Snake Oil version 2

We’ve updated SnakeOil, our interactive “balloon race” visualization of the scientific evidence for over 100 nutritional supplements.

This Flash app coded by the awesome Andy Perkins is generated from the data in this spreadsheet: – lovingly curated by researcher Miriam Quick.

What Have We Done?

We’ve revised the data from top to bottom. That included processing over 300 emails from visitors who offered evidence, fresh studies and often angry criticism of our ratings. People invested in Fish Oil & Omega 3? Chill out! (Maybe try smoking some of that fish oil?)

We’ve also factored in a bunch of new studies from the last year. Revised our categories. And added a series of new supplements including: chromium, rhodiola rosea L., grape seed extract, coconut oil and melatonin.

We also worked with the Cochrane Institute to help improve our library searches and study sources.

See exactly what’s changed in our change log.
(Note: the still image version is still using old data as I haven’t had time to update it yet.)

SnakeOil Analytics

We’ve had analytics running on the app over the last 6 months. That’s allowed us to track the exact way people use the viz and which supps they explore.

• visitors: 750,000
• visitors who interacted: 220,000 (30%)
• most popular filter (by a long way): sex (followed by cancer, anti-viral and mental health)
• most popular supplements (above the worth-it-line): green tea, fish oil, vitamin D, St John’s wort, probiotics
• most popular supplements (below the worth-it-line): devil’s claw, L-lysine, L-carnitine, lutein, CoQ10, goji (hmmm, lot of body-building supps there)

Help Us Improve This

As ever, if you see a good, solid randomized-controlled trial or meta-study, or an error in our data – or just want to rag us for rating Fish Oil so low, do get in touch or comment below!