These bizarre items are all health gadgets – but can you figure out what they’re supposed to treat?
The sensational genie lamp
Nosebuddy, £17.99, mad-hq.com
This genie’s lamp-like device is a neti pot, used to flush out sinuses and relieve congestion. You fill it with sterile salt water and, with a tilted head, pour the water into one nostril – by tilting your head to the side, the water flows out the other nostril, bringing in mucus which may have clogged sinuses.
“Neti pots can be useful after a cold, during hay fever or to help with sinus problems where a buildup of mucus in the nose can cause discomfort,” says Professor Paul Chatrath, Consultant Ear Surgeon, nose and throat at Spire Hartswood Hospital. in Essex.
“It eliminates congestion but also cleanses the tiny hair cells in the nose, helping them to start functioning effectively again.”
And it could reduce hospitalizations from Covid. A study published in August by the University of Georgia, USA, looked at twice-daily nasal irrigation in 79 people with Covid and found it resulted in eight times fewer hospitalizations than the national average .
“Nasal irrigation is effective, but you should use cooled distilled or boiled water to reduce the risk of contamination,” says Professor Chatrath.
Red light laser correction
Theradome, from £699, theradomeforhairloss.co.uk
It might look like a bicycle helmet, but Theradome is said to treat certain types of hair loss.
The helmet emits a red light into the scalp which stimulates the hair follicles, increasing the rate of hair growth in cases of hormone-related thinning. Use the helmet for 20 minutes twice a week.
“Studies have shown that LLLT – low intensity 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 demonstrated statistically significant regrowth as a function of hair count [the number of hairs on the scalp] in men and women after treatment.
“However, further studies are needed to support efficacy.”
She adds: ‘It only works on certain types of hair loss – particularly male and female pattern baldness, and it is important that a diagnosis is made by a specialist before trying LLLT.
“These devices should not be used by patients with scalp skin cancers or those taking certain antibiotics and diuretics.”
Tvidler, from £29.95, tvdler.com
It looks like a soft silicone drill tip but, in fact, Tvidler is meant to be used to clean wax from your ears.
The manufacturer claims it’s safer than using a cotton swab because it doesn’t push the wax further into the ear. Gently insert it into the ear canal using a clockwise motion.
“I wouldn’t use it,” says Professor Chatrath. “The tapered design is based on a drill that pushes debris away – and it could work on soft wax. But I would be concerned that if the wax was impacted some could be pushed the wrong way which could make things worse. Earwax is there for a reason – it protects and cleans the ear, so unless there’s a buildup affecting your hearing or causing you pain, it’s best left alone.
‘That said, you should never use a cotton swab. If earwax bothers you, talk to your GP. They will try fabric softener drops or refer you to microsuction.
Ostrich Pillow£85, ostrichpillow.co.uk
Described as an “immersive pillow”, this padded hood is designed to help you sleep or nap when you’re on the go. The design blocks out light and noise (there’s a mouth and nose hole), while the padding allows the head to rest comfortably on surfaces such as a desk or the tray table on an airplane.
Sleep specialist Dr Neil Stanley says: ‘Humans weren’t designed to sleep standing up – we’re supposed to take the pressure off our bodies when we sleep and, combined with the fact that during dream sleep, you lose the muscle tone that makes your head drop. , it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep on a plane – but it might help with that. I would definitely give it a try if I was flying long distances a lot.
Finger weights, from £32, fingerweights.com
These small weights (10-30g each) are worn on the fingers to strengthen them or as part of rehabilitation in 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, exercises to keep them flexible and the muscles around them strong are recommended. It can be simple grip strength exercises using rubber balls.
“It improves grip strength and adding weight can lead to greater improvements. The downside is that they look cumbersome, so they may not be suitable if you have impaired hand and finger shape or function. Often, osteoarthritis leads to the formation of new, extra bone with lumps around the joints of the fingers. It’s unlikely to cause permanent damage, but the pressure on an already inflamed joint could make it uncomfortable.
The 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 manufacturer’s trial of 100 people found it removed 15% more plaque than conventional brushing.
“It has an interesting design but lacks the strong evidence that we have for conventional toothbrushes,” says Dr Praveen Sharma, scientific adviser to the British Dental Association.
“It’s one size fits all and any dentist will tell you it’s next to impossible to have one mold for all jaws.
“In contrast, conventional toothbrushes allow you to customize brushing to fit any mouth, regardless of variations such as gaps or tooth size.”
Get plugged in and put this device into action
Psoritis, £79.99. pso-rite.co.uk
This plastic contraption is described as “the most revolutionary massage and muscle release tool for personal care”.
You place the device on the floor, get into a squeeze type position on it, and press down so that the points on either side go into your hip bones on either side.
This is said to massage a muscle called the psoas, which connects the lower back to the thigh bone. Some physical therapists suggest that stiffness in this muscle is responsible for a lot of 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. So while this product may massage the area, it will not target the psoas. On top of that, there is some debate as to whether the psoas is causing all the pain attributed to it or if disc problems or hip osteoarthritis are the triggers.
“I prefer that patients spend their time doing dynamic stretches like yoga to target all the muscles in that area rather than focusing on the psoas.”