It seems like there’s always talk of some new superfood or clever remedy that was right under our noses the whole time. They’re always said to have some massive health benefit that we never would have expected. But is there any truth to the tales? A lot of these folkloric cures and claims come and go quicker than the ailments they’re said to relieve. So instead of chasing today’s latest fad, we wanted to call out a handful of false claims that have somehow withstood the test of time.
“Copper bracelets can alleviate arthritis.”
Rheumatoid arthritis can wreak havoc on your joints and muscles, so it’s no wonder that people look for relief in all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, relief won’t come in the form of a copper bracelet. The idea that wearing copper could cure ailments reaches all the way back to 1830 when it was discovered that there’s copper in our blood. That led to a new type of treatment called metallotherapy — which involved applying copper discs and other metal objects to the bodies of the afflicted. Naturally, that evolved into a more practical (and aesthetically pleasing) bracelet made of the same substance. Even early on, controlled clinical research disproved the effectiveness of metallotherapy. But a more recent study in 2013 confirms that copper bracelets are merely style without substance.
“Cold butter helps soothe and heal a burn.”
Sorry, but no. Save your butter for your biscuits, folks. The notion that slathering a fresh burn with butter might have something to do with the fact that it’s immediately available right there in the kitchen where burns often happen. But putting butter or other greasy ointments on a burn can actually help seal in the heat instead of cooling it as quickly as possible. Not to mention you also risk infection since butter isn’t the most, well, sterile of things. Best to just use ice-cold water instead, and then clean and dress the burn properly.
“St. John’s wort can cure depression.”
Depression isn’t something you want to try and treat on your own. The first step to feeling better is to talk to your health care provider and seek professional support. Chemical imbalance plays a big role in the situation, and combining St. John’s wort with certain antidepressants can actually lead to a life-threatening increase in your serotonin levels. St. John’s wort can also limit the effectiveness of other prescription medicines and has been proven in studies to be an ineffective cure for depression. Long story short, it can’t cure depression and can actually make things a lot worse.
“Drinking apple cider vinegar can eliminate a cold.”
This is one of the more recent arrivals to our list of oddities, as apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been touted as a popular “cure-all” lately. But upon a closer look, there isn’t any evidence to support claims that it can cure sore throats and knock out a cold. It would be nice if it were that simple, but the fact is, gargling or drinking ACV won’t be effective in killing all the cold viruses in your system. Even if the vinegar does kill a few viruses lingering in your throat, the infection has already spread beyond that point. It may be an unexciting answer, but there’s no cure for a cold — just ways to fight it faster and prevent it from happening in the first place.
“Himalayan salt lamps will improve your mood.”
They’re pink, pretty and packed full of atmosphere-altering ions. But spoiler alert: only two of those three things are true. In one study, a doctor at Columbia University used small machines to charge air particles and blast participants with negative ions. This was found to increase the mood of the subjects with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But here’s the thing: Salt lamps haven’t been proven to emit many (if any) negative ions, and they’re surely not directed straight at the users’ heads as they were with the previously mentioned SAD study. Maybe they brighten up a room (no pun intended) but they can’t be counted on for mood enhancement.
When it comes to your health, it pays to do a little research to find out which remedies are worth exploring. As we’ve seen here, some would-be treatments can actually do more harm than good. When in doubt, consult your doctor and have them direct you to a specialist to get the real scoop. Have you heard of any other alternative or naturopathic cures being tossed around? Share them with us!