The age of the internet has brought with it a host of scams, rip-offs, and fake products that make snake oil salespeople of the past look like saints. But the silver lining is that we are developing a thicker and thicker skin to their methods, with the result that we often misidentify real products as illegitimate.
So a netizen asked the people of the internet to share their wisdom on what things that appear to be scams actually work pretty well. There was a pile of interesting suggestions, so get comfortable as you read through, make sure to upvote your favorite examples and comment your thoughts and experiences below.
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Many people can’t believe this but: Vaccines are actually Safe and Effective!
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The whole “hold your breath to get rid of hiccups” trick.
Thing is, most people just don’t know the proper way to do it or why it works.
It’s got nothing to do with simply holding your breath. It’s got to do with using your lungs to hold down the diaphragm and stop it from spasming.
You breathe in until you cannot fit literally anything else into your lungs. When your chest is as full as humanly possible **then** you hold it and within about 15 seconds the hiccups are gone.
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Vinegar and news paper to clean windows.
I thought the ink would come off and make an even bigger mess.
Almost turns the window invisible.
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The original snake oil, while not at all functional, wasn’t intended to be a scam, at least as far as we know. Chinese traditional medicine posits that oil taken from the skin of a Chinese water snake may have some medicinal properties, and was likely brought into the English language through Asian railway workers in the 19th century.
Interestingly, oil taken from a Chinese water snake has a particularly high concentration of omega−3 fatty acids, more than salmon and the fish oils many people use as supplements. While just omega-3 fatty acids aren’t magic sure, they are not harmful and do have some health benefits. However, the real scams began when salespeople in the US, unable to procure Chinese snakes, turned to using rattlesnake oil.
Daylight lamps. Someone mentioned melatonin, so it reminded me of the opposite lol. Bought a daylight lamp last winter because I get depressed when it’s dark outside for long periods of time. Got one off amazon for 40€ and now I can’t live without it in the winter. Thought it was a sham initially. The light basically imitates the wavelengths of light emitted by the sun (bar the UVs) and inhibits the production of melatonin. Not only that, but it also boosts my mood and morale. You just have to be careful because it’s difficult to fall asleep for a couple of hours after using it.
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Taking magnesium. It really can cure some joint, nerve, muscle, heart and breathing problems.
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Of course, the only one it can cure are ones that are caused by a magnesium deficiency which a surprising number of people have.
Some life events that can rapidly use up magnesium in the body are pregnancy, surgery, viral illness and major period of stress.
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Yoga. I have severe upper back pain and went to months of physical therapy. I couldn’t keep up with the millions of appointments and started doin yoga as a way to stretch my upper back instead. I was doing it for 30 mins each day and forgot that I had pain. It’s so annoying that it does what people say it does because this whole time I thought they were just being annoying but they’re 100% right. There’s an app that is called “Down dog yoga” it’s a blue dog as the logo, that’s the app I really enjoy! You can Customize time and focus area so you can fit things in when you have time
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There is a possible, secondary European connection, as some folk medicine recommends viper oil to treat certain conditions. This doesn’t really have any basis in reality, plus there is the additional risk of needing to harvest oil from a venomous snake. Nevertheless, up until the mid-19th century, snake oil was commonly bought and sold, including by William Rockefeller Sr., the father of John D. Rockefeller, who technically was a literal snake oil salesman.
Sitting on your deck in summer or are you having a nice picnic when suddenly you’re being accosted by the hellspawn known as wasps? Get rid of them with this one easy solution: burn some coffee!
Burn coffee? I hear you say incredulously. Yes, burn coffee! Take a little saucer, pour a little pyramid of ground coffee on in and use a lighter to light the top. It will smolder slowly and give off a smoke that smells, well like burnt coffee. It will also instantly get rid of any wasps that are bothering you. No idea why, they absolutely hate the smell.
Some people also dislike the smell of the burning coffee, I understand this. But ask yourself this important question while the smell is annoying you: what do you dislike more; wasps or the smell of burning coffee? I know what I would pick.
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How effective Medical cannabis is on Parkinson’s and MS.
