At a memorial gathering in Connecticut for Ron Schmid last week at his farm home in Watertown, there were lots of fond remembrances by his friends, relatives, and former patients.

But there was also lots of anger about the Green Pasture fermented cod liver oil that was so much a part of his naturopath practice for many years, until he swore it off five years ago after he was diagnosed with heart failure. The anger came from his wife, Elly, who blames it for sickening her husband, and being a key factor in taking him at age 71, years before he should have died. Several former patients expressed anger as well—not only that Ron may well have died before his time, but that they can’t be sure what unpleasant surprises may lurk within their bodies based on years of taking the fermented cod liver oil at Schmid’s recommendation.

And now the concern has spread beyond the Schmid circle based on news that the dental expert, Rami Nagel, died of cancer July 28. Nagel was a huge proponent of FCLO in two of his books. His well known book, Cure Tooth Decay, recommended as part of a program to fight tooth decay varying dosages of the Green Pasture product. Another book, Healing Our Children, recommended that pregnant women take the product for vitamins A and D. In an online promotion for the book, he stated: “The best way to have cod liver oil is to mix it with a high quality butter oil, such as the one recommended in Healing Our Children from the company Green Pasture. Taken together, these two oils have a synergistic effect, with each one making the other even more effective.”

I need to point out that there is no immediate evidence that Nagel’s cancer was directly caused by fermented cod liver oil. Yet recriminations have begun following on the Schmid and Nagel deaths. One individual on Facebook several times questioned a popular foodie blogger about why she didn’t make more of the Schmid death: “Why don’t you share with your audience how Ron Schmid says the FCLO damaged his heart?”

Another mom who took FCLO during her pregnancy told me privately she worries about possible problems down the road. She says she took it based on Nagel’s recommendation, and was shocked to learn of his recent death.

Nagel sharply disagreed with me and others expressing concerns about the Green Pasture fermented cod liver two years ago when the issue exploded in various online media, including this blog, after Kaayla Daniel came out with her report claiming the product is rancid rather than fermented. Nagel didn’t want to go public with our disagreement, so we corresponded at some length via email. Now that he has died, I am comfortable sharing his views. Here is one segment, in which he stated:

“As many people say there are complaints, there are many more testimonials of amazing healing results. From his (Dave Wetzel of Green Pasture’s) point of view the aging process is the only way to make a non-heated, minimally processed product. So he is trying to provide that to people. And he has done a great service in my opinion because I personally would not regularly consume the store bought cod liver oil.”

When I responded that people were describing a variety of health problems, ranging from my own difficulty with burning while taking the FCLO to Schmid’s heart problems, Nagel said:

“Sometimes the oil burns when closely consumed with other fermented foods, or goes down the wrong way. I have had it happen before. But with the same bottle of oil where the burning happened, later there was no problem. I heard Anore Jones who lived with the Eskimo’s for 20+ years talk about how inland Eskimo’s had a fermented oil that burned sometimes and got stronger with age. It was considered medicinal. In the fish oil article I sent, it says 8% of people experience stomach upset, and 3% flu like symptoms, and that is just form fish oil.

“I believe Green Pasture’s cod liver oil is strong, that it can be over done, that it should be taken with butter, and that some people are too sensitive to it and cannot metabolize it well. Very much like say, a stinky cheese. It does not mean the product is flawed, it just means that it is not the best thing for everyone. And yes overdosing could cause harm to people who have autoimmune diseases like Dr. Ron. Same could be said for liver or other strong foods.”

Nagel’s younger brother, Ori, mourned Rami Nagel on his Facebook page: “He lived life to the fullest. He followed his heart across the country and across the world. Whatever he studied, he mastered. He lifted himself up from poverty and became the most successful entrepreneur among us siblings through his sheer intellect and hard work. He would’ve accomplished still greater things if he had more time.”