While we’re all on a life-long journey toward self-betterment, there’s no shame in cutting some corners and getting in on the impact of healthcare trends. There are so many seductive quick fixes Hollywood tempts us with, from anti-aging remedies to trends that promise total revitalization. But with such an overwhelming amount of false information disguising itself as fact floating around the internet, it’s hard to know what to trust.
Here are some of the top wellness trends of the moment, and some thoughtful insight on whether or not they’re worth your investment.
What it is: Using electromagnetic radiation from infrared lamps rather than steam or flame-stoked heat, the lamps in infrared saunas penetrate warmth directly on your skin, providing heat therapy benefits while operating at a lower temperature.
Pros: Infrared sauna benefits promise to improve heart health, soothe sore muscles, provide pain relief, boost immunity, and improve your sleep quality. You’ll feel your body’s natural response within minutes of sitting in an infrared sauna, as your blood vessels widen and blood flow increases.
Cons: It’s imperative to avoid infrared saunas if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, and they can dehydrate you pretty severely if you’re not careful. With the heat lowering your blood pressure, you also risk hypotension, light-headedness, or fainting.
Conclusion: While certainly helpful, the benefits of saunas are mainly because of the physiological effects of sweating and increased heart rate, which can also be achieved through moderate exercise.
What it is: A trend that’s certainly not for the faint of heart, cold plunges are the act of immersing oneself in an ice bath or extremely cold water for a short duration, typically two to three minutes. The water temperature is usually significantly lower than your body's normal temperature, usually around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pros: The benefits behind cold plunges are countless. Reduced inflammation and stress, spiked dopamine and endorphins, lymphatic drainage, improved sleep and immunity, metabolism boost, hormone regulation, and pain relief are some of the many scientifically-backed promises.
Cons: It’s important to verify with your healthcare provider whether or not you’re a candidate for cold plunges. If you’re pregnant, suffer from cardiovascular disease or hypertension, have a baseline low body temperature, or wear a pacemaker, you should avoid cold plunges.
Conclusion: There’s an overwhelming amount of science and research that supports the health-boosting promises behind cold plunges.
LED Light Therapy
What it is: Used by dermatologists and estheticians to treat a wide range of skin issues, LED light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that penetrates the skin’s layers. Blue light affects the uppermost layer of your skin, while yellow light penetrates further, and red light travels the deepest.
Pros: Light therapy is said to be an effective treatment for acne, eczema, psoriasis, sun damage, and wrinkles. Light therapy for hair growth has also proven itself effective, revitalizing the hair follicles.
Cons: Light therapy can’t help with acne cysts, blackheads, or whiteheads, and some research finds that blue light therapy may actually contribute to aging by causing free radical damage to the skin.
Conclusion: While in-office LED light therapy performed by a licensed professional can be effective, LED masks most likely won’t provide dramatic anti-aging or acne-reducing results.
What it is: Typically, a sound bath involves lying down as a facilitator plays one or more instruments (such as crystal bowls, Tibetan bowls, or gongs) to create soothing, overlapping vibrations. These vibrations are said to ease you into a deep state of relaxation, shutting off your body’s fight-or-flight reflex.
Pros: Sound baths promise to aid with stress, fatigue, and depression. Because stress is often a predecessor to more debilitating conditions, sound baths are thought to be a preventative tool against chronic illnesses.
Cons: There aren’t any documented negative risks, though it’s important to note that sound baths aren’t a replacement for more direct forms of treatment for anxiety or depression.
Conclusion: While objectively relaxing, the benefits of a sound bath won’t necessarily be life-changing. However, it’s certainly worth a try as a complementary add-on to any on-going treatment.
What it is: Enabling water, nutrients, or vitamins to access the body faster through the circulatory system, at-home IV therapy has become all the rave. During the procedure, a healthcare professional will insert a cannula into a person’s vein, where they then attach a tube with an IV bag containing the necessary fluids.
Pros: Due to its direct access to the veins, IV therapy is a fast-acting way to feed essential fluids into the body’s system. It can serve as an immediate boost in immunity, replenish severe dehydration, treat malnutrition, and provide the body with any necessary vitamins.
Cons: Although IV therapy is generally safe, you do risk damage to blood vessels, bruising or bleeding from the site of insertion, and inflammation of the veins if the IV is left for too long.
Conclusion: There’s insufficient evidence to recommend the use of IV therapy outside of medical settings. Our daily requirements of vitamins and water can be easily achieved through a well-balanced diet.
What it is: A phenol peel is the most aggressive kind of chemical peel one can undergo. Going deep under the dermis to treat sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines, freckles, hyperpigmentation, and acne scars, this procedure is a highly sought-after anti-aging remedy.
Pros: Ridding your face from any scars and signs of aging (once you’re finally healed from the intense chemical peel), your face will appear smooth and youthful, with results lasting as long as 10 years.
Cons: Phenol Peels are not safe to perform on darker skin types. They’re also costly, require a sedative to be administered, and are accompanied by a long, painful recovery. Many practitioners don’t offer the peel due to the severity of its risks.
Conclusion: While results are objectively impressive, the outcome may not be worth the risk, especially when there are lasers that can provide similar results with much less downtime.
What it is: From an Eight Sleep pod to a Sleep Number mattress, bringing technology into the bedroom allows you to gain more control over the quality of your sleep.
Pros: By monitoring motion and calculating the total time you spend in bed, smart mattresses provide detailed sleep tracking. They also have climate control abilities, as well as smart-home integration. Analyzing your heart and breathing rates, this technology can also calculate how long you spent in REM.
Cons: As if regular mattresses weren’t already expensive enough, smart mattresses are pretty costly, and an Eight Sleep pod usually runs upwards of $2,000.
Conclusion: You’ll almost certainly experience improved sleep, but the cost of the investment may or may not be worth it.