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Debunking Internet Health Claims

It seems like every day there is a new “cure-all” supplement pill or home-remedy popping up on social media. They claim to cure ailments, improve health and fight disease. With a recent flood of new information, it is often hard to sort out which tips are helpful and which are harmful. Following a couple of standard guidelines can help you to determine whether random internet health remedies are fact or fiction.

The most important tip you can follow is to take online articles and claims with a grain of salt. Many claims are biased because the author is either trying to sell a product/supplement or persuade you not to buy one. If the claim is not scholarly, there is no guarantee that the information is true. Another helpful tip, when sorting through online claims, is to avoid clickbait. Clickbait is a headline meant to catch the reader’s attention, with an overdramatic title, and often inaccurately represents the information.

A few popular claims. Are they fact or fiction?

1. Drinking Tonic Water to Help with Restless Legs Syndrome- Fiction

Upon searching the internet, a common theme which popped upon social media sites was the use of tonic water to stop the repeated muscle contractions that come with RLS. The theory behind this is that the nutrient quinine, found in tonic water, can help with symptoms.

Quinine was originally used as an antimalaria drug but research shows it can cause harm in the daily diet. It is linked to side effects such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nervousness. This internet quick tip turned out to be fiction as tonic water was found ineffective in improving the muscle contractions’ duration or intensity.

2. Eating Fruit to Help with Arthritis Pain- Fact

Fruits have many health benefits and online articles claimed they could help with inflammation in Arthritis. While these articles did not go into detail, research does show that the polysaccharide Pectin could help with joint pain. Pectin can be found in apricots, apples, citrus peels, and carrots. Research also shows that certain fruit extracts have an inhibitory bioactivity effect on bacterial triggers of rheumatoid arthritis.

3. Chocolate Covered Garlic aiding in Memory Loss- Fiction

Some articles claimed that the abundance of antioxidants found in both garlic and chocolate would stimulate the brain’s activity and improve memory. Although the caffeine found in chocolate does make the general population feel alert and helps elderly adult’s performance throughout the day, there are no studies that link it to improving one’s memory.

Studies show that turmeric and honey significantly accelerate the time of wound healing.

Studies show that turmeric and honey significantly accelerate the time of wound healing.
Adair Hoover, @2017 HGIC, Clemson University

4. Turmeric and Honey Mix is “The Most Powerful Antibiotic”- Fact

While calling turmeric and honey “the most powerful antibiotic that doctors can explain” is a bold statement, it is not entirely false. Studies show that turmeric and honey significantly accelerate the time of wound healing. They also contain ingredients which seem to stimulate the production of immune cells and enhance anti-microbial activity. Turmeric and honey have significant data to back up the claim that it is a useful natural remedy.

Studies show that turmeric and honey significantly accelerate the time of wound healing.
Adair Hoover, @2017 HGIC, Clemson University

Bottomline: Do your research. If while browsing the internet, if you see a health claim that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Best place to find credible information that will help you make educated conclusions, start with google scholar https://scholar.google.com/

Credible Resources:

  1. Should People with Nocturnal Leg Cramps Drink Tonic Water and Bitter Lemon?
  2. Kakadu plum fruit extracts inhibit growth of the bacterial triggers of rheumatoid arthritis:
  3. CAFFEINE REDUCES TIME-OF-DAY EFFECTS ON MEMORY PERFORMANCE IN OLDER ADULTS
  4. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) Rhizome Paste and Honey Show Similar Wound Healing Potential: A Preclinical Study in Rabbits
  5. Effectiveness of Indian Turmeric Powder with Honey as Complementary Therapy on Oral Mucositis : A Nursing Perspective among Cancer Patients in Mysore.
  6. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in the prevention of chronic diseases

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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