Home remedies that DON’T work

Yesterday’s column was about home remedies that really work. Now which home remedies DON’T work, or can actually be harmful?

Ear candling: This is an age-old technique that reportedly removes ear wax, treats sinus infections, colds, and sore throats. It involves holding a candle into the ear canal and lighting the tip. This is said to create suction to withdraw the wax from the ear. However a study showed that it is ineffective and dangerous, can actually block the ear with wax, damage hearing, and has been found in some cases to light hair on fire.

Detoxes and cleanses: To date there are no studies that show that detoxes such as drinking only juice for several days, colonic enemas, or fasting actually gets rid of toxins. Our liver and kidneys get rid of toxins on their own. A research review also found significant complications from detoxing ranging from cramping and vomiting to kidney failure and death.

St. John’s Wort: This herb has long been used to treat depression, but despite many studies has never been found to help with depressive symptoms. In addition, St. John’s Wort can interfere with other medications such as birth control pills.

Kava: This herb has been used for anxiety, but again there are no studies that show benefit, and it has been known to cause liver failure.

Copper and magnetic bracelets for arthritis: These have been used for many years and some patients swear by them, but studies to date have found no benefit over placebo.

Butter or mayonnaise on a burn: Studies have found no benefit to placing butter or mayonnaise on a burn, and it can introduce infection.

Peeing on a jellyfish sting: This is a very widespread belief, but a study found absolutely no benefit. The study found that what actually helps is placing saltwater or vinegar on the sting.

Garlic for cholesterol: Garlic may have other health benefits, but a large study found no benefit for reducing cholesterol.

Don’t pee on that jellyfish sting!


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