Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana advises consumers to use caution when considering alternatives to conventional drug rehab services. Recently, the organization conducted several investigations into companies advertising an IV treatment called NAD+ Amino-Acid Therapy. Proponents of the treatment claim the infusions of NAD+ enable patients afflicted with drug and alcohol addictions to quit cold turkey without withdrawal symptoms.
Emerald Neuro-Recover, a Carmel-based addiction treatment facility, and its medical director, John Humiston, M.D., claim their NAD+ treatment is “proven to be the most effective and comprehensive drug treatment program in the world.” They also claim the therapy is “safe, natural and effective” and “directly addresses the chemical changes that drugs or alcohol have caused in the brain.”
In 2018 and again in 2019, BBB challenged Emerald Neuro-Recover’s advertising and requested that the business substantiate their claims. Its provided a PowerPoint slide authored by Humiston claiming that the research backing up their claims was conducted by Dr. William Hitt, Tijuana, Mexico. After a thorough review, BBB investigators concluded the science did not measure up: control groups were not used, no blinding, and almost all of the researchers had a financial interest in NAD+ therapy.
Furthermore, Hitt, the individual identified in Emerald’s marketing as the original NAD+ researcher, proved to have a troubling history. In 1987, the Texas attorney general brought action against Hitt for falsely representing himself as a doctor despite having no scientific or medical training. Hitt captured authorities’ attention while selling a snake-oil cure for HIV/AIDS to gay men in the Dallas area. Shortly after the government acted against Hitt, he relocated to Tijuana.
Emerald Neuro-Recover currently has an F rating with the BBB.
Hitt isn’t the only person involved in NAD+ that has a questionable history. Humiston, who claims to have trained under Hitt in Tijuana, was subject to a disciplinary action against his license brought by the Medical Board of California in 2018. The order states that Humiston committed gross negligence in his care and treatment of a patient. Additionally, the physician previously advocated for dubious treatment approaches, like curing HIV through ozone therapy, addressing psychiatric conditions with antifungal treatments and MMS or Miracle Mineral Solution, a dangerous snake oil substance in which the FDA has issued a warning.
Humiston also runs an online business called CandidaMD. The company’s website represents the common fungus candida albicans as the proximate cause of a wide range of medical conditions, including depression, anxiety, insomnia and migraines and markets plant-derived antifungal and probiotics as safe and effective cures. In March 2019, BBB challenged CandidaMD’s advertising. The company failed to respond and currently has an F rating.
“Promotions claiming miraculous or immediate results should be considered with extreme caution,” said Tim Mansicalo, BBB Central Indiana president and CEO. “These remedies are often ineffective in delivering their promised results, or worse, can have potentially dangerous side effects.”
BBB offers these tips to spot deceptive advertising and avoid “snake oil” health products:
• Check first with BBB, which maintains records of 5.4 million businesses and regularly conducts investigations into businesses making false advertising claims.
• Remember, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If a business is claiming to cure a serious disease, disparaging established medicines or treatments, or claiming its product can treat nearly any condition, then they should have the science to back these claims. Anecdotal evidence is not enough.
• Be skeptical of trendy or “new” approaches to treatment. NAD+ infusions is not the first suspicious treatment to emerge from increasingly popular “IV bars” or “IV parlors.” Recently, the Federal Trade Commission took action against an IV bar for making unsupported health claims.
• If you have had a market interaction with any of the aforementioned companies, or believe you were induced to make a purchase due to deceptive advertising, BBB advises consumers to report your experience by filing a complaint, writing a customer review, or submitting a Scam Tracker report at bbb.org; file a complaint with the Indiana attorney general; file a complaint with the FTC.