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A Good Asthma Treatment, or Quackery?

You often hear about a new health treatment claim, and wonder if it could be the answer that will help you or someone you love feel better. But is it a safe, healthy option, or is it quackery? Quackery is the promotion or selling of health products that sound good, but don't really help, and may even be harmful. These tips can help you avoid being taken in by a quack product, treatment, or individual:

  1. Just because it sounds scientific, doesn't mean it is. Promoters of quackery will frequently use scientific terms and quote (or misquote) from scientific sources. Some actually have real scientific training, but have left the reputable scientific community.
  2. Beware of cure-all supplements.Although some diseases are related to diet, most are not. Don't listen to any promoter who says that asthma is caused by faulty nutrition, and their supplement will cure you. Don't be taken in by products that say they can treat or cure many unrelated diseases. There is no such thing!
  3. Doubt the testimonials. If someone claims to have been helped by an unusual treatment, ask yourself and your doctor whether there might be another explanation. Asthma frequently has symptom-free times. They might have used traditional medicine along with the unusual treatment, and are giving credit to the unusual one. Maybe these people were not diagnosed correctly and never had asthma at all. Also, some of the people may be actors, and are not being truthful about their treatment and cure.
  4. Watch the wording. Sometimes quack treatments will promise to "detoxify" your body, "balance" its chemistry, "bring it in harmony" with nature, or "drain the asthma" from your body. Others might promise to strengthen "weak" lungs, to help people who suffer from asthma. These ideas cannot be scientifically studied to allow other researchers to try and reproduce (get the same results from) their study data because their claims and methods of gathering data are so unclear in the first place. The quacks then state their treatment works even though they have no real reproducible proof, which is the only way reputable science is done.
  5. Avoid the conspiracy theories. People who are promoting unusual products often claim that the medical profession, drug companies, and the government are working together to hush up whatever treatment they are trying to sell. It is not logical that large numbers of people would oppose the creation of treatments that might someday help themselves or their loved ones. No one has ever proved such a conspiracy theory.
  6. It's a "secret cure" for a reason. Quacks may keep their methods secret so that others can't prove that they don't work. True scientists want to share what they have learned as part of the process of medical science. Why not share a new treatment for asthma? If it really works, the discoverer would become famous, become wealthy, and have a feeling of accomplishment by sharing it with others.
  7. Placebos can seem like they work. Through the power of suggestion, belief, expectancy, and diversion of attention, patients given useless treatments often have relief. This is called the placebo effect, and some of these effects can be actual changes in the person's physical condition while others are changes that the patients can feel, even though there has been no change in their actual disease. Placebos never cure, and they can only have an effect in the short term.
  8. Look closely at herbal treatments. Many people think herbs are a natural way to treat diseases, and that they are always "safe." In truth, many herbs have hundreds or even thousands of chemicals that have not been fully studied. Some may turn out to be useful, but others may be toxic. The United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has approved some herbs for certain uses. However, the USFDA, which regulates prescription drugs, does not regulate most herbal supplements. It just doesn't make sense to take a chance on herbs, when treatments for asthma exist that are safe, scientifically proven and work well.
  9. Think about "think for yourself." If the promoter is asking you to "think for yourself" instead of believing what the rest of the medical community believes, watch out! Similarly, if they say that the treatment will work for you even though it hasn’t been proven to work on others, don't buy it.
  10. Don't let them use your emotions.If you don't feel like your doctor is helping you enough, don't run to unusual treatments. Talk over your feelings and concerns with your doctor, and if you still are not happy with your care, then it may be time to obtain a second opinion from another physician. Quacks count on your desperation to sell their products.
  11. Look at their facts. If the "evidence" is made up of testimonials, self-published pamphlets or books, or items from the popular media, you should stay away from the product.