With as many as three million adults coping with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and the numbers on the rise, online scams promising a cure keep popping up left and right. Some are harmless—just ineffective. Others are downright dangerous. These scams can become even riskier when patients stop listening to their physicians or ditch their medication regimens. (You should never make any changes to your medical care without checking with your physician).
Here are a few ways to recognize online scams.
The claims are too good to be true
Unfortunately there is no cure for IBD to date. While medical science has progressed and there are definitely better treatments, like biologics, which can put IBD in remission, anyone claiming to have a remedy for IBD is simply not telling the truth.
The studies are exaggerated or not repeated
Many sites will take a very small study, blow it out of proportion, and draw conclusions that are not applicable to an actual patient population. Larger studies are more representative of the patient population. Studies that include fewer than 100 people and haven’t been repeated in larger populations are not necessarily bad; they are the starting point for new research. However, they should not prompt you to change your treatment plan (unless your physician states otherwise).
Sites ask for money upfront or are trying to sell you something
Be very wary of any online sites that want you to pay upfront for information, supplements, or anything else they claim will cure IBD. There are valid supplements and information but most are reasonably priced and don’t pitch themselves as a cure. As far as supplements are concerned, treat them like any medication and always run them by your physician.
There are many wonderful sites out there for anyone seeking information on IBD, so be sure to stick with the valid ones. Some of my favorites are HealthCentral (of course), Mayo Clinic, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, and Johns Hopkins Medicine.
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Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.