Wellness Trends That Are Very Popular but Completely Unscientific
Everyone wants to feel better and do better. That's why we’re so quick to jump onto wellness trends — but some just aren't worth following. Sometimes, these "great" ideas are absolutely useless or, even worse, harmful.
In the midst of all of the great wellness tips, productivity tricks and life hacks that have sprung up, there are some that stand out for all the wrong reasons. Despite the huge followings these 30 ideas have, there’s absolutely no scientific basis to suggest they work.
Dopamine is tied to pleasure and motivation. Cameron Sepah, a psychiatrist, says that people are getting too much dopamine from constant contact with technology. This leads to technology addiction and a lack of motivation to do other things.
People ran with that idea, claiming that by carefully limiting the amount of dopamine they receive, they can trick their brains into being more productive. One Silicon Valley worker limited the time he talked to coworkers because of dopamine fasting. Keeping yourself from pleasure hasn’t been proven to increase motivation — but staying off your cell phone can increase productivity.
Microdoses of LSD
The business world is full of people whose careers depend on coming up with cutting-edge ideas on a near-constant basis. Some have started taking small doses of LSD in an attempt to become more creative and productive. The people who do it swear by it, but the scientific community doesn’t agree.
Dr. James Fadiman is a psychologist who’s a proponent of microdosing, and he has admitted that there’s no scientific evidence to prove the proposed positive effects of it. One thing is for sure: Microdosing at work is a great way to get fired or arrested.
Pink Himalayan Salt Lamps
Pink Himalayan salt lamps are all the rage. These lamps supposedly reduce the number of negative ions in the air, but studies on whether these ions are actually bad are largely inconclusive. Proponents of the lamps say they can clean the air and fight depression. Science says the jury is still out.
The lamps have dehumidification properties, but that's a far cry from purifying the air. The warm glow could possibly help someone who has seasonal affective disorder (getting severely depressed due to a lack of exposure to sunlight), but it hasn’t been proven to cure depression.
Silicon Valley CEOs like Jack Dorsey and Phil Libin are taking intermittent fasting to the next level. Rather than eating fewer calories on fasting days, they’re not eating at all for up to eight days. Believers claim these extreme fasts improve focus and that hunger dissipates a few days in.
Tech leaders use technology to track their blood sugar and ketone levels to ensure they’re using stored body fat for energy and not starving. Doctors warn that this can lead to severe malnutrition and damage organs, which rely on nutrients and more than just fat for energy.
Healthy Men Taking Estrogen Blockers
There's a relatively new trend of men who don’t have health problems taking estrogen blockers to increase testosterone, supposedly increasing libido, vitality and overall health in the process. For men who don't have enough testosterone, taking estrogen blockers can sometimes be safer than taking testosterone supplements.
A healthy man who takes estrogen blockers as a supplement could get sick. Men and women both have estrogen and testosterone, and estrogen helps joints, the brain and sperm production in men. A man who doesn’t have enough estrogen may experience health problems. It's not a good idea to take these strong supplements if they’re not medically necessary.
Plasma Transfusions From Young People
Blood transfusions are usually reserved for emergencies, but billionaires like Peter Thiel are getting them by choice. They’re being transfused with the plasma of young people, believing it has anti-aging properties. The supposed benefits come from one study, and the FDA says there isn’t enough evidence to prove the efficacy of plasma transfusion from young people.
There’s virtually no research on elective plasma transfusions. They also carry the risk of spreading disease and allergies and could have unintended side effects. Because many companies buy the plasma from blood banks, this also uses up the limited blood supply.
Cryotherapy treatment centers are popping up all over the country, but the benefits of exposing the body to subzero temperatures haven't been proven. Many professional sports teams are proponents of cryotherapy because it’s said to improve muscle recovery and get rid of soreness.
Ice does help ease the pain of aching muscles, so it only makes sense that someone with sore muscles would feel better after a cryotherapy session. Yet, the results of this therapy have never been tested or proven clinically. Some cryotherapy centers even go beyond muscle soreness and say that this treatment can cure various ailments.
People are stirring powdered collagen into food and beverages to improve the appearance of their skin and help muscles repair themselves. Some even claim that consuming powdered collagen can cure the pain of arthritis. Some doctors are fans of powdered collagen, but there’s very little evidence for its efficacy.
There have been promising studies, but all of those studies have been way too small to determine a basis for regularly consuming powdered collagen. The powder is made from ground-up animal skin and hooves, and heavy metal contamination, as well as the potential to transmit bovine spongiform encephalopathy (a.k.a. mad cow disease), are potential concerns.
We've all wanted to nap at work, and now, companies are finally jumping on the bandwagon. Some of the trendiest companies even have rooms or space-agey pods dedicated to taking naps during the day.
Despite all the rave reviews, science has long said that the very concept of a powernap is sketchy. Although a nap may feel refreshing, sleep happens in cycles that usually last for 90 minutes. When a cycle is interrupted, a person will typically feel very tired. Unless you’re napping for 90 minutes, taking a nap during the day will probably just make you sleepier.
