by Mike Rothschild(*)


No matter how many real diseases there are, with real doctors treating them and real researchers developing real cures for them, there will always be medical quackery. It seems that alternative medicine is the latest in this trend, with plenty of trendy “cures” and “cleanses” designed to give users a quick and easy path to total wellness and a perfect chi. The only problem? There᾿s very little science behind these mythical cures. Which alternative therapies are just plain nonsense?


Herbal Womb Detox Pearls


Small bags of an herbal tea-like concoction that ladies can insert into their... womb... to cure a variety of ailments, “flush out toxins” and “tighten the vagina“.



First, the pseudoscientific definition of “toxins“ is nonsense, as is the notion of flushing them out. Your body already has perfectly functioning systems to flush out toxins, and you use them every time you go to the bathroom. Beyond that, inserting herbs or anything into your vagina is extremely dangerous, and you risk toxic shock syndrome by doing so.

Finally, the pearls are really expensive – costing as much as $480 for a two month supply. Save your money, don᾿t fall for the “toxins” sales pitch, and if you want to put tea in your body, drink a cup of it.


Detoxifying Foot Pads


Adhesive pads the wearer puts on the soles of his or her feet that supposedly draw toxins out of the body. The pads turn dark, indicating the toxins that were once in the body. Supposedly, Japanese people have used them for hundreds of years and are all in perfect health.



Putting aside the fact that the alternative medicine definition of “toxins” is bogus, detox footpads turn a darker color for one reason: their active ingredient is powdered wood vinegar. In its normal liquid state, this is dark brown or black, but in its powdered form, it᾿s colorless. Contact with perspiration from your foot liquefies the wood vinegar, and the dark liquid turns the pad dark. This is as basic as science gets.


Bach Flower Remedies


A homeopathic form of aromatherapy based on distilling the essence of certain wild flowers. The goal is to transfer the “spiritual energy” of the flowers into water, which the user drinks in a solution of brandy and mineral water.



A fairly mild and old-timey type of energy therapy, Bach flowers were much more popular in the ᾿30s and ᾿40s. But they still have their devotees today, and can be purchased through a variety of questionable Internet sources, usually for much more than they᾿re actually worth. They were also recommended as a form of healing by Dr. Oz, despite no clinical trials proving them to be any more effective than a placebo.




A popular new treatment in spas and on cruise ships, this is an algae or seaweed infused clay that, when heated to super-hot temperatures, supposedly melts cellulite off, taking awful toxins with it.



Spa treatments and cruise ship stress relievers are great. They relax you, take a mental load off and genuinely feel good. In the case of ionithermie, it᾿s true that there is a slimming effect with it, simply because wrapping any part of the body in hot material for an hour will shrink that part of your body in diameter. And the heat might also temporarily give you smoother skin.

But they don᾿t “melt toxins” because such a thing isn᾿t real. Any possible positive effects wear off after a while, leaving you in need of another good spa day.


Bowel Cleansing


Taking special pills or herbs to help clean out your colon, ridding yourself of toxins, undigested food, and mysterious “mucoid plaque” gumming up your inner workings.



This is a mixture of pseudo-scientific concepts, none of which have any validity. Toxins, at least in the alternative medicine sense, aren᾿t real. While numerous practitioners rail against the ills caused by mucoid plaque, it doesn᾿t actually exist and nobody has ever identified what it is or how it comes to be. And cleansing is a bogus process in the first place.

And yet... if you Google “colon cleanse” you᾿ll see things. Things you can᾿t unsee. They᾿re the supposed benefits of colon cleansing, and they᾿re exactly what you think they are: long, thick, rubbery, snake-like curls of poop, placed on toilet seats and sitting next to rulers.

You see, people who take these pills DO have great big, gigantic bowel movements. And to prove they were caused by the cleanse, they take pictures and boast of their great mucoid plaque purges.

So what are these monster craps, if not toxins? They᾿re caused by the very pills you take for the cleanse. These pills are full of the expanding clay bentonite, which grows in size when exposed to water. This goop mixes with whatever was already in your bowels, and there you go: a huge log of mucoid plaque caused by the very pill you took to get rid of the mucoid plaque. It᾿s a heck of a scam.




Heating glass bowls that you then put on the skin to bruise it, drawing toxins out.



This has become a popular alternative therapy among celebrities and in big cities. Indeed, spend enough time around such treatment places and you᾿re bound to see folks walking around with a line of large, perfect circle bruises on the backs of their legs. Sadly, these people have injured themselves for nothing, because alt medicine toxins aren᾿t real. Cupping has never been studied as a treatment, and the fact that it was supposedly also performed in ancient China and Greece doesn᾿t mean it᾿s a legitimate therapy.