You watch the videos and the effects are like the patients are paid actors before. But it’s real, and it works.
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I know I know you’re like “Consciously breathing is stupid.” But we unconsciously do it our entire lives and rarely think about it. Our breath changes based on our moods, thoughts, and actions. Have you ever forgot to breathe when you were lost in thought or worried? When you’re angry, do you notice that you probably take shallow breaths in your chest? Our breath is the mind-body connection and can change our moods and minds in just a few minutes.
You don’t have to go full Wim Hof, but these are great:
+ psychological sigh (2 count nasal inhales, long slow mouth exhale)
+ box breathing (inhale 4 count, hold 4 count, exhale 4 count, hold 4 count, repeat)
+ bedtime breath (nasal inhale 4 count, hold for 7 count, mouth exhale for 8 count)
Edit to add:
I love the free app Unwind. It’s simple, no sign ups, with 3 great timed breathwork options.
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In an even more convoluted twist, one of the original snake-oil salesmen, as we think of the term today, was a man named Clark Stanley, sometimes called the “Rattlesnake King,” who sold, you guessed it, what he said was oil from rattlesnakes, which was supposed to cure all sorts of ailments. He was exposed as a fraud in 1916, which is likely the reason we still compare scam products to snake oil.
I was suffering with plantar fasciitis for over six months. I tried new shoes, new insoles, pills, and physical therapy but none those things fixed it. A friend kept suggesting I try these gel toe separator things like they wear when painting toe nails. I thought it was silly but they were only $10 on Amazon, what do I have to lose? I wore the neon blue gel thing at night feeling very silly. After The first night my foot hurt like hell but after the 2nd it felt a whole lot better. I wore it for two weeks straight and plantar fasciitis was gone. Those things were like magic.
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Hopping on the opposite leg when you have water in your ear after swimming – works every damn time
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Weighted blankets. My partner has anxiety disorder (I don’t) so I bought one for her as a gift while we lived apart. I didn’t think they would make any difference to me. She moved in, and I slept under it for the first time… I can’t get a good night of sleep without it now. It’s literally a 10x improvement to my sleep, and I discounted it because I thought it wouldn’t do anything
I guess you could say I slept on it for too long ???
In a twist that shouldn’t surprise any 21st-century person, Clark Stanley’s rattlesnake oil didn’t even contain any snake oil. On the one hand, the presence of snake oil wouldn’t have made a lick of difference, but it seems like a colossal risk to sell a fake product that doesn’t even have the magic ingredient it’s marketed for. His reputation was destroyed when this uncomfortable fact was discovered and he was fined $20.
Does a dog thundershirt count? Had an anxious dog with storms/loud noises, got him one, and while not perfect, he did seem to calm down with it on more often that not.
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Neti pot aka nasal saline douche is amazing if you have seasonal allergies, a cold or a sinus infection. Anecdotally it can also help reduce severity of COVID infections.
Meditation. When I was an alcoholic and drug abuser, my friend use to tell me about meditation to help with anxiety and stress. I thought “b***h we use Xanax around here, no one’s got time to meditate” we no longer use Xanax, and have the time to meditate:)
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While snake oil might be on the decline, there is no shortage of modern quackery, from medicinal Tibetan singing bowls to expensive dietary supplements that have minerals and vitamins found in the most basic veggies and fruits. These days, there is less pressure to persecute these salespeople, because, let’s face it, a fool, and their money will be parted pretty quickly anyway.
This is going to sound ridiculous, but infrared light therapy. I have an autoimmune disorder and some old injuries from childhood, so I’ve struggled with chronic pain and moderate-severe fatigue for most of my life.
After my first experience in one of those beds, I spent the next week or so with no pain and the energy to actually get stuff done without being even a little tired afterward.
I have no idea how it works, I just know that I don’t hurt now and my inflammation numbers have been cut in half. That doesn’t even happen on my immunosuppressant.
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Vitamin D supplements. it’s much more important than any of us realized.
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Sleepy time tea. I always thought it was just a tea that’s nice to drink before bed but sleepy time extra actually puts my d**k in the dirt. Chamomile and valerian root are legit natural sedatives.
