Debunking Althea: In Defense of My Laminine Review

Althea distributor review
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I knew it was only a matter of time until Althea Distributor, a rabidly pro-Laminine online vendor, would try to obfuscate the truth by “debunking” my original Laminine review.

A blog post on the weak and low-ranking website attempted to debunk and burn at the stake any and all heretics who dared declare the emperor wore no clothes.

But instead of debunking my original review, Althea Distributor only underscored that it has no evidence to support Laminine’s marketing claims and exposed itself to further legal liability for making false cancer treatment claims (see end of this rebuttal).

Althea Laminine website rank
Althea is a weak and low-impact website with few backlinks.

The owners of Althea Distributor appear to be  located in the Philippines (and are associated with another Filipino dietary supplement called ImuRegen), but their Facebook page lists a residential neighbourhood in Chicago, Illinois, USA with a Bronx, New York phone number.

Althea Laminine fake location

For a company so hell-bent on “debunking” me, they certainly have a lot of explaining to do.

I can honestly say, I never expected my original Laminine review to gain as much attention as it did. It has generated well over 200 comments, mostly from pro-Laminine distributors.

As a gesture of good faith, I have approved and allowed many of these comments to stand – including some of the more abusive comments that served up vicious personal attacks on me and my professional qualifications.

I often let these comments remain on my blog because I feel they are educational and highlight how rabid and evangelistic multi-level marketers can be when it comes to promoting Laminine. No matter how much level-headed logic is presented, their emotions govern their reason and they simply cannot be snapped out of their cult trance.

In the spirit of fair play, I will now categorically dismantle and expose Althea’s so-called “debunking” below:

Althea Claim 1

Dr. Bill Sukala is a Sydney-based clinical exercise physiologist and self proclaimed “media health expert” in Australia. He writes reviews on common health issues and popular health products. In December 2013, he wrote a well structured blog discrediting the claims of LifePharm Global Network about Laminine Food Supplement.

The article is quite long appearing to be factual but in reality is verbose, stuffed with sentences to make the article rank in google. We will just focus on the summary that he makes on the article, he said –

“Overall, I find Laminine to be nothing more than a simple amino acid, vitamin, and mineral supplement, all of which are readily available in a standard diet. The carefully orchestrated mix of invented jargon and scientific facts stops short of making overtly false claims, but may lead consumers to make faulty extrapolations of efficacy which are not substantiated by independent scientific evidence. In conclusion, I would discourage consumers from purchasing Laminine or recommending it to others.”

My Response 1

It is true that I am a clinical exercise physiologist. This is supported by both my university qualifications and my professional experience.

I am not a “self-proclaimed” media health expert. It is factual that I am frequently interviewed by health reporters and producers for my views on health, fitness, and nutrition topics.  This is objectively supported by numerous appearances in mainstream media across the world on television programs like Dateline NBC, Good Morning America (USA), Today Tonight (Australia), and Close-Up (New Zealand).

Althea claims my article is verbose and stuffed with sentences to rank in Google. This is untrue.  I wrote the article in my own style, but if that helps the article rank then that is just an added bonus.

The main reason my article ranks is because it is a valuable article that provides the other side of the story, one that is not sponsored by pro-Laminine sites like Althea.

These claims are ironic and hypocritical given that the long tail URL that Althea created for their post uses the words “Laminine bad-experience, and hoax-scam.”  This was obviously a deliberate effort to rank in Google since they know this is what people are typing into search engines.

If you look at the Althea website, you can clearly see for yourself that its unilateral purpose is to sell Laminine – and nothing else.  If you look at my website, I have a ton of free information with nothing to buy.

Althea Claim 2

His motive is questionable

With great opportunities to earn a living through social media, blogging has become an important tool to earn a living. The quickest way to become an internet sensation is to publish controversial articles.

Dr. Sukala writes intriguing articles and as a result gets a lot of attention and reader responses. His blog now ranks high in Google search, thanks to hundreds of people that comments on his page. His website also features other food supplements that he criticizes.

My Response 2

Althea, please be specific in your questioning my motive.  What do you mean?  Is there a conspiracy?  What do you think is my “agenda?”

