Courtesy Katie Carman / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
CLAIM: relieve pain and discomfort, inflammation, infections, stress, sleep loss and nervous disorders, and promote general healing.
HOW IT WORKS: Magnets have been used since ancient times to treat a wide variety of ailments. The human body contains tiny iron particles, which may respond to magnetic fields. Also, our nerves and muscles operate on electricity, which creates a magnetic force. However, no one can explain how external magnets are supposed to influence our bodies.
Courtesy Iwona Erskine-Kellie / CC BY 2.0
CLAIM: treats many ailments, including colds, bronchitis, asthma, eye problems, toothache, stomach and digestive disorders, headaches, nervous disorders, general pain and arthritis.
HOW IT WORKS: Acupuncture has been practiced in eastern Asia since about 500 BC. Needles inserted into the skin at specific points are said to balance the body’s energy. Others claim they stimulate the nerves and prompt the body to release hormones. Different schools of acupuncture use very different methods.
Andras Vladar / NIST / p.d.
CLAIM: cling to cancer cells, making them easier to find. Can deliver drugs or direct heat to kill tumors, leaving healthy tissue alone.
HOW IT WORKS: In this experimental treatment, doctors create microscopic hollow balls of gold called nanospheres. These spheres use chemical marker to seek out cancer cells. Shining a special light on the skin heats up the gold particles, "cooking" the cancer cells to death while leaving healthy cells alone.
Courtesy AJ Cann / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
CLAIM: reduces risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with heart disease. Lowers cholesterol levels.
HOW IT WORKS: Your body naturally produces a waxy chemical called cholesterol. But over time, excess cholesterol can clog blood vessels, leading to a stroke or heart attack. Blood cells have receptors on their surfaces that recognize cholesterol and remove it from the bloodstream. Statin drugs can cause cells to grow more receptors, lowering your cholesterol level.