Worst Medical Hoaxes in History

Medical hoaxes are not just harmless deceptions; they pose significant risks to public health. In a world where misinformation can spread rapidly, medical hoaxes can lead… Alexander Gabriel - June 7, 2023

Medical hoaxes are not just harmless deceptions; they pose significant risks to public health. In a world where misinformation can spread rapidly, medical hoaxes can lead people to make ill-informed decisions about their health, delay or forgo evidence-based treatments, and even expose themselves to potentially harmful substances or practices. These hoaxes erode trust in the medical community and scientific research, hindering efforts to promote public health initiatives and disseminate accurate medical information. Moreover, the consequences of falling prey to medical hoaxes can range from minor discomfort to severe illness or even death, making it imperative to recognize and combat these deceptive claims. Understanding the impact of medical hoaxes is important for safeguarding the health of everyone.

The New York Times

Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS)

Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) emerged as a distressing medical hoax that posed significant health risks to unsuspecting individuals seeking alternative treatments. Marketed as a panacea for a wide range of diseases, MMS is, in fact, a highly dangerous bleach solution containing sodium chlorite. Advocates of MMS claimed that it could cure conditions like cancer, autism, and malaria, among others. However, scientific evidence overwhelmingly contradicts these assertions and instead highlights the severe risks associated with consuming or using MMS. When ingested or mixed with an acid, such as lemon juice, MMS produces chlorine dioxide, a potent and toxic chemical compound used as an industrial bleach. The ingestion of MMS can lead to serious adverse effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, organ damage, and even potentially fatal outcomes.



Laetrile gained widespread attention and generated hope as an alternative cancer treatment during the 1970s. Derived from apricot kernels and marketed as a “natural” remedy, it was heavily promoted as a miracle cure for cancer. However, extensive scientific studies and clinical trials have consistently demonstrated that laetrile is ineffective in treating cancer. In some cases, it can even be harmful. The substance contains a compound called amygdalin, which is metabolized into cyanide in the body. Cyanide is a highly toxic substance that can cause severe health complications, including nerve damage and even death. Despite the lack of scientific evidence supporting its efficacy, laetrile attracted a dedicated following and led individuals to pursue unproven treatments while neglecting conventional, evidence-based cancer therapies.

Science History Institute


Polywater was hailed as a new form of water with extraordinary properties, including increased viscosity, higher boiling point, and strange behavior under certain conditions. The existence of polywater was attributed to a chain-like structure of water molecules, leading to its anomalous characteristics. However, subsequent investigations and experiments revealed that polywater was not a distinct form of water, but rather a result of contamination in the samples. The perceived properties of polywater could be attributed to impurities, such as organic compounds, that were present in the experimental setups. The debunking of polywater highlighted the importance of rigorous scientific scrutiny, repeatability of experiments, and careful consideration of potential contaminants in research.

The Ecologist

The Thalidomide Tragedy

The thalidomide tragedy stands as one of the most devastating incidents in medical history. It serves as a grim reminder of the potential consequences of inadequate drug testing and regulation. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, thalidomide, a sedative and anti-nausea medication, was widely prescribed to pregnant women to alleviate morning sickness. Tragically, it was discovered that thalidomide caused severe birth defects, primarily affecting the development of limbs. Thousands of infants were born with missing or malformed limbs. This led to profound physical and emotional hardships for both the affected children and their families. The tragedy sparked outrage and prompted stricter regulations for drug testing and approval processes worldwide.

Swell Caroline

Detox Foot Pads

Detox foot pads gained popularity as a wellness product claiming to cleanse the body by drawing out toxins through the soles of the feet. However, scientific evidence has debunked the efficacy of these products. Detox foot pads are essentially adhesive pads that are applied to the soles of the feet overnight. The pads contain various ingredients such as herbal extracts, minerals, and salts. Upon removal, the pads often appear discolored, leading to the misconception that toxins have been extracted from the body. In reality, the change in color is primarily due to moisture and sweat from the feet interacting with the pad’s ingredients. There is no scientific basis to support the claim that these pads can eliminate toxins from the body.

Aventuras na Historia

Orgone Energy

Orgone therapy was a pseudoscientific practice developed by Wilhelm Reich in the early 20th century. Reich claimed that orgone energy, a cosmic life force, permeated the universe and influenced physical wellness. He proposed that by manipulating this energy, individuals could improve their health and overall vitality. However, orgone therapy lacked scientific evidence and was deemed a pseudoscience by the scientific community. Reich’s claims and methods were not based on rigorous scientific principles, and his experiments often lacked proper controls and reproducibility. Despite its lack of scientific validity, orgone therapy gained a following and influenced various alternative healing practices.

