Another year is on its way out, and with it, so are a slew of bizarre and hot-ticket wellness trends — or so we hope. People fall for all sorts of health trends each year (shout out to 2018’s cow cuddling), and 2019 has been no different.
While some trends seem to provide a few benefits for some people — hello, keto diet and sober curiosity — others are full of lofty promises, faux fixes and dangerous side effects. Or at best, they still need more scientific research before any definitive conclusions can be made.
And so, we think it’s time to shut the door on a handful of them for now. Here are the wellness trends worth leaving behind:
Putting CBD in absolutely everything
If there’s one wellness trend people went full force toward this year, it’s cannabidiol, aka CBD. It showed up in food, beauty products, tampons and more.
Although many people ― doctors included ― claim CBD can alleviate a range of maladies, like anxiety, pain and sleep issues, the compound is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which means no one really knows for sure what’s in CBD products.
Given that CBD is largely unregulated, “users need to be more aware of its effect on their bodies,” said Dana Dorfman, a psychotherapist based in New York City. “While people experience its positive effects, they must also consider that the longer-term effects of the substance may not be adequately researched.”
Additionally, CBD interacts with a lot of medications, including blood thinners and anti-anxiety meds, which can have very dangerous side effects.
We’re all about finding ways to help your health, and the potential benefits are exciting. But only in the right dosage and with the right care. Maybe think twice before chugging a CBD latte. The main takeaway: If you want to try CBD, talk to your doctor and get their input on how your body will handle it.
In cities where bachelor and bachelorette parties are plenty — like Charleston, South Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee — several shops offering intravenous hydration and vitamin drips have popped up. The concept isn’t new, but its emergence into the mainstream peaked this year. The goal of the IV is to help soften the blow of a hangover by pumping fluids into your veins and rehydrating your body.
It’s a fine idea in theory, but the trend is largely unregulated because IV lounges don’t quality as a health care institution in many cities. Additionally, there’s no scientific data to support their effectiveness. (As one expert told HuffPost earlier this year, you could essentially be ending up with “expensive urine.”)
On top of that, easy access to the IVs reduces the consequences of heavy drinking. If we’re not paying for our alcohol-infused mistakes with a brutal hangover, how are we ever going to learn?
“While likely an effective way to rehydrate, the process of getting too drunk, hungover, to the point of requiring nearly medical intervention, sounds a bit too intense to be healthy or sustainable,” said Alex Dimitriu, a double board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine physician.
Celebrity wellness sites
Earlier this year, Kourtney Kardashian debuted Poosh, a website with a mission to promote a “modern lifestyle, achievable by all.” The outlet is essentially another version of Goop, the Gwyneth Paltrow-owned brand that aims to do the same thing. Here’s the deal: Although these sites can definitely be entertaining to mindlessly sift through, we really can’t be taking health advice from them. Not only are many of the tips unnecessary, but some are downright risky. (Remember when Goop wanted readers to stick a $66 jade stone in their vaginas? Yeah, no need.)
Keep in mind some celebrities post about products they’re getting a chunk of cash for endorsing. Some of these products even have the potential to seriously harm our bodies and trigger bad habits. (Remember Kim Kardashian’s appetite suppressant lollipops?)
Lastly, many of the recs just aren’t realistic ― most of us cannot afford to buy all the fancy foods and products these celebrities vouch for. If you’re looking for ways to improve your health, look to your doctor, not a Kardashian.
People have started taking tiny doses of LSD, magic mushrooms and other psychedelics to achieve more subtle mental effects — aka microdosing.
A recent study found that even though microdosing has gotten more popular, there still isn’t a lot of scientific literature on it, especially when it comes to long-term health effects. (Not to mention, psychedelics are difficult to study given that they’re illegal in the U.S.)
Whereas some people have reported positive effects — like improved mood and focus — others have experienced increased anxiety and physiological discomfort.
“The use of unregulated psychedelics at any dose is fraught with challenges due to concerns regarding supply, lack of demonstrated efficacy for specific medical conditions, and known potential for adverse effects,” said David A. Fiellin, a Yale Medicine physician specializing in addiction medicine. “Like all controlled substances, research is needed to help identify specific conditions, adequate dosing, safety and efficacy.”
While these substances seem to be healing for some, any form of self-medication can be dangerous, and microdosing shouldn’t replace standard medical treatments.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey made news back in April when he shared his “wellness habits” in an interview with CNBC. One of the most notable points? His eating routine, which involved intense fasting. Dorsey said he often goes entire weekends without eating, and during the week he tries to stick to consuming one meal a day.
This “wellness habit” is best compared to intermittent fasting, as the CNBC article pointed out. The program has people eat only during specific times. Recently, “Today Show” anchors Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb also tried sticking to intermittent fasting.
Like most diet trends, there are positives and negatives to intermittent fasting. There also needs to be more research on it. But one of the notable findings is that fasting has a high dropout rate — 38% of people who try to fast, quit.
Fasting — which can reduce inflammation when done right — has two major flaws: One, people who fast tend to reward themselves afterward by indulging in a big, unhealthy meal, according to a Harvard Health blog post. Second, some fasters take it a bit too far and end up depriving their body of food for too long and wind up in a state of malnutrition.
“Fad dieting with severe calorie cutting in an attempt to lose weight can be damaging to the body. Often the exact opposite to what is expected occurs — metabolism slows,” said Kecia Gaither, a New York-based OB-GYN and maternal fetal medicine physician, who added that when your metabolism slows, you store fat and weight accumulates.
The risks are especially pronounced with women who fast, she said, as fasting can interfere with hormones and menstruation and cause some people to stop menstruating altogether.
Wellness apps — to an extent
OK, we’re not saying that wellness apps have to go altogether — many tools, like fitness and nutrition trackers, can actually encourage people to live a healthier life. But several health experts say a solid portion of the eHealth tools available, including sleep trackers, are inaccurate and not all that beneficial.
On top of that, some people have started using health-related apps in place of an actual doctor. Health care providers aren’t thrilled about this, especially when it comes to diagnoses or serious health conditions that require a physical evaluation.
“Apps have their place along a health continuum, but cannot replace a health provider seeing you face to face, obtaining a medical history from you, examining you, and performing specific diagnostic testing to evaluate, diagnose and treat whatever ails you,” Gaither said.
Lavender, peppermint, lemon— they smell good, but the jury’s still out on how effective essential oils are when it comes to our health. Despite the iffy research, people are all about using oils to treat a bunch of health conditions, including anxiety, motion sickness and even cancer.
“Pleasant smells can help us relax or be reassuring, but have no enduring effects on our health,” said Keith Humphreys, a psychiatrist at Stanford Health Care in Stanford, California. “Essential oils will not cure diseases. On the other hand, they can’t harm you either unless you waste too much of your money on them.”
This year, vaping quickly devolved from one of the biggest trends to a straight-up epidemic. We now have more than enough evidence (and horror stories) suggesting that vaping is no good for our bodies — teens are dying, vapes are exploding in people’s faces, and people’s lungs are giving out. And those are just the short-term consequences. We don’t even know what the long-term effects will be, Dimitriu pointed out.
If and when the fun flavors are banned, we may start to see a dip in vaping in 2020.