Where do you usually get your bad medical advice?

Back when I had gallstones, a friend of mine who was studying naturopathic medicine at Bastyr gave me some dandelion leaves to brew. She said they’d help with the stones; I thanked her politely, brewed up a cup because I was curious about just how nasty it would taste, and kept my appointment to have my gallbladder removed. I also made a mental note to ignore (or at least triple-check) any medical advice from this friend.

I was reminded of this recently when a new project manager in our department introduced herself at the department meeting. She said one of her interests is aromatherapy, and mentioned that if we were ever feeling bad, let her know and she’d make us a sachet. I made a similar mental note – she’s a great person, and I’d trust her to make a project schedule, but I won’t be tapping her medical knowledge anytime soon.

On a more regular basis, I tend to tune out my massage practitioners whenever they’re talking about medical issues that go beyond how my muscles are going to feel. I’m not relying on people who perform Reiki massage (not the kind I get) for medical info.

Where do you hear most of your junk health advice and medical info? Who are the vectors you tune out when health issues come up?

Whenever someone mentions a pill you buy at a health food store and not a pharmacy, I plug my ears and go ‘lalalalalalala’. Homeopathy and all that just doesn’t appeal to me - I’m too rational to believe in anything but traditional medicine. My aunts are always talking about this-and-that supplement they tried and recommending stuff to my mom, but they’re all 50-something women that do nothing but whine about their aches and pains. After going through a week or two of hell with a sore throat and trying to help it with natural things, I finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat. The only thing that helped that was antibiotics.

Aaaugh the new-agey health food clan is where I’ve heard more than a mountain of bullshit.

Eating for my blood type? Whatever. :rolleyes:


My husband was taking Lipitor, a statin that depletes a vitamin called Coenzyme Q. Now nobody ever runs out of Coenzyme Q unless they push themselves through the contortions imposed on their body by pharmaceutical modern medicine; it’s just one of those things you can’t be deficient in. However, the literature is quite clear that statins can indeed deplete Coenzyme Q, and small amounts of it may be helpful with muscle aches and other minor side effects.

My husband was getting a “ball in the throat” sensation, which sounded muscle side effectish to me, so I dropped by GNC to pick up some coenzyme Q. Oh how the sales associate brightened up. To hear him tell it, coenzyme Q was the next brightest thing in [holy water], good for your complexion, sex drive, power lifting, aerobic capacity, and prevention of Alzheimer’s. And on top of that, everybody was deficient in it. Did I mention it was very expensive?

Everybody. Everybody needs it according to this GNC sales guy.

I had to be really forceful about “no, I do not need the largest size, I need the smallest size and the cheapest one” and “no, I do not need it!!!” He was not only hard to convince, he verged on offended. Like I had insulted his religion. Don’t you just love religions that require unbelievers to buy products?

The ball in the throat sensation went away after my husband had taken fewer than 10, and never came back. We stashed the bottle in a cupboard for two years and recently gave it away to a friend on Zocor. His ball in the throat sensation went away after two doses.

The rest of us don’t need coenzyme Q!!!

My uncle told me the cure for hemorrhoids is to pour olive oil into your belly button. He didn’t understand why, but he read it somewhere so it must be true, right?

Did you ask him what happens if you’re an outie?

No, but I asked him how you’re supposed to keep it in there. I guess if you lay down with olive oil in your belly button for long enough, the 'roid will fix itself. Maybe two to three weeks or so?

I had some really bad allergy problems earlier this year. The CEO of my company recommended I see a chiropractor for them.

Um, yeah.

I went to an allergist. He didn’t cure 'em, but I have good drugs that make me feel better!

My husband. His dad was a doctor & his mom a nurse. Somehow, I think my husband believes that this adds up to a medical degree for him, even though he works in the business sector, and blood makes him woozy. He’s always giving me “remedies” for what ails me…but does he ever go to a doctor for ANYTHING? No!

A few years ago, my very first boyfriend tracked me down on line, and we’ve been exchanging emails and IMs fairly regularly.

He’s big into “organic” everything. I don’t know if his growing up in California has anything to do with it - I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt. But he reads stuff and decides he understands it all, despite never having finished college. He’s always telling me what I should eat or what I should avoid or what my husband needs to do for his aches and on and on and on. Lucky for me, he lives on the other side of the country, and I can take my time drafting answers to him, rolling my eyes all the while, and thanking my lucky stars that he dumped me 30+ years ago…

I want to second GNC.

Because of my perverse sense of humour, I like to go in there periodically and ask if there are any “metabolism boosters” that I can take while I’m on synthroid. The answer, of course is no, with a possible side effect being sudden death, which I know.

However, I just enjoy listening to the justification the sales people provide.

I really need to get a hobby.