For full transparency, I do not earn anything that could be remotely classified as “earning a living” from blogging.  It is just a side thing I do aside from my real life career which is being an exercise physiologist.  It is true I have a few bits of Google Adsense on my site, but the amount earned from this all month barely covers costs for the monthly hosting account (hardly the billions of dollars you might be assuming I earn as a shill for big pharma).

It is true that I am critical of other food supplement products, but they are often using misleading marketing tactics.  Provided companies think it’s ok to sell a product based mostly on marketing hype and little to no science, then I will have something to say about it.  My views are free to the public at no charge and, unlike those views provided by Althea, are meant to educate rather than sell a product.

Althea Claim 3

He (Dr Bill) debunks the merit of a product that seems scholarly, spot on but do not give credit to other sources that obviously will negate his observation. His objective is aimed to discredit a product.

It should make you wonder why someone will spend time writing these kinds of articles and taking time to respond to each comments a reader makes in his site. Either Dr. Bill is fighting a cause, or he simply wants to be famous by creating an issue and riding on the popularity of a product, in this case – Laminine Food Supplement.

My Response 3

How is Laminine scholarly?  Please cite the studies you claim I am overlooking that “negate” my observations.

Laminine distributors consistently cite “scientific references” to “support” their claims but unfortunately, most of these references have absolutely nothing to do with Laminine the product. (I will categorically address this further on in the article).

My aim was not to “discredit the product.” My aim was to simply provide clear and transparent disclosure about the marketing claims being used to sell Laminine.  If that goes against Laminine distributors’ marketing objectives, then that’s just bad luck.

If I am “fighting a cause” then it’s simply standing up for integrity in health product marketing.  Truth be known, if companies selling health products were forced by law to be 100% truthful in their marketing, they wouldn’t be very successful in selling their wares at all.  If I wanted to make a million dollars, I could start my own supplement company then use every misleading marketing technique in the book – easy money.  It’s not what you tell consumers, it’s what you don’t tell them.  Let them draw their own misinformed conclusions and they’ll part with their cash.

As for being “famous,” sorry, I’m not that important and I’m hardly famous.  I simply wrote an article that provided the other side of the story to the Laminine marketing.  Nothing more.

Althea Claim 4

He (Dr Bill) marks Laminine’s claims point by point and systematically refutes it by stating that there is no clear evidence to prove Laminine’s claims. While there are clinical studies to prove the claims of Laminine, he points out that these are old and implies it can no longer be trusted.

Just because a clinical study is old does not mean it is no longer relevant or has become false. Conducting a trial is very expensive which is the reason not all companies can afford it. Repeating or spending again for proven results does not make sense. If Laminine has been proven to promote rapid cell healing, these facts remains true.

My Response 4

Here’s an example of Althea making up their own version of the truth.

In their effort to “debunk” me, they have fabricated words and put them in my mouth to confuse readers.  Much like a carnival shell game, they make you keep guessing which shell holds the truth.

This is false. I challenge Althea to provide evidence where I said the “studies were old and can no longer be trusted.” Independent of what year the studies were published, they still have nothing to do with Laminine claims.

The fact remains that Laminine’s main marketing machine is driven by testimonials, not independent scientific evidence.  As I stated above and will expand upon below, many distributors just pull scientific references out of context that have nothing to do with Laminine the product. This is convenient because most lay people do not have the ability to read clinical research for themselves to be able to see clearly that the studies are unrelated to Laminine.

From my perspective, this is tactic is deceptive and misleading.  But to be fair, I think it’s important to point out that many distributors without any science training simply don’t know any better and are just passing off the same references which were given to them by their upline distributor – much like a game of Chinese whispers where the truth gets lost each time the message is passed to the next person.

Althea Claim 5

Contrary to the doctor’s independent and personal review, Laminine have circumstantial evidences to prove its claims. Consider the following:

1. Registered and approved by FDA with documented clinical studies on YTE and FGF as early as the 1980, 1998, and 2005.
2. Documented clinical studies on cell recovery and cortisol.
3. FGF is now being explored by other pharmaceutical companies.
4. Hundreds of Medical Doctors have already confirmed the unique health benefit of Laminine.
5. Testimonials are present even at Dr. Sukala’s anti-Laminine blog.
6. Laminine was featured on AHS and PDR, approved by its board of medical experts.

