Letter from Mark Twain to a snake oil peddler: “You, sir, are the scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link”
Did you know that the latest snake oil salesman is lurking in your computer? Yes, they are baaaaaack. Buyer beware.
About every 2 months, I get a comment on my blog from someone claiming their mother/sister/brother with Parkinson’s was cured by a “miracle product” that was made especially for Parkinson’s. In fact, 3 have been identical except for the name of the person making the comment. An herbal company in South Africa or Europe or somewhere else is offering this miracle drug. Of course it is not a miracle drug and they will charge you an exhorbitant price for it, which you will be happy to pay if you believe their hype. If you go to the company’s website, you will see that the same “cure” is offered for any number of conditions, not just PD. Others post “cures” or products in Parkinson’s Facebook groups that are dubious at best. But they get wide distribution this way and can reach out to Parkies who are desperate to make their situation improve, without real “drugs” of course, because by taking those drugs they are admitting that they are “sick”.
So how do you know what is real and what is snake oil?
First, ask your Movement Disorders Specialist or Neurologist if they have heard of this product. If they don’t know about it, ask your pharmacist. They can look at the ingredients and give you a better idea about whether the product is legitimate or not.
Often these “cures” are just a combination of supplements that you may already be taking, but because they are packaged together as a “cure” the company will charge 3-4 times what you would pay at the local drugstore when buying the individual products. Then there is the issue of the quality of the ingredients. With any supplement that you take, you need to be aware that the actual amount of the calcium, B12, Co-Q10, etc. can very widely from brand to brand. Again, check with your doctor or pharmacist about the quality of the supplements. They can hopefully steer you towards the more reliable brands.
And then there is also the question of toxicity and interactions with the Parkinson’s drugs that you are already taking. Before taking any supplement, read warning labels about interactions and if there is any question, check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure that it is safe to take with your PD drugs. The last thing you want to do is end up in the hospital from a bad reaction.
The bottom line is this. Don’t fall for anything that promises you a cure. There are NO known cures for Parkinson’s at this time. Be critical about what you read. Ask questions and most of all, be aware that someone is trying to make some money off of your misfortune. The snake oil salesmen have been around for thousands of years and unfortunately, are not going away any time soon.