Causing pain to draw bad spirits out of the body didn᾿t work back in the Good Old Days, when barber surgeons had another name for it: bloodletting.


Juice Fasting


Cleaning out your digestive system and losing weight through several days of consuming nothing but either homemade or purchased juices.



Sold in a mind boggling array of brands, flavors, and methods, all superfruit juices and juice fasts come down to the same principle: losing weight and restoring balance to the immune system through ridding the body of the gunk you᾿ve accumulated by eating processed, unhealthy food.

The problem is that you᾿ve already got a perfectly fine way of doing this: going to the bathroom. Your liver and kidneys do everything a juice cleanse supposedly does, but free of charge and (actually) all natural. There᾿s no compelling evidence that juicing cures anyone of anything, and it neither increases your energy level nor your brain function. Just the opposite, in fact. And while it does cause temporary (and sometimes drastic) weight loss, this is because you᾿re not eating anything while you do it. Go back to normal food, even healthy food, and the weight will come back – sometimes more than you lost.

What you᾿ll also lose is money. Juicers spend north of $60 billion a year on juice cleanses and their ancillary products, with individual rounds of cleanses costing hundreds of dollars – much more than you᾿d spend at the grocery store on healthy food.


Salt Caves


Also known as halotherapy, this is the practice of sitting in a room designed to imitate an underground, warm, salt-permeated environment. You relax, breathe deeply, and let the healing powers of the salt fumes enter your body.



Salt caves do work on a certain level. Like many spa and relaxation-oriented alternative therapies, they provide a warm and quiet way to de-stress and get away from the chaos of modern life. This is important and good for you.

However, that᾿s all they do. There᾿s no detoxifying or healing property that comes with sitting in a salt cave, despite a number of Russian studies that say there is. Russia is home to a number of natural salt caves, and it᾿s only right that the creators of this therapy would defend their work in scientific journals. Sadly for the salt caves of Russia, these studies aren᾿t randomized and have never been published in a legitimate, English-language journal. They᾿ve also never been repeated, a vital element of a good scientific study.

In fact, there᾿s some evidence that salt caves might be harmful to those with asthma, as salt can irritate the lungs. Any beneficial effects of salt cave therapy other than relaxation should be taken with... you know.


Oil Pulling


The swishing of some kind of oil, usually olive or coconut, in your mouth to help strengthen gums, clean teeth, cure a huge variety of diseases and, of course, detoxify the body.



While oil pulling had been on the radar of alternative medicine for years, it became a hugely popular fad in 2014, due its promotion by people like Dr. Oz. Supposedly based on a form of dental healing in ancient Indian literature, a few studies have shown it might have a positive effect on overall oral health. But they weren᾿t well blinded or randomized, and were done in concert with a regimen of brushing and flossing.

Oil pulling certainly doesn᾿t have the miraculous curative powers its adherents claim it has. Its proponents claim it can cure everything from AIDS to cancer to autoimmune diseases, but there᾿s not a single bit of evidence that supports this. There᾿s no plausible scientific reason why swirling coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes (or any kind of oil, for any length of time) would treat any disease that᾿s not oral, nor has any such mechanism been found.


Psychic Surgery


The treating of serious injuries or diseases through surgery performed without instruments or cutting – only mental healing. The “surgeon” creates an “incision” with his hands, pushing his fingers through the skin and pulling out the damaged organs.



Psychic surgery has a variety of graphic pictures and testimonials touting its effectiveness and virtue. They are all fake, made in service of supporting what᾿s generally regarded as a conjuring trick. The “surgeon” squirts animal blood on the “patient” and appears to “pull out” animal guts from a bag hidden in their sleeve. The “procedure” never breaks the patient᾿s skin or does anything even remotely medical.

This sham first appeared in South America in the ᾿40s, and became popular in the ᾿70s as everything New Age took off in pop culture. The Federal Trade Commission declared it to be a hoax in 1975, and the American Cancer Society also deemed it a dangerous fraud in the ᾿90s. Numerous magicians and skeptics, including James Randi and Criss Angel, have pulled the curtain back from this sleight-of-hand, demonstrating exactly how it᾿s done.

Nonetheless, psychic surgeons like “Father Joshua” and the Brazilian “healer” John of God have a mainstream following, making appearances alongside Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz. This is dangerous pseudoscience that has no plausible way of healing anyone, and should be avoided by anyone in need of actual surgery.




Based on the science of “essential oils”, this is a treatment that involves smelling the essence of various plants, flowers, and compounds – resulting in healing.



Like oil pulling, aromatherapy might have some benefit, but only through the relaxation that comes with it. There᾿s simply no scientific evidence that proves sniffing the chemical properties of a plant, distilled down to an oil form of its essence, has any healing property or therapeutic effect.

