4 'Common Sense' Cures That Are Total Snake Oil

The common cold is so common that we put "common" in its name. If it was like consumption, then we might call it the uncommon cold, or even the rare one. But no, that shit is common. Basic bitch disease is what it is, and that's how we treat it. We don't respect the cold. We start getting a cough and a runny nose, and what do we do? Pull some straight bullshit like stocking up on vitamin C and zinc. Well, good luck with that, because all those common-sense cures for common illnesses are as basic bitch bullshit as the illnesses themselves. By which we mean lies. Ineffective lies.

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Vitamin C

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According to the internet, you can cure cancer with vitamin C, but only if you read the headline and not the body of any scientifically sound article on the subject. Because the body will then explain how they've used vitamin C in trials for about 40 years now, and have never cured cancer with it a single time. Though it did seem to maybe have luck slowing the rate of cell growth once ... with a super high dose of intravenous vitamin C. But your Flintstones chewables will probably do the trick if you double up.

Why does everyone and their uncle still think Vitamin C can cure cancer, leprosy, and gout? One man: Linus Pauling. The guy was a veritable genius for a portion of his career, and he won two different Nobel Prizes all on his own. It's just that one day, another doctor who had gotten his PhD from an unaccredited correspondence school told him that 3,000 mg of Vitamin C a day would make him live another 25 years, and he bought it. He bought it so hard that he wrote books about it telling everyone else to do it while he was up to 18,000 mg a day. That is some "sell the cow to a maniac in exchange for some magic beans" shit.

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The face of a man doing 300 times the "required" dose.

The daily requirement of vitamin C needed to ward off scurvy is 60 mg. Fortunately, water soluble as vitamin C is, if you take an excess, you'll piss it away and no harm done. Generally speaking. But that "no harm done" upper threshold maxes out at around 2,000 mg a day. Mega doses can and will cause side effects like diarrhea, kidney stones, heart burn, cramping, and vomiting. Pauling must have thought those were just his body's way of celebrating its newfound health.

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The face of a man who literally won't stop pooping.

This guy was on the verge of shitting lemonade on a regular basis, and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. Unfortunately for him, it was about as useless as sliced bread is for fighting any disease aside from sandwichitis. He'd go on to claim that vitamin C was a cure for cancer and had saved him from prostate cancer, right until the day he died of prostate cancer. It's been shown since that mega doses of Vitamin C actually may contribute to cancer in mice. Pauling was known to take up to 40,000 mg if he felt a cold coming on, which is about 1/6 of a cup of pure vitamin C. You should never be able to use grandma's measuring cups to see how much of a certain nutrient you've had in a day, when normally it would be in the virtually microscopic range.

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How influential could this one man be? Well, they still call vitamin C therapy Pauling Therapy, and there are millions of websites spouting off about how beneficial it is. He's probably more influential now in death thanks to the internet than he ever was in life -- a man with real scientific credentials spouting nonsense which has since been proven to be nonsense.

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Echinacea

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There are two facts you need to know about Echinacea before you use it to treat any illness. The first is that it is not a main character from the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh. That's Enkidu. The second is that it does nothing, so throw it away. It can't even cure Gilgamesh of his arrogance. Pile of crap.

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Back in the 1960s, when your grandma was looking super hot, a Swiss fellow was on a trip across America. In South Dakota, he discovered Echinacea, and the noble Native Americans explained to him how they had used this sacred herb for generations to prevent and cure illnesses such as the common cold. Except maybe they pointed to a different plant. Or maybe Swiss Miss didn't speak English so good. In any event, the Natives didn't tell him they'd been using Echinacea to cure jack and that it was just a mistake, and he took the stuff back home. Now, 50 years later, you can bet your ass someone is making millions of dollars off of Echinacea sales thanks to people who don't know any better.

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Making Money Off Of Dummies is never not profitable.

So a Swiss man who made health supplements for a living started the Echinacea industry, and let's just assume he took the Natives at their word (or since maybe they never told him anyway, that he pretended to take them at their word), and started selling Echinacea as a miracle herb. The New England Journal of Medicine, using things like peer review and double blind tests and science and whatnot, concluded that there's really no evidence at all that Echinacea has any effect on a cold.

Now, if you Google something like "Echinacea cold" or even the herb itself, you'll probably find a million and one pages which state that the herb will shorten the amount of time you have a cold, ease the symptoms, or outright prevent it, as though it were fact. They'll also preach that it contains a host of other benefits for your digestive system and headaches and whatever else. So how did that come to pass? That, my friends, is the curious world of "alternative medicine," which is founded not on the desire to cure illness or help the sick and infirm, but to say the exact opposite of whatever science says pretty much all the time. The validity of alternative medicine is totally reliant on the idea that you might be a cave troll who is skeptical of Nikola Tesla and his lightning machine and wants to stick with invisible magic to make the world work, because science hurts your brain.