My Response 5

Again, here is Althea making an attempt to appeal to emotion rather than empirical evidence.   I like how Althea throws around the words “clinical studies” but does not categorically list out the study titles, authors, and references and the specific Laminine claims to which they each apply.

I challenge Althea to list out the references from 1980, 1998, and 2005 as well as those relating to cell recovery and cortisol.

Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) has been bandied around by Laminine distributors as a sciency sounding word but, when you look at the studies that they list related to FGF, you can see that they have nothing to do with Laminine the product.

I also like how Althea which is so quick slam evil pharmaceutical companies yet, in point 3 above, is also very quick to list their research into FGF as a stamp of approval.  So what’s it going to be Althea?  Are you with the pharmaceutical companies now?  Or are you against them?  Surely whatever research big pharma does with FGF will be biased and meant to produce evil drugs, right?

In point 4 above, Althea conveniently trusts all those drug-pushing doctors who are nothing more than big pharma shills.

So let me see if I get this right.  When a health professional agrees with your point of view, then you’re old friends like peas in a pod.  But if a health professional with equivalent credentials speaks out against you, then they must be drawn, quartered, tarred, and feathered?  You can’t have it both ways.  What’s it going to be Althea?

I also call your attention to my doctor versus dietitian nutrition knowledge article which addresses the fact that medical doctors don’t always know much about nutrition.

I let the Laminine testimonials stand on my website because I use them as an educational tool to show readers the religious fervor with which many users/distributors approach the Laminine debate.

For full and fair disclosure, a colleague of mine left a dissenting comment on your post which you did not have the courage to publish.  

These actions are hypocritical and only reveal your bias and inability to be fair and transparent with your readers.

Althea Claim 6

Yes, Laminine’s feature on AHS and PDR are paid
Laminine was featured (advertorial) in the American Health Journal at PBS and the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR).*

* The American Health Journal is an award-winning 30-minute health care TV series which has aired continuously for over 25 years. (IMDb)
* PDR provides physicians with the full legally mandated information relevant to writing prescriptions. (Wikipedia)

For both AHJ and PDR, Laminine was featured and accredited for a fee. Laminine underwent scrutiny and was approved by a board of experts, in order to be featured in their organization. Any entity or group in order to survive need funding and this is how they do it, through paid advertorials or listing. Likewise, Dr. Sukala asks for a fee when patients come to his office for consultation.

Just because a company or a professional asks for a fee does not discount their ability to perform. What would be wrong is when a product or a person claims something which cannot be proven by physical evidence or first hand testimonials.

My Response 6

This is another weak Althea argument which serves as an attempt to confuse readers by equating paid advertising with professional services rendered.  It is not a valid comparison and demonstrates an attempt to grab at anything which will divert attention from the fact that neither a paid spot on American Health Journal nor a listing in the PDR constitutes evidence that a product works.

I have addressed both of these issues in my original Laminine review and in the comments section at the end.

Althea Claim 7

Dr. Sukala should have made his assumptions based on the following research:

a. Roberts, Pamela R, et al. Nutrition Vol. 14, No. 3, 1998.
b. Arvanitakis, Constantine. Am. Jour. of Physiology, Vol. 231, No. 1, July 1976.
c. Joseph-Silverstein, Jacquelyn, et al (June 1989) Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor in the Chick Embryo: Immunolocalization to Striated Muscle Cells and Their Precursors. The Journal of Cell Biology, 108: 2459-2466.
d. Hatten, M. E., et al (1988) In Vitro Neurite Extension by Granule Neurons is Dependent upon Astroglial-Derived Fibroblast Growth Factor. Developmental Biology, 125:280-289.
e. Seed, Jennifer, et al (1988) Fibroblast Growth Factor Levels in the Whole Embryo and Limb Bud during Chick Development. Developmental Biology, 128:50-57.
f. Gospodarowicz, D, et al (1986) Molecular and Biological Characterization of Fibroblast Growth Factor, an Angiogenic Factor Which Also Controls the Proliferation and Differentiation of 7. Mesoderm and Neuroectoderm Derived Cells. Cell Differentiation, 19: 1-17.
g. Seed, Jennifer, et al (1988) Fibroblast Growth Factor Levels in the Whole Embryo and Limb Bud during Chick Development. Developmental Biology, 128:50-57.

