Carnivora, is a health supplement derived from the carnivorous Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) that you may have seen advertised online or heard of in radio commercials (such as during Coast to Coast AM with George Noory). Carnivora is said to help the immune system function better, or in the words of one Youtube video I saw, “wakes up the immune system and makes it dominant.” Does Carnivora work?” is the question everybody asks me. I’ve been curious about this product since I first heard the radio commercial, so in this review I will share what I found ―and didn’t find ―when I looked at the research. By knowing the research, you can make a more informed decision if Carnivora is right for you.
Who makes Carnivora?
According to the product website, Carnivora Research International, is the company that makes Carnivora. The Contact Us page of the Carnivora.com website actually lists the emails of a variety of people within the Carnivora organization ―even the owner/CEO of the company.
That level of transparency is rare, and I actually liked that.
Oddly however, there is no address for the Carnivora company? In other words, where is Carnivora made or shipped from? Doing a Google
image search for “Carnivora ” and “Carnivora Research International,” likewise, did not show a physical location of the company.
The product website does list a phone number to order the product – 866 836 8735 -so I called it. I spoke with someone who identified herself as information specialist who told me that Carnivora Research International is located at :
- PO Box 1035 Weston CT 08663
This is the same address listed on the BBB file for Carnivora also.
But, since this is just a PO Box, I know they don’t make Carnivora at that location. I wanted to know the specific address where Carnivora was actually produced.
The person I spoke with could not tell me where the Carnivora supplement was made. She only told me that Carnivora was made in the Connecticut /New York area. I found this odd.
As an aside, the person I spoke with seemed surprised by my question and even asked me why I would want this information.
Carnivora Research International is a Better Business Bureau accredited company since 2009 and has a rating of A+ as of 10/3/13. The company has been in business since 1981. See the BBB file for additional information.
On the Science of Carnivora page of the product website there are links to many studies that serve as a testament to the benefits of Carnivora. While the page I saw was listed as “Currently under Construction,” Most of the links were clickable and linked directly to published peer reviewed studies. I looked at all of the studies listed on the Science of Carnivora page and, after which, came to these conclusions:
1. The word “Carnivora” does not appear in any of the studies listed.
2. Most of the studies listed are test tube or mouse studies.
3. The only study in the list to mention Dionaea muscipula dates to 1989 and is listed several times at different locations on the page.
In other words, it appears that none of the studies listed on the Carnivora website, actually tested Carnivora itself.
Many of the studies make references to compounds ―such as something called Plumbagin ―but studies of individual/isolated ingredients (in test tubes or lab animals) is not the same thing as human studies on Carnivora itself.
After looking at the evidence presented on the product website, my question is:
Where is the research on the Carnivora supplement itself?
I can’t find it.
I then searched the National Library of medicine for:
No studies showed up.
I then found the venus flytrap page of the American Cancer Society, which states that in 1985, a German oncologist named Helmut Keller who invented Carnivora in the 1970s (and who holds the patented on it) did a study involving 210 people with various types of cancer. Dr. Keller noted that 56% of peopled treated with the Carnivora extract experienced either a remission or stabilization of their tumors. That’s really impressive, but the ACS said the study has not been replicated.
I was not able to locate this study and ― ironically ― it’s not listed on the Carnivora website either.
So, in over 25 years, nobody has replicated the study. Why? One study means less ―scientifically speaking ―than several studies showing the same effect.
To be fair, I’m actually disappointed that the American Cancer Society did not attempt to replicate this study. Even though I can’t find it, they did say the study was published, so I assume they have read it. What’s up with that that ACS?
If anyone can show me the published study of Dr. Keller and Carnivora, I’ll be happy to update this review.
Carnivora and Dr. C. Joe Schneller
One YouTube video about Carnivora features Dr. C. Joe Schneller who said he is doing a study of how 3 capsules a day of Carnivora “wakes up the immune system and makes it dominant.” The video was uploaded June 16 2011 but it appears to not yet be completed or published, as it is not listed on the Carnivora website or listed in the National Library of Medicine. Likewise, when I did a Google search for:
“Dr Schneller Carnivora study,”
No study was revealed. I will update this review with his study and its results if it gets published.
So what research is out there about Carnivora and diseases? What I’d like to do now is look at the major reasons people might be interested in Carnivora and see if I can find any studies on them. That way those interested in specific issues can get an idea whether Carnivora might be right for them.
