Labellous action

We know the embarrassment which thousands of ordinary teenagers have at some point experienced: when your first cold-sore rears its ugly, socially-destructive, impossible-to-cover-with-enough-foundation head and all of a sudden, you feel dirty with a capital D. If you could take that magic pill (no, not that magic pill...) and make it all go away, you would.

Which is exactly what mysterious, non-affiliated drugs companies in the US are doing by advertising natural cures for Herpes and other STDs, Salon reports. Playing on the insecurities of imagined Herpes sufferers, the un-approved herbal treatments promise eradication of symptoms through the discreet dosage provided by internet mail-order tablets.

'These sites often highlight ingredients in their product that are FDA-approved -- which may be reassuring on the face of it, but it doesn't mean it actually does what it claims. [One leading sexual health expert] says companies behind unapproved STD treatments also rely on in vitro research: 'Things that look really promising in vitro often just don't work [on adults]. Cells are not people.''.

'Many of these sites feature a prominent photo of a doctor: Herpaflor uses a shot of a doctor standing in front of a poster of the periodic table of elements. That seems respectable! But a quick Web search of that particular doctor's name reveals that, while he did get his Ph.D. in molecular genetics, his current full-time job is buying and selling collectible rocks, not practicing medicine.'

So kids, whilst we were always told to read the packet/instructions carefully, it may be that it's even more useful to protect yourself against further STD-related harm by visiting a clinic and having a good web search engine to hand.

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