Gary Null and the Bee Pollen Infomercial
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
In 1992, the CC Pollen Company of Phoenix, Arizona and its owners agreed to pay $200,000 to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of falsely claiming that bee pollen products could produce weight loss; permanently alleviate allergies; slow, prevent, reverse the aging process; or cure, prevent, or alleviate impotence or sexual dysfunction. They were also charged with falsely stating that bee pollen products cannot result in an allergic reaction . Some of the false claims were made in infomercials that the FTC said were presented as though they were news or documentary programs, even though they were paid ads. The settlement banned all of the challenged claims and required any subsequent infomercials to clearly disclose that they are paid ads .
One of the infomercials that the FTC challenged, "TV Insiders," featured what appeared to be an interview "via satellite" of Gary Null by the program's host, Vince Inneo . During his appearance, Null claimed that (a) the human body ages because it doesn't produce enough enzymes, (b) one way to slow down the aging process is to have more enzyme-rich foods, and (c) bee pollen is "loaded" with enzymes. These claims are false because, decreased enzyme production is not the cause of aging and any enzymes in bee pollen would be digested rather than absorbed. Null also said that eating bee pollen could have no side effects, which is untrue because some people are allergic to bee pollen.
The FTC also filed a complaint against the infomercial maker, TV Inc., of Largo, Florida, and its president William Thompson. That case was settled in 1990 with a consent agreement under which Thompson and the company were barred from representing or implying that been pollen has been effective in treating allergy patients and cannot cause allergic reactions .
Was Null Duped?
Although the infomercial transcript was attached as an exhibit to the FTC's complaint, Null was not charged with any wrongdoing and was not part of the CC Pollen settlement. Although I stated this in an article about Null that I posted to Quackwatch, one of his attorneys (David Slater) has complained that I was implying that Null had "actively participated" in the preparation of the infomercial. In a letter demanding that I remove the article in its entirety, Slater said:
Prior to the release of the infomercial, he had been contacted by a person who said a Japanese news company wanted to do an interview with him. They came to his apartment, set up their cameras and lighting, and for two hours asked him a series of questions about health and nutrition. According to Mr. Null, he told them during the interview that there were no miracle foods or products, but rather that a healthy lifestyle, calorie control, exercise, stress management, genetics, and the quality of the environment in which the person lives have the greatest impact on a person's overall health and vitality. Some months later he was informed by a friend that he saw Mr. Null in an infomercial. When Mr. Null managed to get a copy of the infomercial, he immediately sent a cease and desist letter to the owner of the bee pollen company.
The company immediately took Mr. Null out of the infomercial and that was the last he heard of it. Mr. Null does hundreds of interviews a year, and should not be made to appear responsible for someone exploiting his interview without his permission. Unfortunately, your published statements have allowed the public to receive a totally false impression that Mr. Null actively participated in the infomercial .
When I asked attorney Slater for documentation, he procured a letter from the infomercial producer (William Thompson, president of TV Inc.), who said:
In 1988, our company interviewed Dr. Gary Null as part of an infomercial production.
Our production assistant assigned to coordinate this interview failed to disclose to Dr. Null that parts of the interview would appear on an interview we were producing for a client. Our client mislead us as to his association with Dr. Null and our company failed to do its due diligence by devising Dr. Null of the intent of the 2-hour interview on general health matters.
After the infomercial appeared, we received a letter from Dr. Null's attorney, Marvin Small, to cease and desist using Dr. Null in this commercial venture. After researching Mr. Small's claims, we agreed that Dr. Null and YV Inc had been duped by the client. We found that Dr. Null had been told by the client that the interview was for a conventional television program to be aired in Japan.
We immediately pulled the infomercial off the air and edited out all parts of the infomercial that directly or indirectly referred to or featured Dr. Null.
Furthermore, we emphatically assure you that Dr. Null was never directly or indirectly involved in the production, financing or profits of the infomercial .
Since the transcript—which I have reproduced below—contains no mention by Null of the specific product, Null's appearance could certainly have been produced by clever dubbing. But regardless of the interview's purpose, the simple fact remains that Null made several false claims for bee pollen that were intended for an audience.
