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Body · March 6, 2019

Testing the Waters: We Gave 4 Weird Wellness Trends a SpinHere's What Happened

Name: Bret, Senior Associate, Social & Content

##The Wellness Trend: Crystal Therapy
##What It Is:
Crystal therapy is a centuries-old tradition that involves using superpowered gemstones. Its claim: Everything from drawing out negative energy to increasing psychic powers to promoting spiritual, physical, and emotional healing.

Brets Thoughts Going In:

Id definitely say Im skeptical of these, but for the sake of the content, Im going in as open-minded as possible. If these rocks that I bought off Amazon change my life, then so be it. In fact, I welcome it. (So brave, Bret.)

Obviously Im doing this whole thing hoping to gain psychic powers, so I want to stick with whatever will make that happen. Bret decided to test the waters for three days, with three different crystals:

Red Jasper: Alleviates stress and has a grounding effect.
Carnelian: Boosts creativity.
Kyanite: Helps develop intuition and psychic abilities.

Brets Experience:

In order to make sure I get the most from these crystals, I had to clean them using palo santo holy wood. (Read: I light a stick on fire and wave it at them). Now that my crystals are fully cleaned, I can get started. Ill be meditating for 5 minutes every morning with one of the crystals, keeping it by my sidein this case, at my deskthroughout the day, and taking notes with regards to the intended effects. Im excited to venture into the unknown. Honestly this is probably what the first astronauts felt like.


Alright, so its three days later, and heres the deal: Im not floating yet, and Im honestly not sure what gives. Maybe my chakras are busted? Maybe Im not focusing enough? I dont really feel that my stress, or creativity or psychic power levels have changed. Maybe I havent given these enough time to work (the crystal expert I emailed, also confirmed this), but Im not sure I have the patience. I will say that taking 5 minutes to pause and meditate every morning was extremely good. It helped me relax and focus, so that will definitely stay in the routine...until I forget. On the whole, I think Ill give these crystals a few more days (for more chances to work on my chakras) but Im starting to get why we have medicine and therapy and stuff now.

PROS: Meditating is good for keeping me focused; everyone at work thought I was witch-y.
CONS: Otherwise, crystals didn't really work for me; seems very complicated; everyone at work thought I was witch-y.

Name: Brian, Sr. Product Manager

##Trend testing: CBD
##What It Is:
The non-psychoactive aspect of cannabidiol (marijuana) can be squeezed into lotions, potions, and even water. Its claim: to help you relax, heal inflammation, relieve anxiety, and just feel extra chillno high required.

Brian's Thoughts Going In:

Ive seen CBD everywhere. Ive read enough to know that there are no psychoactive effects but also heard that there are other anti-inflammatory and anxiety-reducing properties. I was happy to give it a shot knowing that I wasnt going to feel any mind-altering effects.

Brian tries two different forms of CBD products:
CBD Rub: This is a pain relief rub made by infusing high-quality cannabis flowers with oil, and extracting the active compounds. This oil is blended with other therapeutic pain relievers (like arnica) to provide relief to sore muscles and other body aches.
CBD Seltzer: Sparkling water gets a reboot; the bubbly stuff is combined with CBDs supposed stress-relieving properties.

Brians Experience:

###CBD Rub:
I decided to take an intense spin class for maximum potential leg soreness. Before the class, I stretched, and mentally prepared myselfbut the instructor still killed me. I usually feel sore the day after my workout, so I waited patiently until after I got home from work. I rubbed the CBD rub on my left leg only, so I could see if Id feel a difference between the two.


Im not sure anything worked. My right leg was a little tighter, but there wasnt a drastic difference in soreness. Seemed to have the same ingredients as any topical muscle relaxer, so I have no idea if the CBD worked. Smelled like Icy Hot though.

PROS: Relaxing smell. Eucalyptus always makes me feel like Im receiving a massage or treatment. The ingredients seemed to relax me and maybe that helped relax my muscles?
CONS: Couldnt tell if it actually was the CBD, or if the other ingredients relaxed my muscles. Oh yeah, and had to do an extra load of laundry because all my clothes smelled like eucalyptus. Nice in doses, but didnt want it permeated everywhere.

CBD Seltzer:

For this, I decided to drink 3 cans throughout the workday while monitoring my productivity. My days are usually filled mostly with meetings, with a few pockets here and there for answering emails, and food/bathroom breaks. I imagined that the CBD seltzer would have some type of effect since I was consuming it.


Ok, so I wasnt completely wrong. I didnt notice a boost in focus or productivity, but I DID notice that my appetite was gone. I didnt have breakfast or lunch. Stopped for a bag of popcorn and kept it moving for most of the day.

PRO: Appetite suppressant. Since I wasnt thinking about food, I didnt have to leave the office or heat anything up, I was able to get more done throughout the day.
CONS: It kinda had a bitter taste. Skipping meals wasnt the best idea because I ended up eating too much for dinner. I also didnt have the same amount of energy as I usually did at the end of the day.

Name: Hans, Director of Product

##Trend testing: Juice Cleanse
##What It Is:
A no-solid food regimen (also known as juice fasting) that lasts anywhere from one to seven days, and offers a simplified way to drinks tons of fruits and veggies (aka lots of vitamins and minerals). Its claim: to give yourself a dietary "reset" and detoxify your bodyespecially after a period of overindulgence.

Thoughts going in: Im a big fan of food, I spend most weekends with the barbecue smoker and a brew. Which is a good segue to my... juice cleanse review! I went into this with an open mind and suspended belief in science.

