The most notorious health myths

We are bombarded with health tips every day, but some of those messages may be harmful if you don’t get the facts straight.

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of Real Cause Real Cure, spoke with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor for, about some of the most notorious health myths.

Myth #1: Arthritis medication is the best treatment for arthritis.

According Teitelbaum, more than 30,000 unnecessary deaths occur each year from arthritis medications.

“If you take a look at things like ibuprofen or the standard arthritis medication, 16,500 bleeding ulcer deaths a year in the United States from those medications – and the doubling and tripling of heart attack and stroke risk.”

While Teitelbaum says it’s better to be on medication than to be in pain, there are natural remedies for arthritis that are much safer.  End Pain, which is a mix of willow bark and boswellia, has shown to be twice as effective as ibuprofen in studies, Teitelbaum noted.  Also, Curamin and boswellia were found to be more effective than Celebrex.  And rather than getting side effects, the natural remedies provide side benefits – such as decreasing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the risk of cancer.

Myth #2: You need to take calcium to treat osteoporosis.

A very controversial claim Teitelbaum makes is that taking calcium is for osteoporosis can actually do more harm than good.

“Osteoporosis is not calcium deficiency, and the calcium has very little benefit,” he said.  “But recent studies show that it can increase heart attack deaths up to 31 percent – which is massive.”

Instead of taking unnecessary calcium, Teitelbaum says to simply drink more milk and other natural sources of the element.  But more importantly, since the calcium isn’t exactly needed, individuals with osteoporosis can take minerals, such as Strontium – which has been shown to be almost twice as effective as medications.  Magnesium, vitamin D, boron and other nutrients help increase bone density and the production of healthy new bone.

Myth #3: Antacids are necessary to treat indigestion.

Many Americans suffer from indigestion, and numerous medications purport to relieve symptoms from the embarrassing condition.  However, Teitelbaum says that antacids don’t exactly treat the source of the problem.

“Indigestion is not too much stomach acid; it’s poor digestion,” Teitelbaum said.  “If you don’t have what you need to digest your food, you eat this big mega-meal, and an hour later, it’s still sitting in your stomach.”

In order to aid digestion, Teitelbaum suggests taking digestive enzymes, such as Digest Gold.  Whatever brand you use, make sure they are 100 percent plant-based enzymes.  Probiotic culture found in yogurts and supplement are also helpful in the lower abdomen, relieving gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.

Myth #4:  Avoid the sun.

Teitelbaum said the myth that people should avoid the sun at all costs probably results in tens of thousands of unnecessary cancer deaths each year.

“Most of the deadly skin cancers, called melanomas, are not in sun-exposed areas,” he said.  “They’re increasing because of poor immune function, from poor sleep, poor nutrition and other factors.”

The skin cancers caused by sunshine are usually not the dangerous kinds, Teitelbaum said.  Instead, sunshine is critical for vitamin D, an important hormone and vitamin.  Without vitamin D, individuals can have an increased risk of breast cancer, autoimmune disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Also, Teitelbaum has simple advice to balance damage versus benefit when it comes to the sun: “Avoid sunburn, not sunshine,” Teitelbaum said.

Myth #5: Heart failure is a death sentence.

One of the biggest causes of death for many Americans is heart failure, but the condition does not necessarily mean a person’s time is up.

“It’s very easy to improve heart muscle function using natural remedies that play very well with the medication,” Teitelbaum said.  “Certainly blood thinners that you want to get through doctors are okay before you add anything to those, but things like Coenzyme Q10, 200 mg a day will markedly improve heart function.”

Ribose, a simple energy nutrient, can help heart function, along with Acetyl Carnitine, magnesium and B-vitamins.  Ultimately these supplements help improve muscle function.

“The heart beats more efficiently, and therefore the symptoms often go away,” Teitelbaum said.

Myth #6: Thyroid screenings are accurate.

When it comes to the thyroid screening methodology doctors use today, Teitelbaum says doctors don’t understand what ‘normal’ means.  He says it means you’re not in the highest or lowest 2 percent of the population.

“You have to treat the person, not just the blood test,” Teitelbaum said. “People whose thyroid levels are in the low-normal range, versus high-normal, have a 69 percent increased risk of dying of heart attack.  People with mild, low thyroid – where many doctors say we don’t need to treat it – if you do treat it, their heart attack risk goes down by more than 30 percent.”

Patients who are treated for mild to low thyroid often see increased energy levels, weight loss, and healthier skin and hair – among other benefits, Teitelbaum added.