Sick as a dog – another worthless advert in WDDTY

So I was just casually scanning over the most recent (November) issue of WDDTY – yes that issue with the atrocious homeopathy and cancer article – when my eyes glanced over an advert for:

‘Apocaps –The world’s first all-natural apoptogen formula’

Now I have to admit, when I see the prefix ‘apop’, I automatically think of apoptosis, the process of programmed cell death that plays such a vital role in many aspects of an organism’s development.  On closer inspection it’s clear that the product in question is selling something about apoptosis – something that got my interest having previously spent time in the lab researching that very mechanism.  So let’s see what kind of bullshit the team at ‘Functional Nutriments’ have concocted for this ‘world’s first’.

The product itself appears to be a pill made up of ‘natural’ chemicals for kick-starting apoptosis in dogs.  Now I don’t know about dogs, but as a human I would not be convinced by someone wanting to kick off apoptosis in my cells by feeding me a pill.  Sounds like a quick way to end up in the hospital.

The special ‘apoptosis formula’ (I have to keep putting these things in quotations because I just don’t understand what they mean) is a powerful nutraceutical supplement designed by Dr Demian Dressler.  A quick Google search on Dressler reveals that he once thought of himself as a conventional veterinarian but know considers himself a full spectrum veterinarian, combining the best of conventional medicine with nutraceuticals, supplements, diet and body-mind medicine.  He is co-founder of Functional Nutriments and the inventor of Apopcaps.

But what are Apopcaps? The advert doesn’t really give you any information as to what the product is or does – a common theme amongst adverts of quackery.  I had to log on to their wonderful website to find out more information.  I always find the ‘About’ section of these websites the best for finding bullshit.  Here’s what they have to say about Apopcaps:

‘Apocaps was created as dog lovers began asking for a simpler, easier way to give apoptogens to their dogs.’

Really?! What the fuck are apoptogens? I’ve never used the word before and a quick Google search reveals that apoptogen is only ever used in conjunction with Apocaps.  So without knowing what they are how does one know that they need a simpler and easier way to give them to their dogs?

‘The challenge was to find a combination of the most important – luteolin, apigenin, silymarin and curcumin and other key ingredients – in a formula that is absorbed by the body.’ here are four alleged apoptogens.  Two flavonoids (luteolin and apigenin), milk thistle extract (silymarin) and a curcuminoid (curcumin).  I know from experience that luteolin and apigenin have been shown to induce apoptosis in the lab.  But so have many other things.  So how much evidence is there that these chemicals could induce apoptosis in dogs?  I’ll answer that in due course, for now let’s continue with the spiel.

‘Because luteolin, apigenin, curcumin and silymarin are all natural substances, the body’s digestive and elimination systems could potentially use up or eliminate these apoptogens before they reach the bloodstream. We didn’t want that to happen.’

This statement hints at a complete misunderstanding of mammalian physiology.  I eat a lot of natural substances every day, if I spent all that energy digesting food only to shit and piss the best bits out, I’d be very unhappy.  Nutrient absorption in the gut is very effective.  It’s evolved that way over thousands of years so we can spend energy doing other things like riding bikes or blogging about stupid pseudoscience.

‘The patent-pending proprietary “Trojan Horse” formula used to create Apocaps “tricks” the body into circulating the apoptogens throughout the bloodstream.’

This sounds exciting but my sceptic radar detects bullshit.  I couldn’t find a shred of evidence for their ‘Trojan Horse’ formula or how it would work.

After looking at the entire website for Apocaps, I still could not find one statement that actually said what the product was for or for what conditions it should be given.  I mean do you go into Dr Dressler’s clinic with your dog and he says:

“Yes, it looks like your dog has low levels of natural apoptosis; let’s boost this back up with Apocaps.  Don’t worry the active ingredients easily get into your dog’s circulation where they can have an effect on the whole body”.

Even if Apocaps worked, how would increasing apoptosis across your dog’s body help with anything?! It sounds like the least targeted form of chemotherapy ever made.  So back to my earlier question – is there any evidence that the four key ingredients have any effect on apoptosis in dogs?