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"Me no trust facts, so me eat these leaves instead. Why does me still so sick?"

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Zinc

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Americans spend over $100 million a year on zinc supplements, so the word is definitely out that this shitty metal does something. It's mostly marketed as a way of relieving cold symptoms, and it stands to reason that since zinc is a metal and a cold is caused by a virus, that the zinc will stab the virus to death with little metal hands and your nose will stop running. But, and be prepared to be totally boogalooed by this little chestnut, it turns out there's no science backing that shit up at all.

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As it happens, a few studies indicate zinc may lessen the duration of a cold, but not that it can prevent one or affect symptoms. All in all, that's better than nothing, right? It would be if that's all zinc did, but that's not all zinc does. It's mostly famous for causing nausea, because you're just eating a shitty metal, and also for giving you chronic toilet mouth. Again, because it's a shitty metal. It makes your mouth taste shitty. So now you have that going on and the trade off is your cold lasts a day less. Worth it yet?

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"Hell yes it be!"

Of greater concern than zinc's penchant for vomitousness is that it apparently can also completely destroy your sense of smell. Is that not the most weirdly random of side effects? 130 people complained to the FDA about various zinc-based nasal sprays for colds, and several products were taken off the market as a result. In some cases, the damage done by the sprays was permanent. There are people out there right now not smelling jack shit because they sprayed zinc up their nose. Considering the most common application of zinc is galvanization, there's a good reason to take a moment and consider just how much of this stuff you really need in your body anyway. It's used to make alloys strong and shiny. Do you need that in your lungs and butt and whatnot?

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Hand Sanitizer

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A fun product to use in this modern world when you can't find the time to bathe after wiping your own ass is hand sanitizer. You can punch turds and fist donkeys all day, and then a little squirt resets your clock -- just like how saying sorry to a priest absolves you of all those fires you set. Sweet deal. Only is it really that easy?

First and foremost, stop setting fires. Secondly, wash your hands with soap, you butt-fiddler. Next, as far as sanitizer is concerned, use this stuff in a pinch or somewhere gross like a hospital. I never touch anything at a hospital, including myself. Fuck that, I'm not risking it. I'll lather up with sanitizer every 10 feet I walk, and if some rancid, oozing, dysentery-infused ghoul even looks in my direction, I'm putting on a second coat. I will not go down without a fight. But that's a special circumstance.

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This is what I like to call a multi-squirt situation.

Out in the real world, you're going to want to lay off the hand sanitizer. Sure, it kills germs ... if you have a kind which contains enough alcohol, and not all do. (Check the label for 60 percent. If it has less, you're basically washing your hands with a margarita, and ass germs are more than happy to bathe in that.) But who cares? If it's a sanitizer with Triclosan included as an antibacterial agent, you should just start swallowing pieces of jagged metal now, because you're really screwing your insides.

Triclosan is a vile substance known for doing things like walking up to your immune system and digging a hole in it to use as a latrine. Aside from being a compound that can lead to the formation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, triclosan itself gets in your bloodstream and maybe gives you cancer, or alters hormone levels, or causes allergies, infertility, or neurological issues. It's like the hand sanitizer people wanted to make sure they had concentrated evil in their product, but a wide-spectrum evil that would cause a grab bag of terrible side effects.

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Your body, post-triclosan.

If none of that turns you off hand sanitizer, consider this: If your sanitizer smells like anything other than moonshine, it's because they perfumed it. Most of those perfumes are the result of phthalates -- chemicals that you might eat later when you pop some Skittles with your sanitizer-encrusted hands. Once inside you, phthalates proceed right to the Chuck Palahniuk and Clive Barker Memorial Church of Fucked Uppery and proceed to do unthinkable things to your body. The Swan Study showed that women who were exposed to excessive phthalates gave birth to children with wrongly-positioned anal openings. So for the cost of some lavender scent in your hand sanitizer, you're breeding a generation of kids whose assholes aren't where their assholes should be. Where are their assholes? I couldn't find an answer! They're just not in the right place, and I will go out on a limb and say that if your asshole shows up in any place other than the middle of your ass, your life is going to be a fucking chore.

Learn why acupuncture can actually be useful in 6 New Age Cures That Aren't As Full Of Crap As You Think and if you have the hiccups, don't worry. Just stick your finger up your butt. See why in 5 Shockingly Unexpected Cures for Common Health Problems.

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