We have all seen the strange headlines of the latest wellness trends people have been trying out and scoffed at their efforts (while also entertaining the thought of trying it ourselves). Alternative wellness is hugely popular, with the aim of bettering mental and physical health through methods such as drinking mushroom lattes and spending time in a sub-zero chamber. They sound bizarre, but is there any truth in their madness?
Like a reverse sauna, cryotherapy is an extreme-cold treatment that involves stepping into a chamber which uses liquid nitrogen to lower the temperature to as low as -160C. Many celebrities and athletes are investing in this treatment, as it is said to speed recovery, burn calories, and improve the skin. “It helps recovery and rehabilitation processes,” says Ian Saunders, co-founder of CryoAction. “Vasoconstriction reduces blood flow to the extremities, which reduces inflammation around soft-tissue injuries, stopping them progressing. The release of adrenalin relieves pain and generates the feelings of exhilaration that players report.” Extreme-cold temperatures have been used for medicinal purposes for years, but it is yet to be seen if whole-body cryotherapy has any benefits.
Yes, you read that correctly. People are buying and even making their own slime, prompting nearly three million posts under the ‘slime’ hashtag on Instagram. Slime apparently is a great stress reliever, as health expert Jess Barron explains, “Watching it and touching it are incredibly addictive and relaxing.” Slime recipes can be found via YouTube and Google – one of the cheaper alternative wellness options.
Activated charcoal is used for detoxifying the body and skin, and even whitening teeth. It is said to draw out all the toxins in your body, and people have been putting it in all sorts, from lemonade to hot dogs. Ariane Resnick writes, “Its composition is adsorbing, which means that it pulls other substances into itself and carries them out of the body. The process of creating activated charcoal is done chemically by heating charcoal made from wood, coal, coconut or peat until it develops sponge-like pores.” Drinking or eating activated charcoal does have positive effects on the skin and body, but be cautious when doing so.
4. Clear coffee
Invented by Slovakian brothers, David and Adam Nagy, clear coffee may look like water, but has the caffeine punch of coffee. Titled ‘CLR CFF’, the beverage tastes like a strong brew, as it is made with Arabica beans and water. The brothers explain, “We are heavy coffee drinkers. Like many other people we struggled with the teeth stains caused by it. There was nothing on the market that would suit our needs so we decided to create our own recipe. Because of the hectic lifestyle we lead we wanted to make a refreshing ready-to-drink coffee which provides the boost but is low in calories.” It is a great alternative to coffee if you are worried about teeth-staining.
Reishi mushrooms come under the term ‘adaptogens’, which are powerful herbs and plants that are considered to help the body adapt to stress. “Adaptogens are believed to be able to help the body to ‘adapt’ to physical and mental stress, and some experts believe they stabilize blood sugar and diffuse stress,” said Barron. “The benefit of these herbs and plants is told in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. Some adaptogens include reishi, shitake, maca, ginseng, Cordyceps.” Reishi mushrooms have been used in yet another new coffee trend, mushroom lattes.
6. Fossilised algae
Commonly referred to as diatomaceous earth, this raw food source is made from fossilised remains of algae and is another natural detoxifying agent. Wellness guru, Lee Holmes, explains, “It helps clean out the accumulated build-up of waste, toxins, metals and mucous in the digestive tract. It’s completely vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo friendly and it helps increase nutrient absorption, waste removal and improves digestion.”
7. Sound baths
Using sounds as a healing therapy, sound baths have no actual bathing involved, just gongs, tuning forks, and Tibetan singing bowls. Kwali Kumara, a meditation teacher, explains, “Unlike other forms of meditation, sound baths are easily accessible. The gong shuts down the ego point blank and nothing can override it. You can’t help but fall into a deep relaxation.” This relaxation is gained through stimulation of the alpha and theta brain wave frequencies, focusing you entirely on the music and nothing else. “Mostly, I hear ‘I had the best night’s sleep of my life, I was so relaxed,’” says sound healer, Sara Auster. “That’s probably the most common effect that people experience—an overall state of relaxation.”
8. Infrared saunas
Another toxin remover, infrared saunas apparently make you sweat more and thus lose more toxins than regular saunas. Unlike a traditional sauna, they use infrared light to heat the body from without rather than the air from without. Through this method, they are considered to penetrate the skin more deeply, which leads to a higher release of toxins. “We do not have data that shows one can sweat out toxins in any meaningful way,” says Dr. Catherine Forest, a clinical assistant professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “But people feel better after they sweat and think they look better, and that’s worth a lot. It may improve pulmonary function for people with asthma, and heat improves joint pain for people with arthritis.”
Possibly my favourite wellness trend, ‘hygge’ is a Danish word and way of life. With no literal translation, the closest word for ‘hygge’ is ‘cosy’. Author Meik Wiking tries to define ‘hygge’ as, “Togetherness, relaxations, indulgence, presence and comfort. It all boils down to the pursuit of everyday happiness – the art of creating intimacy and cocoa by candlelight.” This Scandinavian philosophy focuses on the small things in life and taking time to appreciate them fully. Wiking continues, “Danes are aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing. After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness and, instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.”