The answer is no.

PubMed search for ‘Luteolin’ AND ‘dog’ – 8 papers, none on apoptosis

PubMed search for ‘Apigenin’ AND ‘dog’ – 11 papers, none on apoptosis

PubMed search for ‘silymarin’ AND ‘dog’ – 39 papers, none on apoptosis

PubMed search for ‘curcumin’ and ‘dog’ – 23 papers, none on apoptosis




9 thoughts on “Sick as a dog – another worthless advert in WDDTY

  1. Pingback: Sick as a dog – another worthless advert in WDDTY » What "What Doctors Don't Tell You" Don't Tell You

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  4. You didn’t research very well – it’s clearly for dogs with cancer. As normal cells are programmed to die off at the end of their useful lives (apoptosis) and cancer cells don’t do that it’s obvious that they need to be made to. Natural apoptogens cause cancer cells to switch that “suicide” gene back on again. So it’s obvious, and clearly says, that these pills are for dogs with cancer. Yet you say that you couldn’t find one statement stating what the pills were for or for what conditions it should be given? Sloth seems a good name for you, you were lazy in your research and/or your write up. You just wanted to drag down WDDTY didn’t you.

    • Paula,

      Their website doesn’t state anywhere what conditions can be treated with this product, presumably as they don’t have evidence to back up any claim.

      Cancer cells undergo apoptosis all the time, just at a slower rate than normal cells. Cancer cells also have an extremely high replication rate which overshadows the rate of apoptosis, leading to an accumulation of tumour mass.

      There is also no evidence that these ‘natural apoptogens’ (luteolin, apigenin, silymarin, curcumin) switch on apoptosis genes in an in vivo dog model.

      If you could provide evidence for these points I will be happy to read and make corrections to my blog post.


      • WesternSloth: You’re right, the website, doesn’t say “cancer” anywhere other than referencing “The Dog Cancer Survival Guide” he wrote. His other websites (you must’ve see this when researching Dr. Dressler) do talk about Cancer.

        However, I personally won’t buy these either.

        Anything with Milk Thistle in it, that is not organic, won’t be consumed by me, or my pets. It’s a highly sprayed (with pesticides) plant, unless grown organically. Sadly, people think “oooh, it’s homeopathic”, “healthy”, “natural”….. The good doctor’s marketing use of “natural” was my first red flag.

        Scrutinizing the ingredients, I also wondered about the peanut shells… a few more minutes of research and I found my initial thought was correct – crude fiber. This is not without great risk due to peanut farmers expecting the hulls to be tossed and not eaten, and pesticides are used due to fungal disease in peanuts ( They also have no nutritional value. Why not use psyllium and organic milk thistle seed instead? My dogs will stick with mom doing research, feeding Honest Kitchen Preference, a small-and-ever-decreasing amount of premium brand dry kibble, organic veggies that we eat and whatever meat we are eating, and Nupro supplement (all organic, mostly flas seed, for joint care. My furkids are 11 1/2 year old Akitas and prance and romp almost as well as when the were 11 1/2 months old, just not jumping quite as high and or playing rough for as long.

  5. 1. The web site is written and referenced in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide
    2. All references cited are in that book
    3. Research and oncology support comes from a major vet oncologist..

    Agree with post above…you need to do more comprehensive research and not just “pick on ” 1/2 the picture

    Cancer dog owner

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  7. I for one, am so HAPPY that I came across your Blog. My Chihuahua has been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and we, my husband and I, are pretty much scrambling to find something, “almost” anything, to help my furbaby, Well, he (husband) came across this Dr.’s snake oil pill and was like, “We should try this”, at $70.00 a bottle, so I did some googling research myself of this pill, and I found this! THANK GOD that I did, have you ever just needed extra backing on your “Gut Instincts”, well I did, and THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU…Keep us the great work! I’ve also noticed that Paula has YET to get back to you on this…hahahahha….again, thanks for the very Informative read.

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