We live In a world where you can fix almost anything with a simple ‘do-it-yourself’ video on YouTube, you might think curing your own illness is just as simple as it seems without knowing some impending dangers.
Please note, that home remedies recommended by your friend, or one of the many websites promoting ‘natural therapies’ — might not always work, and may even make you sicker or even kill you.
People use home remedies for a so many of reasons; losing weight, fighting cancer, increasing sex drive, or reducing symptoms of ongoing illnesses that have few medical treatments available.
Most home remedies or natural therapies are yet to undergo rigorous clinical testing you expect from pharmaceutical medications.
Should you ignore them completely?
Not necessarily. It’s more a matter of approaching home remedies with some healthy dose of skepticism.
Dr. Harriet Hall, a retired family physician, former Air Force flight surgeon, and author of the SkepDoc column in Skeptic magazine, is one of those leading the charge against medical “treatments” not supported by science.
Like others in the medical and scientific community, Hall is bothered that many questionable home remedies that might once have been called quackery, folk medicine, or fringe medicine now take shelter under the “alternative medicine” umbrella.
‘There is no such thing as ‘alternative medicine.’ There is only medicine that has been tested and proven to work for an ailment, alternative medicine is a marketing term, not a scientific one.’ Hall told Healthline.
Natural isn’t always healthy
It’s common for people to think that “natural” means healthy.
But many natural things can kill you; ionizing, asbestos, radiation from radon, poison hemlock, and deadly nightshade, just to name a few.
As surprising as it may seem, some herbal supplements sold in reputable natural food stores or pharmacies can also harm you, even at doses recommended on the package.
Supplements may be toxic all by themselves, contaminated with another compound that is toxic, or interact with prescription medications.
Despite the risk of dangerous interactions between supplements and medications, only about one-third of people tell their doctor about the supplements they are taking, according to one study.
Children are especially at risk of poisoning from herbal or dietary supplements.
A study published this summer discovered numerous calls made to poison control centers across the country about herbal and dietary supplements have increased almost 50% between 2005 and 2012. Dietary supplements were the top reason for the calls, then herbal, hormonal, then other products.
There’s also little government regulation of these products. If companies don’t make claims that their product can treat or cure a health condition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) won’t bother with them.
Home remedies for cancer
Cancer is one therapy being promoted by natural therapies.
One study estimates that use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by cancer patients rose from 25% in the 1970s to 49% after 2000 in 18 countries, with the highest in the United States.
A home remedy for cancer is the Gerson method which involves following a strict diet, drinking much fresh fruit and vegetable juices, taking good dietary supplements, and taking coffee enemas.
Three people have also died as a result of giving themselves coffee enemas, they can throw off your normal blood chemistry if taken too often.
There are many more home remedies for treating cancer, with side effects ranging from minor to severe.
Why people turn to home remedies
A study found that people are more likely to use herbal supplements if they are uninsured, use more prescription and over-the-counter medications, or have certain health conditions.
The most common medical conditions that people try to treat with herbs include stomach or intestinal illnesses, colds, and problems like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. These are all conditions that have few effective medical treatments available.
People should ensure to ask their doctors to provide evidence to support his or her recommendations, said Hall.