5 Natural Alternatives That Aren't Safe

Many Americans turn to natural alternatives in their daily lives. With how processed our food is and how inaccessible health care has gotten, it’s easy to see why. And those who do get in to see a doctor often feel they're being brushed off and overprescribed medication. Natural remedies are an attractive alternative to this. Unfortunately, just because something says it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s safe. Deadly nightshade, belladonna, and asbestos are all quite deadly, but natural. Just like with everything else you put in your body, it’s important to be discerning about natural alternatives.

Uncured Meat

Curing food preserves it so it lasts longer. Since meat goes bad so quickly, it’s a popular item to cure. However, in 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that processed meats preserved with nitrates are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). In response, there was a sharp rise in the purchase of “uncured" meats. The problem with that is, most meats labeled as “uncured” at the store are very much cured, just with different ingredients (usually celery and sea salt). And found to have just as many if not more nitrates than conventionally cured meats. So if you want truly uncured meat, read labels carefully or better yet, visit your local butcher.

Depression Alternatives

I list these not to discourage you, but to inform you. Many natural alternatives for antidepressants interact with them. Since most antidepressants require tapering, many trying these alternatives would be on antidepressants too. St. John’s Wort, a popular antidepressant alternative, can not only cause serious side effects when mixed with antidepressants, but can also interfere with many medications such as blood-thinning drugs, birth control pills, chemotherapy, and HIV/AIDS medications. S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) interacts with antidepressants too, but can also trigger mania in bipolar sufferers. Another popular one, 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), increases the risk of Serotonin Syndrome when taken with antidepressants.

Detoxes & Cleanses

Your body detoxifies itself naturally every day. Believe me, your kidney and liver have got this. Research shows that detoxes like colonics are not only ineffective, they can be downright dangerous. While most simply experience nausea and cramping, it can also result in more harmful effects like rectal tearing and even kidney failure. Cleanses like juice fasts aren’t healthy either because they severely restrict calories and can deplete your body of nutrients and make you weak and dehydrated.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar has become a popular magic cure-all for Americans. Many people mix a tablespoon or two into a glass of water and drink it. However, there is little research to back up the claims that it can lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer, and help you lose weight. In fact, doctors say it may be harmful. Apple cider vinegar can worsen heartburn for previous sufferers and prolonged use can irritate the esophagus and damage tooth enamel.

Homeopathic Medicines

Homeopathy was developed in Germany in the 1700s and is based on the belief the body can cure itself. Homeopathic medicines are a tiny amount of something (like an herb) diluted in lots of water. At the end of the process, there is often little to none of the substance left. Most often, homeopathic medicines simply do nothing and you’ve only wasted time and money. However, research now shows that many homeopathic medicines contain unlisted ingredients and dangerously high amounts of other substances. The FDA began to crack down on these medications in 2017 when several children and babies suffered the effects of homeopathic teething tablets.