NAD+ is a supplement at the intersection of two of Silicon Valley's biggest health desires: people who want to live longer, and people who are interested in intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting has been found to increase NAD+ levels in the body, which is why some claim it increases longevity.
Science has linked NAD+ to longevity, but the body has a hard time utilizing this compound. Other supplements that contain NAD+ have to be taken to get the effect, but the efficacy of these supplements is unproven. These supplements are usually very expensive, and they may not be worth the money.
Coffee enemas are exactly what you think they are. Without getting too explicit, they involve saturating the colon with coffee via the rectal route. These enemas are said to boost energy, get rid of intestinal parasites and toxins and help the immune system.
Coffee has plenty of proven health benefits...which are diminished when coffee is introduced to the body rectally. In a study comparing people who drank a cup of coffee to people who used a coffee enema, the people who drank the coffee had more caffeine and antioxidants in their bloodstreams. Coffee enemas can cause dehydration and internal burns.
Colonics take enemas to the next level. More than a dozen gallons of warm water, sometimes containing herbs, are flushed into the colon via the rectum. This practice can only be done in a facility, and many people believe that it detoxifies the body.
Colonics have only been proven to cause bowel movements. There’s no evidence for any detoxification of the body, and these procedures carry risks of dehydration. Although colonics cannot be done at home, these procedures are rarely performed in medical offices, so there's concern involving the sterility of the equipment and any added ingredients in the water.
B12 Injections for Healthy People
Most people want to avoid shots, but one wellness trend has people getting elective vitamin B12 injections. Vitamin B12 is a natural wonderdrug. It improves mood and memory, helps with blood cell production and makes the bones stronger.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is common, but there’s no scientific evidence that these injections are useful to otherwise healthy people. The human body has plenty of mechanisms to regulate itself naturally. When it has too much of something, it gets rid of that substance as waste. If you've already got enough B12, injections just give your body something else to get rid of.
Adrenal fatigue is a very popular concept on wellness blogs. The adrenal glands release cortisol when a person is stressed. Some people believe that the adrenal glands can become overworked from releasing cortisol when a person is stressed for a long time. This causes the glands to stop producing cortisol, and the person becomes fatigued.
While that sounds logical, numerous medical studies have proven that there’s no link between cortisol and fatigue, and adrenal fatigue is not an official medical diagnosis. There are plenty of reasons a person could feel fatigued, but cortisol has nothing to do with it.
Goat Milk Detoxes
Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand once endorsed a goat milk detox regimen. If people drank herb-infused raw goat milk for several days, the blog asserted, intestinal parasites would be drawn to the milk and released as waste. Does this actually work?
People who have harmful parasites in their intestines exhibit undeniable symptoms. If you're not sick, you don't have parasites. There’s no scientific evidence to prove that parasites are especially attracted to any kind of milk or herbs. Parasites are attracted to anything they can feed on, and milk isn’t different than any other food.
Millions of people are making the switch to natural deodorants. While they're certainly easier on the skin, there are lots of erroneous ideas floating around the internet about traditional deodorants and antiperspirants. These products often contain heavy metals, and some say toxins become trapped in the lymph nodes when perspiration is stopped.
The kidneys naturally turn toxins into urine. According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, there is no scientific evidence for the belief that breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter, is caused by deodorant. Natural deodorant won't hurt anybody, but regular deodorant does not cause cancer.
Modafinil for People Who Don't Have Sleep Disorders
Modafinil is prescribed to people who have narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. In the professional world, non-prescribed black market versions of this drug are being used to make people smarter and able to perform efficiently with very little sleep.
Studies prove that modafinil actually slows cognition, so it doesn’t make anyone smarter. When people without sleep disorders take it, they experience hyperactivity that’s almost manic, so they feel like they’re getting more accomplished. However, many report that misuse of this medicine comes with a serious crash, causing some to sleep for 12 hours or longer.
Bulletproof coffee is regular coffee spiked with grass-fed butter and/or coconut oil, and people often drink it in place of breakfast. It can help with ketosis, which is said to cause weight loss, and this strange coffee reportedly also improves mental clarity.
There have been no studies to prove that long-term consumption of this coffee is beneficial. Scientists and doctors emphatically agree that a diet with too many saturated fats and calories can lead to a variety of health problems, and bulletproof coffee is loaded with both. The biggest concern with this trend is raising levels of bad cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Goat yoga is becoming extremely popular. During goat yoga, a regular yoga class is held, but goats roam freely around the room or field. Undoubtedly, before and after class students pet and cuddle the adorable goats. As cute as this sounds, goat yoga may not be great for the body.
The practice is way too new for any scientific studies on goat yoga specifically to have taken place, but there have been studies to prove that there are some mental benefits to mindfulness. All of those benefits go flying out the window when goats come into the picture because they make concentration extremely difficult.
Selena Gomez once mentioned that lying in a "sweat bed" for 45 minutes is part of her fitness regimen. A sweat bed looks like a sleeping bag; you get wrapped up in thick, insulating material, and it makes you sweat a lot.
The process is supposed to effortlessly burn calories, make the skin look better, get rid of toxins and serve as a mood booster. There’s no scientific evidence to back up any of these claims. Sweating a lot can cause a person to lose a little water weight, but this won’t produce any dramatic long-term weight loss.
