Cobroxin: Pain Reliever or Placebo?

Some of you may know that I like to trade stocks.  You may even follow my trading blog.

One strategy that I like to do is to short sketchy Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board (OTCBB) stocks and pump and dumps.  For example, I had a nice profit off of shorting the fraud GVBP and covering near 0 after the SEC stepped in and investigated them.

What's this got to do with this blog?

Well, there's this one particular sketchy company named Nutra Pharma Corp. (NPHC).  There's a lot of reasons why this company is shady.  Some of these reasons include a CEO with sketchy scientific credentials and who was caught plagiarizing from scientific research, and a former director with a past full of embezzlement charges and FTC false advertising.  However, this blog post isn't about the company NPHC...it's about the product they're pushing...Cobroxin.

Cobroxin is supposedly the "the first over-the-counter pain reliever clinically proven to treat various levels of chronic pain associated with lower back pain, shoulder pain, cramps, migraines, neuralgia and arthritis".

The first?  Hardly.  Plain ol' Tylenol has been shown in numerous studies to be effective in treating chronic pain.

Of course, that's not what's most B.S. about this product.  The product is made from cobra venom

That's right....this pain reliever is made from cobra venom. 

Now, the idea isn't totally absurd.  There is evidence that cobra venom has components that may have analgesic effects when injected.

However, the problem is with the Cobroxin product itself, and the complete lack of quality evidence to support its efficacy.

Cobroxin's manufacturer provides a list of studies that supposedly showed cobra venom or its components to have pain-relieving effects.  However, the majority of the studies they list involved injection of cobra venom or its components.  Only 7 out of the listed studies used oral delivery, and only 1 used topical delivery.  Of the 7 that used oral delivery, 6 of them did not report the dose used.  1 of them was only presented as an abstract at a conference and was never published in full form in a peer-reviewed journal.  There is no reference for another one (Xu et al, 2001).  2 more of them were presented in a Chinese journal (Journal of Snake), and there is no mention of placebo controls or blinding.  3 of these didn't even look at pain.

The fact is, the research presented that supposedly supports the use of Cobroxin is of extremely low quality (even the injection studies).  Many of the studies listed don't involve blinding, placebo controls, randomization, or any of the other things that are necessary for an adequate study.  Many of the studies presented are of so low quality, they would never be accepted in today's peer-reviewed journals (particularly in American or European journals, which are more stringent than Chinese journals).  Also, none of these studies involved Cobroxin itself; they are just studies on cobra venom and its components.

When it comes to pain relief, unblinded studies and studies that lack a placebo control are worthless.  It is well established that there is a significant placebo effect in analgesia studies.   Just the mere suggestion that a substance might relieve your pain will often actually reduce your pain, even if the substance has absolutely no biological effect.  There is evidence that the expectation of pain relief causes the release of dopamine and opioids, which, in turn, have an analgesic effect.

Another reason to be skeptical of Cobroxin is the long list of ailments that cobra venom or its components supposedly treat.  In this document, the manufacturer lists the treatment of everything from pain to diabetes to cancer to addiction.  Any time an ingredient is presented as a near "cure-all", it should be viewed with skepticism.

The fact is, there are no double-blind, placebo-controlled trials on Cobroxin published in peer-reviewed journals.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  The claims being made about this product are quite extraordinary....that it causes significant pain relief for moderate to severe chronic pain, across a wide variety of medical conditions.  And this is all without major side effects.  Such claims require much more evidence then the sketchy evidence that has been provided thus far.  However, given the shady history of Nutrapharma's executives, I doubt we'll ever see this level of evidence.

Disclosure:  I do NOT hold any position in NPHC, and never have.  I just find the claims being made about this product quite amusing, and deserving of a blog post.

 


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TIm
TIm
13 years ago

The defination of palcebo you offer is wrong on all aspects. I do, however suscribe that proteins can and do undergo hydrolysis and some deanimation in the gut. That is why sublingual is the route of choice as well as rectally. Concerning Glucosamine/Condroitin, it has worked for me. Glucosamine HCl helps for reformaton of tendons and ligiments. Another fact that supports its use is that your bones are completely replaced every 5 years. (an ongoing process) Even thought your body produces vitamin D does not mean you may need a suppliment! Supplimental vitalamines (vitamins) are recommend my mainstream medicine. I… Read more »

TIm
TIm
13 years ago

Placebos do not have any active ingredients. Cobroxin does. So it cannot be a placebo.
That should answer the Title Question.

