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Foo-Foo Healthcare: How to Identify Snake-Oil Treatments and Separate Fact from Fiction

There are many therapies that are nothing better than snake-oil but are sold to gullible people, especially in the beauty and anti-ageing space. Please learn to separate fact from fiction.

Bhavin Jankharia
5 min read
Foo-Foo Healthcare: How to Identify Snake-Oil Treatments and Separate Fact from Fiction

The Book - Kindle Version Now Available Worldwide

The Book - Atmasvasth - A Guide to Ageing Healthfully
A 15-point guide to living long, healthy

The Detailed 15-Point Guide to Live Long, Healthy

The 15-Point Guide - Detailed
The detailed 15-points guide to live long, healthy


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A week or two ago, I saw a full-page advertisement in the Mid-Day, where a hospital advertised anti-ageing therapies “to enhance and potentially slow down cognitive and physical ageing” and claimed that “telomeres, biologic ageing markers, can potentially reverse with XYZ’s anti-ageing program”

For most of us doctors, the medicine we practice, our 200-odd years old modern medicine, imported from the West and now the standard mode of medical care the world over, is the one we believe works best in most situations, with good evidence for most interventions, based on data and science and randomized controlled trials and where such data is lacking, an amalgamation of good practices based on the experience and expertise of people with a deep understanding and knowledge of these practices.

Traditional medicine fell by the wayside because it is empirical and based on an understanding of disease processes unrelated to anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry…fundamental sciences that help us understand our bodies.

There are two main arms of any form of medical practice. One is diagnosing and treating diseases based on signs, symptoms and tests, while the other is preventing diseases or detecting them early to minimize escalation and maintain long-term health.

The current state of knowledge and data tell us that the best way to live long, healthy is by being physically activeeating sensibly, predominantly plant-based food, sleeping well, taking vaccinesmanaging cardiovascular riskblood pressure and blood sugarnot falling, managing addictions, taking care of our senses (hearing, vision, teeth) and screening for conditions where screening is proven to work. Supplements don’t work and are often harmful, unless there is a clinical deficiency. That is pretty much it.

But these guidelines are perhaps too sensible, and there isn’t a lot of money to be made or influence to be peddled with these recommendations and so we have an entire industry that has grown around the concept of “wellness”, pushed by so-called wellness experts and influencers, sometimes by doctors, traditional and modern, aided by the devices and nutraceutical industries, amplified by social media, especially Instagram and TikTok.

I call this “foo-foo” medicine, which comes from being a fool and anything inherently foolish or that makes a fool out of the person who is duped into using it, in the mistaken belief it will help them live long, healthy, or boost energy or immunity.

Let’s see some examples...I won’t list them all because it’s endless.

1         Vitamin and mineral injections

2         Oxygen chambers

3         Detox

4         Lymphatic drainage

5         Stem cell therapy outside of rigorously proven indications

6         Ozone therapy

7         Hydrotherapy for gut cleansing, etc.

These therapies lack evidence of effectiveness in our atmasvasth quest to live long, healthy, yet many people try them due to gullibility, desperation, declining cognitive function, elderly targeting, distrust of modern medicine, misunderstanding scientific facts, desire for quick fixes, and the placebo effect.

These are all “snake-oil” medicine, named after the use of “snake-oil” as a cure-all in the 19th century, particularly in the US. “Snake-oil” medicine refers to products or treatments marketed with false or exaggerated claims about their benefits, without scientific evidence. The foo-foo treatments I have listed are nothing but snake oils.

How do we recognize foo-foo, snake-oil products? First, be wary of any advertising with the words “detox”, “immunity” or “immune-boosting”, “anti-ageing”, “brain-boosting”, “gut cleansing”, “body cleansing”, etc. Second, be suspicious of anything advertised with hyped up promises of youth, weight loss, anti-ageing or cognitive decline prevention, especially on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp groups or TikTok. Third, verify claims through AI LLMs like ChatGPT, Perplexity, or MetaAI, the latter, available as a purple circle in WhatsApp on the phone.

What does this mean for you and I? Do not fall for false claims that pretend to prevent ageing. Try and do your own research…since even search engines can show misleading links or ads, LLM AIs are your best bet currently for accurate information. You could also ask me or check this website or the book. If the so-called intervention is not covered in a positive manner or if I have found that it doesn’t work, then maybe I’ve saved you time…and you can double-check my claims as well.