The tapeworm diet dates back to the 19th century. A tapeworm is ingested and then feeds on the digested food we’ve consumed, which helps drop weight. Doctors do not recommend this diet at all. “Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director of the Iowa Department of Health, said in 2013. Tape worms can grow up to 50 feet long in the intestine and pose risks like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
The Master Cleanse
This “Master Cleanse” consists of three things: water, laxatives, and a lemon water concoction. This 650-calorie diet, far less than the recommend 2,000 calories daily, can last anywhere from 10 to 45 days, depending on the diet plan. Fasting is dangerous because it deprives the body of nutrients, and the low calorie intake means it isn’t safe to exercise while on this diet. Side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, and there is no scientific evidence that it actually rids the body of toxins.
Smoking has long been supposed to enhance weight loss. According to Livestrong.com, the average smoker weighs anywhere from six to 10 pounds less than a nonsmoker. A 2010 study showed that tobacco companies have modified cigarettes through the years to give them more of an “appetite suppressant” quality. While it may be a weight loss tactic, it’s not instant, and smoking causes potentially deadly side effects like emphysema and lung cancer.
Cotton ball diet
This one cuts out food all together. Instead of eating real food, dieters soak five cotton balls in orange juice, lemonade or a smoothie with the intention of trying to “feel full” without eating. Cotton is not actually what makes up most cotton balls. They’re polyester fibers full of chemicals, which is terrible for the body. Another risk is the inability to digest the cotton balls, which creates a trapped mass that can cause harmful blockage.
Plastic tongue patch
This weight loss method is not as dangerous as it is painful. Dr. Nikolas Chugay brought this method to the United States in 2009 after seeing it in Latin America. Dr. Chugay sews a mesh patch onto the patient’s tongue with stitches, causing such excruciating pain that the patient is forced to stick to a liquid diet. The $2,000 procedure takes about 10 minutes. The patch is removed after one month, usually resulting in 18-20 pounds lost.
Illegal stimulants like cocaine cause metabolic changes that can reduce the body’s ability to store fat, which makes it easier to lose weight. However, the Drug Enforcement Administration warns that the effects of cocaine include high blood pressure, seizures, and neurological problems, along with stroke or sudden cardiac death. Other side effects can occur depending on the method through which the drug enters the body (snorting, ingesting, smoking, etc.).
Some believe that inserting small surgical staples into the inner cartilage of the ear can curb the appetite. It stems from acupuncture and the idea that pressure points within the ear can suppress hunger pangs. This process poses a high risk of infection if done incorrectly or in unsanitary conditions. Also, there is no scientific proof to say whether or not it is an effective weight loss method.