Snake Oil Revisted: Creatine Serum

In an Auckland New Zealand district court, Muscle Marketing USA has been fined $70,000 NZD (about $45,000 USD) for false claims about their Creatine Serum. Muscle Marketing claims that each 5 ml serving contains “the equivalent of” 2500 mg of creatine monohydrate. Analysis showed the product only contained 11.5 mg per dose.

For any supplement, its important to note the US FDA required Supplement Facts box. The ingredients per serving for Creatine Serum is listed as 50 mg of Siberian Ginseng, 30 mg of Royal Jelly, and 15 mg of B-12. No number of mg is listed for creatine monohydrate or for glycerine. By law this means it contains only trace amounts of these chemicals. So they’re pretty much admitting that their product doesn’t contain creatine monohydrate.

That Muscle Marketing’s Creatine Serum is a scam is really nothing new. As far back as the fall of 2002 people were pointing out that it was physically impossible for this product to contain as much as it claimed. Among other things creatine monohydrate breaks down to creatinine within hours of being mixed with water.

HPLC tests repeatedly showed that this product contains only a small amount of creatine monohydrate. But Muscle Marketing continues to insist that it contains “the equivalent” of creatine monohydrate. They responded that their creatine molecule was different and “Any attempt to use standard HPLC testing on our liquid creatine is doomed to failure unless the lab doing the testing has been properly briefed on the characteristics of our creatine, and follows a specialized methodology.” (press release on usenet via google) They won’t tell anyone how to detect the chemical because that would “give away a trade secret”. However that’s what patents are for. But a patent search of this company has found nothing, and the company will not list any patents it may have. Very suspicious.

If the active ingredient was something other than creatine monohydrate, they’d still have to list it on the label. The purpose of the labeling law is so that you know what you’re getting. If its not listed on the Supplements Facts box, you’re only getting trace amounts. As stated on the label, when you take this Creatine Serum, you’re getting ginseng, royal jelly, and B-12, nothing more.

It really should be easy to prove or disprove their product works, if we can agree upon what “works” mean. The purpose of taking a creatine product is to raise the amount of creatine in the blood, which is easily measured. When I get blood work done, its easy to tell whether I had been taking a creatine supplement in the days before the test. So a blood test of someone before and after they’ve taken this Creatine Serum should show whether it raises blood creatine levels. Its a safe bet that it won’t.

On January 13, 2004, an injunction was placed against Muscle Marketing USA Inc which stated they “shall make no statements comparing its creatine products, including creatine serum product(s), with any creatine powder products.” Not much of an injunction, hardly worth the lawyer fees.

Congress and the FDA are quick to crack down on products such as ephedra and andros, products that do “work” for some value of work. But they’re really not interested in whether a product works, only whether it is dangerous. Snake oil supplements aren’t dangerous, just rip-offs. Liquid cretine products, just like liquid HGH products, are all rip-offs.

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