Modern medicine has come a long way since the days of bloodletting and leeching and continues to make incredible advancements every day. Despite the incredible array of effective treatments available to us, “quack cures” that aren’t supported by the scientific method are still commonly used. Although some may have a placebo effect, experts say these folk treatments do more harm than good, as they can prevent people from seeking effective treatment to combat their very real illnesses.
Here are 17 quack cures, therapies and practices to watch out for:
The sun gives us light and warmth and makes life on earth possible, so it’s no wonder the ancients believed it also had healing properties. Turns out that despite knowing what we know now — namely that the sun is a sizzling scare ball that shouldn’t be looked at or basked in for too long — the ancient art of sun-gazing is experiencing a modern revival.
That’s right; people stare into the sun and claim that it gives them enough nutrients so that they no longer have to ingest food. Maybe it’s easier to diet when you can’t see the fridge?
While research has found that colors can affect our moods and behavior, can they really heal us from the inside out?
Colorpuncture is a form of alternative medicine that involves using different colors of light to stimulate acupuncture points. Alternative medicine watchdog group Quackwatch lists this emerging therapy as a “questionable treatment,” but Olivia Newton John’s compelling infomercial testimonial (which she totally didn’t do just the for money) might sway you to give it a try.
In spite of what Pyramid-expert and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson might think, being gay is not a choice and there’s plenty of science and personal testimony to support it. Sadly, gay conversion therapy, which is said to “cure” homosexuality, is still rampant in America and beyond. The American Psychological Association has called conversion therapy “harmful” and laws banning such treatments have even been rolled out in some states.
There is no scientific evidence that prayer or holy touch can heal wounds or cure diseases, yet the practice of faith healing is still quite common in the United States. Famed faith healer Peter Popoff was exposed as a fraud in 1986 when it was discovered that he was being fed information via a radio receiver, yet today his ministry continues to “heal” thousands of eager believers.
Much like faith healing, reiki is a practice that involves using a healing touch to direct “universal life force energy” to lessen symptoms, cure pain, detoxify the body and stimulate the immune system. There is no scientific evidence to support this practice, yet reiki is sometimes prescribed by “top” hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic to patients suffering from serious diseases like Parkinson’s and cancer.
Homeopathy is a natural form of medicine that relies on “treating like with like.” The theory is that symptoms can be treated with micro doses of natural substances that, in a healthy person, would produce those same symptoms. For example, sleep deprivation could be cured by taking a diluted dose of coffee beans.
Scientific studies on homeopathy cures show they’re are about as effective as taking a sugar pill.
Angel therapy is a new age treatment that claims to harness the power of angels to promote wellness. Its founder, “Doctor” Doreen Virtue, maintains that by listening to the angels around you, you can “harmonize every aspect of your life,” including your health. Of course, the treatment is most effective when you fork over your cash for one of her many books or angel oracle card decks.
Another popular new age movement is crystal healing therapy, which relies on the curative powers of rocks and minerals to ease symptoms and protect against illness. Crystal healers place rocks on certain parts of the body to usher in positive, healing energy and banish negative illness-inducing energy.
Maladies have never been found to be linked to or caused by any sort of bodily “energy flow,” therefore medical professionals have dismissed crystal healing as a pseudoscience. You might as well just pull a rock from your garden and wave that over your head.
You may have noticed that many athletes at the recent Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including U.S. champion swimmer Michael Phelps, appear to have dark circular bruises on their backs and shoulders; the circles are a side effect from an ancient Chinese healing method known as cupping. A form of acupuncture, cupping involves placing heated glasses on the skin, creating suction which is said to promote blood flow.
While many athletes swear by the method, experts dismiss cupping as nothing more than “hocus pocus.”
Dating back to Ancient Egyptian times, man has long been obsessed with “cleansing” the colon, believing that inside it lurks nasty toxins and parasites that cause everything from obesity to depression. But experts say that the colon, which is designed to expel waste from the body naturally, doesn’t require cleaning. In fact, colon irrigation can cause damage, dehydration and ahem… perforations. Yeah, no thanks.
Yet another obsession with cleaning out holes that are better left alone, ear candling is the practice of lighting a candle and sticking it in your ear to draw earwax and toxins out of the body. Aside from the fact that the earwax is your body’s natural defense against dirt and infections, ear candling has also been known to cause burns to the ears and face, obstructions to the ear canal and even damage to the ear drum.
It does sound a little more viable than crystal healing, since we know that magnetic fields are in fact a thing, but there’s no evidence to support the theory that magnets can be used to ease pain. However, that doesn’t stop $1 billion worth of magnet jewelry, braces, mattresses and clothing from being sold globally each year.
Scientists do concede that magnets in theory could affect the body due to the iron levels in our blood; however, therapeutic magnets are generally not strong enough to be effective.
It turns out there’s a “natural” version of pretty much everything these days. Case in point: if you have poor vision but glasses are too high tech for you, give the Bates Method a try.
Invented by Dr. William Horatio Bates over a century ago, the Bates Method claims that through simple eye exercises, poor vision can be reversed and glasses rendered unnecessary. Even though Bates was shunned by the medical profession and there’s no evidence to support his theory, his method is still commonly practiced today.
The ancient Ayurvedic treatment known as oil pulling has had a modern resurgence lately, thanks to the growing popularity of coconut oil as a health product. People believe that swishing oil around in their mouths for up to 20 minutes will “pull” toxins out of the body through the mouth, supposedly curing all sorts of ailments, from dental problems to diabetes.
Not only does oil pulling not work, it’s highly unpleasant. Believe us; we’ve tried it.
Weight loss supplements
Many of us want to lose weight and look our best, but according to the experts, the only real way to do it is through diet and exercise. In spite of this, there are thousands of weight loss teas, pills and potions on the market that claim to boost metabolism and help you shed weight more quickly, but this simply isn’t the case.
Famed quack Dr. Oz has built his career on weight loss supplements and peddles many of these products on his show, but even he was forced to admit in a senate hearing that the products he endorses “don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”
Another detoxifying fad that widely being practiced is ionic cleansing. Patients stand in a salt water foot bath for 30 minutes while a low voltage current is applied to the water, supposedly draws toxins out via the feet and turning the water a revolting shade of orangey brown.
Although the water does in fact change color, scientists say it’s not from toxins, but rather a chemical reaction between the electricity and the salt water.
As disgusting as it sounds, some people believe that drinking their own urine as well as using it to massage and lubricate body parts can heal diseases and ward off cancer. This folk practice has no basis in actual medicine, but that’s not stopping people from drinking, bathing in and irrigating their eyes with their own pee. Gross!