Essential oils smell good, and feel good when rubbed onto your body. Those are legitimate reasons to use and enjoy them in small amounts. But all of the many, many stories of maladies or illnesses being cured through their application are just that – anecdotes. They have no scientific validity. And while aromatherapy has been around since the 1920s, it only became popular in the US during the late ᾿70s New Age craze. Most essential oils are wildly overpriced and sold through quasi-legal multi-level marketing schemes.


Immune System Boosting


The firing up of your immune system through various “boosts.” These can be juices, powders, superfoods, or supplements. By boosting your immune system, you better enable yourself to fight off illnesses, promote overall health, and remove toxins easier.



Immune system boosting sounds like one of those things everyone should be doing, to compensate for our naturally toxic environment and unhealthy lifestyles. The problem is twofold: not only does your immune system not need boosting, a “boosted” immune system is what happens when you get sick. You have an immune response to a pathogen that your body has chosen to eliminate.

A permanently boosted immune system is the hallmark not of a healthy body, but of an autoimmune disease. Illnesses like MS and lupus feature a patient with an immune system that has gone haywire, attacking another part of the body as if it were a foreign invader. You don᾿t want this. Anything that claims to boost your immune system is most likely doing nothing except boosting its parent company᾿s profit margins. Keep your immune system healthy through good eating, exercise, and getting enough sleep.


Natural Hygiene


A lifestyle that eschews the hallmarks of modern life, such as medicine, cooked food, and medical science, in favor of raw food, fasting, and allowing the body to heal itself.



The human body is a truly miraculous machine, capable of curing itself of numerous illnesses, healing superficial wounds, and surviving on only small amounts of water and food for short periods of time.

But sometimes the machine needs a little outside healing, and modern medicine has done an equally miraculous job of doing things the body can᾿t do. Surgery, medication, and immunization have saved countless lives. And while none of them are perfect, all of them are preferable to doing nothing and letting the body take care of things – because the body can᾿t take care of everything.

Likewise, its emphasis on raw food, fasting, and an unscientific process of “food combining” has no medical validity, and can actually be quite dangerous when done incorrectly or without the supervision of a licensed nutritionist.

Natural hygiene is a form of healing that no reputable doctor would ever recommend to anyone. And so a branch of naturopathy has sprung up to lend authority to the process and enable its advocates to live the lifestyle they choose.


Ionized Bracelets


Specially made bracelets that the wearer puts on their wrist to balance their chi, relieve chronic pain, and realign the body᾿s energy field.



Beware of any product that claims to affect elements of health that don᾿t actually exist. Despite being a popular concept in alternative medicine, “chi” has never been proven to be real, nor do bodies have a New Age energy field that can be adjusted or aligned.

In the case of ionized bracelets, these have been proven time and time again to be fraudulent. The FTC has cracked down hard on the claims of bracelet marketers, and the only randomized, controlled trial on them found no difference in what an ionized and non-ionized bracelet do. “Ionized” is a classic science-sounding word that has no application in the field of medicine.




A form of IV therapy involving a slow drip of ethylenediamine tetra-acetic acid to cure lead poisoning. It᾿s recently been embraced by alternative medicine proponents as a cure for a wide range of illnesses.



Chelation is the gold standard of care for lead or heavy metal poisoning. And “heavy metal poisoning” is the hallmark of many of the vague mysterious illnesses that alt med users claim they suffer from.

These two things do not go well together. Chelation is extremely dangerous when performed by someone untrained in its usage, and has no place in the treatment of anything other than lead poisoning. It᾿s become especially popular as an alternative treatment for heart diseases, despite not a single clinical trial that confirms its efficacy.

Sadly, many families with autistic children have turned to it as a cure for that condition, despite absolutely no evidence of any positive effect, and the side effects it can cause in less developed immune systems. At least one child has died, and possibly many more, due to this quackery.


Ear Candling


An ancient art of healing that involves putting a hot candle near one᾿s ear in order to melt earwax and draw toxins out of the body.



This is another supposedly “classic” healing technique that may not be classic, and is certainly not a healing technique. Putting a hot candle near your ear is a great way to injure yourself, and not a way to treat any illness or get earwax out of your ear.

No scientific studies have confirmed the efficacy of ear candling, the candles themselves are quite expensive, and the FDA has cracked down on ear candling practitioners and candle makers as purveyors of a dangerous, junk science. So if you᾿re dealing with compacted ear wax or trouble hearing, go see a doctor and leave the candles on your birthday cake.



(*) Mike Rothschild is a writer and editor based in Pasadena. He writes about scams, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and pop culture fads.



(Source: www.ranker.com/list/alternative-medicine-myths/mike-rothschild)

(URL: http://www.imglyfadas.gr/portal/gr/details.asp?cdPro={16D6E277-A94B-4E31-821F-288E74AA18B7})