These eyebrow-raising therapies will have you cringing.
There are some people who stay healthy through diet, exercise and good hygiene. And then there are those who take more extreme measures. Here’s a look at the six of the grossest things people do for their health—some of which are actually legit.
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1. Urine therapy. Urine was once used as for teeth whitening in ancient Rome (eeeew!). Today, celebrities like Madonna have said they used urine for things like curing athlete’s foot and immunizing against allergies. Urine does contain several hormones and metabolites, but there is no scientific evidence that proves it’s actually good for you
2. Eating placenta. New-mom celebrities such as Holly Madison and January Jones claim to have eaten their placenta after welcoming their little ones. Purported benefits include easing post-partum pain and depression, but again, any there’s no scientific proof that feasting on afterbirth does either of those things.
3. Leech therapy. Even though the thought of using leech therapy seems old-school (read: Revolutionary War era), the blood-sucking creatures are still used in modern medicine, especially in trauma patients. The slimy creatures may have a huge ick factor, but they’re effective in certain circumstances and carry few potential side effects, save minor infections that are easily treated.
4. Fire cupping. Fire cupping is a treatment involving a heated drinking glass that is inverted and pressed to the skin repeatedly, creating suction. This traditional Chinese practice is believed to help heal chronic diseases, and even cancer. Fire cupping has been evaluated and has no known benefits, but it can leave burns, blisters and scars.
5. Fecal transplant. This process, intended to reset the bacterial balance in the gut, involves inserting fecal matter via an enema into the intestinal tract. Currently, the procedure is undergoing evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for effectiveness and safety, and has shown promise in treating C. diff colitis, a common infection.
6. Ear candling. Used by the Mayans and the Egyptians to supposedly purify the soul, some people believe ear candling is an effective method to remove earwax buildup. The procedure involves placing a lit, hollow, cone-shaped candle in the ear, creating a suction intended to vacuum out the wax and debris. Unfortunately, it can actually push wax further into the ear canal, as well as lead to burns and puncturing of the eardrum.