The alternative health movement has always been rife with pseudo-science and all manners of scams, fad diets, extreme cleanses and poor advice.
Things have been slowly improving over the past few years and it’s clear the popularity of evidence-based alternative medicine and nutritional therapy is fast on the rise.
Individuals are no longer tolerating the promotion of poor, pseudo-scientific diet and heath advice, which more often than not is usually dangerous, ineffective, non-evidence based and doesn’t come with any significant health benefits.
Let me take you through six alternative health scams, which I feel are not evidence-based, potentially dangerous and worth avoiding.
1. The Acid/Alkaline Diet & Alkalizing Supplements
The acid/alkaline theory of disease still remains one of the most popular alternative health scams and as such it tops our list at number one.
Proponents of the acid/alkaline theory often recommend “alkaline” diets as an alternative method for treating all sorts of serious health problems such as autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and even cancer.
However, current scientific research has concluded that diet acid load, the acid/alkaline diet and alkalizing supplements have no effect on cancer, bone diseases or any other diseases for that matter.
Diet acid load is not associated with significant changes to blood PH and the research concludes that the body has multiple redundant mechanisms for tightly regulating PH balance, regardless of what one eats.
Some of the side effects of alkaline supplements and alkaline bath salts is that you can neutralize areas of the body which are naturally meant to be slightly acidic PH such as the stomach, skin and other sensitive areas such as the vagina.
Neutralizing the stomach acid with excessive intake of alkaline supplements for example comes with many side effects such as causing poor digestion, impaired nutrient absorption and promoting the growth of opportunistic organisms such as candida albicans and bad bacteria.
Contrary to popular belief it is actually intestinal alkalinity which promotes opportunistic pathogens such as candida to flourish and morph from their natural yeast state to hyphal fungal tissue penetrating form, which is what can contribute to “leaky gut” aka increased intestinal permeability.
Check out my previous article with some of the latest scientific research debunking the acid/alkaline PH theory of disease at: The Acid/Alkaline Diet & Cancer Scam
2. The Liver Flush
The “liver flush” is a therapy supposedly designed with the intention of “flushing” or cleansing the liver and gallbladder.
The “liver flush” recipe typically includes epsom salts, large amounts of olive oil and apple juice or other fruit juice.
There is no scientific evidence currently there to support “liver flushing” as a method for cleansing or improving liver health.
Individuals often report passing endless quantities of large “pseudo-gallstone” type objects with each flush.
The fact that individuals often report passing hundreds of these stone-like objects with every “flush”, probably suggests that these “pseudo-gallstones” are being formed in the intestines as a result of the mixture of the ingredients i.e the olive oil, epsom salts and apple juice.
The main concern and potential risk when it comes to “liver flushing” is the potential for a genuine gallstone to become lodged in a bile duct, which would require emergency surgery and potentially removal of the gallbladder.
Food for thought when there is zero scientific evidence there to suggest “liver flushing” even works, let alone being safe. Plus there are many other safe and proven natural therapies to support the liver such as bitter herbs, lecithin, milk thistle and various others.
3. Urine Therapy
Urine therapy is another supposed alternative therapy with the intention of consuming human urine for medicinal or cosmetic purposes.
As far as nonsensical detox’s scams go, urine therapy ticks all the boxes. Once again there is no scientific evidence to support the use of consuming urine for therapeutic or medicinal purposes.
As far as common sense goes, in my opinion I see no logic to reingesting a waste liquid that the body has spent significant time and effort trying to remove from the body in the first place.
Urine therapy tends to make a re-occurrence in popularity every now and then, but overall it is not a popular or common alternative therapy by any means for the obvious reasons.
Another alternative therapy scam that is not evidence-based and definitely one to avoid in my opinion.
4. Fruitarian & Raw Vegan Diets
The past decade has seen the explosion in the popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets. With that of course comes the promotion of many extreme fad vegan diets such as fruitarian and the raw food diet.
If you have read any of my posts in the past on this blog, you will know that I am no fan of these dangerous fad raw vegan diets such as fruitarian, Doug Graham’s 80/10/10, Raw Till 4, Fully Raw and the rest.
