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Health Frauds People Still Believe In

Just as far fetched as snake oil, health frauds people still believe in do little for consumers and a lot for companies.

By Rowan MarleyPublished 7 years ago 4 min read

Back in the 19th century, one of the fastest ways people made a quick buck was through selling quack cures for everything. One of the most common fraudulent panaceas that would be hawked was snake oil. Nowadays, we know that snake oil does absolutely nothing for one's health. But, back in the day, gullible people would snap up bottle after bottle.

It was only after the invention of the FDA that snake oil salesmen got called out on their bull. Even so, health frauds happen all the time in the supplement industry. Here are some of the most commonly believed ones you may have heard of, or even bought into.

Ionized Bracelets

Ionized bracelets, also known as magnetic bracelets or copper bracelets, supposedly work by allowing magnetic waves to purify blood...or something. Makers of these bracelets and jewelry claim that they can alleviate arthritis, improve athletic performance, and even purify blood.

The problem with this is that magnets can't do this. They never have, they never will. Even PowerBalance admitted that their copper ionized bracelets are scams.

It's worth pointing out that this snake oil product seems to go in and out of fashion. So, if you bought one of these, then by all means, don't feel bad. You can probably sell it in 10 years or so.

Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver does actually have legitimate uses in medicine. It's been used by hospitals as a disinfectant and wound bind, and it technically does work - albeit, not as well as other things. However, snake oil salesmen don't really just use it as something to help sterilize equipment like hospitals do.

No, they tell people to use it as a dietary supplement, a snortable medicine to improve immune systems, and more. The most common ways that people get this stuff is via an MLM company - already a bad indicator.

For the most part, drinking or snorting colloidal silver is harmless...unless you get argyria, that is. Argyria is a medical condition caused by excess silver, and it turns your skin bright blue. Once you have this condition, that's it. You're blue for the rest of your life - literally.

Because of all the blue people that were popping up due to colloidal silver, the FDA banned it.

Detoxing Stuff

Perhaps one of the most prevalent quack cures out there are detoxing programs, cleanses, and products. Though it is true that our body picks up toxins on a regular basis, the fact is that we already have a system in place that efficiently and naturally detoxes our bodies: our livers, kidneys, and metabolism.

For the most part, your body naturally takes care of the toxic buildup - as long as you supply it with vitamins found in a basic healthy diet. Time takes care of the rest, which is why you often see people locked up for a specific number of days during drug detoxes.

But, as HuffPost was very adroit in saying, snake oil detoxes aren't really necessary:

"So if you eat foods that support your liver and kidneys, or avoid foods that stress your liver and kidneys, you’re already detoxing every day — and unless you’ve gone through something like a serious bout of alcoholism or heavy metal toxicity, you don’t really need any fancy herbal blends or colonic cleanses." - Ben Greenfield

Comfrey Root

This new age cure has become a classic snake oil sale for women who are looking to alleviate menstrual cramps, breathing difficulties, and even cancer. It sounds great, it's all natural...

Oh, and the plant in question has a bunch of phytochemicals that actually have been linked to cancer diagnoses and worsening cancer. Additionally, excess use of comfrey also has the nasty side effect of serious liver damage. It's been labeled "the supplement people can't pay doctors to take" as a result.

Weight Loss Shoes

Remember when Skechers came up with those sneakers that purportedly helped you lose weight by their design? That was an old shill, and shoes can't help you lose weight without actually being weighted.

The fact is that weight loss shoes, including Fitflops and Shape-Ups, can't do anything spectacular to help you lose weight by design alone. The only thing they can really do is protect your feet while you walk - and walking burns calories.

Studies performed on these shoes showed no difference between caloric output from them and regular sneakers. As a result, Skechers lost a major lawsuit. Even so, people still buy them.


100 years ago, polio, smallpox, and whooping cough claimed the lives of millions of people around the world. They would have done anything to avoid getting these diseases. Thanks to the inventions of vaccines, these diseases are mostly just a note in history.

However, thanks to a botched study that was later supported by quacks, charlatans have begun to advocate against vaccines in favor of "natural health." This has caused herd immunity to die out in many parts of Canada and the United States - and in turn, brought back many of the diseases we eradicated.

Scarily, anti-vaxxers don't seem to notice the uptick in sickness correlating with the trend, and doctors are actually bowing to their whims. Many court battles are starting to take this up as a public health issue as a result of the problems it's started.

Vibration Machines

Remember seeing those clips from the 50s that show women standing on a vibrating platform as machines jiggle them around? Yes, that was considered to be an exercise machine back in the good ol' days. You'd think that people would realize that being wobbled around doesn't do much for them, right?

But then again, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner did it, so apparently it's in vogue again. We never really learn, do we?

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About the Creator

Rowan Marley

Rowan Marley is a 20-year-old sports enthusiast who hails from Brooklyn. When he's not hitting up a local Zumba class, he's drinking organic smoothies. That's just how he rolls.

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