H1N1 Snakeoil Cures

We’ve talked about H1N1 vaccine to death, but this article alerted me to another H1N1 trend: marketing products that claim to protect or treat H1N1. The article called out several products, from shampoo to herbal tea, that claim to treat or protect you from swine flu. Unfortunately this seems to happen with any health scare.

The US FDA has put together a good list of fraudulent products out there. (I couldn’t find a similar list in Canada.) It’s amazing how many people are willing to fraudulently cash in on peoples fear. I wish I could say the list was short, but you have to scroll down to see it all, and this is only the products that the FDA has found…there are more out there.
Many of the products seem pretty benign. Air filters or special shampoos are not going to protect you from H1N1, but they aren’t going to hurt you either. But there are some products on the list that make claims about immunization. Those types of claims encourage people to forgo real vaccines, and that just pisses me right off. It’s more than just cashing in on fear; it’s putting people’s lives at risk.
Anyone who drones on about “big pharma” only caring about money (*cough Bill Maher cough*) needs to remember that complementary and alternative medicine (I hate to even use the word “medicine” when talking about this stuff) is a multi-billion dollar industry. I don’t know how CAM has cultivated the reputation that its practitioners and producers are altruistic heroes who only care about your health and not their profits. This is, pardon my french, merde de taureau.
It was heartening to see that when I did a quick search of major news sites, all were critical of these types of products, and all passed on the recommendations of proper health authorities. The initial wave of fear-mongering by the media notwithstanding, I have found little to complain about from the media on this issue. I seems like there have been so many face-palm moments on other health topics lately, I’m glad to see at least one issue is getting accurate and informative coverage. (I’m sure there are exceptions, please comment if you have found otherwise in your area).
The only methods that are recommended to protect against H1N1 is washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, and getting the H1N1 vaccine when it is available. That’s it. Anything else is snake oil and you should steer clear. I wouldn’t recommend licking anyone with flu-like symptoms either…but I don’t think there have been any peer reviewed clinical trials on that.

Comments are closed.

  • Melany Hamill

    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.