Magnetic Therapy

Proponents claim that magnets influence the body’s electromagnetic field, resulting in various therapeutic benefits. Unfortunately, there is not really any evidence to suggest that these magnets do anything for anyone’s health. Numerous controlled trials have been conducted, examining its effectiveness in relieving pain or improving health outcomes. However, the results have been inconclusive or contradictory. While magnets do have established uses in certain medical fields, such as in imaging or targeted drug delivery, the claims made by magnet therapy proponents go beyond the current scientific understanding.

My Recipes

Essiac Tea

The tea’s origins can be traced back to a Canadian nurse named Rene Caisse, who claimed that the blend of herbs in Essiac Tea had remarkable cancer-fighting properties. Essiac Tea typically contains a combination of herbs, including burdock root, sheep sorrel, slippery elm bark, and Indian rhubarb root. However, despite its widespread use and anecdotal testimonials, there is a lack of scientific evidence to support the efficacy of Essiac Tea as a cancer treatment. it is important to note that Essiac Tea contains a combination of herbs that can potentially interact with medications or cause adverse effects in some patients.



Developed by a biochemist named Stevan Durovic, Krebiozen was touted as a miraculous drug that could shrink tumors and extend the lives of cancer patients. The initial positive reports were likely influenced by a strong placebo effect and biased anecdotal evidence. The disappointing truth revealed that Krebiozen was ineffective in treating cancer, leading to the downfall of the once-promising drug. Krebiozen fell out of use as a cancer treatment in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Vital Vida

Psychic Surgery

Psychic surgery emerged as a controversial practice in the mid-20th century, claiming to involve the ability to perform surgical procedures using only the hands and without the need for traditional medical instruments. Practitioners would seemingly reach into a patient’s body and extract tumors or perform intricate operations without leaving any incisions. However, investigations and exposure of psychic surgery techniques revealed that it was nothing more than an elaborate sleight-of-hand trick. The supposed surgical procedures were actually deceptive maneuvers involving hidden props, fake blood, and skillful misdirection.

Verywell Health

Facilitated Communication

Facilitated Communication (FC) emerged as a method to assist non-verbal people, such as those with autism or cerebral palsy, in communicating their thoughts and feelings. It involved a facilitator supporting the individual’s hand or arm while typing on a keyboard or pointing to symbols. However, extensive research has revealed that the messages produced through FC are not from the person themselves but are actually influenced by the facilitator. The facilitator, often unwittingly, guides the movements and shapes the messages, leading to a phenomenon known as the “ideomotor effect.” This effect highlights how subtle cues from the facilitator can influence the typing or pointing actions, making it appear as though the individual is communicating independently.

Radiantly Alive

Pranic Healing

Pranic healing is an alternative healing practice that operates on the principle that energy, known as prana, can be harnessed and directed to facilitate physical and emotional healing. During a pranic healing session, the practitioner typically assesses the client’s energetic field by scanning it with their hands. They may use sweeping hand movements or visualizations to remove perceived energetic imbalances and promote healing, with the intention of restoring harmony and balance to the client’s energy system. While some individuals may report positive experiences and feelings of improvement, these effects can often be attributed to placebo responses or other non-specific factors.


Aduki Bean Diet

The Aduki Diet gained popularity as a fad diet that claimed consuming aduki beans would result in significant weight loss. Advocates of the diet promoted aduki beans as a “superfood” that could boost metabolism and burn fat. Unfortunately, there is a lack of evidence supporting these claims. While aduki beans are a nutritious food, no specific properties in them have been proven to promote weight loss. The Aduki Diet falls into the category of fad diets, emphasizing the importance of approaching weight loss and dietary choices with evidence-based information and guidance from healthcare professionals to achieve sustainable and healthy outcomes.


Hoxsey Therapy

The treatment was developed by Harry Hoxsey in the 1920s and involved a combination of herbal remedies and topical applications. Hoxsey Therapy typically includes a blend of herbal ingredients, such as red clover, burdock root, barberry bark, and licorice root. Despite testimonials and widespread use, Hoxsey Therapy has been found to be ineffective in treating cancer. The claims made about its efficacy lacked evidence, and the therapy was deemed potentially dangerous. The ingredients used in Hoxsey Therapy have been shown to have limited or no anti-cancer properties, and relying solely on this approach can lead individuals to delay or forgo proven medical treatments.



