About Your “I Cured my Migraines, You can too!” Website. (an open letter)

Dear author of the “I cured my migraines, you can too!” website:

Today I visited your website.  It’s full of testimonials of people who no longer have migraine thanks to a wonderful treatment.

First, I’m going to assume you’re not simply a dishonest huckster out to make money and prey on suffering people.  Oh, I know there are lots of websites like that out there!  “Give me only $12.99, and you’ll be cured forever of migraine pain!”  The problem is, the “secret” is either nothing new, or it’s some treatment with no scientific basis whatsoever.  Or it’s a “5 step” program – just complicated enough to make us think it’s our fault it didn’t work.

And we never see our $$$ again.

Open letter to cure migraine website author

So I’m assuming you’re not one of those wolves, who I hope will soon be reading this post from a jail cell (no, I don’t wish even them a migraine attack!).

No, I’m assuming you’re a well-meaning person.  You honestly did have migraine attacks, and now they’ve greatly diminished or disappeared.  Maybe you’ve even seen other people who have been helped by your massage or special juice or vitamin or drug.  And you want to help the world.

I don’t even begrudge you a little money for your efforts.

Then again, if you’ve actually found a universal cure – no, you shouldn’t be selling it as a “secret” for $19.99.  You should get it through the proper channels of research and get it into the newspapers and tell the world.

Yes, if you have something that stands up to scientific study, many doctors and researchers will want to help you.  A huge percentage of them are migraineurs, and if only for selfish reasons they would love to find a cure!

On the other hand, if you have a very helpful diet, or 5 step program, or exercise plan, I don’t necessarily mind you charging a bit for your hard work.

But here’s the problem.

I’m seeing phrases on your website like “Cure your migraine in 30 minutes!” or “Never have another headache!” or “Your migraines will be gone for good!” or “The headache cure your doctor won’t give you!”.

First of all, with all these researchers searching for a “cure”, can you please show me some evidence?  I don’t mean testimonials, which can be faked.  I mean evidence.  Links to outside studies.  Clinical trials.  Published case studies.

I understand, maybe you have a great supplement that has some scientific basis, but you don’t have the money for expensive trials.  No problem – just don’t throw around the word “cure”.

If you say “cure”, we want links to clinical trials and studies that we can check out for ourselves.

And that brings us to another problem.

The fact of the matter is – and let me be frank – the chances that your special “treatment” will help 100% of people 100% of the time – is pretty much nil.

We know a lot more about migraine today than we did 20 years ago.  A LOT more.  We know, for example, that headache and migraine is more than one thing – or two things.  There are many types of migraine.  And they are triggered by many different things.  Migraine attacks are biologically complex.

In simple language – everyone is different.  What works with Ashlyn won’t work with Jessica.

Yes, maybe it worked for you and all your friends and family – that’s great!  Yes, we do want to know about it!

But when you speak in absolute terms – that this will cure everyone’s migraines in 3 days – and it really doesn’t – what happens?

My family and friends see your website, and they wonder why I haven’t tried your cure.  If I haven’t, they think that naturally my migraine attacks are my fault – I could cure them, but choose not to.

If I try your “cure” and it doesn’t work, they assume I did something wrong.

“It will work!” you say.  “Just try it and you’ll see!”

Here’s the thing.  We’re not living in 1950, when there were very few credible migraine treatments.

Today, there are more migraine treatments than I could possibly try in my lifetime.  I’m not talking about random anecdotal treatments from someone selling their special juice or supplement.  I mean credible, scientifically tested, proven treatments.

In other words, even if I just stuck to treatments and combinations of treatments with solid clinical trials, I could be spending all I own on a lifetime of treatments (assuming I didn’t find help sooner).

And then – frankly – there are a LOT of websites like yours.  What sets yours apart?  Do you have better evidence than the rest?  Or just a bunch of testimonials?  (I hope they’re not faked – again, I’m assuming you’re being honest here.)

If a billion people in the world experience migraine, what exactly do 20 testimonials tell me?

So here’s what I would like to recommend to you, if you really want me to listen.

  • Get rid of terms like “cure”.  If there has been a trial of 1000 people (properly diagnosed with migraine) who had three attacks a month, then were followed for a year after your treatment and never had a hint of a migraine attack again, then we can talk.  But there will probably be a lot of other people who want to talk with you, so I’ll just get in line.
  • Resist the temptation to make absolute claims like “Your migraines can be gone now or Totally eliminate headache” or Never have another migraine”.  All you’re doing is shaming everyone who has migraine.  You’re not helping anyone.
  • Show me some science.  It’s ok if your product hasn’t been through an expensive trial, and you’re just a small company.  Just, if possible, tell me why this works and link to some related science.  I just don’t have time (or the emotional energy!) (or the money!) to try every treatment.  I need to see more than hype.  More than emotional pleas.
  • Don’t say that my doctor is a liar.  I’ve had some bad doctors, let’s face it.  But I’ve also had some great ones that do whatever they can to help me.  You can’t judge their motives in this case.
  • Understand what migraine is.  Don’t start by claiming that migraine is an “imaginary” condition, or that it’s just a “bad headache”.  If you don’t even understand migraine, I will have a hard time trusting you for a treatment.
  • Don’t assume that your solution will work 100% of the time  Maybe it worked for you.  Maybe it worked for all your friends.  Maybe it has worked for 153 people (by the way – how long have they been migraine-free?  How many years?).  That still doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.  You need some pretty serious scientific evidence before we can start saying it will work for everyone.  (Just for the record, yes I had a treatment that a doctor said had worked for “all” his patients.  No, it didn’t work for me.)
  • Don’t imply that I’m a bad, irresponsible person if I don’t try your treatment, or buy your treatment.  You don’t know my medical history (I hope!), or the treatments I try, or why I do what I do.  Give me a little credit if you want me to give you some.

Again, I’m not necessarily telling you to take down your website, or stop selling your juice, or stop promoting your 5 step plan.  Just do it in a way that doesn’t assume that me, my doctor, and most of the rest of the world is stupid.  Do it in a way that will actually get the word out, contribute to the discussion, and help people.

Maybe we can work together to fight migraine.  I’m ready – are you?

Sincerely,

James

Please link to, tweet, share, and email this letter.  I’ll bet you know someone who either has a website like this, or you have family and friends who are reading websites like this.

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5 comments… add one
  • Julie Mar 15, 2013

    Way to go James!! You go get them! Sites like that have GOT TO GO!!! I’ve suffered chronic Migraines for 25+ years and to see a site like that makes me want to spew nasty words and throw things because it’s ALL FALSE!! And true, people that don’t know Migraine Disease will swallow that sick bogus hype! And then we get more stigmatized as a result! Thank you for speaking up as we all should!!!

  • Travis Erbacher Mar 25, 2013

    This is SO good.

  • Aurora Apr 24, 2013

    Beware of the “too good to be true” offers.

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