10 Ridiculous Health Fads We Wish We Could Forget


April 27th, 2009

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By Kathleen Baker

Good health is always in style, but just like with fashion trends, there are some styles that are classics while others are just silly fads. Below, you will find 10 ridiculous health fads that are so outrageous, unbelievable, or even downright dangerous, that we wish we could forget they even came along. Not only can these fads offer a humorous look at the things we do in the name of health, they also serve as a reminder to think carefully when taking part in a health trend that seems a little too out of the ordinary.

  1. Consuming placenta. This fad is especially popular in Japan, but has spread beyond that country’s borders in recent years. From pig placenta drinks to the recently marketed horse placenta soft drink, those caught up in this fad believe that consuming placenta will help slow the aging process as well as help with a number of other health problems. If drinking animal placenta isn’t enough, take a visit to Japan where you can get human placenta injected through an IV drip. I guess that’s better than following in Tom Cruise’s footsteps as he reportedly ate wife Katie Holmes’ placenta after the birth of his daughter, Suri.
  2. Pole dancing. Touted for its great cardio benefits and a potential boost to your sex life, the fad of pole dancing is still going strong. These classes, also known as strippercise, may contain lap-dancing and Pilates-like floor exercises in addition to pole-dancing. Unlike working at a strip club, these classes let you keep your clothes on, although some participants wear only skimpy lingerie. Celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, Kate Hudson and Teri Hatcher have added to the popularity of this fad. But honestly, balancing on eight-inch platform shoes while dancing erotically in a room full of others doing the same in the name of health–this is just a fad waiting to pass. Besides the suggestive moves that look just plain silly on some, physicians have warned against the dangers inherent in using the unusually-tall shoes sometimes required in these classes as a risk to ankles and feet.
  3. Oxygen bars. Oxygen bars were first popular in Japan and Europe before making their way to Canada, then America, where they gained popularity in the late 1990s and into this century. Patrons could pay around 50 cents a minute to breathe oxygen through tubes placed in their noses, often scented with such fragrances as lavender, orange, or eucalyptus. Patrons reportedly felt energized and alert after their oxygen sessions. The oxygen bar fad didn’t just stop there, but eventually spread to places like coffee shops, doctor’s offices, and day spas. Celebrities were known to partake in these sessions, with Woody Harrelson even opening his own bar called O2. Health professionals warned that those with breathing problems should avoid oxygen bars, and sometimes the agents which delivered the scents caused lung irritation as well. Eventually, people realized that they were merely paying to breathe air–and looked ridiculous doing so.
  4. Tapeworm Diet. Advocates of this diet claim that ingesting cow tapeworms allow you to eat all you want while still losing weight. The tapeworm creates an environment in the intestines that hinders digestion while also consuming some of the nutrients of the food. The idea is that once you reach the desired weight, you take an antibiotic, which kills the tapeworm. Besides the obvious drawback of consuming a worm, another problem with this fad is that some tapeworms, such as those from pigs, can be lethal. The FDA has banned the importing or selling of tapeworms in the US, so hopefully that will help put this ridiculous health fad to rest.
  5. Drinking urine. Drinking urine for health reasons has a history that goes back to the ancient Egyptians and continues up through today. Supporters claim drinking urine can help heal a multitude of health problems, including asthma, allergies, arthritis, acne, cancer, indigestion, migraines, and wrinkles. Now, a company in India is selling a soda made of cow urine that has become very popular. If you think this fad is limited to India or other Asian countries, MMA fighters Luke Cummo and Lyoto Machida claim to drink their own urine each day and many major league baseball players urinate on their hands to toughen them up.
  6. Mesotherapy. In the early 1950′s, a French physician began the practice of injecting a combination of homeopathic and conventional drugs just under the skin in an effort to dissolve fat. Over the years, many have continued to practice mesotherapy despite the fact that there can be serious side effects and very little benefit to this treatment. What is injected under the skin is not a constant formula and varies from practitioner to practitioner, so there is no way to know what is contained in each specific injection. Phoshatidylcholine, one common drug used in mesotherapy, can cause serious reactions and has been banned in many countries. Mesotherapy has been shown to cause skin lesions and irritations that have lead to skin infections and scarring.
  7. Master Cleanse. Way back in 1941, Dr. Stanley Burroughs began promoting his detoxification program that requires followers to eat or drink nothing but his concoction of lemon juice, maple syrup, water, and cayenne pepper for anywhere from 10 to 45 days. Not surprisingly, this diet leads to many problems, including headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, and constipation. Proponents of this diet claim that the weight comes off quickly and they feel the toxins leave their body over the course of treatment. Many health professionals point out that drinking lemonade and not eating is just another form of starvation. Sure the weight will come off, but as soon as you begin eating again, the weight is sure to return. They also point out that there is nothing in this tonic that will actually detoxify the body. This fad is still promoted by celebrities such as Beyonce, who lost 20 pounds for her role in the movie Dreamgirls.
  8. Q-Ray Ionized Bracelet. Made popular on infomercials, these bracelets were supposed to be ionized, and the makers of them claimed they would relieve pain, improve sports performance, reduce stress, and improve energy. Testing done by the Mayo Clinic in 2002 determined that the bracelets did not relieve pain as advertised. After a false advertising suit was filed, the owner, Que Te Park, and his companies were court-ordered to return $22.5 million in net profits as well as $64.5 million in refund money to the customers. However, a quick Google of this bracelet still provides several places online where you can purchase this health hoax.
  9. Ear candling. Ear candling is supposed to remove ear wax while also relieving pain, ringing in the ears, balance problems, headaches, and a number of other issues by placing a hollowed candle into the ear, then lighting it to create a suction that draws out the wax. Unfortunately, not only does this not create the necessary suction to remove the wax, it also frequently results in injuries as the melting wax can drip into the ear canal or outside the ear to cause serious burns. Some medical professionals have even had patients with ruptured ear drums as a result of ear candling. Experts agree that ear wax serves as a natural anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, so it’s best left just where it is.
  10. Cabbage Soup Diet. This diet was very popular back in its day, but still seems to make its way around the dieting scene today as can be evidenced by Jaime Pressly and Sarah Michelle Gellar, who both credit this diet for their weight loss. The premise is that you can eat as much cabbage soup as you want, but the rest of the diet includes a severe restriction of other foods. The cabbage soup recipe itself has almost no calories, so your total daily consumption while on this diet is less than 1000 calories. In addition to starving yourself in the name of weight loss, those on the diet report typical side effects of hunger including headaches, fatigue, irritability, and lack of concentration as well as intestinal discomfort (including that infamous cabbage flatulence). Any weight lost during this diet is quickly re-gained when you begin eating again.


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