Bioscan is a fraudulent device that falsely claims to diagnose diseases by measuring electromagnetic signals emitted by the body. It’s important to note that the term “Bioscan” is often used to refer to various different devices or technologies, so there may be multiple inventors associated with different versions or variations of the Bioscan concept. This pseudoscientific technique suggests that imbalances or disturbances in these signals can be indicative of specific health conditions. The device has been widely criticized by the medical community and regulatory authorities for making false claims and preying on vulnerable individuals seeking accurate diagnoses.

Claire Chaubert


Homeopathy was developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, in the late 18th century. Hahnemann introduced the principles and practices of homeopathy in his book “Organon of the Rational Art of Healing” published in 1810. He proposed that diseases could be treated with highly diluted substances that, in larger doses, would produce symptoms similar to those of the illness. Hahnemann’s ideas were innovative for his time but lacked scientific evidence. The extreme dilutions used in homeopathic preparations often result in little to no remaining active molecules of the original substance. Numerous rigorous studies and scientific reviews have consistently shown that homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.

Atlas Obscure

19th Century Electric Belts

The electric belt gained popularity in the late 19th century as a purported cure-all device. Marketed as a revolutionary health aid, the belt claimed to provide a wide range of health benefits, from relieving pain to curing various illnesses. The electric belt was invented by numerous inventors and manufacturers during that era. The belt was a device consisting of copper coils, wires, and silver-coated zinc components that administered mild electrical currents to the body. The electric currents produced by the belt were often too weak or inconsistent to have any physiological impact.

Medical News Today

Fasting Cures

While fasting may have certain benefits in certain contexts, such as intermittent fasting for weight management, the claims made about fasting cures are often exaggerated. Fasting cures encompass a range of fasting regimens that have been recommended as effective treatments. These include chronic diseases like cancer, autoimmune disorders, and even mental health conditions. Proponents of fasting cures claim that depriving the body of food for extended periods can trigger a healing response, and rid the body of toxins. The use of fasting as a standalone treatment for such conditions is not recommended by medical professionals.



Diathermy is a therapeutic technique used in physical therapy and certain medical procedures. It involves the application of high-frequency electromagnetic currents to generate heat in the body tissues. The heat produced by diathermy is believed to promote tissue relaxation, increase blood flow, and aid in pain management. There are different types of diathermy, including shortwave diathermy and microwave diathermy, each with its own specific applications. However, it’s important to note that while diathermy has been used for many years, its effectiveness and benefits remain a subject of debate within the medical community. Some studies suggest positive outcomes in certain conditions, while others argue that its benefits may be largely attributed to placebo effects or the thermal properties alone.

Eastern Osteopathy

Cranial Osteopathy

Cranial osteopathy is a form of complementary and alternative medicine that focuses on the manipulation and realignment of the skull and its associated structures. Practitioners of cranial osteopathy believe that subtle movements and rhythms within the skull, known as cranial rhythmic impulses, can be used to diagnose and treat patients. During a cranial osteopathy visit, the practitioner will typically conduct a thorough assessment of the patient’s medical history and present symptoms. The treatment itself involves the practitioner using gentle touch and manipulation techniques on specific areas of the skull, face, and potentially other parts of the body, with the aim of promoting balance and restoring optimal function. Critics argue that any perceived positive effects of cranial osteopathy are likely due to the natural healing capabilities of the body.


Energy Bracelets

Energy bracelets, also known as power balance bracelets or energy balance bracelets, are wearable devices or beaded gems that claim to enhance physical performance, balance, and mental health. These bracelets often incorporate materials like silicone or metal and may feature embedded holograms or magnets. Other bracelets with supposed energy-enhancing elements may include gems such as amethyst, onyx, rose quartz, or hematite. These have never been proven to work, and their effectiveness is only anecdotal. Fortunately, there are no harmful side effects to using this jewelry.

Minnesota Dental Association

Psychic Dentistry

Psychic dentistry is a controversial practice that claims to address dental issues through non-physical or supernatural means. Proponents of psychic dentistry assert that practitioners possess psychic or spiritual abilities that enable them to perform dental procedures without traditional dental instruments. They claim to manipulate energy fields, perform extractions, fillings, or other dental interventions using only their hands or non-physical techniques. The practice is widely criticized by the dental and scientific communities as a pseudoscientific approach that preys on vulnerable individuals seeking alternative dental care.