All of these bizarre items are health aids – but can you figure out what they’re meant to heal?
Genie’s splash-inducing lamp
Nosebuddy, £17.99, mad-hq.com
This spirit’s lamp-like device is the neti pot, which is used to flush sinuses and relieve congestion. Fill it with sterile, salt water and, with your head tilted, pour the water into one nostril — tilting your head to the side, the water flows out the other nostril, taking with it any mucus that may have clogged your sinuses.
‘Neti pots can be helpful after a cold, during hay fever or to help with sinus problems where mucus build-up in the nose can cause discomfort,’ says Professor Paul Chatrath, consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon at Spire Hartswood Hospital in Essex.
‘It flushes out congestion but also cleans the tiny hair cells in the nose, helping them to start working effectively again.’
And it could reduce hospitalization from Covid. A study published in August by the University of Georgia, US, looked at twice-daily nasal irrigation in 79 people with Covid and found it led to eight times fewer hospitalizations than the national average.
‘Nasal irrigation is effective, but you must use distilled or cooled boiled water to reduce the risk of contamination,’ says Professor Chatrath.
Laser red light correction
Theradome, from £699, theradomeforhairloss.co.uk
It may look like a bike helmet, but Theradome is said to treat certain types of hair loss.
The helmet emits a red light into the scalp that stimulates hair follicles, increasing the rate of hair growth in cases of hormone thinning. Use the helmet for 20 minutes twice a week.
‘Studies have shown that LLLT — low-level laser therapy — can stimulate hair growth,’ says Dr Anastasia Therianou, consultant dermatologist and hair loss specialist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. ‘Large randomized controlled trials have shown statistically significant regrowth by hair count [the number of hairs on the scalp] in both men and women after treatment.
‘However, more studies are needed to confirm effectiveness.’
She adds: ‘It only works on some types of hair loss — especially male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, and it’s important to get a professional diagnosis before trying LLLT.
‘These devices should not be used by patients with scalp skin cancer or those taking certain antibiotics and diuretics.’
Twidler, from £29.95, twidler.com
It looks like an auger tip made of flexible silicone, but in fact the Twidler is meant for cleaning earwax.
The manufacturer claims that it is safer than using a cotton swab because it does not push the wax further into the ear. Gently insert it into the ear canal in a clockwise direction.
‘I wouldn’t use it,’ says Professor Chatrath. ‘The taper design is based on a drill bit that ejects debris – and that could work on soft wax. But I would worry that if the wax did hit, some might be pushed in the wrong direction, which could make it worse. Earwax exists for a reason — it protects and cleans the ear, so it’s best left alone, unless there’s a build-up that’s affecting your hearing or causing pain.
‘However, you should also never use cotton wool. If earwax bothers you, consult your general practitioner. They will try drops to soften the wax or refer you to microsuction.’
Ostrich pillow£85, ostrichpillow.co.uk
Described as a ‘submersible pillow’, this padded hood is designed to help you sleep or nap while you’re on the go. The design blocks out light and noise (there’s a hole for the mouth and nose), while the padding makes it comfortable to rest your head on surfaces like a desk or an airplane tray.
Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley says: ‘Humans are not designed to sleep upright – we should take the pressure off our bodies while we sleep, and this, combined with the fact that you lose muscle tone during sleep, causing your head to bob, makes it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. sleep on a plane — but this might help with that. I would definitely try it if I flew long-haul a lot.’
A set for heavy hands
Finger weights, from £32, fingerweights.com
These tiny weights (10-30g each) are worn on the toes to strengthen them or as part of rehabilitation for conditions such as stroke or arthritis.
dr. Rod Hughes, consultant rheumatologist at Ashford and St Peter’s NHS Trust in Surrey, says: ‘If you have arthritis in your fingers, it is advisable to exercise them to keep them flexible and the muscles around them strong. It can simply be grip strength exercises with rubber balls.
‘This improves grip strength and adding weight can lead to greater improvements. The downside is that they look awkward, so they may not be suitable if you have impaired hand and finger shape or function. Osteoarthritis often results in the formation of extra new bone with lumps around the joints of the fingers. It’s unlikely to cause permanent damage, but putting pressure on an already inflamed joint could make it uncomfortable.’
Y brush, £108.99, y-brush.com
This mouthpiece has sonic bristles (which work like an electric toothbrush) that it claims can clean all your teeth in ten seconds. A test conducted by the manufacturer on 100 people showed that it removed 15 percent more plaque than conventional brushing.
‘This has an interesting design, but it doesn’t have the robust evidence we have for conventional toothbrushes,’ says Dr Praveen Sharma, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association.
‘One size fits all and any dentist will tell you that it is almost impossible to have one mold for all jaws.
‘In contrast, conventional toothbrushes allow you to adjust the brushing to suit all mouths regardless of variations such as tooth spacing or size.’
Stop and start this device
Dog ritual£79.99. pso-rite.co.uk
This plastic device is described as ‘the most revolutionary mobile massage tool for self-care and muscle release’.
Place the device on the floor, get into a push-up position above it, and press down so that the points on each side dig into your hip bones on both sides.
This is said to massage a muscle called the psoas, which connects the lower back to the thigh bone. Some physical therapists suggest that tightening of this muscle is responsible for severe back and hip pain.
Will Bateman, physiotherapist at Surrey Physio, says: ‘The psoas is a very deep muscle. You can’t specifically stretch or work on it, just like you can’t feel it yourself. Although this product can massage that area, it will not target the psoas. On top of that, there is some debate as to whether the psoas causes all the pain attributed to it, or whether disc problems or hip osteoarthritis are the triggers.
‘I would rather have patients spend their time doing dynamic stretching such as yoga to target all the muscles in this area rather than focusing on the psoas.’