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 and 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

What makes them alternative, as opposed to mainstream, is that the benefits ascribed to them by their advocates are not supported by the bulk of scientific evidence.  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.

Being alternatives to traditional medical or pharmaceutical interventions, not all of these disciplines are governed by professional associations.  The vast majority of their practitioners do not require government-issued licenses to practice, unlike physicians and other health professionals, who, of course, do.  Even if their professions are officially recognized in your country they might not be abroad in the jurisdiction where you choose to undergo treatment.  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, such as black salve, essiac tea and laetrile (the so-called “vitamin B17”), which are generally advertised as “natural” and “effective,” are both ineffective and dangerous.  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.