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I had a weird smelling basement. Someone said to get aromatic cedar blocks, sand them down and leave them there. I thought, no way this could work. But it did. The smell is totally eliminated.
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Salt water swish and gargle for toothache and sore throat (as long as it’s not something like strep). Source: currently have strep and ain’t nothing working. Otherwise even the dentist tells me to salt water swish if I get tooth pain or something stuck. Total relief.
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Epsom salt baths. They rapidly help recovery and I don’t know why I ever believed people saying it’s an old ‘wives tale’.
During the pandemic I rode my bike ~150+ miles a week, each day id do an Epsom soak for 15mins and I’d be good to go the next day.
Honorable second mention: Win Hoff method. Ice baths suck a*s. But they do your body wonders. I couldn’t get used to it, and bitched every time. But dammit do they help recovery time.
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I had chronic back pain for years. Then, just a few years ago I slept on my neck wrong and had neck pain that wouldn’t resolve; I saw a physical therapist and the first thing she did was look at how I sat and how I stood and walked. She told me nicely but essentially that my posture was horrible, affected by years of slumping in my seat and also being told continually by my mom “suck in that tummy!” when I stood or walked, which led to me thinking a pelvic tilt was necessary for good posture.
The therapist showed me how to sit and stand with a straight back, my chest up and forward, and my back keeping a healthy lumbar curvature. Let me tell you, it was HARD. My shoulder/back muscles were not used to it and I had to train them like any muscle is trained, with a posture bra and also using a long sheet tied like a strap around my neck, arms, and waist. It also felt so unnatural at first to be sticking my chest and butt out, like I was looking for attention—which is part of the reason people have such terrible posture; we feel that’s “immodest.”
No lie, 3 weeks later all my back pain symptoms were gone and haven’t returned. I can do some slumping when I sit with no great penalty now, but when I walk, or when have to stand for a duration, or sit on something backless, I use my good posture and I am pain-free.
Trying to spread the word on this makes me feel like a 1950s health movie (“Posture Pals!”) but it’s so effective I can’t stop sharing. Years of chronic back pain completely eliminated by just a few weeks of good posture training.
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Cranberry juice. At the first sign if a UTI I drink a bit of natural cranberry concentrate in a big glass of water. I get immediate relief.
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Tea tree oil for skin tags. Cover in tea tree oil using a cotton ball – you can tape the cotton ball over it too. In a couple of days it shrinks, dries up and falls off.
Hot water, baking soda, and aluminum foil to clean tarnished silver. I was amazed when I dropped in a piece and watched the tarnish disappear almost instantly.
Talking to a therapist. With symptoms like IBS, insomnia, anxiety and depression it’s really close to those “cure all” promises. And all that just by talking.
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Placebos are shockingly effective.
Not great, but larger than zero.
Exercises that use just your bodyweight, like push-ups, bodyweight squats, stuff like that. Can legit be done in place of weight training if you’re not just trying to get large.
wearing sunscreen / spf everyday is the simplest, cheapest and very effective anti-ageing.
yet a lot of people still ignore, prefer overpriced overrated cream, facelift and some invasive surgery.
Not sure if this is mainstream now but air fryer
Game changer and so much better than cooking in the grill or oven
I don’t really care that you don’t use oil I just like how easy it is
I don’t have kids but I’d like it even more if I did, it’s so good at stuff like frozen chips or chicken nuggets
WD40 cleans candle wax off your living room carpet. If ever in doubt, consult an old housewife.
that Liquid IV stuff. it’s legit, it will give you a lot of electrolytes, probably way more than an average person ever takes lol. is it some sort of super energy drink or someting? nah, but if you are working out or doing some sort of a sport or a physical activity, it really does help you stay hydrated better, I personally think it’s better than things like Gatorade.
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One of the few ingredients in cosmetics that is actually scientifically proven to work. You do need to get the good stuff (depending on your country you might actually have to get a doctor’s note to get the high concentration product) but it does improve your skin.
