular disease, bariatrics, chelation therapy,
family practice, and gynecology.
- Yuguo Ni, LicAc,* who practices acupuncture
and herbology in Santa Monica, California, and teaches at the
University of Oriental Medicine in
(Pavel) Yutsis, MD,* who operates the
Yutsis Center for Integrated Medicine, Brooklyn, New York, where
he offers "hyperbaric oxygen therapy, preventive medicine,
nutritional therapy, general practice, clinical ecology, pediatrics,
and chelation therapy." He is also "Assistant Professor
of Medicine" at the Capital
University of Integrative Medicine,
a nonaccredited school in Washington, D.C., that advocates a
wide range of quack practices.
The following individuals were listed
as Advisory Board members between 1995 and 1997, when Braswell's
magazine was called the Journal of Longevity Research:
- Aftab Ahmed, PhD, is director of research
and business development for Wobenzym
USA, Phoenix, Arizona.
- Charles Anderson, MD, who practices
in Essex Junction, Vermont, and is listed in the ACAM directory
as specializing in allergy, family practice, nutrition, and "yeast
- Hyla Cass, MD,
who practices "orthomolecular
psychiatry" in Los Angeles, California,
and has written four books about herbs. She chairs (and is the
only listed faculty member) of the Department of Integrative
Medicine at American University
of Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
Los Angeles, California, a nonaccredited school. Her Web site
biography states: "She has integrated nutritional medicine
with psychiatry in her clinical practice. A popular public speaker,
consultant, and educator, her topics include complementary medicine
and psychiatry, anti-aging, women's health (including natural
hormone therapy), stress reduction, and natural treatments for
addictions, anxiety disorders, and depression. She is also a
frequent commentator in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television,
contributor to numerous books and journals, and consultant to
the supplement industry."
Cichoke, DC, DACBN, is a chiropractor
who specializes in nutrition. He has written two books about
enzyme supplements and chairs the Enzyme Committee for the Natural
Products Quality Assurance Alliance. He also hosts a radio program
called "The Dr. Enzyme Show."
- L. Stephen Coles, MD, PhD, co-founder
of the Los Angeles Gerontology
Fox, MD, practices internal medicine,
cardiology, anti-aging, and "alternative healing" in
Los Angeles. He is director of the National Anti-Aging Institute;
host of Universal Anti-Aging Network radio programs; and Dean
of Anti-Aging at the University
of Integrated Studies. (a correspondence
school). He is the medical advisor and nutrition consultant to
Healthy Steps, a multilevel company that markets a "growth
hormone activator" and several other questionable dietary
supplement products. He is an advisor to NCA
Labs, which markets a chitosan product
with questionable weight-loss claims. He has authored ten books
and many health-related articles. His Beverly Hills Medical
Diet book claims that users can lose 10 pounds in two weeks.
Gordon, MD, a pediatrician former medical
correspondent for the ABC Home Show. His views include opposition
to vaccination and water fluoridation. His Web site contains
many recommendations for herbs and dietary supplements that he
claims can help treat HIV infections by strengthening the immune
system. In a e-mail message to me he stated, "I deeply regret
my association with [Braswell's] magazine and had to engage attorneys
to stop them from using my name in mailers and elsewhere."
Guiltinan, ND, director of the medical
clinic at Bastyr University, a naturopathic school.
- Dennis Harper, DO, who practices in
Utah, is listed in the ACAM directory as specializing in allergy,
chelation therapy, osteopathic manipulation, and "yeast
- Ronald L. Hoffman, MD, who practices in New York City, is a radio
host and has written several books. The ACAM directory lists
him as specializing in allergy, family practice, hypoglycemia,
nutrition, and preventive medicine. His Hoffman Center is said
to specialize in "chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia,
heart problems, attention deficit disorder and autism, gastrointestinal
problems, liver disease, autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis,
adjunctive support for cancer, psychiatric ailments, multiple
chemical sensitivity, allergies, and menopausal and hormonal
issues." His Web site offers "personalized metabolic
testing" in which "observations of physical, blood,
urine and saliva changes in response to a special glucose challenge"
enable patients to be categorized according to their "metabolic
type." The types, which are not recognizes by medical science,
are then used as a basis for an "individualized diet and
supplement prescription." He also markets supplements, some
of which are private label formulations.
