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19 September 2013

How safe are 'miracle cures' on the web?

Epilepsy Society's Dr Sallie Baxendale has contributed to a new guide, written for patients by patients, to warn of the dangers of untested cures advertised on the web. The guide,  'I've got nothing to lose by trying it'  has been published in collaboration with medical charities and Sense About Science.

The guide aims to help people with long term and chronic conditions weigh up claims about 'miracle cures' on the web and in advertising.

In the guide Sallie says: 'While many of the treatments promoted on the web are unproven and ineffective, others could be positively harmful for people with epilepsy. For example, some herbal remedies are more likely to cause seizures rather than cure them. When it comes to unregulated treatments it’s very difficult for people to know who to trust on the internet.'

The internet crosses national boundaries and gives near-endless space for claims, and the rise in people seeking medical information online has increased the bombardment people experience. People regularly use the internet to look further into a specific scientific or health topic - 80per cent of UK adults now have internet access.

The new guide explains what people can do - from getting involved in clinical trials and finding good evidence based information, to questions to ask about evidence to help distinguish beneficial from bogus claims.

Dr Sallie Baxendale's book 'Epilepsy: Complementary and alternative treatments' is available from Epilepsy Society's shop. It aims to enable people with epilepsy make evidenced based and therefore informed decisions about treatments which may help them live with their condition.

I've got nothing to lose