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Aloe vera for burns and skin conditions. Also, ginseng.
Supposedly digesting Local Honey will stop you from getting seasonal allergies.
The idea that you can stab me in select nerves with a needle and it will suddenly “fix” everything sounded like the epitome of b******t. However, I had a bad shoulder from my football days and it always was sore.
I went to a physiotherapist in Canada and they suggested dry needling + “the tumbler” (a high-intensity vibrating massager). I was skeptical, but I was losing mobility in my right arm; didn’t really have anything to lose.
I was converted after the first session. I recovered almost all my mobility in 2 session. The clicking in my shoulder stopped. It didn’t hurt to stretch anymore.
I don’t know who I could endorse this service for, but for me, it was a game changer and any time I hear someone talking about a shoulder pain, I point them towards this combination.
I’m going to collect more data on this but personally for me
When I feel that scratchy feeling in my throat I drink a very small amount of everclear and avoid the week or two of coughing.
It’s worked 19 out of 19 times
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Arnica gel. My daughter’s stepmum (K) was struggling with a heat rash for weeks and nothing she tried had worked. I told her my gran always swore by arnica gel for that. K bought some immediately, and texted me the next day to tell me that the rash had disappeared!
Rain-X and Bidet attachments. Not at the same time tho
I have serious, lifelong, horrible insomnia. I’ve tried every non-narcotic (and some narcotic) sleep aid you can imagine, melatonin is spotty and only works in the right conditions/makes me so groggy for 24 hours, benadryl is pretty terrible for you long term, etc. etc. etc. I tried valerian tea and it tasted like socks and did nothing. Then I learned that valerian takes a high dose to be effective, so I tried it in pills, and it seemed to help but it gave me a stomachache. Then a friend created a high dose valerian tincture for me. I swear on everything a dropper of that under the tongue for 2 minutes has almost the exact benefits as taking a xanax. You can properly feel it kicking in and you just drift off to sleep. There’s a reason they call it nature’s valium.
Glucosamine supplement is my answer. I know the jury is still out on rather or not it actually helps with joint health, but I swear by it. One of my knees used to fatigue and ache super fast when I go out for a run, but after taking this stuff daily for a couple months it’s soo much better. Still sometimes I get some aches on runs, it isn’t a miracle cure, but it’s soo much better than it was before.
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If you have a fireplace with a glass door. Wet some paper towel and dip it in the wood ash. Then wipe it liberally onto the glass so everything has a thin amount of ash paste on it, then scrub it and wipe it clean with another wet paper towel. Rinse and repeat for dirtier sections.
My wife and I spent hours trying to clean it before with detergents, vinegar, etc. But this had it completely cleaned and crystal clear in maybe 10 mins.
I had a couple mouth surgeries and was told putting a tea bag in my mouth would stop the bleeding. Bled non stop til I had a brew going on in my mouth
Apple cider vinegar can do a lot. There are some websites that tout it as a cure all. It’s not, obviously, but things like rashes, sunburn, dry scalp or dandruff, etc, it really does work.
I forgot what it was called but I couldn’t believe it actually worked, my grandmother would buy some cheap medicine from some small and frankly cheap looking stores
One was some sort of paste like medicine that was purple and smelled kind of funny, when I was young my brother accidentally slammed a door into my toe nail nearly breaking the whole thing off and splitting it in two
My grandmother then comes back to my family’s apartment and puts on the purple medicine on my toe, no joke when I say it healed in what, three to five days I think? Anyways my toenail is then fully healed, no pain or problems years after the accident
Too bad she didn’t have that stuff on her when I ended breaking my other toenail….
Herbal teas for ailments. I get very bad panic attacks, but drinking hot chamomile tea actually brings me “back down” when one tries to start. By the end of drinking a full cup of camomile tea, my panic attack is gone. Peppermint tea is really good for menstrual or any sort of muscle cramps (I have endometriosis AND adenomyosis and it works as well as an Advil for me). Peppermint tea also helps you sleep because it’s a muscle-relaxant.
The new electric-shock bands as treatment for travel sickness.
