Km (by Matol)

"Christian" Cure-All or New Age Medicine?

Km is a product manufactured since late 1984 by Matol Botanical International. It is quite heavily marketed by professing Christians through an old-fashion "networking"/sales pyramid/multi-level-marketing scheme (a lá Mary Kay Cosmetics). In some Christian circles, enthusiasm for Km's supposed healing power has almost become a religious philosophy in its own right. "After all," we are told, "it must be okay, because the product formula was given to Karl Jurak by God (see below), the ingredients are 100% natural, and it is sold almost exclusively by Christians to other Christians."

-  Karl Jurak "was sure that nature had anticipated man's needs," so he set out on a search "to unlock the mystery of nutritional harmony." After struggling with the Km formula for years, he received "a vivid impression, which led to the precise stabilizing catalyst he had labored for." According to Jurak, God had led him to the discovery of "all of the vital secrets of balance and existence" in the universe, thus placing himself in the same category as other great inventors who "are simply translators of secret wisdom" (Km sales brochure). (Emphasis added.)

-  Km is, in reality, nothing but a glorified potassium supplement (with a few natural herbs and flowers thrown in), whose health benefits could be obtained at a much lower cost by eating bananas. (Specifically, a daily dose of two tablespoons of Km contains potassium equal to that found in one banana, calcium equal to that in 3-1/2 tablespoons of milk, and iron equal to that in 2/3 of a bowl of Wheaties. And all for only about $35 for a month's supply -- what a deal!) Even Matol's official promotional materials do not stress any proven medical efficacy for the product. Rather, the flowers, roots, herbs, etc. used as active ingredients are touted on the basis of the mythical/mystical benefits experienced by ancient pagan cultures and worship systems!:

(a) Chamomile Flower: "Ancient Egyptians consecrated this flower to their Gods and dedicated it to the sun. ... The soothing qualities of the tea were thought to bring about 'youthful mental alertness.'"

(b) Saw Palmetto Berry: "Native Indians believed that a tea made from the berry 'soothed and quieted the mind.'"

(c) Cascara Sagrada: "Native North American Indians ... held this bark in high esteem, pronouncing it sacred and passing the title 'The Great Herb' down through generations."

(d) Angelica Root: "... regarded as a holy plant, and was widely known as 'The Root Of The Gods' ... the Laplanders chewed the root regularly," and believed that "Angelica 'strengthens life.'"

(e) Thyme: "It was one of the three or four herbs upon which Mary and the Child bedded in Bethlehem. ... flourished as a symbol of strength, activity and bravery during the European age of chivalry."

(f) Passion Flower: " ... cultivated by the Indians of Virginia who believed it to 'quiet and soothe' the body and assure peaceful rest."

(g) Gentian Root: "... popular as a mid-day tea ... [and] used by the early Pennsylvanian Germans as a soothing beverage."

(h) Licorice Root: "Known to the ancient Greeks ... has gained a reputation for strengthening the body in times of stress."

(i) Horehound Root: "... this herb is one of the five plants which the Jews took for the Feast of the Passover. ... praised for its usefulness in soothing sore throat. ..."

(j) Senega Root: "... the Senega Indians valued this root highly."

(k) Celery Seed: "Popular for general fitness ... found to be gently calming."

(l) Sarsaparilla Root: "Spanish Conquerors recorded its legendary benefits of 'inner strength.'"

(m) Alfalfa: "Ancients revered Alfalfa as the 'King of Plants.'"

(n) Dandelion Root: "North American Indians called it 'The Strong Root.'"

This all sounds like New Age medicine -- Herbalism and/or Naturopathy. (Must reading for anyone desiring a fuller understanding of the New Age medical practices and products infiltrating the church today would be Can You Trust Your Doctor?: The Complete Guide to New Age Medicine and Its Threat to Your Family, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Brentwood, TN, 1991, 446 pages; see specifically pp. 250-261 for the dangers (both medical and spiritual) of herbalism and herbal medicine. (See BDM's book review for cautions in reading Can You Trust Your Doctor?)

-  In February 1992, a "friend of Km" sent us a listing of Km's alleged medical benefits (for both disease prevention and cure) for each of the same 14 flowers and herbs listed above. (Since Matol's name was not on the literature, we have no way of knowing if this is official Matol dogma. If it is Km's literature, Matol could be in for some serious trouble with the FDA -- since Km is regulated as a food, not as a drug, it would be illegal for Matol to make such specific health claims.) The introduction to this listing also states that the information was "taken from several reference books dealing with Traditional Herbology, i.e. The Herb Bible and Back to Eden"! (Again, see pp. 250-261 of Can You Trust Your Doctor?)

-  In the "Eater's Digest" section of the May 1991 CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) Nutrition Action Healthletter, a dentist wrote with a question concerning the health claims made in the Km literature that made the product appear to him to be "just another 'Herbalife'." Healthletter's response was critical of Km, suggesting that any health benefits derived from the product were likely due to the placebo effect. It should be stressed that Km has never scientifically proved any of its claims for the product (e.g., in a "double-blind" test against a placebo).

-  A new product line, Pathway Weight Management products, was introduced by Matol in early 1991. The Pathway product information brochure is equally non-Christian in its language. Matol gives us a heavy dose of psychological/New Age sounding concepts such as:

(a) the "Factors of Well-Being" triangle ("health, appearance, self-image");

(b) selfism language (e.g., "self-esteem is a key to all successes in life"; "positive self-image"; and "Having good self-esteem is a virtue. You must think well of yourself. Individuals with a low self-image are sick more often, become depressed and age more rapidly"); and

(c) New Age lingo ("journey to your ideal self"; "increase your inner powers"; "creating one healthy, unified whole").

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 2/92