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Hi everyone,

My name is Marika Tait, and I am a Health and Wellness Facilitator at CCI Support. Some of you will know me from support sessions, social groups and meetings, and others may not. Some of you also know that as well as being a facilitator I am also someone living with ME/CFS and Long COVID.

I wanted to take this time to talk about predatory health programs and products. I know all too well that when doctors are dismissive, judgemental and do not take the time to really listen or learn about our illness it is inevitable that we will start looking for help in other places. This is not a bad thing – CCIS is one of those other places! But I wanted to give you some suggestions as to how you can ensure you are not being exploited by people who are more interested in your money than in your health. If you have tried some of these things, please do not feel bad. I know how difficult it is to resist trying them when you are frustrated and just wanting to feel better.

Some quick ‘red flags’ to be on guard for:

  • Does the program guarantee a quick and easy cure? Do they boast of a 100% cure rate? It may sound a bit pessimistic, but if anything sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for organisations or programs that promise realistic outcomes. Management and slow improvement rather than a miracle cure.
  • Likewise, if a supplement is claiming to do more than one or two things, that is a red flag. The body is very complicated. Yes, if you are lucky a supplement may, by fixing one deficiency, cause an overall improvement in the body. However, if it is promising to cure a, b, c, and also x, y, z then that is a red flag.
  • Toxins – toxins are often the ‘big bad’ that wellness products offer to fix. But if you ask them what they mean when they say toxins – what is it that they are actually claiming to remove from your body??? they likely will not have a clear answer. The truth is, almost anything can be toxic, but it generally depends on the dosage (too much water can be toxic! Too much oxygen can be toxic!) and treatments would vary depending on what the substance was. For the most part, your body removes anything toxic by itself. If it can’t, wellness products are not going to fix it.
    • Some products have very convincing ‘proof’ that they are removing toxins. For example, the Guardian warns of a ‘detoxing foot pad’ that turns brown overnight with what the manufacturers claim is toxic sludge drawn from your body. In reality, there is a substance in the pads that turns brown when it mixes with water from your sweat. Other products change the consistency of your stool (poo) in order to convince you that they are having an effect.
  • Anything that claims to be healthy because it is natural. Snake venom is natural! Poisonous plants are natural! Yes, there are ‘natural’ treatments that can be helpful, but often ‘natural’ is a buzzword used to make a product sound ‘healthier’.
  • Anything that demonises medication and the ‘evil’ medical industry. Certainly, medication can have side effects. Certainly, there are many doctors out there who do not understand complex chronic illnesses and treat us badly and/or incorrectly (been there), there is medical neglect (infuriating!) and our current medical system has flaws. Absolutely! But anything that uses the words ‘what doctors/pharmacists don’t want you to know’ or talks about the medical system as an evil monolith with a plan to ‘keep you sick’ is doing so to gain your trust so they can convince you that they are the only path to health – as long as you pay for their product.

If you are interested in a program or a supplement, then I recommend talking to a doctor or your health and wellness facilitator. They can help you decide if it is something worth spending your hard-earned money on.

Can you think of any other red flags? Can you think of a time that you were tempted by one of these programs or supplements? I certainly can!

Wishing you all the best, and hoping you are staying warm.

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