Carnivora and the immune system
Carnivora is primarily marketed as something that can improve / modulate the immune system. Ironically, when I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Carnivora” no relevant studies showed up. So, I then searched the National Library of Medicine for these specific words to see if there were any research:
- Venus flytrap immune
- Venus flytrap immunity
- Venus flytrap immune system
- Venus flytrap phagocytosis (refers to how some immune cells work)
- Venus flytrap antibody
- Venus fly trap B cell (B cells are a type of immune cell)
- Venus flytrap T cell (T cells are a type of immune cell)
- Dionaea Muscipula immune
- Dionaea Muscipula immune system
- Dionaea Muscipula immunity
- Dionaea Muscipula phagocytosis
- Dionaea Muscipula antibody
- Dionaea Muscipula B cell
- Dionaea Muscipula T cell
No studies showed up for any of these search terms.
This says to me that Venus flytrap/ Dionaea Muscipula might not have been specifically studied for what effects ―if any―it has on immune system functioning. So why is it being marketed to boost immunity?
One of the compounds in the Venus flytrap is called Plumbagin. Some websites even claim that Plumagin is the active ingredient in Carnivora.
Plumbagin does have some research. For example, Plumbagin has been studied for its possible anti-cancer effects. When I searched the National Library of Medicine for:
“Plumbagin immune” (click the link to see the studies) I saw a lot of studies, but most of them were conducted in test tubes or used lab mice.
What I did not see was a study showing that Plumbagin (oral or injected) prevented the flu or improved arthritis symptoms ―or improved any other immune system related condition ―in humans.
Carnivora and AIDS
Since Carnivora is touted to improve the immune system, a logical question would be Does it help HIV/AIDS? On one website that discusses this topic, a 1994 magazine article titled, The Carnivora Cure for Cancer, AIDS and Other Pathologies” published in Immune Perspectives, is mentioned. In this article, it’s said that Carnivora caused the ” total elimination of the HIV virus.”
I tried to locate this article but I could not find it.
Additionally, I was not able to find a peer reviewed journal called “Immune Perspectives” either. In fact, I could not find ANY magazine called “Immune Perspectives.”
The author of this article was Dr. Morton Walker, whose website is DrMortonWalker.com. I believe this is the doctor associated with the Immune Perspectives article. However, when I searched his site for the article it does not appear there either.
I then searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Venus flytrap AIDS
- Venus flytrap HIV
- Dionaea Muscipula AIDS
- Dionaea Muscipula HIV
This search revealed no studies either.
I did locate a 2002 study titled Inhibitory effects of quinones on RNase H activity associated with HIV-1 reverse transcriptase that noted that Plumbagin (one of the compounds in Venus flytrap, as well as other plants) inhibited an enzyme that is needed for HIV to replicate. While this is interesting, the study was over a decade ago and was basically just test tube study.
Because of the lack of published research on this topic, I am unfortunately forced to conclude for the moment that there is no good proof that Carnivora or Venus flytrap extracts improves immune function in those with HIV/AIDS.
Carnivora and Cancer
I searched the National Library of Medicine for “Carnivora Cancer” and didn’t see any studies that specifically investigated Carnivora―itself― for how it might help cancer.
This is ironic because many websites relate the story of how former President Ronald Regan used Carnivora to prevent cancer. Mr. Regan still had part of his colon removed because of colon cancer. So, if he did use Carnivora, how significant of an effect did it have?
Regardless, some of the compounds (such as Plumbagin) in Venus flytrap have been studied for how they might affect cell growth. But, in these studies, Plumbagin is used as an isolated compound (which is different than Carnivora which contains a variety of compounds). Also, most research on Plumbagin appears to be in the form of test tube/Petri dish studies or lab animal studies.
I’m not aware of any studies in humans showing that Plumbagin cures cancer or slows cancer growth.
Also, how much Plumbagin is in Carnivora? I don’t know, but either way, its irrelevant at this point because of the lack of published studies on humans.
For more a more in-depth discussion, see this 2013 review titled Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula Solander ex Ellis) Contains Powerful Compounds that Prevent and Cure Cancer. When I read this study, I noticed that it never mentions the name Carnivora or the name of Dr. Helmut Keller, the creator of Carnivora.
