Published on September 8th, 20157
½ Teaspoon or 3 Tablespoons? Will the Real Dose Please Stand Up?
“The dose makes the poison.” The quotation is widely attributed to the 16th century physician and alchemist Paracelsus, who concluded that all chemicals—even water and oxygen—could be toxic if too much is eaten, drunk, or absorbed. The principle is also good plain common sense.
Dr. Ron Schmid, by his own admission, did not show common sense when he took anywhere from one to three tablespoons a day of the Green Pasture “Fermented Cod Liver Oil” (FCLO) between 2006 and 2012. But he’d been taking high doses of regular cod liver oils for years with no ill effects and many seeming benefits, including help in his recovery from Lyme disease. When he switched to FCLO in 2006, he believed — like many in the Weston A. Price Foundation community — that it was not an ordinary supplement but a traditional sacred food that would offer superior nutritional support to anyone under physical or mental stress. As a man in recovery from Lyme disease, Dr. Ron thought it could only help.
As is often the case with products that cause chronic rather than acute health damage, Dr. Ron did not notice immediate ill effects. And when he realized his health was starting to going down hill, he assumed he was experiencing a recurrence of Lyme disease. As it turned out, he was developing heart problems that took him to a hospital emergency room in the summer of 2012. The diagnosis was devastating—advanced heart failure with an enlarged heart, rapid heartbeat, abnormal heart rhythm, and probable death within three to six months.
Could too much FCLO have caused such severe symptoms? Dr. Ron thinks so, and has found support in several old journal articles linking cod liver oil consumption to heart disease, including a 1930 article in Acta Paediatrica. Dr. Weston A. Price was well aware of these studies and expressed concern about the rancidity present in most of the cod liver oils of his era. Accordingly, Dr. Price advised small amounts of cod liver oil taken short term and preferably along with butter oil.
Ron Schmid took high doses of fermented cod liver oil long term, paid a high price for it and had the integrity to stand up and admit his mistake publicly. Proponents of FCLO have responded with a notable lack of empathy, saying he “should have known better,” “exercised poor judgment,” engaged in “extreme behavior” and took “too much of a good thing.”
But the truth is Dr. Ron’s high dose was in keeping with recommendations made by Sally Fallon Morell and others at the Weston A. Price Foundation. As she advised me,“Kaayla, women like you and me need three tablespoons a day to stay healthy, productive and cope with all the stress.” Although I ignored that “extreme recommendation,” many people did — and still do — follow her advice.
The recommended serving size on bottles of Green Pasture FCLO is low — just 2 ml or 2 grams, which means a little under one-half teaspoon. A product label from 2006 has it even lower at 1 ml or one gram. However, the Green Pasture website informs visitors that many people choose to greatly exceed that dose and have supposedly benefited from it.
The official recommendation from the Weston A. Price Foundation has always been higher though the amount has been reduced significantly over the years. The Foundation’s current brochure Cod Liver Oil: Our Number One Superfood recommends a daily dose for adults of one teaspoon per day of the “high-vitamin fermented cod liver oil.” Pregnant and nursing women are advised to take two teaspoons, and babies and children a half teaspoon. However, old articles have recommended anywhere from one to two tablespoons a day and even more for people under stress. Some of those articles were still up on the WAPF website until about a week ago.
Clearly WAPF’s switch from two tablespoons a day down to one teaspoon a day represents a significant shift, one that greatly lowers the risk to members. Yet, to the best of my knowledge, no advisory has ever gone out to members. The result is that many people nourishing themselves the WAPF way continue to take high doses of the Green Pasture products. And, unfortunately, lab testing shows this product is rancid, which suggests it’s unsafe at any dose.
Since the publication of my special report Hook, Line and Stinker on August 23, many people have shared stories of atrial fibrillation, abnormal rhythms and related heart problems that appeared subsequent to FCLO consumption and that have disappeared with the removal of FCLO from their diets. Dr. Ron, it seems, was not alone.
* * * * *
Have you read Hook, Line and Stinker: The Truth about Fermented Cod Liver Oil yet? Learn how lab tests show this product is rancid, low in fat-soluble vitamins . . . and not even cod! Click here to get your free download.