I have SEVERE travel sickness. Like, have had to call an ambulance before, get sick in some kinds of building, yes even if I am the one driving kind of travel sickness. I have tried every possible solution to this c**p.
A couple of years ago I found out of about the electric shock bands. The acupressure bands have always actually made me feel *worse* so I was skeptical, but I took a risk. They are straight up miraculous.
For example, my wife doesn’t drive and her family live 3 hours away. Going to see them used to entail me taking medication and going immediately to bed on arrival and still feeling ill the next day. Now if I remember to keep the band on during the journey and for like an hour or so after the journey the effects are minimised so much its more like a mild headache.
Also in this category: travel sickness glasses. They look ridiculous, but they do have an effect. Not gonna stop you being sick, but they help a little.
Spoonful of sugar to cure hiccups. Works for me every time.
Direct Neurofeedback. Literal brainwave monitoring and real-time retraining, done subconsciously. It’s actually settled science, is being used by NASA and JPL, and is being tested on Parkinsons patients. Personally, it’s done wonders for my anxiety and depression.
Snake oil. It is high in Omega-3 and an effective anti-inflammatory.
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If you have hiccups, just remind yourself you’re not a fish. It’ll fix your hiccups. Im not even joking
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Adults drinking pedialyte before a night of drinking.
Digging my fingers into my squishie to hold off hypnic jerk and sleep well.
Fancy tea tasting better than cheap stuff. Just got reminded today! I’ve been sipping on jasmine all day! So hydrated and happy.
Tart cherry juice for sleep.
Hemorrhoids cream works for undereye bags just dab a tiny amount and don’t get it in your eyes. This also helps bruises go away faster.
Milk of magnesia to prime your face before foundation.. it will help keep your makeup on all day
Warts. ANYTHING you convince someone will cure a wart, will cure a wart. You can pay a kid a quarter for a wart and it will disappear. You can paint it with fluorescent paint and shine a UV light on it and if they believe your trick it will go away. You can slap a bandaid on it and it will go away. This is well-documented. (I did a research project on the topic in the early stages of getting my doctorate.)
EMDR therapy for PTSD
Sounds like total b******t – and it actually works
Also for more complex subconscious memories – like early childhood core memories, there are reprogramming methods to change those entirely as well, but these require a lot more work with a specialized psychotherapist.
The human mind is highly pliable, the negative experiences of our past can be molded like putty into a new positive experience
Valerian is a very effective anxiolytic and sleep aid, and it’s cheap and legal everywhere.
Applying apple vinegar to skin tags will result in them falling off in a couple of days.
The pain of a migraine can be drastically reduced by sitting down in the shower in the dark and letting warm water fall directly on your head.
Nasal irrigation. If you have headaches that start in your back, upper teeth, it’s probably a chronic sinus infection. Sinuses are empty spaces and channels in one’s head. They fill with mucus and can simulate dental pain. If you don’t have a nedi pot, you can use a coffee cup. Just snort slowly through one nostril, jiggle your head around while rubbing your neck and face for 20 second, then blow your nose.
Wizardry if you ask me
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Huffing isopropyl alcohol wipes for nausea
Creatine monohydrate. The vast vast vast majority of muscle/strength building supplements are total garbage and won’t do anything at all for you. However, creatine monohydrate when taken at 5g per day (after saturation) has been shown to significantly increase muscular growth, strength, and even mental function in hundreds of studies. It isn’t magic and won’t turn you into the hulk, but if you are already doing well by training hard, eating enough, and resting properly then simply allowing your muscle cells to saturate over a few weeks can really make a difference in the gym. There is a myth that taking creatine will do things like cause hair loss and make you bloated with water weight. The hair loss is complete nonsense outright. The bloating is a misconception about how the water is stored when you take creatine. It is true that you will gain some water weight (usually 1-3lbs), but that water will be stored in INTRAMUSCULAR cells, not just randomly around the body to bloat you. In fact, that extra water in the muscle will actually make them appear slightly larger, which is a good thing! Creatine monohydrate is a great supplement that gets overlooked sometimes due to the rampant lying and scams in the fitness industry.