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Heart to Heart Talk

Widespread health scams

/ 07:34 AM March 05, 2012

THE SNAKE oil scam of yesteryears took decades to travel from town to town. Obviously, that saved a lot of “potential” victims.

With the advent of the internet age, scams, in general, including fraudulent health products and unfounded “food supplement” claims are disseminated with lightning speed around the globe through the world wide web, reaching massive numbers of people.

The promotion of false information, deceptively cloaked in genuine disguise, using anecdotal “evidences” and endorsement by “experts,” (who by the way paid), and utilizing high tech marketing tools, have proven to be highly successful, thanks to gullible and misinformed, or uninformed, public.


By nature, most of us, if not all, are seeking for the fountain of health, youth, and longevity. We want a fast way of getting healthy, an effortless way of losing weight, an easy way to have fair complexion, smaller waistline, larger breasts, or even larger penis. As I stated in my column last week, scientists are now exploring a substance, Irisin, which, when ingested, would confer the body the benefit of physical exercise (“exercise in a pill”). Everybody wants good health and longevity “right away” without working at it, without sweat and sacrifice. And this is one of the reasons why the fraudulent manufacturers and vendors of these ineffective, useless, and potentially dangerous “food supplements,” pills, juices and creams, herbs, are raking in billions of dollars a year around the world.

As long as there are ignorant and careless people who could be lured to spend their hard earned money on these unnecessary and useless “medicinal” products, there will  always be unscrupulous and money-hungry entrepreneurs waiting and ready to take advantage of them.

The standard advertising gimmick on television, radio, and print media, usually extols to the high heavens the virtues of the “miracle” machine or “miracle” products or herbals (pills, juices, cream, etc) they are promoting, which it claims “can prevent and or cure dozens of diseases, from athletes foot to diabetes, impotence, obesity, thyroid conditions, arthritis, gout, high blood, pressure, heart diseases,  cancer, etc.” They are usually touted to have shot-gun benefits. They are one “drug” claimed to be effective for a host of illnesses, unlike proprietary medicines where one drug is good only for specific disease(s).

Example of the scam out there includes the so-called water ionizer machine, or machine that produces alkaline water, which the vendors claim to be the healthier drinking water. They are also much more expensive than filtered bottled water.

But the medical fact is our body has a wonderful automatic pH (alkalinity/acidity) regulator which always (every second, 24/7) maintains a safe pH by spontaneously balancing and equilibrating the pH when we eat or drink something acidic or alkaline. Our God given physiology makes sure of that, for our body’s protection and our well-being.

So, when we imbibe alkaline water, the body rapidly equilibrates the pH of our blood and just neutralizes the alkaline water we drink. But even if we eat acidic foods, like fruits or vinigar, or medicines, like aspirin, drinking regular filtered water will dilute and neutralize the acidity through our fabulous physiology. There is actually no need to drink alkaline water.

Chelation therapy, breast or penile cream application or pills/concoctions to enlarge them are likewise scam. The fraudulent claims have no scientific basis. Chelation therapy is a legitimate and accepted treatment for metal poisoning, but the claim that it is effective in dissolving hardening of the artery to escape heart attack is false and ludicrous. In the United States, doctors have lost their medical license when caught doing this malpractice.

And then there is the colon-cleansing scam, which charges thousands for a treatment session, usually conducted in a spa center or hotel environment, allegedly to detoxify the body and prevent diseases, including cancer of the colon, among others. Not only is this procedure ineffective for what they are supposed to be good for, it is very dangerous. Loss of consciousness, and even deaths, have been reported following such treatment, from severe diarrhea, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance.


Sun-tanning and use of sauna are likewise unhealthy and have potential grave risk to the body. Sun burns and skin cancers are scary, and the use of sauna could lead to bacterial infections that could be resistant to current antibiotic treatments.

I repeat, anecdotal accounts on the advertising media are not enough. The four or five people happily swearing to have been helped by the “food supplement” or the “miracle” procedure, and cured of deadly diseases, is not adequate statistics, and neither are they scientific. My paternal grandmother smoked and ate pork and used “purico” lard daily and she lived to a ripe old age of 90 plus. That does not prove that smoking and eating hig fat, high cholesterol diet is good for us.

In medical science, we have what we call randomized clinical trial, double-blind studies, that require thousands of subjects, and stringent standard research rules and tools. The scientific investigation is well-controlled and must be corroborated and supported by various independent studies of the same subject or thesis done in other renowned medical centers. The, there is the clinical correlation where the findings are tested on human patients, till overwhelming evidences are found to show the drug or procedure is safe, uniformly effective, with the least potential risk and complications, and has a long lasting good effect.

The great pains taken by research and medical centers and the US-FDA to investigate and screen drugs and procedures are the reason why the drugs and procedures approved by the US-FDA, following their rigid criteria, requirements, and control, are scientific, safer, and the best option for the public to consider. Those drugs and herbals not approved by the US-FDA or other equally strict national food and drug administrators of other countries are, for all intents and purposes, medically risky. Organ failures and deaths have been reported from their use.

A simple and wise rule: Eat a lot of vegetables, legumes, some fruits and nuts, fish, white meat of chicken, drink a lot of water, exercise daily, abstain from smoking, and moderate alcohol intake.

In this informational age and era of instant communication, there is no more excuse for people with access to the advances to investigate on their own foods, drugs, substances, or procedures they would like to use. Of course, one should be careful with what they find online, to make what they are reading are not marketing materials from vendors or parties with vested interest in the sale of the products or procedures. If in doubt, it is best to consult your physician about them, and be guided to website that are legitimately scientific and objective.

As always, caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware!

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