These days, it seems like every celebrity, fitness model, and lifestyle guru wants to let you in on a revolutionary new essential oil, supplement, or sentient water that'll fix everything wrong with your body. (And lord, there is so very much wrong with it. Who trapped you in that meat prison, and for what crime?) But it's not just the obviously shady products you shouldn't trust. Even mainstream fads can be so phony that the products in question should be legally required to print "Step right up, folks!" on the box. For example ...
Most folks' cannabis comprehension starts and ends with THC, the compound that makes food taste better and freshman philosophy sound interesting, and which turns you into the greatest Mario Kart player of all time. But now the hottest health craze is over cannabidiols (CBD), the other prominent compound in cannabis, which has been hailed as the greatest medical revolution since cocaine enemas.
If you read High Times, listen to Joe Rogan, or constantly see CBD advertising in your browser, you may be convinced that CBD is the second coming of medicine. And because CBD products don't contain THC, which is what makes weed illegal in most parts of the United States, you can safely consume these products wherever you want, treating both your general anxiety and your specific anxiety of being shot by cops for minor crimes.
The problem is that most CBD in the U.S. is consumed in the form of supplements, a market that's a few roaming covered wagons away from being the next snake oil industry. Not only do these pills often contain illegal THC runoff without disclosing it, but they also tend to house dangerously random levels of CBD potency and quantities. But if all they did was get you wasted, CBD would still be pretty swell. Except this largely untested product can react badly with actual medication like blood thinners, and this supposedly legal high is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by police whenever they feel like it.
If you know someone who's really basic, they may be interested in becoming even more basic by drinking water spiked with alkaline. Millions of health-obsessed people swear by its boosted pH levels, which lower your body's acidity, give you more energy, help you lose weight, and even fight cancer. And whatever else you want it to do, because there's no proof that alkaline water makes your body amazing besides the fact that Beyonce drinks it.
While alkaline-infused water has been around since the '60s, it only became mainstream during the recent alkaline diet fad kicked off by former "alternative" doctor and current convict Robert O. Young. According to Young and his alkolytes, increasing the pH levels in the body causes one's metabolism to kick into the next gear, making us skinnier and healthier in the process. But real experts warn that these overpriced water bottles have no greater efficacy than plain old tap water, and that's because none of that extra base makes it into your system.
While alkaline water does have a pH level of 8 or 9, compared to the neutral 7 of regular water, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has pointed out that a normally functioning digestive system will neutralize the pH levels in any food or drink long before it reaches the bloodstream. It's because our body keeps these levels in that narrow range that enzymes are able to do their whole thing -- which is, you know, making sure we don't keel over and die.
Conversely, just because it does zilch to your body doesn't mean alkaline won't affect the water it's been swirled into. Experts have warned that increased pH may scrub out many of the minerals that make regular water so good for us. But with plenty of celebrity endorsements and the promise to get thin quick, alkaline water keeps getting more and more popular. Which is why giant corporations like Walmart, Whole Foods, and Coca-Cola are riding this wellness train straight to the bank.
Activated charcoal sounds powerful, as if it comes from a sacred tree set ablaze by ancients druids to awaken the cleansing magic stored inside. So why not slather it directly on your teeth and let its cleaning force absorb all those coffee and cigarette stains, right? That's the logic behind activated charcoal toothpaste. But like most medicinal products boasting to be all-natural and holistically healing, this black paste has little science supporting its claims.
In 2017, the Journal Of The American Dental Association published a review of all the studies on charcoal toothpaste. After determining that about 90% were bogus, the remaining few offered mixed results. None of them found conclusive evidence of its antibacterial or antifungal power -- some of the main reasons people use it.
Worse, not only do the toothpaste's holistic pushers often leave out unnatural, scientifically sound fluoride, but the charcoal particles can also crawl into tiny tooth crevices, leaving users with a smile like a chimney sweep. So if you don't want any health benefits whatsoever, you don't mind black and yellow teeth, and you just can't get enough of that refreshing charcoal taste, scrub away!
In case you think they're only for people who believe Alex Jones is a smart cookie, know that the brain supplement business is booming -- thanks to boomers, in fact. A whopping 25% of those forgetful Americans spend over $90 each month on supplements that supposedly boost cognitive function. All in the vain hope they can undo the neurological ravages of time enough to once again deduce the killer on Murder, She Wrote before Jessica Fletcher does.
But a recent study by the American Association of Retired Persons reported that brain supplements aimed at the elderly show "no benefit in people with normal nutrient levels." So unless you've been living off of Spam rations since the war, those smart pills won't do squat.
Dan Hershman/Wikimedia Commons
And they're not just useless, but could be downright dangerous. Ginkgo biloba, which is jammed in a number of over-the-counter "memory strengtheners," can cause anyone on blood thinners to start hemorrhaging faster than their "boosted" mind can comprehend.
If you follow athletes or fitness gurus on Instagram, chances are you've seen them dip their toes into cryotherapy, the latest trend in rejuvenation technology. Notable names, like the entire roster of the Lakers, swear by its healing magic, which is claimed to relieve chronic pain, help shed weight, tighten the skin, and even cure depression. All that for the low, low price of $90 a session. But for all the proven good cryotherapy does, you might as well spend that cash on a few hundred Popsicles.
The logic behind the treatment is simple. First you get put into a cryo locker that looks like a cannibal's pressure cooker, then liquid nitrogen makes the chamber colder than temperatures that naturally occur on Earth. This "hyper-cooling" purportedly sends your body into survival mode, which will then increase your fitness by hyper-oxygenating the blood so you'll have a better chance at surviving this sudden Ice Age. That all sounds awesomely futuristic, if not for the fact that studies show that flash-freezing your bits has about the same effect on the body as old-fashioned ice packs, or even just a cold bath.
From that perspective, spending all your savings on a cooling tank with all the risks of being dipped in liquid carbonite sounds somewhat irresponsible.
Steven Assarian is a librarian. He writes stuff here. Michael Battaglino is a contributor to Cracked. Be sure to check out some of his other work if you enjoyed this article. V.R. Craft wrote Fail to the Chief, about a reality show to elect the president. She also wastes times on social media and writes science fiction, sarcasm, and satire on her blog, Sharable Sarcasm. E. Reid Ross has a book called BIZARRE WORLD that's due to be released in September. He's practically on his knees begging that you pre order it now from Amazon or Barnes and Noble and leave a scathing/glowing review.
For more, check out F*ck Floss: 3 (Thankfully) Debunked Health Myths:
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