Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon and former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development, is known for many accomplishments, but brain supplements aren’t one of them.
Snopes readers sent us an unusual claim that said Carson had won a Nobel Prize for his brain supplements that are supposedly good for enhancing memory. One reader asked us, “Did Ben Carson win a Nobel Prize? Has his medical license been suspended in all 50 states?” Another said “Ben Carson had won a Nobel Prize for some “brain-boosting” pill.”
But none of these claims are true.
Ben Carson has never been the recipient of a Nobel Prize. The full list of recipients from 1901 to 2021 can be found on the official Nobel website, but his name is not among them.
We found no evidence that Carson created a brain supplement that increases memory. Carson did generate controversy over the years for what appeared to be him promoting a nutritional supplements company called Mannatech. From 2004 until 2013, he made four speeches in front of Mannatech executives, stating in one speech that he beat prostate cancer through surgery while taking their supplements. His images and interviews were used on the company’s promotional materials, even though Carson told CNN that he had never endorsed the products, and didn’t authorize the use of his image.
At a GOP debate in 2015 he said: “I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda. And this is what happens in our society – total propaganda. I did a couple speeches for them. I did speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes. I think it’s a good product.”
He also said that he took the products personally for years, and he believed the supplements helped his mother, who had Alzheimer’s.
The company has made numerous claims that its products cure a range of diseases including cancer, which scientists have disputed. But there is no evidence that Carson had a direct financial or contractual relationship with Mannatech beyond some speeches he gave, and informally promoting them.
Claims surrounding Carson’s medical license have been circulating for years. We covered this same issue back in 2015, and concluded that the claim originated from a satirical piece. In mid-2013 he retired as a surgeon. Carson started a new gig in 2021 with Galectin Therapeutics, a biotechnology firm, as a “special consultant to assist with development of the Company’s galectin-3 inhibitor, belapectin, as a treatment for NASH cirrhosis and in combination with immunotherapy for the treatment of cancers.”
Given that Carson has never won the Nobel Prize, much less won it for some brain supplements, we rate this claim as “False.”
“All Nobel Prizes.” NobelPrize.Org, https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/lists/all-nobel-prizes. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.
“Ben Carson | Biography & Facts.” Encyclopedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ben-Carson. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.
“Ben Carson’s Claim He Did Not Have ‘an Involvement’ or ‘Formal Relations’ with Mannatech.” Washington Post, 4 Nov. 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/11/04/ben-carsons-claim-he-did-not-have-an-involvement-or-formal-relations-with-mannatech/. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.
“FALSE: Ben Carson Loses Brain Surgeon License After Making Numerous Brainless Comments.” Snopes.Com, 15 Oct. 2015, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/ben-carson-brainless-surgeon/. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.
Griffin, Drew and Scott Bronstein, Curt Devine. “7 Things You Need to Know about Dr. Ben Carson and Mannatech | CNN Politics.” CNN, 10 Nov. 2015, https://www.cnn.com/2015/11/09/politics/ben-carson-mannatech-fact-check/index.html.
“Why Is Ben Carson Plugging a Sketchy Supplements Seller?” CBS News, 29 Oct. 2015, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ben-carson-denies-relationship-still-plugs-product/. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.
“World-Renowned Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, Sr. Joins Galectin Therapeutics as Special Consultant to Accelerate and Enhance Development of Company’s Galectin-3 Inhibitor, Belapectin.” BioSpace, https://www.biospace.com/article/world-renowned-neurosurgeon-dr-ben-carson-sr-joins-galectin-therapeutics-as-special-consultant-to-accelerate-and-enhance-development-of-company-s-galectin-3-inhibitor-belapectin/. Accessed 2 Nov. 2021.