Oh, wellness. The decade that was the twenty-teens is now coming to an end. And there certainly has been no shortage of wellness trends. After all, while John Mayer may say that your body is a wonderland, many may view your body as a potential cash register and something to put all kinds of things in, on, and over.
Like numerous previous decades, this past decade has had a lot of wellness stuff being pushed that wasn’t quite what it was quacked up to be. A difference, though, is that in recent years social media has offered many a gigantic megaphone, even for things that are technically considered bull poop. Nowadays, even if you have no real clue about the human body except how to use it to open beer bottles, you can still easily tell hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people what they can do with their bodies and orifices.
All of this has kept debunkers quite de-busy and made narrowing a list of worst wellness trends down to just 10, sort of like trying to choose a Top 10 worst reality shows or stupidest things said on social media. But here we go:
10. Microdosing LSD
Imagine this scenario: “Yes, officer, I realize that you caught me in possession of LSD, but my plan was to just take it regularly in eensy weensy doses. Can I go home now?” Let’s see if that explanation gets you out of legal jam. Well, isn’t that a bit akin to the wellness explanation offered for microdosing LSD: that regularly taking LSD in very small doses won’t give you the bad stuff that typically comes with LSD use, like addiction and bad trips, and can actually sharpen your senses and thinking? There are two problems to this claim. The first is LSD, lack of scientific defense. In other words, where are the scientific studies that support these assertions? The second is that it’s LSD.
Here’s a BBC News segment on this trend:
What would like with your tea? Some honey? A lemon? How about some diarrhea? Teatoxing is the practice of drinking tea with some additives that supposedly can help you “wash the toxins” out of your body and help you lose weight. What were these additives and the exit plan? Laxatives and your butt. Umm, having diarrhea is not a healthy way to lose weight. Losing water ain’t the same thing as losing fat.
Here is a CBC News segment on this emp-tea your intestines trend:
8. Raw water, raw milk, and other things that shouldn’t be “raw.”
Some things may be good completely raw. Raw vegetables, raw fruit, raw sushi, raw footage of cats on treadmills, and the television series Rawhide, perhaps. Other things are not, like sewage, chicken, milk, and water. Yet, this past decade saw people pushing raw milk, as I covered for Forbes, and raw water, as I also covered for Forbes. Those of you who don’t regularly cook your milk and water may be wondering how you could possibly make these things more raw than they already are? The answer is to not clean and purify them, you know, not do the stuff that clears them of dangerous microbes and makes them safe to drink. The claims are that the milk pasteurization process and the water purification process drains them of nutrients. Seems like they are mistaking the word nutrients for potentially deadly microbes.
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah offers a watered down look at the raw water thing here:
7. Unregulated IV drips and infusions
Your mouth has a purpose, besides allowing you to say “amazeballs” and “awesomesauce.” It is your natural and thus preferred entree point for food and fluids, not your veins. Nevertheless, another “wellness” trend of the 2010’s was to offer intravenous (IV) or infusion therapy, which is inserting an IV line and using it to deliver stuff, that is, fluids, vitamins, nutrients, and whatever special sauce they could concoct, straight into your bloodstream. The claim was that this could offer all of this stuff more quickly and directly to your blood, and you know, bypass all those waste of time and wasteful chewing motions and digesting. OK, maybe. But the same is true for microbes like bacteria when you create a Rodeo Drive straight to your bloodstream and don’t require the buggers to get through the natural barriers that your gastrointestinal tract offers. Setting up and using IV’s is no joke either. Blood clots could form. Infusing too much fluid through an IV, too quickly can overwhelm your heart. So can too much stuff like potassium, which can affect your heart rhythm. For these reasons, real doctors try to minimize the use of IV’s unless really necessary. If you need an IV for any reason, make sure that you really need it and that it’s inserted by a real qualified and experienced health professional.
6. Colonics and enemas
Shove it up your you-know-where used to be an insult. It probably still is. But who knew that it would become a wellness trend as well? Yes, inserting a tube or something similar into your rectum and then pumping fluid, whether its water, laxatives, some magical solution, or even coffee, into your colon became a thing during the decade. The claim is that it can wash all those, and here’s that word again, toxins out of your colon. Uh, your colon is not a bathtub or kitchen sink. You can’t just wash it out periodically without consequences. It is a complex system that includes cities of bacteria, known as your microbiome that helps regulate many key body processes including your metabolism. Regularly doing colonics and enemas can greatly alter your microbiome and affect many other normal functions of your colon. Plus, there are always risks of doing damage to your colon and even perforating it. People have died from colonics. All of this is a bit like walking into a Best Buy and saying let’s flood this entire place to clean it out. Yes, I just called your colon a Best Buy.
