Self-proclaimed witches, voodoo practitioners and healers are conning ‘desperate’ people out of hundreds of pounds by promising to cure problems like impotency, obesity and even cancer with bogus spells, MailOnline can reveal.
This website found dozens of sellers on websites like the freelance finder Fiverr and online store Etsy advertising a number of quack cures or magic for as much as £150 a pop.
Experts labelled some of the more light-hearted claims as ‘pure fantasy’, while others promising to heal or cure serious diseases like cancer were branded ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’.
One of the most common health spells found for sale online were those promising to reverse a loss of sex drive or erectile dysfunction (ED).
A seller on Fiverr claimed they can use Ayurvedic medicine, a traditional form of healing in India, to cure cancer, but British experts of the disease said there was ‘no evidence’ for this
Experts have also slammed a seller on Fiverr offering to cure long-Covid with a dubious breathing technique developed in the former Soviet Union
Now deleted posts on online market place Etsy offered to cast spells to increase libido and grow penises, or help people lose weight for over £100
Fiverr user astralhealing offered to use Wiccan magic to help people shed excess pounds for nearly £22
The Japanese therapy that harnesses ‘energy’: What is Reiki and does it really work?
Pronounced ‘ray-key’, Reiki, which means ‘universal energy’ in Japanese, is a type of complementary therapy in which a practitioner puts their hands lightly on or near your body.
It is a Japanese healing art that was developed by Mikao Usui in Japan in the early 20th century.
One of the main aims is to help you relax and ease stress and tension by changing and balancing the ‘energy fields’ in and around your body to help on a physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual level.
Some people with cancer may use Reiki alongside their treatment and some people say they feel better after using therapies such as Reiki.
There are no reports of harmful side effects of Reiki, though there is no scientific evidence to show that Reiki can prevent, treat or cure cancer, or any other disease.
However some healthcare professionals accept Reiki as a complementary therapy which may help lower stress, promote relaxation and reduce pain.
Source: Cancer Research UK
A particular spell listing, which promised to not only provide a libido burst but also grow a man’s penis, was for sale for £147.65 on Etsy by Alicia Basir, a Brazilian woman who claims to be able to cast magical spells.
‘You will have fast and long-lasting erections. Your member will be admired by all who see it, they will appreciate it big and hard,’ she wrote in post now deleted by Etsy.
At time of writing, the product had been bought at least 40 times according to the reviews.
Ms Basir claims to be a psychic capable of casting magical spells and having trained in practices linked to voodoo, satanism, alchemy and tarot.
On Fiverr, a marketplace for freelancers looking for work, self-proclaimed healer fantastic_magic offers to cure impotency by sending remote healing energy to the buyer.
Those employing his services pay up to £47.48 for seven distant energy projection healing sessions per day for 21 days.
Professor Giulio Garaffa, a consultant at the International Andrology clinic in London, urged men to be cautious about such ‘miracle cures’.
‘Men should be cautious about miracle cures or spells being sold online promising to cure lack of libido or ED,’ he said.
‘Anything that purports to treat a medical conditions and it is not based by scientific research should not be trusted.’
While the spells wouldn’t do any actual harm to the body, because people aren’t actually taking anything, he urged men to seek actual medical help for these issues.
This was because not only are many legitimate medical treatments available, but also because ED can be a symptom of something more serious.
‘Erectile dysfunction may be the only sign of a more serious underlying medical problem, such as cardiovascular disease or hormonal imbalances,’ he said.
Weight loss spells were another regular feature on both websites, with costs ranging from between £4 to £120 per cast.
One seller, astralhealing, who claims to be able to use witchcraft, wrote: ‘Passed down through generations this powerful time tested Wiccan spell can be use to help anyone lose weight, look slim or turn fat to muscle.’
Dr Frankie Phillips, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, the UK’s professional body for dieticians, slammed spell sellers for taking advantage of the vulnerable.
‘It is a complete con to expect miracle cures,’ he said.
