How to Avoid the RA “Snake Oil” Marketers

I clearly remember that once I began to do any type of research or reading online with regard to rheumatoid arthritis, it was not long before I began to get emails, phone messages, and snail-mail all targeting a sure-fire cure or treatment for RA.  I have to admit, some of them are very persuasive, with testimonials, impressive marketing graphics, etc. 

I spent far too much time, checking them out, hoping that one or more would be the magic answer.  When we are first diagnosed, and even later, when we are feeling vulnerable and desperate, these hit all the right buttons to suck us into their pitches.

How I practice good health literacy

So how do we figure out what is real and what is not? Well, there are several steps we need to take to ensure we do not waste investments of our time, money, and emotions chasing after these - often false - cures or treatments.

Search for unbiased, objective information

The first thing I do is simply Google the suggested item/treatment. Often simply doing that will trigger all kinds of revealing information about the lack of validity to the claims. Product reviews, not the ones they post on their site but rather objective ones done on public review sites, can also be eye-opening. This is a day and age where false claims abound all around us. But, at the same time, there are plenty of people willing to call out these charlatans.

If the claims seem too lofty, they likely are. If someone claims they have a cure for RA, I know that is not realistic.  Realistically, I think we would know if that were a cure for RA out there.  It would be big news, not only in the medical world but in the entire world in general.  That old saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" certainly applies here.

Consult with members of your care team

I check in with my care team to keep me abreast of the latest and greatest treatments for RA. My doctor loves to chat with me about any treatments I bring to him for review.  It is part of my regular appointments to ask about some of these and get his take on it. 

In fairness, when biologics first emerged, I was skeptical.  He reassured me that they were authentic and had efficacy. So, in addition to exposing the ones that are useless, consulting your care team can also confirm new and potentially successful treatments.

Find information from reliable sources

Of course, there are very reliable sites to go to as a resource. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), National Institute of Health website (NIH), National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), The Arthritis Foundation, and many other reliable sources can often reveal what is and is not factual and real in the world of treatment for RA.

Good health literacy helps us avoid wasting our resources

What is especially bothersome to me is that these false product promoters are targeting people who are so vulnerable that they are more likely to grab onto something that might give answers and relief.  Sadly, that is exactly why we are their targets.  When your life is turned inside out, you are mentally fragile and more likely to seek anything and everything that might be a cure or treatment. 

For that reason, when we see these ads or promotions, we must step back, take a breath, do some research, and reach out to our care team.  By following these various steps, we can hopefully avoid wasting our time, money, and emotions. Take heart in the knowledge that there are a significant number of valid treatments both currently available and in the pipeline.


By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Do you or someone you know have gout? (Select all the apply)