TIm
TIm
13 years ago

Pharmacology is one of the oldest professions. So yes, we took the root and extracted the active ingredient. I have never been a fan of homeopathic physicians. However, I do have a knowledge of natural product remedies. They were here long before “homeopathic” was a term. It would be stupid to say that there are not “fake”, or weak treatments. Moreover, only and idiot with no scientific background would say the “more dilute was stronger”. A statement like that shows a lack of common sense. I do find Equine use of the cobra venom and that would indicate to me… Read more »

TIm
TIm
13 years ago

Again, Theory Guides and Experiment Decides. Homeopathic, and archaic remedies were used by native cultures with great success. Pharmacology was founded on many of these remedies. These older cultures do not or did not rely on heavy government regulation and testing protocols. I am neither for or against the Cobroxin product because I have not tried it yet. I know about willow bark. Acetylsalicylic acid is broken down in the body where it forms the active ingredient in willow bark. Strange that the same person that synthesized aspirin also synthesized diacetylmorphine (heroine). Yes, $20 is a small price to pay… Read more »

TIm
TIm
13 years ago
Reply to  James Krieger

All, Cobroxin has very good success in Equine treatement. It is so effective in Horses (similar to dimethylsulfoxide). If you have doubts, “Google it” for youselves. James, I have never heard “Like treats Like”. What does that mean? I have heard “Like disolves Like”, a phrase used in orgainic chemistry, polar solvents dissolve polar compounds and non-polars solvent dissolve non-polar compounds, (and there is a sliding scale on that based on polarity of sovlent and compound). The UK is on the “cutting edge” of investigative research regarding preparations like Cobroxin and many, many others. People with “advanced degrees” are doing… Read more »

TIm
TIm
13 years ago
Reply to  TIm

I cannot find “Like treats Like”. Where are your references for that.
I know about Phase I, II,III with double blind studies. Anyone can see this as well as the vocabulary on http://www.CDC.org. As well and anything I mention.
“Cat’s Claw” in still in clinical trials.
James, you need to dig a little deeper. I hope the link helps you.
If not go to PubMD which you are fond of.

nathanlangly
nathanlangly
6 years ago
Reply to  TIm

Man i’m enjoying this conversation but why not exchange numbers geesh. I’m sure you guys have hacked it out by now.

Moving on.. thanks for the kidd glove banter.

TIm
TIm
13 years ago

Twenty bucks is a small investement in a treatment to determine if it works or not. 1000 years ago we were told to eat this root. In modern times we purified this root and found the main active constituant. Put in into a pill or syringe and prescribed gave it to sick people. Through modern analytical instrumentation, GC-MS/MS and HPLC MS/MS and NMR we have identified numerous other compound in the root that give the main compound a synergistic effect. 1000 years later, based on our scientific discoveries, we are back to eating the root again. We treat arthritis with… Read more »

Katarina
Katarina
13 years ago

James,

I am just curious. Do you have an opinion as to why the the Arthritis Foundation would sponsor this product if they did not believe the claims?

John
John
13 years ago

James, You really need to add a disclaimer that you are associated with Tim Sykes and that you have historically “shorted” this company’s stock. There is too much evidence showing that Cobroxin works. You’re just digging yourself a nice hole…

John
John
13 years ago
Reply to  James Krieger

Just found this link about you James — http://www.welcometothegutter.com/2010/01/my-trade-performance-using-tim-sykes.html — interesting how you follow Tim Sykes

Cris Johnson
Cris Johnson
13 years ago

This is very valuable and I greatly appreciate the time you took to research the product and, more importantly, the folks who run the company. People struggling with pain will often believe anything in the hope that they will find relief.

LaNell
LaNell
12 years ago
Reply to  Cris Johnson

Do you have pain, and did you try both?? I’m sorry if it did not work for you, but does for me.

Darren Amundson
Darren Amundson
13 years ago

Awesome analysis! Thank you.

John
John
13 years ago

This product has already been addressed and your claims have already been dis-proven. Cobroxin is well tolerated and has lots of positive reviews throughout the web. Time for your to move on to your next “shorting” gig.

LaNell
LaNell
12 years ago
Reply to  James Krieger

I can tell you from my very very skeptical experience…I am on my second purchase of Cobroxin for pain from slamming on brake in a car addident caused horrible pain that the doctors say they can can’t ‘fix’ and wanted me to take narcotics. I refused. I was too cash strapped to do much, so careful about spending on tiny bottles of this stuff. Though I still sometimes take tylenol, aspirin, etc….THIS DOES HELP. The other alone never did. I rub what is left on my hands from using it on my leg,hip joint, section of side, on my finger… Read more »

pam
pam
11 years ago
Reply to  LaNell

My Mom takes this she has severe back issues barely able to get out of a chair after the 1 month of taking this i was able to take her christmas shopping without assistance.. we walked the malls she had to rest and stuff but i can say she did more than i had seen her do in months.. this is my story i dont belong to any group we just bought it and tried it and for her it has worked… if this helps someone i am glad…

Rachel
Rachel
12 years ago
Reply to  John

Placebo? Hmmm,, I was wondering about it maybe just being a placebo. Does that mean that the possible side effects would be nil? That would be great! Who needs those?!

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