6 Miracle Cures That Are Way Worse Than The Disease Itself

6 Miracle Cures That Are Way Worse Than The Disease Itself

Hair of the dog, butter on a burn, that guy in the comments who says heroin cured his ED -- we've all gotten some terrible medical advice at some point. But in some very, very rare cases, the true secret to advancing medical science has been to get even dumber. Just don't try any of the following unless your doctor signs off on it, and you should probably triple-check that they're actually a doctor first.

Death Cap Mushrooms Are So Poisonous That They Even Kill Certain Cancers

Death cap mushrooms have that name for a reason. They taste and smell delicious, but they're responsible for around 90 percent of all mushroom-related fatalities. And yet the noxious fungus might be so toxic that it could be weaponized against certain cancers. Meaning that for once, your cousin with the braided beard who drones on and on about natural medicine and Frisbee golf is actually onto something. (Not about the Frolf, though.)

6 Miracle Cures That Are Way Worse Than The Disease Itself
Archenzo/Wikimedia Commons
For context, it's that hyper-deadly mushroom that is absolutely indistinguishable from every other mushroom you've ever seen.

Alpha-Amanitin, the lethal toxin in the mushroom, doesn't play any nicer with cancer than it does with your body. So scientists are trying to tweak its wrath to focus on tumors without also annihilating your liver, kidneys, and any other squishy parts that get in its way.

The biggest issue, aside from the fact that we're talking about mainlining a substance so toxic that it's dangerous to even touch, is that mushrooms are fickle organisms. It's difficult to extract the toxin from the mushroom, so a lack of it has brought further research to a standstill. So until a synthetic strain of Alpha-Amanitin can be developed, scientists are stuck slowly wandering around under chestnut trees, far more likely to stumble across men in Birkenstocks who don't understand personal space than a life-saving deadly mushroom.

Related: 5 Doctors Who Just Gave The World's Worst Medical Advice

Intestinal Parasites Can Treat Lupus

Hugely important advances in food hygiene, like the five-second rule, have limited our overall exposure to parasites. For the most part, that's obviously a good thing, because as our online medical degree from the University of College taught us, parasites are gross. But certain parasites are also pivotal to human health. Without exposure to them, the body's immune system becomes inactive and unstable, resulting in disorders like lupus, Crohn's, and MS, which have become increasingly common in developed nations.

Immuno-supressing drugs used to treat those conditions have nasty side effects, like increased opportunistic infections and cancer rates. Beating lupus and the like requires a new approach, and some doctors are getting unexpected help from parasites like the pig whipworm. They call it Helminthic therapy, and it involves administering parasite eggs to patients so that their bodies can go through the normal series of reactions. The worm larvae hatch inside their hosts as normal, or sometimes they're served in delicious worm egg purees! Yes, delicious pig-whipworm-egg smoothies, just like the future promised.

6 Miracle Cures That Are Way Worse Than The Disease Itself
Universidad de Cordoba
Though the gross-out factor lived up to everything Roddenberry imagined.

Clinical trials have been underway for over a decade, but there's a bureaucratic catch in America. For some crazy reason, the FDA isn't keen on selling parasites over the counter or signing off on the relevant studies. But Europe's attitude toward biological specimens harvested from the shit of strangers are a little looser, and the Germans are close to approving an over-the-counter health supplement that will some day be sold right next to Quest bars. Surely it will only be a matter of time until Gwyneth Paltrow is hawking Goop-brand Gutworms.

Related: The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices In History

Arsenic Contamination Cuts Breast Cancer Rates By 50 Percent

Biologists looking at the breast cancer rates of Chilean villagers were startled to find that the majority of them seemed to be somehow resistant to the disease. In fact, older locals had 50 percent lower breast cancer rates when compared with the general population. After poring over diet and lifestyle data, scientists finally figured it must be, quite literally, something in the water. Specifically, arsenic.

Groundwater samples showed the presence of naturally occurring arsenic at a rate 80 times higher than what's recommended by the World Health Organization, which we are shocked to learn was not "Holy shit no, don't drink arsenic at all." The discrepancy was not a coincidence. A later water treatment program, established in 1970, inadvertently led to a spike in breast cancer.