Carnivora and arthritis
I did a Google search for “Carnivora and arthritis” and noticed that some websites mention that Carnivora has been used in Germany as a treatment for arthritis. But, when I looked at the various websites that discuss this issue, none that I saw included any studies to substantiate that Carnivora helps arthritis. They show no proof.
Likewise, I could not find any evidence when I searched the National Library of Medicine either. Maybe it helps or maybe it doesn’t but until studies are published I believe the idea of Carnivora helping arthritis is open to speculation.
Carnivora and lupus
I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Carnivora lupus
- Dionaea Muscipula lupus
- Venus flytrap lupus
- Plumbagin lupus
No studies showed up. Unfortunately, it appears that there is no good proof as yet to determine if Carnivora helps lupus.
Carnivora and fibromyalgia
Some websites discuss Carnivora as a possible treatment for fibromyalgia pain, but those sites I saw provide no good proof of this. When I searched for proof, I could not find any. I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Carnivora fibromyalgia
- Venus flytrap fibromyalgia
- Dionaea Muscipula fibromyalgia
No studies showed up.
Also, as far as I can tell, the word, fibromyalgia, is not even mentioned on the Carnivora.com website.
Carnivora and Lyme disease
Various websites discuss that Carnivora might help Lyme disease but when I searched the National Library of Medicine for these words:
- Carnivora Lyme disease
- Venus flytrap lime disease
- Dionaea Muscipula lyme disease
No studies showed up. As such, it’s impossible for me to say if it helps or doesn’t.
Carnivora and Alzheimers
I cant find any good proof that the Carnivora supplement improves memory or helps people with memory problems including Alzheimers disease.
Carnivora and detox
Some websites advocate Carnivora as part of a detox or “cleanse” to rid the body of harmful parasites and waste. These websites however give no good proof that Carnivora does this. Some of the websites I saw, mention information that is not based in fact (e.g. having 25 pounds of undigested fecal matter in the colon). As such, I view them with a skeptical eye.
If Carnivora did boost the immune system, then I could understand how an enhanced immune system might be better at battling invading bacteria/viruses. But since I could not find any good proof of enhanced immunity (see the immunity section above), I am inclined to be skeptical of this claim.
Carnivora side effects
According to the Carnivora.com website “There are NO side effects associated with the use of Carnivora.” I am also not aware of any negative side effects from the use of Carnivora. That said, since I was unable to locate any peer-reviewed studies that specifically used Carnivora itself, I’m not sure what the side effects might be.
On the FAQ page of the Carnivora website it’s said that if people use too much Carnivora too soon, that they may experience a herxheimer reaction which refers to a temporary increase in adverse symptoms. This is said to be the result of the treatment killing the infection. The condition was originally attributed to the treatment of syphilis with antibiotics, but it might occur with other conditions as well. How prevalent a herxheimer reaction is with Carnavora use, I don’t know.
Tip. As a rule, I believe it’s best to start any new supplement regimen slowly, using less than is recommended for at least the first week. Doing this should, in theory, reduce the severity of side effects that might result from the supplement.
The Carnivora website states that the product does not interact with any medications. How they know this (because of the lack of studies on Carnivora), I do not know. They do mention that people who take blood thinner medications should consult their doctor if they use high doses (75 drops per day) of the Pure Extract Carnivora. Whether this indicates that Carnivora has a blood thinning property at high doses or it’s just the company being wise and cautious I’m not sure.
One website I saw mentions that pregnant should not to use Carnivora. This is likely because there is no research on how this supplement affects women who are pregnant. This is a general /blanket statement that is mentioned for many supplements and is likely a good idea to adhere to. When in doubt, pregnant women should ask their doctor before they try any new supplement.
Does Carnivora work?
To be perfectly honest, right now I don’t see any proof for Carnivora. I say this because I was not able to locate any published, peer reviewed studies on Carnivora itself. In addition, the research I found in support of one of its main ingredients appears to be currently limited to lab animals or test tube studies. What about people? I could not find a single human study of Carnivora – or its main ingredient – involving humans. While it is true that lack of evidence does not necessarily mean something doesn’t work, my litmus test for supplements is published studies. As such, I remain skeptical ,although I might change my opinion if peer reviewed studies are published in the future.
Oddly, even the company that markets the product in the US ―Carnivora Research International ― does not appear to have published any research on Carnivora.
What do you think?