The Top 5 Most Bogus Medical Practices

When it comes to matters of health and wellness, people are willing to try just about anything to feel better. Whether someone suffers from shingles or depression, cancer or bunions, they are ready to heed the call of anyone who says they have an answer. Unfortunately, some asshats view those confronting affliction as easy marks for profit thanks to unscrupulous quackery. Just like the 19th-century huckster sold cure-all snake oils from the back of a wagon, the 21st-century charlatan hawks cure-all stem-cell therapy from a sleek website. But it’s still snake oil, folks.

5 Arthritis “Cures”

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When it comes to arthritis “cures” and treatments, the quacks are utterly shameless: You’ll find everything from shark cartilage pills to copper/crystal bracelets to ephedrine-related drugs on the market. And all most of them will do is make you digest some shark, look kind of dumb, or make your heart beat unevenly. Diet and exercise, folks, and FDA-approved drugs for pain.

4 Reflexology

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Reflexology may feel great, but don’t count on it to do anything else. The principle behind this practice is that various parts of the body are connected in such a way that pressure applied to one region can have positive effects on another. Usually this takes the form of repetitive tapping or rubbing on areas of the feet and hands, with the intention of having an analgesic effect on other regions, even including vitals like your heart and brain. Most studies conclude, however, that the only part of the body made to feel better is the exact part being touched, and the benefits there are ephemeral art best.

3 Stem cells treat Diseases

The use of stem cells to treat diseases, traumas, and even genetic conditions may be the greatest medical breakthrough of our time. The flip side of that coin, though, is marked by a bunch of quacks and crooks claiming they can simply inject you full of stem cells to cure just about anything. Stem cell therapy is a wildly complex, involved process whereby “neutral” cells (stem cells) are “programmed” to take the form of other standard cells in the body – anything from liver cells to bone cells – and so on. They can supplement or replace damaged or missing cells, ameliorating health concerns. There are certain shysters out there, however, who skip the whole “careful, ethical” process of creating the right type of cell and instead just start injecting people with serums they claim are full of stem cells that will magically find areas of affliction and fix ‘em on up.

2 Weight Loss Solutions

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We all know there’s an obesity epidemic in America. And it’s a goldmine for those willing to perpetrate fraud – and potentially put people’s health at risk – by selling easy solutions to weight loss, namely pills that do the work for you. Most of these pills (which are never legitimate prescription drugs) have names like Lipothin or Metabo or AdrenoDeath, and mostly all they do is give you an irregular heartbeat and maybe some GI troubles.

1 Homeopathy

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Homeopathic “medicine” may be one of the greatest frauds ever unleashed on modern society. This practice basically consists of taking substances that are thought to cause sickness in healthy people and then giving them to sick folks, as those already afflicted will experience the reverse effect of the healthy – namely, getting better. And said substances are believed to only get more potent and effective when diluted again and again in water. Sound confusing? Sound like total BS? Good, it should.

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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