Vince Inneo: Now you know why we're going to Phoenix. Mountain-High Bee Pollen. Listen to what health and nutritional expert Dr. Gary Null has to say about it In the last 20 years Gary Null has written not less than 51 books, three of which are presently on the bestseller's list. He is a research scientist in the field of nutrition and publishes the Natural Living Newsletter. He's a world class lecturer at colleges and universities. He has appeared on such shows as the Phil Donahue Show, the Tonight and Today shows and has his own radio and TV shows. He is also a health food columnist for national publications. Materials from his investigations have been used by "20/20" and "60 Minutes." Gary Null knows his stuff. He practices what he preaches. Via satellite this is my Insider interview with Dr. Gary Null. Gary, this is Vince Inneo with "TV Insiders." Thank you for giving us the opportunity to talk to you. . . .
Gary Null: Thank you very much for inviting me. I'm happy to share any information on bee pollen that might help the people in the audience. What questions do you have?
Inneo: To be very honest with you, Gary until the Insider team received so many letters about Mountain-High Bee Pollen's Company, I'd never heard of it. My question is why? If Mountain-High Bee Pollen is supposed to be so good for you, why haven't we heard more about it? .
Null: The reason that we haven't heard more about bee pollen is that we have taken a pharmaceutical look at disease, we haven't emphasized wellness, and it's only now that we're beginning to examine the role of vitamins and minerals, Vitamin C and Vitamin E and B-6 and even some of the exotic nutrients like Co-enzyme Q10, Germanium and Carnitine for our good health. Well, if there is not a way of profiting by exclusively being able to patent a product and market it under your own brand name, then why promote it? You don't want something that everyone can find that's inexpensive—bee pollen's inexpensive, royal jelly's inexpensive—that's readily available, but also there's not a supply enough for everyone. That's why the pharmaceutical industry has not jumped on the bandwagon. With a drug you can take even an herb, and you can make a chemical extract And ah! Here's something you should know. This substantiates bee pollen's importance. Time and again they've tried to chemically in a laboratory duplicate bee pollen and royal jelly, and they have failed every time. They can't get the same results, which is telling us that nature provided the bee pollen and royal jelly with some intrinsic factor, some mysterious factor, that science cannot duplicate. And that's why it's so perfect. But again you don't have enough bee pollen and you don't have enough royal jelly to feed everyone who can benefit from it So it's kind of an Insider's health secret.
Inneo: What exactly is bee pollen?
Null: Bee pollen is one of the most perfect foods ever found in nature. In fact, it's probably the most concentrated in enzymes. You see, our body functions because of enzymes. You age because you don't produce enough enzymes. So one way to slow down the aging process is to have more enzyme-rich foods. That's why fresh juices and raw foods are better than over-processed and cooked foods. Well, you can't get any better food than bee pollen because it's not cooked, it's not processed. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, enzymes. In fact, there's one nutrient that it has that can help the inside of your body prevent the capillaries from aging. Did you ever notice when you hit at yourself, you'll bruise? Well it could be a deficiency of bioflavonoids, and one way of getting bioflavonoids is through bee pollen because you're getting rutin. Rutin has been shown to help the fragility of capillaries. Therefore, you don't get those little splotches on the legs and wherever you might bruise. So it's anti-aging. Now, the bees go out, they collect from these beautiful flowers, they collect the pollen. They bring the pollen back, and 60% to 70% is kept for the person collecting it and 30% is allowed to remain with the bees because that's what they eat, Because after all, as good as it is for humans. It's the life thread for the bees, and that's what we benefit from.
Inneo: TV Insiders' investigation team has seen letters from people throughout the world claiming they not only look and feel younger, but their friends and family have noticed changes. Is it reasonable for people to really expect to live longer and healthier lives by adding Mountain-High Bee Pollen to their daily regimen?
Null: I think it's entirely reasonable. Gloria Swanson, the famous actress who's a very good friend of mine, she looked magnificent with no facelifts. Her skin, if you saw her up close, her hands and her face were very very smooth, almost like a baby's. She had bee pollen and royal jelly twice a day, and she would rely and say, "Gary, this is part of my secret." It wasn't the only thing, but it was a primary part. And throughout centuries people who have lived around bee hives or who have been the aviary keepers. People who have farmed bees, these are the people who have had really long, vital lives and have looked better. And Loni Anderson commented in an article that one of the reasons she keeps her health, along with a good diet and the exercise, is she includes bee pollen.
Inneo: Okay. Let me put it to you directly. I start using Mountain-High Bee Pollen today, what can I look forward to? What can I honestly expect?
