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Courtesy of Instagram / @metaphysicalmeagan

Five of the weirdest, most dangerous wellness trends on social media

From drinking fish tank cleaner to sunning your perineum

The wellness industry is booming, valued at $4.4 billion in 2020. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that so many influencers and celebrities are keen to shill wellness-adjacent products or services.

While many figures in the wellness space may be genuinely good-hearted people striving to spread positivity and improve the lives of others, it’s equally fair to say that there’s a hefty number of influencers who are just looking to make a quick buck. And though it’s disturbing to see people shun science and morality in favour of ~vibes~ and £££, the schadenfreude in seeing these products exposed for what they really are is unmatched.

From methylene blue to Gwyneth Paltrow’s infamous Jade Eggs, here are five of the weirdest wellness trends currently being shilled on social media.

Methylene blue

Most recently, medical experts have warned against influencers promoting the health benefits of ‘methylene blue’ – a disinfectant, anti-fungal, and antiparasitic treatment usually used to clean fish tanks.

Regardless, a number of influencers have promoted methylene blue on social media, arguing that ingesting the chemical has a number of health benefits. Some have claimed that methylene blue works as a nootropic and is “a potent cognitive enhancer”, while others have suggested that it can treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.

But, sadly, methylene blue isn’t the miracle worker some influencers are making it out to be. Hussain Abdeh, superintendent pharmacist at Medicine Direct, told The Independent that methylene blue can be “toxic” if taken in large doses. “Taking an unregulated amount can be very dangerous,” he warned. 

Vaginal steaming

The idea behind vaginal steaming is simple: you perch above a bowl of hot water infused with herbs – mugwort is Gwyneth Paltrow’s go-to – and ‘steam clean’ your vagina. The Goop founder suggested that vaginal steaming could also imbue people with extra energy, ‘rebalance’ female hormones, and ‘clean’ your uterus (?).

Although giving your vagina a spa treatment sounds chic, in practice, the moisture and heat from v-steaming can leave you prone to yeast infections, which are decidedly unchic. Plus, as the vagina cleans itself anyway, over-washing can result in upsetting its natural pH balance which can cause irritation or lead to infections.

Basically: put the kettle down? It’s not worth it.

Raw meat

Heidi Montag was recently spotted gnawing on a raw bison heart straight out of a bloody Ziploc bag – but it’s not the first time the TV personality decided to snack on a bit of raw meat. She’s posted Instagram videos of herself nibbling on raw liver and bull’s testicles, which begs the question: why the fuck would you do that?

“Organs are very nutritious parts of animals [...] Eating raw liver is going to preserve as many nutrients as possible,” Montag told PEOPLE. Montag added that she’s been using this diet to get pregnant: “I have been trying to get pregnant for over a year and a half, I'm willing to try different things,” she said. “It’s a great source of nutrients! I have felt incredible on this diet. A lot more energy, clarity, increased libido, and overall improvement on chronic pain I have had.”

Obviously, there is a considerable risk of getting salmonella, a tapeworm infection, or literally dying from ingesting uncooked meat. On top of this, raw meat has also recently become disconcertingly connected to alt-right groups. All in all, a pretty disturbing trend x

Perineum sunning

Back in 2019, wellness influencer Metaphysical Meagan went viral after posting a photo on Instagram promoting perineum sunning. In one caption, Meagan claimed that “30 seconds of sunlight on your butthole is the equivalent of a full day of sunlight with your clothes on.” She listed benefits including increased energy, better sleep, and better connection to sexual energy.

Sadly, there is no proof that perineum sunning has any health benefits. What’s worse is that it might be dangerous too: as any skincare buff knows, you should not be exposing any area of your skin to the sun without protection – but especially not your perineum, an area apparently particularly sensitive to sun damage which can increase your risk of skin cancer. As scrubbing your genitals with SPF isn’t really an option, it’s best to just keep your pants on.

The yoni egg

When it comes to wacky wellness trends, Gwyneth Paltrow is the gift that keeps on giving. Back in 2017, Goop marketed the $66 ‘Jade Egg’, which was designed to be “used by women to increase sexual energy, health, and pleasure”. Goop also claimed that the eggs – which were meant to be inserted into your vagina – could ‘fix’ your hormone levels and also improve bladder control.

Gynaecologists raised concerns about Goop’s Jade Egg almost immediately, with some flagging that as the stones were porous it was difficult to thoroughly sterilise them between uses. As a result, the eggs could cause bacteria to proliferate inside the vagina, which could lead to bacterial vaginosis or even toxic shock syndrome.

Goop was ultimately handed a $145,000 fine in 2018 for their “unsubstantiated” marketing claims about the Jade Egg.