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Wed Jun 13, 2018, 07:54 PM


The New York Times coverage of buzzy wellness concepts like "detox" is a case study in pseudoscience


Scientifically speaking, “detoxing” isn’t a thing. Your body doesn’t retain so-called toxins ingested via food or drugs or plastic dishes, or breathed in through air. You don’t sweat them out at yoga, get rid of them via special massage, or purge them through colonics. As writer Dara Mohammadi put it in a scorching takedown of the dominant wellness watchword of the past decade: “If toxins did build up in a way that your body couldn’t excrete, you’d likely be dead or in need of serious medical intervention.”

Given that scientists, doctors, and nutritionists have united in rejecting the very idea of a “detox,” it’s a bit head-scratching to read the New York Times’ T Magazine’s My Detox column, featuring attractive “creative people” sharing “the homemade recipes they count on to detox, cleanse—and refresh.” In a recent installment, the model Alek Wek recommends a Sudanese okra stew; she “adds a glass of detoxifying lemon juice” to her recipe when her life is about to get especially busy. In the column before that one, the rapper Junglepussy (Shayna McHayle) describes how she makes a lemon-scented body oil at home. “McHayle is choosy,” the writer Coco Romack notes, “about where she sources her beauty products, which she prefers chemical free.” (“Chemical-free,” like “detoxing,” is not really a thing.)

My Detox isn’t the only place in the Times where you can find casual, credulous treatments of pseudoscientific “wellness” concepts. The Styles section has run its share of coverage that might trigger a skeptical reader’s bullshit alarm. For a recent installment of her Styles column “Me Time,” Marisa Meltzer went to a spa, where she got one treatment combining clairvoyance (!) and acupuncture, and another with a crystal healer. Meltzer’s tone projects gameness—“Let’s try this out!”—rather than whole-hearted endorsement, but the writer does report some actual results. “The [crystals] session felt cathartic and left me emotionally vulnerable in a way that a massage never has,” Meltzer wrote. Available research suggests that if crystals work for you, it’s probably through the placebo effect. (And for what it’s worth, Emily Atkin wrote in the New Republic recently that the crystals you buy may have been mined under adverse conditions, for workers and the environment; it’ll be very hard for the average consumer to tell.)

The typical Times lifestyle treatment of these wellness fads holds the question of science at arms’ length. Take a different Styles piece on “adaptogens”—supplements from herbal medicine that are supposed to help calibrate your body’s stress response but which have not been studied by researchers. “Although the science is as murky as a mushroom drink looks and these supplements are unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, this hasn’t stopped trendsetters from sharing their purposed benefits,” Rachel Jacoby Zoldan writes—one strategically skeptical clause, in a piece that’s otherwise packed with positive quotes from people who sell and blog about adaptogenic products and beautiful photos of freshly blended bright-blue smoothies.


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Reply The New York Times coverage of buzzy wellness concepts like "detox" is a case study in pseudoscience (Original post)
Exotica Jun 2018 OP
SidDithers Jun 2018 #1
Aristus Jun 2018 #2

Response to Exotica (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2018, 08:10 PM

1. DU rec...


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Response to Exotica (Original post)

Wed Jun 13, 2018, 08:19 PM

2. "Cleanse the toxins" is a phrase I tell my patients to be wary of.

Any commercial product or even home remedy that promises to 'cleanse the toxins' from your system.

I tell my patients, you have three organs that are already doing an excellent job of cleansing toxins from your system: your liver and your kidneys. You don't need anything else.

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