Null: I think reasonably we could expect to enhance our overall well-being. It's not always easy to measure because some of the changes are subtle. For instance, when you're ten years older and you've been eating right and you've been exercising and you've been taking in bee pollen or royal jelly and you don't look the same age as your contemporaries, when you don't feel the same way, when you have boundless energy, when you don't go through those up-and-downs, as peaks and valleys that you normally would, when instead of needing a cup of coffee, you have sustained energy, when your sex life is improved, do you ascribe that just to bee pollen?
Inneo: Welcome back to TV Insiders and our conversation with Dr. Gary Null. Gary, is Mountain-High Bee Pollen a drug, and are there any side effects to worry about?
Null: Oh, absolutely not Bee pollen is not a drug. It's 100% natural. It's organic. It's loaded with good nutrition. The only side effect of eating bee pollen is improved well-being.
Inneo: Can-you cite specific medical or scientific studies which are proof positive that Mountain-High Bee Pollen leads to a longer, healthier life?
Null: There have been a lot of medical studies and scientific studies on the benefit of bee pollen and especially when it comes to the aging. One of the men who first studied bee pollen was a man named Dr. Price. And Dr. Price studied a group of people called the Hunzacotts. The Hunzacotts lived in an area called Hunza. Now, if you remember Hilton's movie, Lost Horizons, the movie with Ronald Coleman well, that Shangri-la was actually a real place. It was called Hunza. Now, that doesn't mean everything that was in the movie actually happened, but it was based upon a real people and that people still exist today. There's some 70,000 who live at an altitude of 10,000 feet in that area of the world, and they have as a part of their diet, and I know because I've interviewed the Mir, the ruler's family Said Khan, and he told me about" what they eat, and they eat almost everyday bee pollen and royal jelly. So there you had a whole culture that benefited over the centuries, the last 2,000 years, from eating this.
Inneo: With all due respect, isn't there an age level where sexual dysfunction is automatic no matter what you do?
Null: There is no age to where the sexual apparatus diminishes or dies.
Inneo: Our inside information shows that some bee pollen to be better than others. Can Mountain-High Bee Pollen make this claim? Is it really the best?
Null: Not all bee pollen is the same; please keep that in mind. Much of the pollen in the United States is from the Florida and Texas area, and California where a lot of pesticides can be used and pesticides can get on the bee pollen. The best bee pollen comes from your mountainous areas, the mountains of Arizona, the mountains of Wisconsin, of the high area of Indiana, where you have very little pesticides or none at all. In fact, in some of the states they've forbidden pesticides because of the dairy lobby, which is good, and so you want that Also the bees are heartier at a higher altitude.
Inneo: So you were saying that bee pollen from mountains is the best?
Null: The mountainous area is the best.
Inneo: Why would you recommend that people use Mountain-High Bee Pollen over other nutritional supplements?
Null: Because you're starting off with the best. You're starting off with the most potent, the most balanced, the most whole food that we could take in as a nutritional supplement, and then all the other changes you make in addition to that are only going to enhance your. total well-being.
Inneo: Gary, sum up the Insider Information for us.
Null: There is something to this that the American public is not aware of that the rest of the world seems to be taking and has been for a long time. We should be allowed in on this very important nutrient.
Inneo: Thank you for being our guest today, Dr. Null. Your inside information has been invaluable.
Null: Thank you.
Inneo: As I said, Dr. Gary Null is the authority on health and nutrition. He really does know his stuff.
- Complaint. In the matter of CC Pollen Company. Bruce R. Brown, Carol M. Brown, and Royden Brown. FTC File No. 902 3145, April 29, 1992.
- Agreement containing consent order to cease and desist. In the matter of CC Pollen Company. Bruce R. Brown, Carol M. Brown, and Royden Brown. FTC File No. 902 3145, April 29, 1992.
- Complaint, Exhibit B: Transcript of TV Insiders. In the matter of CC Pollen Company. Bruce R. Brown, Carol M. Brown, and Royden Brown. FTC File No. 902 3145, April 29, 1992.
- FTC charges "infomercial" company misrepresented ad as TV show and made unsubstantiated claims for bee pollen; company agrees to settle charges. FTC news release, May 15, 1990.
- Slater D. Letter to Dr. Stephen Barrett, Jan 25, 2005.
- Thompson W., Letter to David Slater, Feb 4, 2005.
This report was posted on March 13, 2005.