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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EMJ
EMJ
12 years ago

I have had chronic pain since 1996. I have been diagnosed with 4 auto immune diseases — RA, Osteoarthritis, Fibromaylgia, and CFS. I have had terrible side effects from every drug they have tried to give me…worse than the symptoms of the disease itself. I have tried MANY natural things for pain…too many to post. Some work only a little, some worked a little better, but much of the effect wore off after time. My pain level is extreme…at least level 7 to 8 on a daily basis. Dr.’s have given up on me stating I must learn to live… Read more »

Dustin
12 years ago

Hey James. I really liked your article and you were exactly right. Stocks plummeted to .01 since you posted this blog. I’m a new investor and have been looking into this company the last few days and My question now is this… Worth Buying at a penny for possible large gains or still not worth the time?

wazzie
wazzie
12 years ago

james your arguements are really good, im pretty sure you won hahaha i have snapping scapula syndrome and alot of neck pain associated with it, i’ve had 3 shots of cortizone/steriods went to myo fascia realse therapist 2 physical therapist and got surgery and im still in a lot of pain idk what to do doctors seem unhelpful alot of them tell me to learn to live with it, the only way i can live with this pain is to put the ruger 9mm to my head and pull the trigger, unfortunatly i can’t do that so now i gotta… Read more »

Antony
Antony
12 years ago

My wife also bought this at CVS because at the time you could get bonus points or something for it. So i typed it in google and found this site. After the 10 min of reading the blog i decided to throw it out. What I really loved about this page was the drama people were posting in here. Its kinda funny cause its kinda like this James would say 1 + 1 = 2 Matt would say 2 + 2 = 5 and you said it 1 + 1 = 2 James would say No, 1 + 1 =… Read more »

Jacob Murphy
Jacob Murphy
13 years ago

James, thank you for the post and as usual any person obsessed with their own opinion will tarnish a non biased review. You have provided a valuable set of information, thanks for the effort.

evofxdwg
evofxdwg
13 years ago

I am glad i finally found a post where someone (James Krieger) finally seems to have done some review of the supposed scientific studies and the company. I don’t have the time or background to research it myself properly. So thank you for this precious synopsis to a layman, which seems to be largely missing from the internet. I do find it curious that a google search on “cobroxin reviews” produces supposed health web sites with an overwhelming anecdotal positive testimony on the product. Can the placebo effect be that powerful? Are a large majority of these posts by dishonest… Read more »

Judith
Judith
13 years ago
Reply to  evofxdwg

Be glad your wife got it for you. I may be “anecdotal”, but my pain is reduced dramatically since using Cobroxin. I have arthritis in my lower back and could barely put my pants on in the morning. Pain would waken me at night. I can now bend over and pick up “lucky pennies” with my grandson and never waken at night from pain. If it’s a placebo, bottle it and I’ll buy it. It works!

Jennifer
Jennifer
13 years ago

I’m one of the people that passed along extensive research about the makers of Cobroxin when they were touting the wonder drug zeolite (see Litmus article). James is 100% right on in his post about Cobroxin.

It boils down to being a responsible consumer by following up on claims made by the company in order to make an informed decision–in this light, it’s hardly appropriate to fault anyone for being an informed consumer.

Susan
Susan
13 years ago

OK, enough bantering about who did what!

I have fibromyalgia and arthritis and could not wait to get my hands on this product. Twenty dollars is a fair amount to pay if I can get even some small amount of pain relief.

The Cobroxin label promises noticeable pain relief within one week.

I have been using it faithfuly for about 2 weeks now and have noticed NO DECREASE AT ALL IN MY PAIN SYMPTOMS.

Do not waste your money on this product, a study, or on this company’s stock!

Bob
Bob
13 years ago

Money…mouth…insert into your hole. If you’re such a big shot get your own study together. It would take a handful of people. It would cost about 200 dollars I’d say. I haven’t tried Cobroxin as of yet but I have put together a group of like minded individuals and am doing my own study. You are no better than those you accuse because you yourself do nothing firsthand.

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