My Response 7

Please pay close attention here because I will show that ALL of the above six scientific references listed by Althea and many other pro-Laminine websites actually have ZERO relation to Laminine as a dietary supplement and do not support their marketing claims.

See my comments below each reference

a.  Roberts, Pamela R, et al. Nutrition Vol. 14, No. 3, 1998.
The title of this article is “Dietary Peptides Improve Wound Healing Following Surgery.”  It is based on a rat study which administered peptides through small bowel feeding tubes.  Click the link above to see for yourself it has nothing to do with Laminine.

b. Arvanitakis, Constantine. Am. Jour. of Physiology, Vol. 231, No. 1, July 1976.
The title of this article is “Digestion of tripeptides and disaccharides: relationship with brush border hydrolases” and has nothing to do with Laminine.

c. Joseph-Silverstein, Jacquelyn, et al (June 1989) Basic Fibroblast Growth Factor in the Chick Embryo: Immunolocalization to Striated Muscle Cells and Their Precursors. The Journal of Cell Biology, 108: 2459-2466.
This article simply discusses the roles of FGF in chick embryos but makes absolutely no reference to the effects of FGF in a dietary supplement like Laminine.  Here is a link to the article abstract or the full length PDF where you can verify this for yourself.

d. Hatten, M. E., et al (1988) In Vitro Neurite Extension by Granule Neurons is Dependent upon Astroglial-Derived Fibroblast Growth Factor. Developmental Biology, 125:280-289.
This is a molecular biology article which discusses FGF in isolation and in a completely different context from anything to do with Laminine as an oral dietary supplement.  Click here to read the abstract.

e. Seed, Jennifer, et al (1988) Fibroblast Growth Factor Levels in the Whole Embryo and Limb Bud during Chick Development. Developmental Biology, 128:50-57.
This article simply discusses FGF levels in eggs at different stages of development, but it makes no reference to consuming oral FGF and its effects on health (as Laminine promoters claim).  Click here to see for yourself yet another example of citing references that have no relation to Laminine as a dietary supplement.

f. Gospodarowicz, D, et al (1986) Molecular and Biological Characterization of Fibroblast Growth Factor, an Angiogenic Factor Which Also Controls the Proliferation and Differentiation of Mesoderm and Neuroectoderm Derived Cells. Cell Differentiation, 19: 1-17.
This article is not actually a research study but is simply a review paper providing a discussion on FGF and its different roles in the body.  It has nothing to do with Laminine as a pill.  Click here to see the article for yourself.

g. Seed, Jennifer, et al (1988) Fibroblast Growth Factor Levels in the Whole Embryo and Limb Bud during Chick Development. Developmental Biology, 128:50-57.
Althea got a bit lazy here and pasted the same article as in reference e.  I therefore will not repeat myself.

Even more astonishing is that each of these references were simply copied verbatim from the PDR listing, further showing that the PDR does not properly vet the information they publish in their book or website.   So we now have a massive case of an army of misinformed Laminine distributors misinforming other would-be Laminine distributors.

In short, you are being fooled into thinking that these research papers are evidence that oral Laminine supplements are supported by scientific evidence but in reality it is just more marketing hocus pocus meant to mislead you.

Althea, why don’t you just give up on claiming you have scientific evidence to support all Laminine claims and just stick to your testimonials?  Then we could just agree to disagree and I wouldn’t have to waste my time chasing down all these references only prove they have nothing to do with Laminine.

Althea Claim 8

FibroBlast Growth Factor (FGF2) in the Fertilized Avian Egg Extract (FAEE) of Laminine plays an important role in the regulation of cell survival, cell division, angiogenesis, cell differentiation and cell migration. Functions as potent mitogen in vitro.*

* References:
Hirohashi S.Jpn. J. Cancer Res. 82:1263-1270(1991) [PubMed] [Europe PMC] [Abstract]
Cited for: PROTEIN SEQUENCE OF 94-107 AND 162-173, FUNCTION, BIOPHYSICOCHEMICAL PROPERTIES, TISSUE SPECIFICITY.
“Receptor specificity of the fibroblast growth factor family.”