Mindell, RPh, "PhD," a co-founder
of the Great Earth International chain of health-food stores,
has a bachelor's degree in pharmacy from North
Dakota State University and "PhDs" in nutrition from two nonaccredited
schools . His many books include Earl Mindell's Vitamin
Bible, Earl Mindell's Vitamin Bible for Kids, Unsafe at Any Meal,
Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, and Earl Mindell's Soy Miracle.
The Vitamin Bible recommends self-treatment with supplements
for more than 50 health problems. The book also promotes substances
that Mindell calls "vitamins" B10, B11, B13, B15, B17,
P, T, and U. There is no scientific evidence that any of these
substances are vitamins (essential to humans) or that supplements
of any of them are beneficial. Mindell has been co-editor, with
Richard Passwater, of Keats Publishing Company's "Good Health
Guides," a large series of booklets promoting scores of
questionable supplements. Mindell has also written information
sheets that were distributed free of charge in many health-food
stores. Although all of them warned that their information was
"not intended as medical advice but only as a guide in working
with your doctor," it is clear that they were used to boost
sales by making claims that would be illegal on product labels.
Now retired from active management of his stores, Mindell spends
much of his time writing, lecturing, and appearing on talk shows.
He writes a newsletter and is a consult to FreeLife
International, a multilevel company that markets
"Soy Miracle" products. FreeLife publications have
called Mindell "America's #1 Nutrition Expert" and
"America's Most Trusted Pharmacist, which he is obviously
not. Mindell is also a board member of the Illinois College of
Physicians and Surgeons, a "reactivated school of eclectic
medicine" that I have been unable to locate.
- James R. Privitera,
MD, who practices in Covina, California,
and is listed in the ACAM directory as specializing in allergy,
chelation therapy, metabolic medicine, nutrition. In 1975, he
was convicted of conspiring to prescribe and distribute laetrile
(a quack cancer remedy) and was sentenced to six months in prison.
In 1980, after the appeals process ended, he served 55 days in
jail but was released after being pardoned by California Governor
Jerry Brown. Privitera was also sanctioned by California's licensing
board. Privitera is also medical director of NutriScreen, which
markets equipment for live
blood cell analysis, a bogus diagnostic
test carried out by placing a drop of blood from the patient's
fingertip on a microscope slide under a glass cover slip to keep
it from drying out. The slide is then viewed at high magnification
with a dark-field microscope that forwards the image to a television
monitor. Both practitioner and patient can then see the blood
cells, which appear as dark bodies outlined in white. The practitioner
may take Polaroid photographs of the television picture or may
videotape the procedure for himself and/or the patient. The results
are then used as a basis for prescribing supplements.
Shields, MD, who trained in family
practice and pathology, practices at the Shaw
Health Center in Los Angeles. She is
the international medical advisor to Narconon, a drug treatment program backed by the Church
of Scientology. She is also a trustee of and adviser to the Citizen's Commission
on Human Rights, a organization
Scientology established in 1969 "to investigate and expose
psychiatric abuses of human rights." At a 1995 convention,
the president of the Church of Scientology International announced
plans to "eradicate" psychiatry by the year 2000. 
- Donald C. Thompson, MD, DPh,* a family
practitioner in Morristown, Tennessee, whose activities and interest
have included pain management, hormones, herbs, exercise, meditation,
anti-aging therapies, orthomolecular treatment, chelation therapy,
glandulars, homeopathy and psychotherapy.
- Cynthia Mervis Watson, MD, who practices
in Rolling Hills, California, is listed in the ACAM directory
as specializing in family practice, gynecology, nutrition, preventive
medicine, pediatrics, and "yeast syndrome."
- Joseph D. Weissman, MD,* who is board
certified in allergy and immunology, is a clinical assistant
professor, at the University of California.
- Gary Wikholm, MD, a family practitioner
from California who is promoting an "anti-cellulite"
pill marketed by Neways
It would be interesting to know the extent
to which Braswell's advisors know or care about the nature of
his marketing activities.
Quackwatch Home Page
This article was revised
on May 23, 2005.
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