Raw veganism is a dietary practice of eating only uncooked, raw foods that haven’t been heated above 40–49 °C (104–120 °F).
Raw food diets typically include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts and fermented foods. Some raw food diet proponents also consume raw animal foods such as raw meat, raw eggs and raw dairy, which can potentially be risky and isn’t recommended.
Fruitarianism is a diet that consists primarily or entirely of fruits. Some fruitarians also include nuts and seeds, but for the most part these individuals try to live solely off just consuming fruit, which of course isn’t healthy in the slightest and doesn’t equate to a balanced, nutritionally complete diet.
Claims for the health benefits of raw vegan and fruitarian diets can range anywhere from non-evidence based to completely nonsensical.
Raw vegan diets are often prone to being lacking or deficient in many basic essential nutrients such as Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, longchain Omega-3 fatty acids(DHA), calcium, iron, iodine, zinc and many others.
Overall there is no scientific evidence there to support the rationale for only consuming foods in their “raw state” and the dangers such as severe nutritional deficiencies, far outweigh any potential health benefits.
The proven health benefits that come from consuming a diet rich in plant-foods such as cardiovascular disease risk reduction can be achieved by following evidence-based, balanced and nutritionally complete plant-based diets.
5. Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae Dietary Supplements
Klamath Lake AFA(Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) Blue-Green Algae is a freshwater species of cyanobacteria and a popular dietary supplement, popularized by raw vegan diet “gurus” such as Brian Clement and Gabriel Cousens.
These raw food “gurus” recommend Klamath Lake AFA Blue-Green Algae supplements for increasing energy, strengthening the immune system, “detoxing” the body and increasing mental performance.
However, there are very serious safety concerns when it comes to consuming AFA blue-green algae supplements sourced from the Klamath Lake in Oregon.
Multiple studies have now confirmed that Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae supplements often contain highly toxic microcystins and anatoxins.
The research also found that the majority of manufactuers often exceed the safety limit for these toxic microcystins, which are highly potent toxins that can damage the liver and nervous system.
Manufacturers of these AFA blue-green algae supplements make claims that the Klamath Lake is clean and pristine, however this is far from the truth. The Klamath Lake is not just a haven for the likes of toxic microcystins and anatoxins, but environmental agencies have also stated previously that agricultural “run-off” such as industrial pesticides and fertilizers regularly contaminates the lake.
Far from clean and pristine as these manufacturers try to claim….
Klamath Lake AFA Blue-Green Algae supplements are definitely one to avoid in my opinion, when there are safer options such as Chlorella if you wish to consume algaes or seaweeds such as Kelp if you wish for other plant-based aquatic foods.
For more information and the studies on the dangers of Klamath Lake AFA Blue-Green Algae supplements, check our previous article at: Is AFA Klamath Lake Blue-Green Algae Toxic?
6. Juice Fasting
I am a huge fan of drinking nutrient-rich vegetable juices in moderation using root vegetables, dark leafy greens, fresh herbs and other superfoods such as wheatgrass.
However, I am not a fan of prolonged extreme juice fasts or any of these fad juice “feasts” where the individual is recommended to live off nothing but copious quantities of juice for X amount of days in an attempt to “detox” the body.
Side effects of juice fasting can include hypoglycemia/low blood sugar, dizziness, passing out, low blood pressure, nausea, vomitting and of course the risk of developing nutritional deficiencies through poor dieting.
Another common reason why “juice feasts” are often recommended is for “detoxification” purposes.
However, restricting your diet to just juice actually has the potential to impair many of the real detoxification processes in the body such as methylation, liver phase 1/2 enzymes, glutathione and so on. All of these various detox processes are heavily dependent on sufficient dietary intake of nutrients such as vitamin b12, sulfur-bonded amino acids, various minerals and so on.
All of these nutrients likely lacking if you are just trying to live off fruit/vegetable juices. Overall these extreme imbalanced “detox cleanses” actually have the potential to impair detoxification, rather than support it.
The information in this article has not been evaluated by the FDA and should not be used to diagnose, cure or treat any disease, implied or otherwise.