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Stay away from quacks who bombard you with cure-all remedies

 Stay away from quacks who bombard you with cure-all remedies (Photo: iStock)

Medical quackery is a form of healthcare fraud that sells false hope. It preys on people suffering from diseases that may not be amenable to cure. Quacks promote unsubstantiated interventions that lack a scientifically plausible rationale. A quack may, however, be scientific in some aspects.

They may even front products and procedures that can be useful for some purposes, but worthless in other respects. You need to be wary of quacks, their drive has more to do with profits than your health.

Why do quacks thrive? Faced with the prospect of chronic suffering, deformity or death, many individuals are tempted to try anything that offers relief or hope. The terminally ill, elderly, and some ethnicities are especially vulnerable to health frauds.

Traditional cultural practices may veer others from modern medicine. Many intelligent and well-educated individuals also resort to worthless interventions, with a belief of effectiveness. Victims of quackery are too trusting, desperate and sometimes want to believe in magic. There are many examples of quackery. Ads are everywhere about pills that can cure many diseases and supplements that are almost magical.

There are all sorts of people trying to sell you stuff meant to complement your health. And if you are already in good health, there’s something for you too. Curious practices come aplenty. You may also be unfortunate to contend with quackery in modern medical practice as well. Some medics will go beyond their depth and promote unnecessary interventions.

Others may even offer treatment options that are outdated, experimental or deemed plainly unsafe. Medical licensing helps to some extent, but determined quacks will still escape the net and continue to quack. How can you save yourself from quacks? Don’t let anything cloud your judgment. Quackery seldom looks outlandish from the outset. But there are always some clues. Ignore practitioners bombarding you with multiple supplements, or cure-all remedies. Avoid anecdotal testimonials of curative practices. If in a desperate situation, resist the temptation to stray from scientifically sound healthcare. Consulting a formally recognized expert is what you want.

There are various theories why bogus therapies seem to work. The disease may have run out its natural course, psychological perceptions can get distorted, or there may be temporary relief. What you must look out for is rational scientific basis of health interventions.

Don’t subject yourself to populist quackery. At best it’s a feel-good walk in the park, but your mortality remains exactly where it was.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist.

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