5 Crazy health fads you shouldn't write off
I am nothing if not a sucker for a new health fad. Yes, I am that person who actually takes the time to read the bizarro stuff circulated on Facebook — like sticking a raw onion in your sock to cure the common cold.
But even I have my limits. I'm well aware of the fact that any yahoo can think up a random idea and call it a new health trend. Though I enjoy reading about fun new happenings in the health community, I also enjoy researching new health crazes to see if they hold water.
Being wary is a good thing. "Health trends seem to be getting stranger," says Yahoo Health Editor-in-Chief Michele Promaulayko. "For instance, Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines for getting a vagacial (AKA vaginal steaming), but there aren't clear benefits, and there is some danger of suffering a second degree burn — down there!"
"Consuming placenta pills is another health fad," says Promaulayko. "Kourtney Kardashian reportedly took them after giving birth, but there isn't scientific evidence that shows they have any real benefit."
So should you put an onion in your sock? Should you rub down your children with essential oils because you can't afford to take another sick day off work? While the jury is still out on the effectiveness of using an onion to purge toxins, there are several top health trends experts think you should try including these other health fads.
1. Applying essential oils
Considering the rise of the "momtrepreneur" in my social circles, I see more than my share of multilevel marketing essential oils peddled on my Facebook feed. I'm looking at you, doTERRA. In all honesty, this type of aggressive Facebook selling raises my hackles and makes me skeptical of the ability of a few nice smelling oils to transform my health. Skin care and wellness expert Stephanie Adams-Nicolai, CEO of Goddessy Organics and CFO of Wall Street Chiropractic, urges me to keep an open mind. She says, "As a skincare and wellness expert, I must say that the use of essential oils and aromatherapy is anything but crazy... and, in reality, far from a 'trend.'"
Adams-Nicolai explains that essential oils can be used as a remedy for almost anything that ails you. However, it's still important to consult your doctor before using essential oils for serious medical treatment. "The use of essential oils and aromatherapy dates back to thousands of years ago — they were used by the Ancient Egyptians and other advanced civilizations at that time for healing, beauty, holistic health and overall wellness. Organic essential oils used for health, beauty and aromatherapy is a 'craze' that everyone should be partaking in," adds Adams-Nicolai.
2. Having your vitamin levels tested
All the cool kids are doing it — but is it really worth the cost of an extra doctor's visit, not to mention extra lab tests? Dr. Caroline Cederquist, M.D., creator of bistroMD and author of The MD Factor Diet, says, quite possibly, yes, "I was instructed, as a physician, that if you eat a healthy diet you will never need any vitamins. After working in this field for 25 years, I know that vitamin and mineral deficiencies are very common, even for those who follow a healthy diet."
Dr. Cederquist adds, "If you are often constipated, have muscle aches, hair loss, fatigue, unexplained skin rashes, brain fog or unexplained weight gain, I suggest looking into vitamin testing. It is a good health 'craze' since your levels may be low. I hesitate to call it a 'craze' since it's really just simply practicing good integrative medicine."
3. Flushing with home enemas
Be warned — home enemas are highly controversial. I have been using home enemas successfully for the past three years and am pleased with the results. In addition to keeping me regular, I notice feeling cleaner, fresher and more energized after cleansing through the back door. But enough about me -- what do the medical professionals think about this eyebrow-raising procedure? There are plenty of doctors behind home enemas (pardon my pun) with a catch: Homes enemas should be performed under the guidance of a doctor, after other digestive health problems have been ruled out.
Dr. Antonio Pizarro, board-certified OB-GYN who has specialized in women's health since 1997, explains, "Home enemas should be used either for short-term self-initiated care or as part of a long-term strategy prescribed by a healthcare provider." He qualifies, "Once potentially dangerous diagnoses are excluded, enemas can be a safe part of a routine — in some cases daily use — for defecatory symptoms such as constipation and even fecal incontinence. Before graduating to daily enema use for constipation, one must strongly consider that the same benefits are likely to result from the use of safe bowel control measures such as adequate water intake, a healthy diet, fiber supplements and low-risk medications such as polyethylene glycol."
4. Oil pulling for detox
Oil pulling is another Facebook fave — probably because it seems so easy. Just swish some oil around in your mouth for a few minutes, a few times a week, and you'll cleanse your body. Sure, why not? Dr. Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS, Regional Dental Director for Jefferson Dental Clinics, stands behind the oil pulling phenomenon because, she says, your oral health can directly influence your total-body wellness. Oil pulling may seem even more enticing when you consider that up to 80 percent of chronic degenerative diseases start in the mouth.
Dr. Townsend explains how to use oil to detox orally, "In recent years, oil pulling has attracted attention as a technique for cleansing the body of toxins. For thousands of years, the practice of oil pulling has been touted in Ancient Indian medicine as a method of treating common ailments. The practice is simple. Swish a tablespoon of oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes, once a week. For best results, choose sesame oil, although coconut, sunflower or olive oil are secondary alternatives. Be sure to spit the oil in the trash and rinse when you are done. Dental health benefits of oil pulling include whiter teeth, fresher breath, cavity and gingivitis prevention and reduction in plaque and bacteria."
5. Using organic oils for skin care
From my work as a natural health editor, I know that coconut oil is a highly versatile cooking ingredient and superfood with powerful antimicrobial benefits. But does that really mean I should put it on my skin? Every natural beauty page on my Facebook feed seems to think this is a great idea, and based on recent organic skin care trends, these companies may be right.
Matthieu Kohlmeyer, founder and CEO of La Tourangelle artisan oils, says, "A major trend is that we are seeing a shift in which many women and men are using organic oils for skincare, body care and pet care. A lot of consumers are buying our grapeseed, avocado, sunflower and coconut oils, not just for cooking but for skincare, makeup removal and hair care. This has directly impacted our sales. In the last year our coconut oils have become our best sellers."