Disclaimer: When starting a new health supplement or diet you need to consult with your doctor first to ensure that any changes will benefit your health instead of making it worse.
As someone who is both chronically ill and overweight, I am a perfect target for the “miracle cure” products that circle the internet. If you’re unsure as to what I’m referring to, certain products on the internet claim to be the “miracle cure” that can cure “any and all” illness or disability. Of course, this isn’t true.
If It Sounds Too Good
I’ve learned over the years that if a treatment sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
Not only do these products target and take advantage of chronically ill and/or disabled people, but they can also be extremely dangerous. It’s not just because of the possibly unregulated ingredients though. Some of these “treatments” even recommend stopping all other medications while using the product, which is ridiculous!
I’m not going to mention specific product names or brands in this article, as I don’t want to cause any legal issues. However, there are plenty of online resources that can be consulted regarding these types of products. I find that the five most commonly targeted conditions by these scams that I’ve seen are Cancer, Obesity, Fibromyalgia, ADHD, and Autism. However, there is no condition that the scam supplements will not claim to cure. The rise of internet usage in our society has made it super easy for the creators of these scam products to widely sell their product, but I’m hoping we can use the internet to raise awareness about this issue and turn things around.
Like many others, I have seen these products advertised all over the internet. Luckily, my mother taught me at a young age to do my research before buying any of these “miracle cures”. Like many of us, my experiences with the advertisement of these products was purely online… until earlier this year. I’ll set the scene: One afternoon I was walking through the main street of my town, minding my own business, heading towards my dentist appointment. Out of nowhere, a woman runs out of a little nutrition store and asks me if I’d be interested in learning more about her products. Me, finding it hard to say no and having time to waste before my appointment, agreed and headed into the store.
It wasn’t until later that I realised how weird it was that she ran out of her store upon seeing me. She wasn’t standing outside her store handing out flyers, and I didn’t see her approach anyone else. Later I realised that she must have seen me as an easy target because I’m overweight and was using my walking cane. As I entered the store, I instantly regretted my decision. Every single one of the products in that store was a “health” product from a single company that is well known on the internet for promising benefits for their products that they don’t deliver. I continued to talk to this woman as if I was interested in buying the products. She went on and on about how her products have improved the lives of people with many medical conditions.
I then asked if I needed to consult my doctor before starting to use these products. She told me that no, I didn’t need to consult a doctor because it was all-natural, and then she made a snarky comment that the fast-food I eat would react far worse with my medication than any product she sells. The funny thing is, despite being overweight, I only eat fast food not even once a week. I couldn’t believe she’d say something like that to someone she had never met before, and I knew her comment about it being all-natural and therefore not possibly interacting with medication was blatantly untrue. I then escaped the store, and the awkward situation, by telling her that I needed to leave to attend my appointment and that I would consult my finances and get back to her. After my appointment, I went home and did my research, and it turns out this company’s products are linked to liver failure. I definitely dodged a bullet.
The Rising Awareness Concerning These Products
Some of these products are so dangerous that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has released warnings about them. The FDA is discussing tightening rules regarding these products, however, the companies behind said products are adept at finding loopholes in the law. D] Phil even did an episode regarding a “miracle” cabbage and salt-based drink that the creator claimed cured all illnesses – she evened claimed it could grow back missing limbs and organs and fix chromosome disorders. However, this drink had such a high salt content that prolonged use would cause sodium poisoning, which can be deadly.
Thanks to coverage from platforms like these and articles all over the internet, awareness regarding these dangerous products are arising. Still, however, some people are falling victim to these schemes, and I’m hoping that the continued spread of information through the internet will eventually turn the tables against these scam products.
Some Supplements & Diets Can Be Helpful
Depending on your chronic illness and current treatments, supplements can be helpful for aiding the treatment of your symptoms. Magnesium, for example, is widely known to help lessen muscle pain and spasms. It was first suggested to me by my doctor, and I’ve found it to be very helpful in addition to my other medications. Other popular supplements include turmeric and fish oil, which each have a long list of ways they may be able to aid your health.
Certain diets can also be helpful. I have encountered many people with obesity, chronic pain, and/or fatigue who swear by the keto diet as a way to lose weight and aid the treatment of their symptoms, though I have not yet tried it myself. These treatments (when used under the guidance of a medical professional) can be genuinely helpful. What isn’t genuinely helpful, however, is when people claim that their unreliable diets and supplements can cure any and all forms of illness, which is obviously not true.
“Natural” Doesn’t Always Equal Safe
The main angle these companies use to advertise their “miracle cure products” is that their products are “100% natural, 100% safe!” Don’t let this fool you. A product containing all-natural ingredients does not guarantee its safety. After all, cyanide is natural! And so is the cabbage and salt drink I mentioned above, yet the amount of salt in this ‘treatment’ has caused serious medical events in patients that have drunk it, such as stroke.
It’s not just an excess of certain ingredients that can be an issue. There’s also an issue that comes along with these products targeting the chronically ill. Like many people who are chronically ill, I take a lot of medication in an attempt to manage my symptoms. Many medications have specific ingredients that may not be consumed along beside this medication. Some of these ingredients are in other medications. Others are a part of natural growing foods. For example, I can’t consume products that have grapefruit in them because that would negatively interact with the medication I take every day.
How to avoid dangerous “miracle” supplements:
Do your research.
If anyone other than a trusted medical professional recommends a health product or routine/diet to you, do your research. When researching a product, Google the product and look at reviews that are not on a website connected to the product brand (as some brands delete negative reviews). Make sure the brand or website you’re buying from is reliable. You can even check with the FDA to see if the product is approved, or if the FDA has any concerns regarding the product or the brand. Also, in my opinion, “health” products from MLM (multi-level-marketing) companies and websites should be avoided.
Consult Your doctor or a pharmacist
As always, when starting a new health supplement or diet you need to consult with your doctor before to ensure that this will benefit your health instead of making it worse. This is especially important if you have chronic health issues and take medication.
Pharmacists can give you a break down on ingredients in the supplement you are enquiring about, and inform you as to whether they will interact with any of the treatment you are undergoing. Consulting a pharmacist regarding a supplement I was interested in saved me from possibly developing Serotonin Syndrome, which can be deathly. This would have been caused due to an interaction between the supplement and one of my medications.
Only buy from reliable sellers
Once you have the “OK” from your doctor or pharmacist, only buy health supplements from reliable sources. I personally only buy my supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets. Unless I’m visiting a website directly connected to a supermarket or pharmacy, I will not buy supplements online.
While some people may think that what other people decide to sell or buy is no one else’s business, these “miracle” products take advantage of vulnerable people and they are also often extremely dangerous. I can not stress enough how important it is to consult a medical professional before starting a new treatment. People reading this may think I’m being repetitive and redundant, but I can’t say it enough.
Dr Phil, regarding dangerous cabbage-salt drinks: https://www.drphil.com/videos/medical-professional-explains-potential-dangers-of-controversial-health-beverage/
About The Author
Amy Clements is a 20-year-old who has lived with chronic pain, the result of Fibromyalgia, since childhood. In her teens she was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome in her wrist, which was the result of a netball injury. Amy lives in New Zealand and studies Business part-time at University. She enjoys reading novels and writing. She especially enjoys writing about her experience with chronic illness.