The requests for a fulvic acid review – in particular Black Oxygen Organics – have been rolling into my DMs and comments, so here you all go.
It’s important to always check out the companies that are selling these ‘miraculous’ substances, because that can tell you a whole heck of a lot about the legitimacy of the fad.
In doing that, I went down a really crazy rabbit hole with Black Oxygen Organics. Like, wow.
In particular, there are some apparently very gullible Black Oxygen Organics salespeople – selling the product to some equally gullible customers – on social media.
Their pages and groups are full of woo woo claims such as how fulvic acid ‘strips candida’ and ‘puts your in perfect sync with the planet’s vibration.’
Even worse, there are posts about how this product helps people ‘detox’ from trauma. I couldn’t hold my fire there, I commented about how that is dangerous and inappropriate. They responded by commenting that their product is just ‘one tool’ to help people cope with trauma.
What’s also a problem, is that this literal dirt is being promoted for children. Bringing kids into this – or any ‘detox’ supplement – is extremely misguided and horrid. Those are kids who grow up misunderstanding and distrusting their bodies, which is not good.
There are some people on Reddit saying that Black Oxygen Organics gets their dirt from a landfill here in Ontario, which may or may not be correct. Who knows.
What is fulvic acid?
Fulvic acid is a by-product of decomposition of plants. and is found in dirt and peat (and also, sewage).
Shilajit is the main bioactive in fulvic acid, and has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. This is the same type of medicine that tells us that people with hot tempers should stay away from spicy foods.
I’m sure that some Ayurvedic medicines are effective, but Ayurveda’s reputation is not one that’s scientific in nature, if you know what I mean.
Fulvic acid is sold in liquid, powder, or pill form. Black Oxygen Organics’ product is a powder that’s $110 for a 125 gram bag, or 40 pills.
Fulvic acid claims.
There are some serious claims about fulvic acid going around, and many of them seem too good to be true. In fact, a lot of them are downright ridiculous. And FYI: when someone starts talking about candida, I know they’re probably full of sh*t.
Apparently, Black Oxygen Organics can be used in a foot soak that detoxes you and your trauma, and also de-worms you.
You can’t soak your feet in ANYTHING and detox any part of you (except for maybe your stinky feet). Yet there are a ton of posts like the one below, claiming otherwise.
According to some of the posts I’ve seen, Black Oxygen Organics dirt can ‘cure’ diabetes, rid you of the parasites that everyone seems to think they have right now (and probably don’t), cleanse your body, cure your mold toxicity, fix your trauma, improve your gut health, calm your stress, end your chronic fatigue, help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, heal autism, fibromyalgia, and wounds.
And that’s not even an exhaustive list, although I become exhausted reading it…because it’s complete malarkey.
Here’s the list of claims from the Black Oxygen Organics website.
Helps to balance hormones? Boosts metabolism? Improves memory, brain function, and mood? Heart health? Regenerates cells? Repopulates gut flora? Most powerful electrolyte in existence?
I want to see actual science – good, solid, peer reviewed, in a reputable journal, done-on-humans science – to back any of these claims up. Because as far as I know, there is none. Human physiology doesn’t jibe with any of these.
It also seems that some BOO salespeople (like the one who wrote one of the posts above) are promoting the claim that we can become ‘toxic and acidic’ from eating the wrong foods. This is ridiculous, and if you’re truly ‘acidic,’ you need a hospital, not black dirt.
Metabolic acidosis is a serious issue that doesn’t happen because someone eats too many McDonald’s hamburgers and not enough salads. It’s mostly the result of medical emergencies such as kidney failure or diabetic ketoacidosis.
So next time someone tells you that you should be on an ‘alkaline’ diet, know that this is an indication that they have no clue how the human body works…and that you shouldn’t listen to anything they say.
Fulvic acid dirt can’t cure incurable diseases and conditions, and to suggest that is disrespectful and inappropriate, not to mention dangerous.
Fulvic acid dirt can’t help with trauma, and to suggest that is incredibly dangerous and opportunistic.
And as far as the parasites and mold go, these are ailments that wellness culture has completely overblown and used to sell products that are useless…sort of like fulvic acid.
Did I mention that Black Oxygen Organics tells us that we can ‘Stop Wasting Time & Money On Supplements That Don’t Work!’
Fulvic acid and Black Oxygen Organics research.
The research around fulvic acid has been done mostly in fish and rats. Considering that we are neither of those things, using those studies to ‘prove’ any of the claims made about this ingredient is extremely problematic and disingenuous.
I’m used to that, though, since I see that sort of thing a lot with MLMs. A company will say that their product has all sorts of ‘scientific research’ proving its efficacy, but meanwhile, the research is done in animals or in lab dishes, and/or is decades old, and/or is poorly done.
And just as much as this 2018 review of studies found that animal studies had some positive results with fulvic acid, it also admitted that some studies have shown negative effects of this compound, in particularly with causing oxidative damage to cells.
The human studies around fulvic acid are not exactly compelling.
