Top 6 Crazy Health Solutions Of All Time
Dakota Howe, B.S in Food & Nutrition
Throughout the course of history there have been many wide-reaching health trends that claim to be the solution to all your problems. These so called solutions range from losing weight to improving sexual energy to increasing your lifespan (who wouldn’t want all those things?!). While some health practices over the years have real value (yoga and meditation for example) there are others that are just total nonsense (ice pick lobotomies, anyone?). Nevertheless, we are able to learn something new from each of these “failed” health practices, and most importantly identify a common pattern amongst these failed health “solutions”. So, let’s take a look back in time at the top six crazy health solutions!
Top Six Crazy Health Solutions of the Past
Jade eggs- The use of jade eggs was an ancient practice and a guarded secret of Chinese royalty, commonly used by queens. Jade eggs are said to increase sexual energy, pleasure and self-love all while connecting the heart chakra to the yoni (also known as the womb). However, in order to receive these claimed benefits the jade egg must be placed into a women’s vagina for up to several hours (or even overnight) and should be done on a regular basis. While the jade egg trend is catching on to several mainstream women thanks to the goop, doctors and gynecologists strongly recommend against this practice due to sanitary issues and the potential risk of infection1. Plus, there has not been any legitimate scientific proof of these alleged claims. So, with an asking price of $66 an egg we recommend to stay away from this health trend and save your money.
Please avoid this "creative" use of jade eggs (Photo: Goop)
Vibrating machines- The vibrating machine is a trend that dates back to the 1950s through the 1970s. It was advertised that by strapping your whole-body to the vibrating machine for 15 minutes a day, three times a week, you will lose weight, burn fat, improve flexibility, enhance blood flow, build strength and decrease stress. This is said to happen while you just stand there and let the machine do all the work for you2. Vibrating machines definitely sound way too good to be true, so looking back we can see the appeal. However, we now know that in order to receive all the benefits exercise has to offer, you have to be the one to put in the work. This includes incorporating resistance training, cardio and stretching into your fitness routine – there is no shortcut! Yet another health “solution” that is not backed by legitimate studies…starting to notice a pattern here?!
In theory, vibrating machines sound good. But there is little evidence behind their claims (Photo: Confidence Fitness)
Cigarettes for weight loss- Some of the first major weight loss advertisements were from cigarette companies, claiming that smoking would curb your appetite and help you to lose weight. Back in the 1920s, the cigarette brand Lucky Strike launched a campaign and advertised to consumers (particularly targeting women) “[t]o keep a slender figure, reach for a lucky instead of a sweet.3” Thankfully, it was not too long after that research came out about all the negative health implications that cigarettes have on the body. So while smoking may suppress your appetite, it quickly became very clear that cigarettes were much more detrimental to you in other ways.
The Tobacco Industry has a long history of make suspect health claims (Photo: tobacco.stanford.edu)
Ice pick lobotomies- Different kinds of lobotomies were performed from the 1930s through the 1950s. Ice pick lobotomies were the practice of taking a 10 inch ice pick and inserting it through the eye socket and into the prefrontal cortex of the brain (seriously). The idea being that this would cure any kind of mental health ailment ranging from a simple mood swing to schizophrenia. In 1949 neurologist António Egas Moniz was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology for his development of lobotomies4! However, not too long after lobotomies were said to be “one of the most barbaric mistakes ever perpetrated by mainstream medicine.5” This is because lobotomy procedures were not always successful and many times were the cause of seizures, personality changes and incontinence10. Plus, does inserting an ice pick through your eye socket and probing around your brain really seem like a good idea? We think not. Again, there was a lack of thorough scientific investigation into this procedure before it became a commonly recommend one.
We're relieved that this is no longer a health practice. Terrifying stuff! (Photo: medicalbag.com)
Coffee enema- An Enema is a fluid (usually water) that is injected through the rectum and into the lower bowel. This process is used to cleanse your colon, either before a colonoscopy or to relieve severe constipation. A coffee enema is when coffee is used in place of water and this practice is advertised as a way to cleanse and “detox” the colon. Supporters of this advocate coffee enemas whenever you want to "detox" yourself. However, unless required for a medical procedure, colon cleanses are not necessary since the body already cleanses itself on its own. That has not stopped people from participating in this practice for alleged health benefits. Furthermore several health professionals strongly advise against coffee enemas and this practice has even been linked to death6.
Enemas, like "detoxes" should only be used in extreme circumstances
Snake Oil- This health trend dates all the way back to the mid-1800s and was brought to America by the Chinese during the Gold Rush. In China snake oil was used as a treatment for joint pain, arthritis and bursitis. The original snake oil came from the Chinese water snake which is significantly high in omega-3 fatty acids. However, once the idea was brought to America, suppliers packaged up watered down rattlesnake oil to sell claiming that it can cure all kinds of health ailments ranging from joint pain to depression7,8. Needless to say, the watered down rattlesnake oil was considerably lower in omega-3 fatty acids and did not work to cure any health aliments making it simply a waste of money.
An all time classic phony health solution! What is today's version of snake oil?!
While some of these health trends may have seemed like a grand idea and the best thing ever at the time, we are now able to look back at them with a fresh perspective and see exactly why these health trends did not work in the first place. One important thing that these six health practices have in common is that none of them are backed by any kind of thorough scientific research or evidence. Almost no investigation or peer review follow up was carried out before these solutions went mainstream. Moreover, they gained popularity by being advertised as “the hot new thing”, which gave each trend an additional façade of legitimacy.
Do your own research and only rely on well researched health claims.
The same issues still occur today. Thankfully, we now know this and can value the scientific method. Looking back, smoking cigarettes for weight loss at the time may have seemed like a great idea. However, it was not too long after that research came out that people began to realize that smoking was actually the root cause of several of their health problems and by no means the solution to calming their nerves or losing weight. When you look back over the course of history and see how popular these startling and unbelievable health practices were, it begs the question – what health practices are we participating in now that will be laughed at in 100+ years’ time (juice cleansing most likely)! While our society has gotten better over time about backing health claims with sound, scientific research, it is still extremely important to do your own research and make sure that whatever health fad you are participating in is safe, well researched and effective because you never know what could be the next snake oil!
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