‘As a dietitian I know that advice I give is based on solid evidence… not fantasy and myth.
‘Sadly there are no quick solutions…and those making money out of pedalling such claims are preying on vulnerable and sometimes desperate people.’
Nutritionist Kim Pearson also urged people to also avoid wasting money on people promising a quick and easy solution to losing weight.
‘It is important to be wary about “miracle cures” being promoted online,’ she said.
‘It’s worth remembering the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.’
Both experts urged people interested in losing weight to explore information from reputable organisations or medical experts that recommend a combination of a healthier diet and exercise to tackle obesity.
While most of the spells and alternative therapies will only hurt your wallet, some were criticised for potentially offering people false hope of cancer cures.
Fiverr user amanbhardwajvlo, who claims to be a medical student from India, offers to cure people with cancer using Ayurveda, an alternative medicine of Indian origin that uses a combination of herbal tonics, sometimes containing dangerous metals, yoga, massage and enemas as treatment.
‘I cure people by ayurveda,’ they wrote, adding: ‘I specially full cure of blood cancer.’
Professor Karol Sikora, a world-renowned oncologist with over 40 years experience, told MailOnline while alternative therapies have some merit in making people with cancer feel better, patients can be taken advantage of and misled.
‘Complementary therapy is a valid adjunct to conventional treatment, but this looks like money making nonsense,’ he said.
‘Getting cancer patients heads around their illness and its treatment is really important but giving the impression that they can cure cancer is very dangerous.’
Self-proclaimed healer fantastic_magic offerd to cure impotency by sending remote healing energy to the for 21 days at the price of just over £48
Some healers on Fiverr offer to send waves of healing energy over great distances using Reiki a Japanese alternative medicine for £10 a week
Professor Edzard Ernst, chair of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter, also slammed the advertisement.
‘The claim that Ayurvedic medicine cures cancer is not merely unsupported by evidence, it also is irresponsible and dangerous,’ he said.
He also said the plethora of remote Reiki healers on Fiverr promising to send healing energy over distances was ridiculous.
‘There is no reliable evidence that Reiki is effective for any condition; the notion that it should work online is absurd,’ he said.
Reiki is an ancient Japanese technique for stress reduction, relaxation and healing.
Healers claim they do this by channelling energy through their palms into patients, though some claim to be able to send this force without physically touching the recipient and even if separated by great distances.
The practice is said to be popular among several Hollywood stars, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Cameron Diaz and Angelina Jolie.
Some Fiverr Reiki healers, like Colorado-based reikichristy, sell their services for up to £50 for five weeks of ‘continuous’ healing energy.
Professor Ernst also criticised one seller, who went by the name Vanessa, who promised to ease symptoms of long Covid with ‘Buteyko Breathwork’.
Buteyko is a name given to a breathing technique developed in the 1950s Soviet Union to help alleviate asthma by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the body.
The NHS says there is no evidence it works for asthma and Professor Ernst said the same was true for long Covid.
‘The notion that Buteyko breathing helps patients suffering from long Covid is pure fantasy and not backed by evidence,’ she said.
Long Covid is a poorly understood condition where for some people infected with virus continue to suffer with ongoing symptoms after 12 weeks.
Etsy removed the posts after being alerted to them by MailOnline, saying they were in violation of its policies.
A spokesperson for the company said: ‘We take the safety of our marketplace very seriously.’
However, they added that Etsy ‘is not a curated or juried marketplace’ and that ‘prohibited item may appear for sale on the site before our enforcement teams have a chance to remove it’.
A spokesperson for Fiverr said the posts brought to their attention were now being removed as per their community guidelines forbidding sellers seeking to ‘provide medical treatment, advice, or supply’.
They added: ‘We take swift action to ensure any illegitimate gigs are blocked and we continue to actively monitor the site to catch and remove any services that may get through our filters.’
The spokesperson added they have launched an investigation into how the posts had made it through Fiverr’s filtering system.