6 Old-Fashioned Health Tips That Are Actually Harmful

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Some old wisdom remains useful today. Salt water gargles can still help your sore throat, lavender can still help you sleep, and aloe will almost always soothe a sunburn. But sometimes old-fashioned health tips don't stand the test of time, and can actually cause harm if followed.

It’s hard to believe, but according to Dr. Robert Kravetz, MD, a clinical professor in Internal Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix, people used to believe that urine could whiten teeth and smoking cigarettes could fight off a cough.

“We have so many medicines today, but years ago, there was very little available. That’s why people would use these various products,” Kravetz says. “When there isn’t a beneficial therapy for something, people will try anything.”

Kravetz says that, as the years go by, it’s only natural that we learn more about medicines, and readjust our perception of which ones are actually effective.

“In the future, some of the things that we do today are going to be thought to be very [outdated] and they'll say ‘how could doctors do that?’” Kravetz says.

To help you parse through which old-fashioned health tips should be retired, we spoke to experts about pieces of classic advice that are actually harmful.