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  • One of These Health Supplement Scams Can Turn You Blue – Literally

Selling garbage disguised as medicine is a time-honored practice. And even though we live in a society that prides itself on rationality, it seems like every week there’s a new supplement, home remedy, or old wives cures to our health problems. Some of these are more amusing wastes of time than anything, some are a waste of time and money, and a select few can be aggressively bad for your health and well being.

The Harmless Myths – Onions and Talcum Powder

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sometimes the most innocuous health scams are really just holdovers from old wives tales, superstition, with a little dash of hedge magic to taste. We encourage you to think for yourself before attempting these home remedies, and we cannot be held responsible for your dissatisfaction, what your friends think of you, or how you smell if you attempt the following:

  • Wearing onion slices in your shoes supposedly cure bad circulation, bad breath, and foot odor. We doubt masking one bad smell for another would really count as a “cure”
  • Holding a penny over a bee sting is said to ease the swelling. Not true, but perhaps one of the cheapest “cures” out there. It doesn’t even cost a cent!
  • Pouring talcum powder or flour over a minor burn helps it heal, or it would if there was an evidence. Stick to cold packs, and leave your flour in the pantry.
  • Leaving a bowl of onions in your room prevents the flu. What is it with onions and health? Eat your veggies, don’t decorate with them.

The Expensive Myths – They Put a Premium On Health

medicationThese are the lion’s share of medical quackery out there: selling you something purported to cure what ails you, but either does very little or nothing. A lot of these scams play on something approaching scientific evidence, but often fall short or simplify how their product really works. Some of the most common include:

  • We need vitamins for our good health, but multivitamin supplements don’t really do that for us. Your body absorbs vitamins in pill form much less efficiently than from food, leaving those pills worth about their weight and not much more.
  • The HCG Diet and other popular diet supplements offer “natural” alternatives to a good diet and exercise. In reality, many of these are about as effective as sugar pills, and require you crash diet in such a way that leave you weak and sluggish all day.
  • Superfruits and their juices, such as acai juice, pomegranate, and so on claim to aid in all sorts of health problems. But Acai is nutritionally inferior to blueberries, and the title of “Superfruit” is a term made up by the companies that make them.

The Dangerous Myths – Can Misdirect You Away From Health Care or Even Hurt You

A select few health myths can be outright dangerous to your health, either by offering alternative (read: worse) options for health care, or by the cure being more dangerous than the disease it’s actually treating. Some are more obvious, but the most persistent and dangerous scams include:

  • Colloidal silver is most memorable for coming under fire on Dragons’ Den a few years back. This liquid is toxic over a long period of time, isn’t shown to treat anything, and turns you blue.
  • Ephedra and other diet pills often contain amphetamines or ephedrine, which can cause dizziness, high blood pressure or stroke. A small price to pay for drug-induced weight-loss? Not a chance.
  • Miracle cancer cures like cleansing supplements or Nu-Gen drinks. Not because they directly harm you, but because people who use them often neglect actual, proven treatments for their condition.

Absolutely nothing is more important than your own good health. If you’re willing to spend a few minutes and a few bucks pursuing an oddball tip you’ve heard about your health (and some of them can be true), by all means. But when real money is involved, get all the facts before you try to self-medicate with dangerous or unreliable remedies.

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