Weight-loss and Detox Teas
Instagram is rife with beautiful influencers claiming that drinking tea helped them lose weight. The before-and-after pictures that the sellers of these various teas promote can seem pretty convincing, but the medical community is giving all these teas some serious side-eye.
There’s no magic pill when it comes to weight loss, and the body does not hold on to toxins. Herbs and secret ingredients won’t do a better job than permanent diet and lifestyle changes. Contrary to popular belief, toxins can’t just linger in the body without a person becoming seriously ill.
Celery juice is another health trend popularized by bloggers and Instagram stars. Celery is a vegetable, and it’s true that drinking vegetable juice isn’t harmful. Still, there are lots of completely unfounded claims made about celery juice.
Some say that it can cure mental, gastrointestinal and dermatological disorders. Celery has vitamin C and antioxidants, so the juice may boost immune health. For the rest of the claims, there’s absolutely no evidence that celery juice cures anything. As long as you’re not using it as a meal replacement, celery juice won't hurt you, but it's probably not going to help you that much either.
The FDA recently forced a few supplement companies to change their bottles because of claims that their vitamins could act as "internal sunscreen." The companies asserted that people who took the pills were safe to forego wearing topical sunscreen.
While we’d all love to protect our skin without applying pesky sunscreen, there's no reliable evidence to prove that it's possible for any vitamin or mineral on the inside of the body to stop the skin from absorbing UV rays. Vitamins may potentially make skin look healthy, but they can’t make skin UV ray-resistant. Sunscreen is a must for everyone.
Crystals have long been part of witchcraft and other New Age pseudoscience; now, people are trying to make the rocks mainstream by claiming they have health benefits. People are adding expensive crystals to all kinds of products with the claim the rocks have healing powers or the ability to regulate a person's energies.
There’s absolutely zero scientific evidence that crystals do anything for the body. Energy work lies solely in the spiritual realm. It's inexplicable, and many people find it objectionable for personal or religious reasons. If it can't be explained, it’s really hard to prove that it's working.
Supplements Through IV
Facilities that deliver vitamins and other supplements intravenously have become quite popular. Many people live extremely fast-paced lives and are looking for an extra boost. Athletes have even faced sanctions because some of these supplements are considered to be performance-enhancing drugs.
Science doesn't back the idea of getting nutrients via IV. This is only useful for people who are hospitalized and in dire need of a supplement. For the average person, the body can most efficiently metabolize nutrients that come through the digestive tract. Nutrients in the bloodstream don’t work faster in the body.
CBD oil is a hot-button issue across the country. It’s not marijuana, and it doesn't make a person high. Still, the supplement is heavily associated with a drug that remains illegal in many states. On a drug test, CBD oil can show up the same as illicit marijuana if enough of the psychoactive compound THC is present in the oil.
CBD oil is promoted as a natural solution for pain and anxiety. Although there are promising studies, the evidence isn’t there yet to warrant widespread use. There’s too much concern over unknown contraindications with other medicines, and it’s difficult to ensure the quality of the oil.
Cupping involves having vacuum-sealed domes attached to various areas of the skin. This is a method of massage that’s said to speed up muscle recovery processes and reduce inflammation. People also claim that it relieves pain and has detoxifying properties.
Modern science hasn’t shown any true benefits. When done improperly, cupping can cause scars and burns. It's rooted in the disproven idea that optimal health is maintained by balancing four "humors," or liquids, within the body. Aside from the risks previously outlined, cupping can be viewed as a massage method, but it doesn't necessarily have any proven health benefits.
Don't Eat the Frog
Mark Twain said, "If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, that will probably be the worst thing you do all day." In other words, doing the hardest tasks first is said to make the entire day more productive.
Recent research is turning this productivity hack on its head. Depending on how intimidating those initial tasks are, putting them first can cause a person to actually procrastinate more. This is called pre-procrastination. The term was coined in a Penn State study. To be truly productive, tailor the course of your day to your personal working style.
Activated charcoal can save the life of someone who ingests poison because it naturally binds to harmful substances. That's why it’s one of the hottest ingredients in everything from toothpaste to face masks. Some people are even eating it, and that's a problem.
Charcoal doesn't just bind to harmful substances. In the digestive tract, it binds to molecules of food and medicine, preventing your body from absorbing what it needs. People who consume it for the detoxifying effects are actually blocking their bodies from receiving nutrients or experiencing the effects of medication. There’s no proven benefit to consuming charcoal, but the potential dangers are well documented.
Members of the Kardashian clan are a few of the celebrities who have promoted lollipops that are supposed to suppress appetite. One popular ingredient in these lollipops is Satiereal, a saffron plant extract that’s not FDA approved.
Saffron does have some appetite-suppressing properties, but there’s only one study, which has never been repeated, that indicates this. Among doctors and dieticians, appetite suppression of any kind is very controversial. Many recommend learning to eat the right foods in moderation rather than stifling natural hunger cravings, which can have unintended long-term consequences. Instead of lollipops, find a healthy snack.