Hans is doing a three-day juice cleanse. Thats right: no barbecue. No brews. Lets hear how he does.

Hans Experience:

Day 1.
The first juice, made from some essential grasses. (Wait: there are essential grasses?) It tastes like, well, what NYC would be if it could assume a food form. Thats not a negative, per se. Its just that the flavor of all-black clothing and working too many hours surprised me. All in all, not bad! (Editors note: Hans clearly commutes into our NYC office.)

Day 1, 20 minutes later.
There are 24 bottles of juices in my 'fridge, staring back at me. The reality of only eating that for three days flashed before my eyes. I immediately took my wife, Vanessa, up on her earlier offer that she do the juicing and report back.

Day 1, moments later.
I get the frying pan out, butter sizzling in prep for a ladle-full of chocolate chip pancake batter. All of a sudden I hear from the bedroom, well, I can already tell you this green juice tastes nothing like the butter cooking in our house right now. Guess shes not a fan either.

Day 2.
Im feeling very good about my decision to put everything on Vanessa. Shes a champ. But shes starting to look pale. I mention this to her. Without missing a beat she says, cold and lifeless. Thats what this juice is. Later, I mention we should do chicken wings this weekend. That evening Instagram shows me an ad for free wings for life with the caption: Dieting sucks. Eat ButcherBox instead.

Day 3.
We almost made it through. Sorta.


In the end, I only tasted a few juices. But, if you listen to your body (or Vanessas) its pretty clear, after about 36 hours, this isnt natural. Its a short, extreme diet. And an expensive one at that. One important heads up: a three-day juice cleanse is HEAVY. Literally. You do not want to have to lug it far. I commuted to Jersey with it, and now Im hoping to find a barbecue cleanse to treat the back pain caused by transporting the juice cleanse. While Im unconvinced that theres any valid scientific reason to drink only juice for days, it did get me thinking more about what Im putting into my body and whether Im getting the variety I need. Which Im glad to get a reminder about.

PRO: Ribs in Jersey this weekend.
CON: Because if theres nothing else to learn from all this: Food brings us together. Juice cleanses drive us apart.

Name: Kate, Senior Associate, Content & Community

##Trend testing: Infrared Sauna
##What It Is:
While a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the air, an infrared sauna uses different colors of light to create heat. Its claim: The infrared wavelength (read: no harmful tanning rays) penetrates deeply into your tissues directly, causing the body to sweat at a more comfortable ambient temperature and experience benefits like detoxification, weight loss, sore muscle relief, and better sleep.

Lets see how Kate does...

Kate's Thoughts Going In:

"Infrared saunas what are they and what the hell do they do? And am I going to get cancer? These are the questions I asked Google before I even stepped into HigherDose for a 30-minute session. I had just seen Bella Hadid post about it, so on my way, I practiced what I was going to say to her, just in case we ran into each other. According to their website, the session is able to 'detoxify you, boost your immune system, calm your nervous system, pain relief, collagen boosting, anti-aging, skin purification, cell health, and improved circulation.' Ok, fine, sign me up."

Kates Experience:

Higher Dose looks like a very bougie coffee shop, with plants and greenery, and a lot of cool-looking people working on important-looking things. You go downstairs to the spa area where they set you up inside your little personal sauna. Its small, but Im able to sit on the bench with my legs spread out in front of me. A technician explains that I get to control the music and the lights. Different lights for different benefits. Red is supposed to support circulatory and nervous functions, pink eliminates impurities in the bloodstream, blue relieves stress, and the list goes on. I switched between blue and yellow, which is supposed to help purify your skin and assist metabolism.

I stepped in and felt the heat immediately. It felt like any other sauna experience, except it wasnt aswet. Since the light heats your body, there is no steam. I liked this a lot since the steam tends to make me a little claustrophobic and uncomfortable.

The first 10 minutes were great. I listened to a podcast, and got lost in the story. Around 10 minutes in, I started to feel the sweat dripping from my entire body. I mean, in places Ive never sweat before. At the halfway point, I was definitely getting uncomfortable. I tried to breathe through it, but I was getting literally hot and bothered. With around seven minutes left, I got insatiably hungry. And then I got hangry. By the end of the experience, I was just plain irritable.


When the time finally went off, I was able to step outside of my personal spa and the fresh air felt amazing. I felt all of the anger and irritability melt away as I stepped out of the hot cube. I drank some water and dried myself off before putting my clothes back on. I actually felt really good. I left Higher Dose feeling relaxed and oddly calm, oh, and still hungry. After I had a meal at home, I was hit with a wave of exhaustion. Maybe it was the long work day, or the workout I had done before the infrared sauna (I read that it was supposed to amplify the benefits of a cardio workout) but I sat down on my couch, turned on SVU, and didnt move for 3 hours.

PRO: "I strongly preferred the infrared sauna experience to that of a traditional sauna. I felt detoxed and really at peace afterwards. I would definitely do it again."
CON: "The claim that the different LED lights did different things? Im not completely convinced there, but that also wasnt a major selling point for me. I'd give it a 6 out of 10. I deducted points for cost (it was $30 for half an hoursomething I can't afford to do often) and seven minutes of hangry rage."

Well, we came, we sawwe shirked on our responsibilities to fulfill a juice cleanse. All in all, pretty expected results when you round up your coworkers to test the waters on some trendy wellness fads. Have something you want us to test the waters for? DM us on Instagram @birchboxman and well see what else we can put to the test.