A small 2003 study in some journal called ‘Ancient Science of Life’ found that shilajit lowered triglycerides and raised HDL cholesterol. Unfortunately, the actual paper didn’t outline diet specifics or actual numbers. So, that’s that.
Plus, it has been almost 20 years since it was published. I think if fulvic acid was great for blood lipids, we’d have known it by now.
A 2018 review of studies in the Journal of Diabetes Research seems to link fulvic acid with decreased inflammation (but then countered this section of the report with one that outlined fulvic acid’s ability to be pro-inflammatory as well), improved immune response (but again, countered this with fulvic acid’s detrimental effects on immune response), and gut health (if you consider rats and carp to be equal to humans).
Despite having a headline that sounds very positive (‘Therapeutic Potential of Fulvic Acid in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases and Diabetes’!), the above study found nothing particularly remarkable about fulvic acid’s potential for anything…especially in humans.
There’s a lot of ‘it MAY do X’ and ‘no direct evidence to prove Y’ and ‘potential therapeutic potential.’ Thanks, I’ll pass.
The bottom line is that fulvic acid is dirt that people eat, soak their feet in, douche with, feed to their kids, and sell via MLM. The claims around it are an absolute joke compared to the evidence we have to back them up, which is basically none.
The Black Oxygen Organics site has some ‘scientific research’ that the company seems to believe corroborates the usefulness of this supplement.
The first document is a 38-page review of studies, which of course I read in detail.
Well, rather, I looked at each of the 120 citations against what they’re trying to corroborate, because that’s where the good stuff is. You’re welcome.
Some of them are incredibly irrelevant, like #118:
Pillai, K.C., & Mathew, E. (1976). Plutonium in the aquatic environment: Its behavior, distribution and significance. In Transuranium nuclide in the environment (pp. 25-45). Proceeding of the Symposium, International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna.
It appears to me that the company is using this and other citations to prove that because fulvic acid has an affinity to plutonium and other radioacive elements in nature, that it can ‘detox’ harmful substances from the cells.
That’s such a huge leap, I can’t even. But after what I’ve seen, this unfortunately doesn’t shock me.
Some of the references are from documents as old as 1926, and the majority are from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, with none at all cracking the 21st century. This is a red flag.
I’ve said it a million times, and I’m going to say it again…if an ingredient/supplement/diet/whatever is so incredible and amazing, there will be recent, peer-reviewed research with reproducible results, in humans, published in reputable journals, to prove that.
The document itself looks ancient, and it appears to draw from textbooks (Vital electrolytes – Backer, W.E. (1973) Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 37, 269-281), random sentences (Same amount of time – Greenland, D.J., (1965). Soils and Fertilizers. 35(5), 415-532), and woo woo books (Who and What Are You? – Williams, Dr. Roger J. (1977). The Wonderful World Within You. Bio- Communications Press. Wichita, Kansas.)
So….pass on this one.
The next document the company provides in their research section is a collection of 10 case studies by a naturopath from Germany around the chelation/elimination properties of fulvic acid on heavy metals.
The ‘study’ was done in his practice and was sponsored by a fulvic acid company.
The participants’ urine was measured for heavy metals, but the results were a bit bizarre, the numbers inconsistent, and really, it was more anecdotal than anything, considering that the entire project consists of case studies, undertaken in an office, without a control group, and by a potentially biased person.
The third document is again by a naturopath. It’s is a collection of 10 case studies that again, are simply case studies of 10 of this person’s patients.
There are sentences like this one:
“The feet shine very dark. The middle toe on the left shows the stress on the mesa and the big and second toes on the right show the emotionally and toxic overloaded liver and constant tension,”
Reflexology is a debunked science, in case you didn’t know.
Most importantly, case studies are simply the documentation of treatments and findings. They’re mostly used to provide or confirm theories, versus research, which can provide confirmation. They can easily be tainted by selection or confirmation bias, and are often not representative of a larger population. In my opinion, a case study doesn’t equal research.
As far as Black Oxygen Organics, their site and many of their salespeoples’ posts check all the boxes on my list of diet red flags:
- Telling you that you have a ‘problem’ you never knew you had, then selling you the solution.
- Selling a product by MLM. That in itself is a red flag, and I’ll tell you that I’ve reviewed pretty much all of the nutrition MLMs out there, and not one has sold something I’d recommend. Not to mention that MLMs prey on women, and are brutal money-losers for most people (read my post The Problem with MLMs and Their Coaches)
- Making fantastical claims that just can’t be true. If you could heal trauma by eating dirt, don’t you think we’d have figured that out by now? Not to mention, even hinting that dirt can heal major mental health issues is an egregious breach of all that is honest and decent.
- Making claims that aren’t supported by available peer-reviewed research.
For me, as a healthcare professional, the problem isn’t with supplements like Black Oxygen, which are probably safe (although extremely expensive.)
The problem is with the claims that are made about these products, the methods by which they’re sold, the fear mongering that’s used to market them, and the fact that their salespeople basically run wild and unchecked, spouting all sorts of garbage science and ‘testimonials’ that mean nothing.
When a company and the people who sell it show you who they are, believe them. Hard pass on this dirt.