TBS Muse

Pete Evans: Too much Google and snake oil supplements


Approx Reading Time-10Pete Evans shot back into headlines this weekend with his “Sunscreen is dangerous” comments, prompting TBS to investigate the supplements that Aussies use daily.


Unless really full of conviction, as well as some sort of solid, undeniable understanding of the research behind a particular product or supplement; why would you risk your reputation with throwaway comments on social media? Especially as a public figure? Alas, Pete Evans hit the headlines again this weekend, with his comments on the dangers of sunscreen. For those who missed it, Pete discussed the chemicals in sunscreen and said “The silly thing is people put on normal chemical sunscreen then lay out in the sun for hours on end and think that they are safe because they have covered themselves in poisonous chemicals, which is a recipe for disaster as we are witnessing these days.”

While the Cancer Council and other experts have been quick to come out and say Pete is completely wrong on this, many of Pete’s supporters have rallied to his Facebook to applaud him on his version of the truth. In fact, one of Pete’s responses was that he isn’t reading the criticisms of mainstream media publications because they don’t publish the truth. We can therefore assume unless we start publishing articles in New Dawn Magazine he probably won’t see this either.

In Pete’s defence, when asked about other issues on his Facebook account he has responded with responsible comments, suggesting it’s best to work with health professionals like medical doctors or naturopaths.

But all this talk of chemicals and sunscreen made us start Googling more around some related theories, and before we knew it, we had gone down the rabbit hole of natural supplements and wild conspiracy theories. We don’t want to knock anyone, but we do believe in evidence-based research and we don’t believe everyone is involved in some conspiracy theory just because their title starts with “Dr”. We also just happened to find the best infographic we have ever come across: the Snake Oil Supplements chart. Essentially, this chart is made up of some of the most popular natural supplements most of us assume have some impact. There were a few surprises…


Evidence that it works:

  • Strong evidence that St Johns Wort really does help people with depression
  • Peppermint Oil helps relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Valerian was found to have significant impact on insomnia
  • Three to five coffees per day were shown to lower risk of cardiovascular disease


No evidence that it works (but is probably expensive):

  • Spirulina has not been found to reduce blood pressure
  • Fish Oil/Omega 3 was found to have statisically no positive impact for those suffering from Alzheimer’s
  • Garlic has provided very little evidence that it can assist in preventing or treating the common cold


Sorry, not sorry. For the full comprehensive and cool interactive chart and aligned studies providing evidence you can see it all, here:


Chart updates as clinical research occurs – click to see current version!


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