Information online is always suspect. Knowing what articles are rife with complete hogwash isn’t a skill we were taught in school. The right phrases and grammar can make even the boldest of health claims sound as legitimate as gospel. Knowing how information spreads, and how easily it spreads, online can help one better understand what to believe. Spoiler alert; you can’t ever be 100% sure of anything.

Weak Regulation Makes for Field Days

One of the most convenient, and inconvenient, aspects of natural health products are their somewhat greyish degree of regulation. One can say “this product supports natural cancer-fighting action” but one can’t say “this product provides natural cancer-fighting action,” at least not without a LOT of clinical data and FDA approval. There aren’t many supplements or natural health products FDA approved for anything. So, the benefit here is that anyone can buy supplements, but quality control mechanisms are much laxer than in other industries.

Enter the Blogosphere

One of the most popular Internet past times is to start a blog. Maybe it’s on Facebook, maybe it’s a free blogging site, or maybe it’s a full-blown website complete with editorial pieces. This past time is particularly popular among those interested in healthcare topics. These types of websites discuss natural remedies, foods with clinical research demonstrating notable health benefits, and supplements—lots of sites about supplements. Unfortunately, there is nothing in place that requires the information on these websites to be verified, supported, or audited in any way before being distributed to the public. People will believe anything they read.

Starting a Blog is Easy

Before one dismisses such concerns as being unlikely, or improbable in their ability to affect millions—first consider how easy it is to start a blog. A decade ago, launching a personal website took a fair degree of technical know-how, a non-negligible budget, and a serious knowledge of how the Internet works. Today, nearly anyone with access to the Internet and a working computer can launch their own blog or website. Don’t believe me? Just skim through this guide on starting a blog and pay attention to the first couple of sections. The whole process looks like this; register a domain, install WordPress, write some content, and then admire your new website. Not too hard is it?

Quality of Information

Nothing against the blogosphere but, where there are large numbers of people doing anything, many don’t get their information correct. Another issue to watch out for is that incorrect or very misleading information, can be widely-distributed at near light speed before anyone stops to check things out. The next time you read an article about some recent Scientific breakthrough that claims Stevia cures cavities to make sure you take the time to read the source of the information (the clinical data) before celebrating. This process usually involves clicking one link to get to another blog, where there’s another link to go to another blog, where—if you’re lucky—there will eventually be a link to the actual source for confirmation. Most cases, information that reaches blogs and news websites becomes overly-sensationalized and misleading.

Always Do Your Own Homework

It’s best to just assume what you’re reading online is completely fabricated. If you read something that piques your interest, aside from opinion pieces, it’s advisable to confirm the validity of the source information before you get too excited. News articles and blog entries don’t make much money when a Scientist concludes that something “shows moderate potential and likely warrants further investigation.” They get paid to talk about cures—and how they’re going to solve all our problems.

Author's Bio: 

Lover of all things health-related and advocate for self-reliance, particularly in weighing the potential benefits of new health treatments and alternative medicine.