Ornitz D.M., Xu J., Colvin J.S., McEwen D.G., MacArthur C.A., Coulier F., Gao G., Goldfarb M.
J. Biol. Chem. 271:15292-15297(1996) [PubMed] [Europe PMC] [Abstract]
Cited for: INTERACTION WITH FGFR1; FGFR2; FGFR3 AND FGFR4, FUNCTION IN CELL PROLIFERATION.

FGFs are key players in the processes of proliferation and differentiation of wide variety of cells and tissues.*

* Reference: Wikipedia on FGF2 on humans

My Response 8

As in response 7, the references above are just more of the same:  references that are unrelated to Laminine as a dietary supplement.

To leave this in no uncertain terms, fibroblast growth factor is real and, yes, there are a lot of journal articles on this topic, but unfortunately for Laminine distributors, these studies are not directly pertinent to Laminine and do not constitute evidence.

To put this into perspective, I’ll use telomerase as an example.  There are plenty of journal articles about telomerase, but you don’t find any of them spouting off the benefits of oral telomerase supplements for improved health.  Telomerase might be at the scene of the crime, but it doesn’t make it responsible for the offence.

Althea Claim 9

Dr. Sukala dismisses Laminine’s ingredient as ordinary which is entirely false

It is true that you can get Amino Acids from food. However in order to get the right amount, you need a supplement. A supplement will give you the finest quality of Amino Acids and you don’t need to eat in bulk or take red meat into your body.

Only Laminine to date contains Fertilized Avian Egg Extract (FAEE), a proprietary formula. This means that LifePharm Global Network has exclusive rights to the unique blend of ingredients that are combined to become Laminine (OPT-9 formula). You cannot find elsewhere a supplement that contains FibroBlast Growth Factor (FGF) or FAEE.

My Response 9

Althea, you are making claims here that you cannot substantiate.  I challenge you to provide independent evidence (not from your usual sales script or irrelevant journal articles that you plug on your website) that “you need a supplement.”   You are merely stating your opinion that “a supplement will give you the finest quality of amino acids.”

Your comments about FAEE, proprietary formula, and unique blends of ingredients are nothing more than sales copy referencing FGF which, let’s be honest, you were unable to support with your above list of irrelevant journal articles.

Althea Claim 10

Dr. Sukala stated himself that he has not tried Laminine Food Supplement yet

In one of the comments on the article page of Dr. Sukala, readers asks if he has tried Laminine, his answer was a resounding no. We wanted to screenshot the post but when we came back to the site, the comment was removed. You can still see traces of readers asking if he has tried Laminine, but you will no longer see a categorical ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer from Dr. Sukala.

My Response 10

Althea, you’re not a very astute reader of my blog.  Please re-read my article again (or perhaps for the first time) and you will see my comments to this effect just above the paragraph on the American Health Journal.

Althea Claim 11

Apparently, Dr. Sukala would be willing to spend thousands of dollars for chemical analysis of Laminine

Dr. Sukala stated “I am currently investigating labs which can do a full chemical analysis on the product to see what its specific constituents are, if it is pure egg protein, or if it is, perhaps, adulterated with something else.” Why would a blogger spend thousands of dollars just to disprove something. Either someone will finance this investigation or he’s just bluffing.

My Response 11

I looked at a number of labs here in Australia to do a chemical analysis on Laminine but unfortunately it was cost prohibitive.  Earlier in your “debunking” of me, you attempted to make it look like I was earning a living at “blogging” but I can assure you, on a blogger’s salary of $20 or $30 per month, no lab is willing to run full analyses for peanuts.  And no, I have no other financiers who are willing to “invest” in a chemical analysis of Laminine.

Althea Claim 12

For our part, we are writing this article in defense of Laminine because of two things: We know it works and we are selling the product to earn. We need to make a statement.

It all boils down to testimonies

Dr. Bill insist that Laminine testimonies cannot be trusted, well he has to deal with hundreds if not thousands of testimonies. When asked by one reader if Dr. Bill have tried Laminine, his answer was “No”.

