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Culture Documentary

<em>(Un)well</em>: The pros and cons of health fads



(Un)well: The pros and cons of health fads

Film explores some iffy elixirs

(Un)well is a new Netflix documentary series that examines different wellness trends. Many viewers likely have familiarity with the booming essential oils business, but some episodes will take viewers on trips into strange spaces. Successful practitioners, disillusioned ex-reps, and skeptical scientists issue conflicting opinions.

“Frankincense is really good for cancers, cuts, scrapes, and emotional issues,” says Allison Huish, a high-level seller in a leading essential oils company. The FDA has condemned such claims, and an attorney in a class action suit calls one company’s structure an “illegal pyramid scheme.” Huish earns a portion of profits from 16,000 team members under her. 

The second episode probes tantra, an Eastern sex practice. A client calls his experience “an exorcism … of the demon of no self-love.” Breast milk does a bodybuilder good, evidently, in Episode 3. An Oregon woman breast pumps five hours a day, stirring her milk into home meals and shipping frozen bags of it to weightlifters nationwide.

Intermittent fasting, purported curative uses of a hallucinogenic plant called ayahuasca, and bee-sting therapy round out the first six episodes (rated TV-MA.) I did not come away convinced to stir any of these ingredients into my daily regimen.