Distinguishing between the successful innovators in alternative remedies and treatments from the snake oil salesmen can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.
With more and more individuals looking for less invasive and drug-free treatments for their ailments, and so many natural and alternative remedies being advertised, trusting which businesses hold legitimate scientific evidence, oversight, quality control, and regulatory standards is becoming a tricky proposition.
People facing debilitating and painful conditions often turn to alternate remedies out of desperation. And there are, unfortunately, some individuals and companies only too willing to exploit people’s desperation – just to make a dollar.
From ‘miracle cures for cancer’ that doctors supposedly ‘don’t want you to know about’, to the numerous quick weight loss or muscle gain formulations, there are literally hundreds of websites promoting miracle or quick-fix products for every condition you can imagine. As long as there is a market, you can bet that someone will, or already has, created a product for it.
Unfortunately, clinical trials are extremely expensive and subsequently left to large pharmaceutical companies. Hence it can be difficult to find supporting peer-reviewed medical literature for the many alternative remedies and treatments that are now on offer.
So, with that is mind, here is an 11-point checklist to be used prior to purchasing or trying any alternative treatment.
1) Is there a sound scientific basis behind the treatment being offered?
Check that the treatment was developed by someone with the appropriate scientific qualifications you would expect, this way there is likely a sound basis behind the treatment’s rationale. It is not enough for an alternative therapy to promise a natural and/or non-invasive treatment for any condition; there must be a sound scientific basis behind how it’s achieved. Look for a detailed scientific explanation for its mechanism of action.
2) Has it undergone quality control and regulatory standards?
There is a requirement for rigorous quality control and manufacturing standards to be maintained for alternative health products. Ensure any product you purchase meets these standards and is appropriately registered or listed with the business’ local Regulatory Authority. Illegitimate businesses usually won’t bother to use these processes as they add extra expense which subsequently takes away from their profits.
3) For how long have they been in business?
Two or more years is a good guide. Often a scam business will not trade under the same name for very long. Eventually, poor reviews will take over the search results, and when this happens these businesses will often quickly re-brand under a new name and website.
4) Do they clearly show their registered business number, and if so, is it active or even real?
If a business is not willing to openly include their registered business number, then steer clear as any ethical business should always be transparent. If a number is included, it may still be worth checking it is active or even real. Check the registered business name associated with the number provided matches the name of the business you’re about to deal with. It is not uncommon for scam businesses to use another business’s details and then pass them off as their own. This information should be readily and freely available online through the relevant government website.
5) Do they provide a method for contacting them, like a phone number or physical address?
There are many different contact options a business may offer. These may include providing a phone number, address, email, social media page or an online chat option. Any legitimate business will offer a way to contact them… the more the better. Being able to talk to a real person is always reassuring.
6) Check out what people are saying!
Check review sites, scam reports and even ask questions on blogs. If there have been any issues, you can bet that someone has left their opinion somewhere. It’s recommended to read both the negative and the positive reviews but be open-minded as no product or treatment will be as effective on every person. If they are legitimate, expect to see a broad mix of both positive and negative reviews.
It’s recommended to also read any replies left by the business as this will give you a good insight into how much they care about their customers. Remember, both positive and negative reviews may be fake. Depending on the willingness or effort taken, fake reviews may include grammatical or spelling errors, have an overly generic feel or may include the use of industry terminology that the average person would not use.
7) Do they have a social media page to leave public comments or ask questions?
Most legitimate businesses will have a social media presence such as a Facebook page. See how many followers they have and how active the page is. If the page is legitimate, there should be regular activity and posts. Also, make sure that any comments made on the page are from individuals that you would expect to fit the profile of a real customer. If so, then take the time to ask them about their experience…don’t be shy!
8) Is it also available through reputable businesses such as pharmacies and/or qualified treating specialists?
This is a good litmus test to indicate the product or treatment is broadly accepted in the marketplace and that it has likely undertaken the necessary quality control measures and regulatory requirements. Look to see if there is a stockist page; it’s worth noting that some legitimate alternative health products may only be available directly from the original developer or through a single supplier.
9) Beware of products and treatments that claim to offer cures!
No product or treatment can guarantee a cure, this, unfortunately, is just not possible and hence no product or treatment should ever be marketed as such. Any business guaranteeing a cure is unethical and as it promises unrealistic expectations. Avoid these businesses.
10) Beware of auto-refill scams asking for your credit card details
Unethical sales tactics are often used by businesses that are less concerned about your health than they are about making a dollar. Through dazzling websites offering amazing results, using every marketing trick under the sun, such as fake celebrity endorsements, free sample trial periods and even hard sell tactics if you’re unfortunate enough to contact then.
Their aim is to promise and say whatever it takes to get your credit card details while also getting you to unwittingly agree to their terms and conditions, legally allowing them to periodically charge you. From here, the game is to then bill you as many times as possible before you either realise what is happening or before you can stop further charges.
What’s worse, they make it extremely hard to cancel the automatic debits, with their contact details being difficult to locate, ensuring the process is onerous and slow, ultimately leading to the inconvenience of having to cancel your credit card.
11) Check that the business website has all the usual pages you would expect from a legitimate organisation
If you are still unsure after completing this checklist, trust your instincts, protect your hard-earned money and avoid risking further injury.
At the end of the day, while there are numerous ethical businesses now offering an array of wonderful natural and alternative therapies, it is important to be vigilant at all times, and above all…do your homework!
For more information about MediWise please follow this link.