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  and are now offered by many hospitals and HMOs. They are increasingly being recognized by insurance plans.

The most common alternative therapies are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Alexander technique
  • Aromatherapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Bach flowers
  • Bowen technique
  • Buteyko method
  • Cranial osteopathy
  • 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

These therapies are alternative, as opposed to mainstream, because many of the benefits their advocates claim are not supported by the bulk of scientific evidence.  In fact, in certain cases, there is sufficient  scientific evidence to debunk them completely.  For all intents and  purposes, that puts them in the same category as voodoo.

Since they are alternatives to traditional medical or pharmaceutical interventions, the practitioners of these disciplines are not necessarily members of professional associations. They might even not hold government-issued licenses. Physicians and other  health professionals, of course, do.  Even if their professions are officially recognized in your country, they might not be in the jurisdiction where you choose to undergo treatment abroad.  In such cases, anyone can call himself a practitioner of that particular therapy and  get away with it, which means you can’t sue for malpractice.

Scamming Terminal Patients

Clinics and websites offering alternative therapies for cancer sufferers are a big business.  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”), which are generally advertised as “natural” and  “effective.”  Laetrile and amygdalin, a dietary supplement that fraudsters claim treats cancer and prevents high blood pressure and arthritis as well, can be converted by  the body into cyanide, a deadly poison.  Another fake cure being  marketed without FDA approval is cannabidiol (CBD), a derivative of the  marijuana plant.  It is administered as a drop, capsule, syrup, tea, lotion, or cream.

These and other quack medicines are routinely hyped by overseas cancer clinics catering to medical tourism. At best, they have not been  proven to be effective. At worst, they have been shown in controlled clinical trials to be 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, diseases such as muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injury, and strokes by injecting  patients with donated stem cells.  In theory, the stem cells could grow a missing nerve, a muscle or organ and repair damage caused, say from a  stroke or injury.  In practice, it never works out that way and has even been known to result in 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.