Alternative Therapy Scams

Some people swear by them. Of course, all of their practitioners swear by them too. Alternative therapies have moved into the mainstream. Many hospitals and HMOs now offer them. And many insurance plans now cover them. Nonetheless, many alternative therapies are often nothing more than alternative therapy scams.

The most common alternative therapies are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Alexander technique
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Bach flowers
  • Bowen technique
  • Buteyko method
  • Cranial osteopathy
  • Ear candles
  • Feldenkreis method
  • Homeopathy and homeopathic vaccines
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Iridology
  • Lymphatic drainage massage
  • Magnet therapy
  • Metabolic therapy
  • Myofascial release
  • Naturopathy
  • Phytotherapy
  • Pilates
  • Qigong
  • Reflexology
  • Rife machines
  • Reiki
  • Rolfing and structural integration
  • Shiatsu
  • Spinal manipulation and  vertebral subluxation, two core concepts of chiropractic  
  • Tai chi
  • Twinna

What Makes an Alternative Therapy an Alternative Therapy Scam?

By definition, alternative therapies are not mainstream. The bulk of scientific evidence does not support many of the benefits their advocates claim exist. In certain cases, there is sufficient scientific evidence to prove they don’t work. For all intents and purposes, that puts those specific alternative therapies in the same category as voodoo.

Keep in mind that these are alternatives to traditional medical or pharmaceutical interventions. Therefore, their practitioners may not even have relevant academic degrees. They might even not hold government-issued licenses. Physicians and other health professionals, of course, do. Even if their professions do have official recognition in your country, that doesn’t mean they are in the country where you choose to undergo treatment. Under those circumstances, anyone can call himself a practitioner of that particular therapy and get away with it. And that means you can’t sue for malpractice.

Alternative Therapies and Celebrities

Some alternative therapies quickly become fads, often due to celebrities who publicize undergoing their own treatments. Madonna, for example, is a believer in autohemotherapy. That’s a controversial procedure in which the patient’s blood is mixed with ozone gas before it is transfused back into the body. Supposedly, the procedure is enhanced when “eerie noises” are created for purposes of background music by rubbing Tibetan bowls together.

The diva is also known to drink urine following an ice bath.

Alternative Therapy Scams Targeting Terminal Patients

Clinics and websites offering alternative therapies for cancer patients are a big business. Unfortunately, many are outright scams. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that some of the remedies they peddle are both ineffective and dangerous. These include black salve, essiac tea and laetrile (the so-called “vitamin B17”). Advertisements for these products typically call them “natural” and “effective.” But the human body can convert laetrile into cyanide, a deadly poison. It can do the same with amygdalin, a dietary supplement that scammers claim treats cancer and prevents high blood pressure and arthritis. Another fake cure available even though it does not have FDA approval is cannabidiol (CBD). That’s a derivative of the marijuana plant. It comes either as a drop, capsule, syrup, tea, lotion, or cream.

Overseas cancer clinics catering to medical tourism routinely hype these and other quack medicines. At best, there is no proof yet that they are effective. At worst, controlled clinical trials show that they are useless or even dangerous.

Another lucrative scam involves stem cell therapy. Unregulated clinics in countries as diverse as Argentina, China and Russia claim they can treat, or even cure, a long list of diseases. These include muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries, and strokes. The clinic will inject stem cells into the patient’s body. In theory, the stem cells could grow a missing nerve, muscle or organ. They theoretically could repair damage caused, say from a stroke or injury. However, in practice it never works out that way. In fact, the patient’s condition can even deteriorate. These sorts of stem cell therapies, for example, can trigger the appearance of malignant tumors.

If you think you have been victimized by an alternative therapy scam, consult with the fund recovery experts at MyChargeBack.