5. Putting things in your vagina
While you may not think of your colon as a Best Buy, you certainly should not think of your vagina as an egg carton, a tea kettle, or some other storage, carrying, or cooking device. Yet, there has been no shortage of advice to put stuff into your vagina that doesn’t normally go there such as jade eggs or steam. Yeah, don’t go there. Your vagina also is a complex system with a community of bacteria that helps regulate and protect its environment. Putting anything in your vagina that has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Administration (FDA) can do some serious damage. I have already written for Forbes about the dangers of inserting a jade egg or treating your vagina like you would some broccoli. The 2010’s have shown that if you have an orifice, someone will find it and tell you to put something in it.
4. Drastic diets with no scientific evidence
This will continue to occur every decade: lots and lots of new diets being marketed, pushed, and sold, in many cases telling you to avoid one thing: real scientific evidence. There were diets from previous decades that continued to trend this decade. For example, the Dr. Sebi diet was the second most Googled diet of 2019. This diet’s from a guy who called himself a doctor even though he wasn’t really a doctor because who cares about words anyway. Then there were diets that really became popular in the 2010s, such as the keto diet. The keto diet does have a medical basis, being a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet to prevent seizures in certain types of epilepsy. But the jury is still out on whether it’s an effective and healthy way to lose weight over the long term. Lots of things can lose weight over the short term. An ‘“only look at Legos” diet would help you lose weight because you wouldn’t be eating anything, just looking at Legos. But it would not be healthy or sustainable, because you’d be dead soon. Be suspicious of any diet that focuses too heavily on just one nutrient, one food, one behavior, or one quick fix. Healthy lifestyles are about balance and moderation.
3. Questionable supplements
Speaking of diets, it is much better to get all your nutrients through natural food rather than through supplements. It’s not even clear how much of the vitamins and minerals from supplements even remains in your body. You may just be having more expensive pee and poop. Plus, supplements aren’t well regulated so who knows what else might in them, including unhealthy stuff and erectile dysfunction medications, as I wrote before for Forbes. Therefore, if you find yourself getting a little, ahem, excited about taking a supplement, you may want to, er, point towards these extra ingredients that may not even be listed on the label.
Here’s a CBS This Morning segment on the U.S. Food and Drug Adminsitration’s concerns about the supplement industry:
2. Avoiding vaccination.
If you haven’t heard of this “wellness” trend then maybe you’ve been living in a cave or perhaps too busy doing colonics. Here’s how the anti-vaccination pitch may go: “don’t trust doctors or other real medical experts. Don’t even trust the science that they produce.” Pause. “Oh, by the way, buy my supplements and other alternative health stuff, which has zero scientific evidence behind them because science is just an opinion.” People spreading anti-vaccination messages with no scientific basis has become a crisis, as I have covered previously for Forbes. Just look what has happened in Samoa, as described in my article in Forbes earlier this month and the following tweet from the government of Samoa:
1.Getting wellness advice from completely unqualified sources.
If you have an electrical problem, would you contact an MMA wrestler? If you want someone to defend you in a legal case, would you choose a circus clown? Do you need someone to fix your smartphone? Why not call an actor? Need someone to score a goal for your team in the World Cup? How about a dentist who doesn’t play football? If none of these options makes sense, why oh why then would you take health advice from someone who just doesn’t have the proper experience and expertise, like a reality television star, a movie actor, or, even worse, a random person on Facebook who doesn’t have actual medical training? Saying “oh, it made me feel good,” is not demonstrating that you understand science and the human body. Isn’t your body more important and complex than yoursmartphone? After all, you do need it to tackle selfies.
As I covered previously for Forbes, Anne Hathaway showed how easy it is to get people to do something that makes no sense just because she is a movie star.
This list didn’t even include other questionable trends like activated charcoal, essential oils, the shake weight, and crystals. Here’s a University of Washington School of Medicine video on activated charcoal:
The ones chosen were those that combined a lack of scientific evidence of effectiveness and the significant risk. Holding a crystal, for example, is not the worst thing in the world, unless, of course, you are scratching your bottom at the same time with the same hand. A shake weight may not do too much more than a regular weight, but unless you are holding it during a job interview or first date, you will probably be OK using it.
Sure, There is some value to the placebo effect. Doing something that has no real scientifically-backed benefits but makes you feel good is not a terrible thing. That’s my rationale for watching three straight hours of the television show Impractical Jokers. However, problems arise when the activity may either cause harm or delay you from doing what you really need to do for your health Such seeking real medical care. Plus, wellness stuff can be quite expensive like a wallet enema.
Bogus wellness claims will always be around. So the 2020’s will certainly have plenty of them. The question is will you be able to tell the bull poop from the real poop?