Old ladies that live around here, including some that are nurses and should know better. My wife has been fighting thymoma for the last 5 years and the quantity of well-meaning bullshit we are offered is amazing.
So far, my wife has been through some kind of rekei where they put rocks all around you, (a friend describes this as “geology worship”) magical zam-zam water from Mecca, another friend that drops by with interesting geology specimens that my wife is supposed to put beside the bed, various Thai-Buddhist remedies (chanting and the like), some kind of weird mushroom from Asia, and a serious bunch of plants that no one seems able to identify.
My wife tries the massage and the rocks but quietly dumps the plants. In all fairness to the old ladies, they have never suggested that my wife drop chemo or anything like that, they’re just trying to be helpful.


My mother’s favorite cousin, who I will refer to as “N.”

Last year about this time, my mom was diagnosed with microcalcifications in her left breast. She was sent to a surgeon who, after consulting with another surgeon, determined that the m-c’s couldn’t be removed through a newer method (which basically involved using a large bore needle to suction the stuff out) due to “insufficient breast tissue.” In other words, Mom’s boobs were too small for the less invasive procedure. Both surgeons explained to Mom why the m-c’s were being removed through incisions, and both carefully explained that the m-c’s were being removed “just to be safe” (neither surgeon suspected cancer). Mom, feeling rather confident, relayed this information to N. A few days before Mom went into outpatient surgery, N called and informed her that the surgeon’s use of incisions rather than a less invasive technique meant that the m-c’s were cancerous. For whatever reason, Mom believed N, resulting in the nastiest argument I ever had with my mother (who was threatening to go out the next day and sell all of our cars, the condo, and her wedding rings to pay for what she believed to be the impending treatment).

As predicted by the surgeons, the m-c’s were not cancer. Needless to say, I have no use for N. Mom still likes her though.

Testy- your wife has been in my thoughts for a long time, and I hope that she’s doing as well as possible, given the circumstances.

I have a friend who works in a health food shop, and she and I have some discussions about the stuff they sell which usually develops into a rant about how idiotic her supervisor is. My friend is very knowledgeable about her stuff, and usually tells people to go and see their doctor, rather than trying to sell them stuff she knows won’t work.

Her supervisor, on the other hand, is an idiot- he once advised someone on Warfarin (Coumadin) to eat lots and lots of green leafy vegetables, because the Warfarin was depleting their vitamin K! Duh! That’s what it’s supposed to do!

My friend had to run down the street after that particular customer and tell them NOT to eat more leafy greens!

There are more stories (giving chondroitin to people with shellfish allergies for example) about this supervisor, but basically, my friend spends her days trying to make sure his cures don’t kill someone.

The Tokyo Medical and Surgical Clinic.

Two of their doctors diagnosed the lump on my knee as a Baker’s cyst, with the advice that “if it doesn’t hurt, don’t worry about it. It will go away by itself.” One of the doctors continued giving me this advice for about a year when I kept going back to see if shouldn’t have cleared up by now.

Finally got a third opinion. Cancer. Yeah, go away all by itself :rolleyes:.

Still, the doc I’d kept seeing for that year was at least smart enough to know when he was wrong. When I encountered him a few years after my surgery (I hadn’t been back to keep him posted), his first question was “how’s that lump on your knee doing?” The lovely shade of green he suddenly turned when I said “liposarcoma” (not to mention the way he clutched at the table for balance) was most gratifying.

I decided not to pursue a malpractice suit since a) it was caught before it had spread and the treatment I required would have been exactly the same if it had been caught on the first try, and b) malpractice suits in Japan don’t cover much beyond treatment costs, which my insurance covered anyway.

Thank you from both myself and my wife. She’s tougher than I am by far and is still battling. She’s in chemo for the third time with some heavy-duty stuff that is tough on her.
The health food shop you mention sounds like it’ll be the death of someone in the not too distant future. Here’s one for you from the Middle Ages. There is a group of African men in Riyadh (Nigerian, I think) that actually bleed people for various ailments. They also practice some kind of weird thing with cups over small incisions. AFAIK, there is very little attention paid to sterile procedure or anything like that. I thought that idea had died-out a few hundred years ago.

Best regards


Hey, gotta love the Google Ads.

Reckon they’ll get any takers after this thread?


Sign me up! Nothing like “Genuine Chinese medicine direct from China.” Gotta be good for you if it comes from China.


My aunts.

They firmly believe that yoga can cure cancer, that Sai Baba (google him if you don’t know) takes away diseases with a wave of his hand, that magnetic bracelets work, that our future is in the stars. They are pretty sensible otherwise, but some of the things they do really scare me…like sharing prescription drugs, and not listening to the instructions, etc.

The part that bothers me most perhaps is Sai Baba has child molestation charges leveled against him. I don’t know if it’s gone to court. I doubt that. In India he’s a huge hero! But whenever they say glowing stuff about him I cringe a little and bite my tongue.

Sometimes my husband, who has a Ph.D. in something entirely non-medical and didn’t take any life sciences since high school in rural New Mexico. I do love him much anyway, but trust him more with mechanical than biological systems. One favorite was “If it was going to make you sick, you’d be sick by now” about an hour after eating something. True, I get a little paranoid about the food safety, but most types of food poisoning take several hours to a day to have their effect.