Physician Files Complaint With FTC Over 5-Hour Energy Drink Makers

Physician Files Complaint With FTC Over 5-Hour Energy Drink Makers
Stephen Cherniske, M.S. July 21, 2014

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Washington State (Thurston County) physician files a complaint with the FTC over deceptive advertising for 5-Hour Energy. The lawsuit contends that 5-Hour Energy falsely claims customers get extra energy and focus from a unique blend of ingredients.

( — July 21, 2014) Olympia, Washington — The breaking news regarding Washington and Oregon AG’s lawsuits against 5 Hour Energy, as well as the deaths associated with “energy” drinks requires an expert interview. Dr. Natalie Kather is a physician, board-certified in Family Medicine. She and her biochemist husband, Stephen Cherniske, author of Caffeine Blues (Warner 1998) have been on the forefront of consumer awareness regarding the dangers of so-called “energy drinks” for three decades.

Stephen is a health educator with more than a million copies in print. He has appeared on Dateline, Hour Magazine, Late Night and scores of regional network shows. Their new book The Metabolic Makeover focuses on this precise issue: Where does real energy come from? You can view their media kit at:

Dr. Kather’s Story…

She began as a physician board doctor certified in family medicine and has been alarmed at the explosion of caffeine-based “energy” drinks in our society. As a scientist, she knew that these beverages do not provide energy at all, but the illusion of energy, which is stress.
Washington State physician
Dr. Natalie Kather, M.D.

Fatigue is one of the most common complaints I hear from my patients. And often, their diet diary reveals that they are consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, soft drinks, “energy” shots) throughout the day. These same patients are surprised when I explain that the caffeine is actually contributing to their fatigue, anxiety and poor health. A common response is, “but doctor, if I cut back on caffeine, where will I get the energy?

To describe the difference between stress and real energy, Dr. Kather asks them to imagine a harrowing experience. Say, you’re not paying attention when crossing the street and almost get hit by a bus. You’d be very alert after such a close call; and that is exactly what caffeine provides, nothing more.

Real energy is produced at the cellular level, and increasing energy, although requiring some education and testing, is always possible. Highly sophisticated medical tests can pinpoint the exact steps needed to increase metabolic efficiency and vital energy. This in turn can have a profound effect on mood and every aspect of one’s health. Energy, after all, is the “currency of life.”

Meanwhile, the caffeine pushers make promises they cannot possibly keep. And last month, 5-Hour Energy launched an ad campaign which implied that physicians endorse the consumption of their product. I was outraged, and immediately requested to see the questionnaire that was supposedly sent to 3000 doctors. she also requested to see evidence for claims that their product produced energy, and that it did not produce a “caffeine crash.”

After repeated requests and no response from 5 Hour Energy, Natalie filed a complaint with the FTC, which is pending. For those who may think that this is over-reacting, I only point out that since filing this complaint, five more energy drink-related deaths have occurred, resulting from known effects of excess caffeine.

Few people know the depth of scientific research relating to the dangers of excess caffeine. Fewer still understand that caffeine is a drug, with well-known effects, side effects and toxicity. In addition to the cardiovascular effects (increasing blood pressure and heart rate), caffeine is associated with several distinct psychiatric syndromes including caffeine intoxication, withdrawal, dependence, sleep disorders, and caffeine-induced anxiety disorder. All of these are included in the DSM; the psychiatric diagnostic manual.

Imagine if I prescribed a drug for one of my patients, without any dose instructions. I’d get a quick call from the pharmacist, right? Well, what if I replied, “tell her to take as much as she wants.” That’s the situation today, as scores of manufacturers promote hundreds of caffeine-based energy drinks.

Three large groups have a limited ability to detoxify caffeine, and are thus at increased risk for adverse side effects. They are, women, anyone (male or female) under 18 years old, and those with a particular gene variant known as CYP1A2*1F. That gene variant is not rare. According to a breakthrough study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, that affects roughly 50% of the population.

For these large groups, excess caffeine can create serious problems. The JAMA study mentioned above identified significantly increased risk for heart attack. That is why I believe that all “energy” products should list the amount of caffeine on the label, and carry an overdose warning.

And if the FTC is doing their job (preventing deception in the marketplace) we might see an end to the constant barrage of misleading ads. Caffeine is not real energy. It’s stress.

About The Metabolic Makeover

The Metabolic Makeover Offer Personal Support To Their Book Designer For 30-day Weight-Loss Experiment. April Sunset asked Stephen Cherniske and Dr. Natalie Kather, “Can your program really make me see and feel a difference in as little as 30 days?
The Metabolic Makeover
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