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Vaping is the new way to do aromatherapy

Charlotte Hilton Andersen is the author of the book The Great Fitness Experiment: One Year of Trying Everything and runs the popular health and fitness website of the same name, where she tries out a new workout every month, specializing...

Everything you need to know about vaping herbs and oils instead of nicotine

Vaping is one of the hottest trends right now, as evidenced by Leonardo DiCaprio lighting (steaming) one up at every awards show in the past year.

People swear that vaping helps them quit smoking and is fun. But while the research doesn't quite support the first claim, the cool factor can't be denied.

More: E-cigarettes may be a lot more likely to cause cancer

The nicotine seems to be the biggest issue with vaping. Whether you get your nic fix through a steamer or through old-fashioned cigarettes, it still does some serious damage to your body. But what if you just like the sensation of inhaling some mist? (Or, let's be honest, just want to look like Leo?) Now, thanks to new technologies, you can put a lot of different things in your pipe and smoke them.

Calling it the new "aromatherapy", Haze says you can use a wide variety of essential oils, herbs, and plants in the e-cigs. They claim this kind of holistic vaping can "support psychological and physical well-being" in ways traditional aromatherapy doesn't. But is this legit?

Probably not, says Homayoon Sanati, MD, a medical oncologist at MemorialCare Cancer Institute at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California. "Anything that has you inhaling a foreign substance has the potential for tissue damage," he says.

While the potential for damage depends on exactly what you're inhaling, Sanati says he's concerned most about the oils. "Heavier oils need to be heated to a higher temperature and when you do that it breaks the oils down into different compounds which can be irritating to your lungs and nose," he explains. Plus, prepackaged herbal blends may also contain other, unlisted, ingredients that could cause problems but you wouldn't even know they were there because supplements are unregulated.

Then there's the vaping itself. Vaping is still so new that there are no long-term studies about the basic safety of inhaling products this way, much less any health benefits, he says. It doesn't help that this type of holistic product is often targeted at people who are not smokers to begin with, like teens and women. While vaping may possibly help you replace an unhealthy habit (smoking) with a slightly healthier one (vaping), he points out that it comes with its own risks and certainly isn't an improvement on breathing clean air. Sanati says this is particularly worrisome because while lung cancer rates have been dropping for men in recent years, they're on the rise in women.

More: Lung cancer symptoms even non-smokers should know

"I wouldn't recommend trying this," he says. "Some things are safe to eat and put on your skin but you definitely wouldn't want them in your lungs."

Hard pass, ladies.

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