My Response 12

You don’t “know” the product works.  You “believe” the product works. It is your faith in the product more than any objective evidence supporting the product.  I clearly demonstrated above that your references are irrelevant (the same ones in the PDR), so your only refuge is simply choosing to believe the product works. The mind is a very powerful tool and if you believe something enough then it becomes your truth.  I make no attempt to convince you because I know this is something you’re selling to make a buck, but for those who have not drunk the Kool-Aid yet, they still have an opportunity to look at all the evidence and make a rational-minded decision.

Althea Claim 13

The bombshell: Laminine is sold through MLM, and it’s an inconvenient truth for some people

Dr. Sukala states “I won’t say that Laminine is an MLM scam, but I do think you should do your homework before investing in any MLM “business opportunity.” For more information on whether joining a multi-level marketing company is right for you, visit: https://www.mlmwatch.org

If he says that Laminine is not an MLM scam, what is the point of further saying “you should do your homework before investing in any MLM business opportunity”, unless you want to create an issue about Laminine being sold as MLM.

Laminine is not an advocacy, it is a business and just because it’s sold though MLM does not make it any less effective. Any smart company would want to market their product well and hype it – does this mean that the product is less effective? It’s a strategy that makes a product become popular in a short period of time.

Laminine is sold through MLM, and it’s an inconvenient truth for Dr. Sukala which is likely the reason he wrote the article, among his other hidden agenda. MLM stands for Multi-Level Marketing, also known as Networking. It is a marketing strategy similar to other MLM companies such as Amway.

MLM is a great marketing tool to make a product popular. Laminine was launched in 2011 and by the end of 2014, it nearly has 9 Million users around the world.

My Response 13

Althea, you’re really grabbing for anything you can to try and “debunk” me.  You keep referring to my “hidden agenda.”  Please, enlighten me as to what my hidden agenda is because I can assure you it’s so hidden that not even I know what my hidden agenda is.  

I simply state that Laminine is not an MLM scam in the context that it is technically not illegal.  However, as I have highlighted in my original review, I believe the marketing is indeed very misleading and this raises ethical concerns.  And this is further underscored by your “debunking” of me in which you cite a whole list of journal articles which have absolutely nothing to do with Laminine.  Go ahead and explain my readers how this is not misleading.

I also find it humorous that you claim “any smart company would want to market their product well and hype it.”  In this case, as I have clearly laid out my case, you need to hype your product because you don’t have any significant body of independent scientific evidence to support your marketing claims.

The bottom line is that I don’t care that Laminine is a multi-level marketing company.  What I care about is that consumers are being misled into buying a product that is being sold using deceptive marketing tactics.

Althea Distributor Claims Laminine Can Cure Cancer

As you can in the screenshot from the Althea website, the distributor is so intent on promoting Laminine that he is willing to tell a desperate woman that her mother can take Laminine for her cancer.  He even goes so far as to provide information on dosing “if the cancer in the nose is not too big.”

Armed only with your own personal testimonials, the Laminine sales copy, and no medical training, you, Althea, are practicing medicine without a license – and this is illegal in all 50 US states the last I checked.   You can go ahead and delete these comments, but it’s ok.  I have the screenshots for safe keeping in case the authorities would like to have a look at them.

Althea Laminine fake cancer cure

Conspiracy:  Laminine is a Threat To the Drug Manufacturers?

In the screenshot below, you can see Althea calls Laminine’s popularity a threat to the drug manufacturers.  But above in his “debunking” of me, he tries to validate Laminine by saying FGF is now being explored by pharmaceutical (i.e., drug) companies.  So are the drug companies your friends or your enemies?

For the record, I have no kindling love affair with the drug companies and recommend healthy lifestyle changes to all my clients (i.e., healthy eating, exercise, stress management etc).  So don’t try to paint me with the big pharma brush.

Althea Laminine

In the comments below, the first two (in my humble opinion) look like fake comments posted by the Althea website administrators.  They just seem to be parroting back what is in the article. In all fairness, they might be real, but I’m not overly convinced.

Althea Laminine

Rules for commenting on this post

If you’d like to comment on this or any other article on my website, please keep your tone civil and stick to the issues at hand.  Comments that include personal attacks from hateful anonymous trolls and which do not provide a valid email address and add anything constructive to the topic will be marked as spam and deleted.  Thank you for your understanding.

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