Arsenic is generally a high-risk carcinogen in its own right, but it was also protecting against the most prevalent cancer in women. The fountain of youth was there the whole time; it just happened to be a wee bit deadly. No, this doesn't mean that you should start chugging the stuff to stave off death, but the FDA has authorized an arsenic-based derivative for leukemia patients. Because hey, at that point, it's not the arsenic you're worried about.

If You Don't Want Ulcerative Colitis, Smoke More Cigarettes

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a persistent, painful disease of the bowels whereby diarrhea and constipation somehow work in tandem, as well as bloody stool and whatever "bowel leakage" is. No, we're not going to look it up. The last-ditch treatment for UC, a proctocolectomy, is also unpleasant. That's a surgical removal of the colon, rectum, and anus. As you can imagine, the alternatives to "having a functioning anus" aren't fun. Oh, and UC rates are going up, for reasons the medical community either can't fathom or doesn't really like to dwell on.

But don't give up hope. If you fear this predicament, this is one surefire way to ward it off, and that's to break out a pack of Camels. Smoking cigarettes prevents UC -- an observation first recorded back in the 1980s, when epidemiologists noted that smokers rarely suffered from it. Repeated studies have strengthened the correlation, to the annoyance of doctors everywhere. Trust us, they've tried really hard to disprove that a cigarette break levels up your colon. For obvious reasons.

It still isn't clear how smoke quashes UC, but it seems to involve the way the body absorbs nicotine. Until a better solution is found, you're stuck with drugs that induce anemia, osteoporosis, and cataracts ... or the silky smooth taste of Lucky Strikes! (Comes with a free side of emphysema.)

Related: 5 Myths About Curing Common Injuries (You Probably Believe)

Meth Kills The Flu

Meth use is a terrible idea, unless you really, really need to get your house cleaned in a hurry. It damages your brain and heart, it screws up your mental health, and it makes you look like a low-budget zombie. But you know what else sucks? The influenza virus, which routinely causes pandemics ... and which meth happens to combat. Hey, sometimes the cure is nastier than the disease.

Meth use frequently results in compromised immune systems and increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections, but the flu is a weird exception. Apparently, meth is just so damn toxic that mere contact with the flu virus causes it to wither up and die -- and this effect lasts long after the drug is administered.

6 Miracle Cures That Are Way Worse Than The Disease Itself
Psychonaught/Wikimedia Commons
Though in retrospect, it makes sense that a drug literally made out of cold medicine would help with a runny nose.

Immunologists are so keen on meth's medicinal value that they're pushing for similar antiviral agents be synthesized to fight the flu, albeit these ones won't make your teeth fall out. In the meantime, if you ever miss your yearly flu shot, consider meth!

Insect Stings Fight Cancer And Prevent Arthritis

Any cancer therapy sounds stupid if you use the right language. "I'm sorry, you want to shoot a ray gun at my tumor? I demand to see your medical license!" That being said, we're really struggling to imagine a future where "wasp therapy" sounds like anything but what your hippie cousin endorsed right up until his face swelled up like a beach ball.

Polybia paulista, a wasp found in South America, produces a toxin known as MP1, and clinical evaluations have found that MP1 destroys tumor cells while leaving healthy ones alone. And those tumors do not die a decent death. MP1 creates "gaping holes that allow molecules crucial for cell function to leak out." Many, many future studies are needed, but anything that selectively targets cancerous cells is of interest to scientists ... even if its source makes you swat at the air and flee your picnic.

There's also good news if you have arthritis (uh, relatively speaking). More bee-derived drugs are likely hitting shelves soon, as they've been consistently demonstrated to reduce pain and swelling while increasing range of motion. Bee venom therapy has actually been deemed "superior" to conventional medicines when it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis, since a bee's sting stimulates a natural release of anti-inflammatory chemicals, which in turn staves off arthritis symptoms. Mother Nature's a bitch, but at least she doesn't require a co-pay.

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