It seems like a new wellness trend pops up every day. Some of these trends can be beneficial, others are questionable, and then there are the ones that are downright crazy. We’ve researched the wellness trends of past and present to come up with the top 12 weirdest and wildest. From wacky diets to confusing products, our list will leave you wondering how in the world these trends even became popular.
Though they have technically been around since the 1850s, vibrating belts didn’t start gaining popularity until the early and mid-1900s. These electric-powered belts promised to not only relax the muscles, but also reduce body fat on the areas it was used on.
Needless to say, the popularity of belt vibrators died out in the 1970s. However, a similar device debuted a couple decades later. Instead of being powered by a machine attached to it, this newer type of device is a self-powered belt that vibrates to stimulate the muscles.
Taking the wellness world by storm in the 1970s, diet pills promised a quick fix for people with weight problems. But like most quick fixes, these pills ended up doing more harm than good. One of the earliest diet pills, Ephedra, caused cardiovascular and neurological problems. In the 1990s, another popular diet pill called Fen-phen was banned by the FDA for being linked to heart disease and hypertension. And more recently, a pill called Qnexa was linked to side effects such as seizures, blurred vision, and kidney stones.1
Cigarettes instead of candy
Have a sugar craving? Reach for a cigarette instead! That’s what the Lucky Strike cigarette brand was telling people to do in the 1920s. This was, of course, before we knew just how harmful cigarettes were. Cigarettes do have some appetite-suppressing properties, but an exchange of weight loss for a significantly increased risk of heart disease, cancer, lung disease and more doesn’t sit as well with people today.
Although not as deadly, the e-cigarettes of today are not a good choice either if you’re looking to lose weight, as they also greatly increase risk of heart disease and lung disease, as well as diabetes.2
Our next crazy trend for consuming less food is 100% safer than lighting up a cigarette or taking a diet pill. The trend is all about the shades, but not for the looks. Research has shown that seeing in a blue tint makes food less appetizing. So the Japanese applied this research and created some groovy sunglasses with blue lenses. Perception may be everything, but there’s no evidence to suggest these glasses actually help you eat less.
Weight-loss glasses aren’t the only diet trend to emerge from Eastern Asia. Made from rare seaweed found in deep waters, Aoqili soap is said to be able to penetrate the skin and emulsify fat. While not as popular here, it was reported that Japanese consumers purchased 28 million of these soap bars in just one year.3 It’s hard to believe that simply massaging seaweed soap onto the skin and washing it off will lead to weight loss. But on the plus side, it is made of all-natural ingredients.
Now you know about airy chocolate, but what about air shorts? These beauties were designed to provide a massaging effect by putting pressure on the thighs, hips, and waist. Some people believed they helped tone muscles and burn fat as well, but these claims ended up being illegitimate.
Air shorts are similar to the compression clothing of today, but obviously far less ridiculous looking. Also unlike air shorts, compression clothing does have some benefits—specifically for athletes such as sprinters and basketball players who engage in explosive movements.4
Now splurging on a whole candy bar is only like eating half of the bar thanks to aerated chocolate! The problem? Although this product contains less chocolate, the added sugar still remains. Plus, it’s highly processed. Our advice is to steer clear of these bars and try a few squares of dark chocolate with high cacao content instead. Dark chocolate is more satisfying and can curb your craving without spiking your blood sugar levels.
People looking to lose weight fast often resort to drastic measures, including swallowing tapeworms. Easily one of the weirdest and grossest wellness trends ever, this practice originated in the early 20th century and was very controversial to say the least. The idea is to let the tapeworm absorb all the excess food after it matures in the stomach. Then after the desired weight loss is achieved, take an anti-parasitic pill to kill it off.
In addition to the gross factor—it is an actual worm that lays eggs in the body and can grow up to 30 feet long after all—tapeworms can cause serious problems, including malnutrition, meningitis, and dementia. The pills were declared illegal in the US for obvious reasons, but that hasn’t stopped some misguided individuals from ordering them from other countries.5
Feeding tubes are typically used in hospitals to help patients gain weight, but the KE diet utilizes these tubes to help people lose weight rapidly. How does this peculiar diet work, you might ask? Well, a protein and fat supplement is mixed in with water and then fed to the body through the tube 24 hours a day. Some issues with the diet are that it only provides 800 calories a day. And like any rapid-weight loss diet, the pounds lost typically return shortly after. Even worse, the lost pounds are more likely to return as fat.
One of the most insane wellness trends dates back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks were the first to popularize rinsing your mouth out with urine for good health, but the Romans took things to a new level. They believed that Portuguese urine was far superior to their own for whitening teeth.
The story doesn’t end there, however. Urine is still being used as an alternative treatment for teeth and gum problems. The best part with this interesting approach to healing is that you can use your own urine instead of some random person’s from Portugal.6
Crocodile dung baths
For our craziest wellness trend, we’re going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans again. These citizens would often bathe in fresh crocodile excrement believing that it made them look younger. The feces were also used to make anti-aging facemasks. Making it a little less gross (but not much) is the fact that the dung was mixed with dirt. Crocodile dung faded in popularity after the Romans, but made a strong comeback hundreds of years later: In the late 16th century, the dried form was used to help women obtain that pale-looking face that was all the rage at the time.
Looking for something better?
From this list and many more examples, you can see that diets and wellness trends that offer a quick fix are rarely successful in the long run. At ZYTO, we believe that optimal personal wellness requires an individualized approach that incorporates a healthy diet and lifestyle combined with effective emotional care.
1. “Dangerous Diet Pills You Should Avoid.” Compounding Pharmacy of America. Compoundingrxusa.com.
2. Ross, John. “E-cigarettes: Good news, bad news.” Harvard Health Publishing. Health.harvard.edu.
3. “Aoqili Diet Soap.” Fountain of Youth Technologies, Inc. Foytech.com.
4. Angle, Sara. “What Does Compression Clothing Really Do to Your Body?” Fitness Magazine. Fitnessmagazine.com.
5. “Tapeworm Diet: History, Methods, and Dangers.” Freedieting. Freedieting.com.
6. “Urine therapy for the healing of teeth and gum problems.” Healing Teeth Naturally. Healingteethnaturally.com.