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A Fad a Day to Your Doctor’s Dismay

Inspired by ‘Quack,’ We’ve Compiled Four Health Fads We Don’t Recommend


Dan Bucatinsky and Jackie Chung in the World premiere of “Quack” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

From superfoods to hot yoga, probiotics to cupping, society’s obsession with health has spawned many interesting (see: questionable) trends and cure-alls. While fad diets and products are not a new invention by any means (see: healthy cigarettes and the nicotine diet), the internet has amplified marketers’ messaging and ease of sale.

With more options than ever when it comes to living our best, healthiest life, many turn to doctors and medical professionals for recommendations and guidance, such as with Dr. Baer, the licensed endocrinologist, revered medical TV show host, and central figure of Eliza Clark’s World premiere comedy Quack—onstage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre October 21 – November 18, 2018. Though we usually leave it to Dr. Baer when it comes to counselling his audience on the latest tips and trends, since his schedule has been tumultuous lately, we’ve compiled a few current fads that might pop up on his audience’s radar.

Cabbage Soup Diet

As one might guess by the name, the cabbage soup diet isn’t a new hip fad by any means. Having come in and out of vogue periodically over the last several decades, the diet calls for exactly what you’d think: eating predominantly cabbage soup for what’s usually a seven-day period. Marketed as a quick trick for losing a few pounds, the overall consensus among the medical community is the diet doesn’t promote sustainable weight loss, can lead to malnutrition, and perhaps tops the list for overly restrictive diets. Bottom line: there are better and far tastier options for those looking to eat healthy.

Activated Charcoal

If you happen to spot someone sipping a glass full of what looks like squid ink, there’s a good chance that person is enjoying(?) an activated charcoal drink. From lemonades and smoothies to toothpastes, adding activated charcoal—a super-heated, more processed form of the same stuff you put in barbecues—has become a popular go-to remedy for detoxes and digestive issues. While the absorptive quality of activated charcoal is used in medical procedures to treat poisonings, research shows the purported benefits are at best overstated, while regular consumption may have inadvertent side effects, including the charcoal potentially absorbing nutrients and vitamins that your body uses. Maybe best to just stick to regular lemonade…

Ear Candling

While the name of the procedure may bring some people back to a particular scene in Shrek, ear candling involves burning candles near one’s ear to try and remove earwax. These special hollowed candles are meant to create suction and/or use heat to clear wax from the ear canal. If trusting a lit candle—and by extension anyone handling that candle—so close to your face for the sake of clean ears makes you nervous, no need to worry; the consensus from researchers is that the candles don’t actually clear your ears. And tests have shown that, unsurprisingly, the waxy debris that is found within the candle after use is not in fact ear wax, but melted wax and gauze from the candle itself. Who’d have guessed?

Raw Water

For some, the recent push for less-processed, more back to nature foods has shifted to include our most important survival resource: water. For those of a more discerning and/or skeptical palette, raw water—unfiltered, untreated water from natural springs and sources—is now a convenient, though royally expensive, option. While many regions throughout the country may have valid concerns about tap water due to aging infrastructure, most health professionals argue the potential risks of drinking untreated water far outweigh any potential benefits. On the other hand, proponents of raw water often provide alternative, sometimes questionable arguments, as one seller explained to The New York Times: Call me a conspiracy theorist, but [fluoride’s] a mind-control drug that has no benefit to our dental health. No comment.

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