Have you ever come across a bizarre health trend that made you curious enough to try it? With the rise of social media, there has been an influx of unusual health practices that have made their rounds, and some of them are downright strange. From tongue scraping to float tanks, these trends often make grand promises about their supposed benefits but leave many skeptical.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the weirdest health trends that are popular today. We'll examine what they claim to do, whether they have any scientific basis, and most importantly, whether they're safe to try.
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Tongue scraping has been around since ancient times but has resurfaced again in recent years. It involves using special tools to scrape the tongue in order to clear away bacteria and toxins.
According to Ayurveda, clearing taste receptors makes you less likely to add flavor enhancements like sugar, salt, and fat to your food, which could lead to better eating habits over time. Does it? Without scientific evidence, we’re not sure.
Advocates of tongue scraping are also after bacteria-balancing effects. You hear about having a microbiome — colonies of friendly microbes — in your digestive tract, but you also have a microbiome in your mouth. People who practice tongue scraping aim to achieve an optimal oral microbiome — or at least, better breath.
Although the practice has been around since ancient times, modern science still hasn’t proven any real health benefits from it. But people who regularly practice tongue scraping have reported benefits such as better breath and mouth health.
The risks? As long as you use gentle pressure, there’s not much to worry about with tongue scraping. There’s a special tool that you can purchase that is designed for this purpose, or you can start with a spoon.
Mouth taping is a fairly recent health trend that involves covering one’s mouth with surgical or athletic tape during sleep. The idea is to encourage nose breathing which has a handful of purported benefits:
- Reduced allergy issues due to air intake through the nose, which has better allergen filtration than the mouth
- Improved moisture retention in airways, leading to less dryness in the throat
- Less dry mouth
- Decreased anxiety
- Better breath
- Improved sleep quality
- Decreased anxiety
The idea is that this technique can increase oxygen levels in the bloodstream, reduce snoring, and even lead to better overall health. Proponents of this method claim that it also helps to reduce acid reflux, alleviate anxiety and improve overall sleep quality.
While there is no scientific evidence to support these claims, the trend continues to gain traction among health enthusiasts.
There’s not a lot of science behind the benefits of mouth taping, but there may be risks for people with certain breathing or sleep conditions, like sleep apnea or asthma. Consult your doctor before giving it a try, and be sure to use skin-safe tape so you don’t unintentionally give yourself an upper lip wax in the morning!
Microworkouts, or "Workout Snacks"
Microworkouts, or “workout snacks” as they are sometimes called, are a growing trend in the fitness world. This type of workout consists of short bursts of exercise throughout the day rather than one long workout session.
The types of microworkouts that work best can be done almost anywhere and require minimal equipment. Examples include bodyweight exercises like jumping jacks, squats and push-ups, as well as using resistance bands or light weights for added intensity.
Advocates claim that microworkouts can add up and make a shift in your overall health, especially if microworkouts are more workable than taking a chunk out of your day to put on workout clothes, go to the gym, work out, shower...
If you’re going from skipping workouts to doing microworkouts, you’ll reap the benefits over time.
You may have noticed your social media feeds have more and more videos of people squeezing their cheeks, flexing their lips, tapping their foreheads, and massaging their eyebrows. Face yoga is another health trend which promotes facial exercises as a way to improve the appearance and tone of your face.
This practice is said to help reduce wrinkles and minimize sagging by increasing circulation and strengthening muscles in the jaw, neck, forehead and cheeks through specialized techniques including massages, finger taps, and stretches.
While there are no clinical studies yet to back up these claims, many people who have tried it report seeing some results from regular practice. This is a low-risk self-experiment that you can do and see if you notice any improvements.
Float tanks have been gaining popularity in recent years. Proponents of this practice suggest that it can help with stress and anxiety, as well as relieve pain and improve sleep quality.
The idea is that the epsom salts in the water have a calming effect due to high magnesium content, and the tanks provide a sensory deprivation environment to induce relaxation. The tank is dark, and you can choose no sound or relaxing music. When you’re floating you don’t feel anything touching your skin. The way modern life is, it’s appealing to be able to close the lid on stress like you can in a float tank.
There isn’t much scientific evidence to back up these claims, but people who have tried float tanks tend to go back over and over again.
The Internal Shower drink was trending on TikTok a while ago. The premise is that you add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon, let the drink sit, and then drink it as fast as you can. The intended result? A trip to the bathroom.
While some people swear by the Internal Shower, there was criticism that there are other ways to get things moving: magnesium, fiber, fruits and vegetables, beans—you don’t have to rely on any one thing.
But, if the Internal Shower drink is an easy way to get your fiber in, then why not? Mix your chia, squeeze your lemon and go for it.
Charcoal Teeth Whitening
Rubbing charcoal powder on your teeth is another health trend that has raised eyebrows in recent years. This involves brushing your teeth with activated charcoal powder and leaving it on for 10-20 minutes to whiten teeth.
It hasn’t been proven to be any more effective than regular teeth whitening methods, but more natural-minded people prefer it to chemical whiteners. Does it work? Feedback varies, but people have said that they notice a difference.
Internal showers and face yoga are just a few examples of some of the weird health trends out there that have caught on. While effectiveness may vary, they all start out the same way. Someone tries something unconventional, perceives a result, and they tell their friends who tell their friends. While some may yield positive results for those willing to try them, others may be nothing more than wishful thinking. Before trying any new method, be sure to do your research and consult with your doctor before trying anything extreme.
- Mouth Taping: Is It Safe? Cleveland Clinic HealthEssentials. September 8, 2022: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mouth-taping/
- Patel S. The Benefits of Tongue Scraping. September 16, 2020: https://chopra.com/articles/the-benefits-of-tongue-scraping