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The science behind all the wellness swag in the Oscar's 2020 gift bag, from hydrogen water to vitamins for breast pain

  • Every year during the Academy Awards, Distinctive Assets puts together the "Everyone Wins" nominee gift bags for nominees in several categories categories.
  • This year's $215,000 bags included plastic surgery procedures, cannabis-infused chocolate edibles, a meditation headband, and "full-body rejuvenation from a celebrity endocrinologist." 
  • Here's the science behind some of the health-related products. 
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

The bag featured a new "brain-sensing" headband intended to help users meditate.

The Muse S, which launched at this year's CES, is said to read users' brainwaves and give feedback in the form of music and relaxing sounds to help wearers meditate, sleep, or both. 

Insider reviewed an earlier version of the device, and found it did help the wearer feel less stressed and more calm. 

Meditation, no matter how it's supported or not, is well-known to lead to a host of health benefits, including more energy and lower blood pressure, especially when performed consistently. 

Nominees also received cannabis-infused chocolate edibles.

Celebrities received a guided tasting for the chocolates, made by Coda Signature.

Cannabis is scientifically supported and FDA-approved to help manage some medical conditions, like certain types of epilepsy, and to help ease side effects from chemotherapy and HIV or AIDs. 

But its purported benefits for everything from foot pain to trouble sleeping tend to be overblown. 

Plus, it has side effects of its own including impaired coordination and sleep problems, and can be especially risky for certain populations like pregnant women. 

Overall, experts warn the trend is moving faster than scientific research. 

The bag included a plant-based meal plan from PETA.

While you don't need a particular meal plan to follow a plant-based diet, eating mostly plants and few, if any, animal-based products is a well-established way of healthy eating. 

The eating pattern, especially when compared to a meat-heavy diet, is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers, and even a longer life.  

Now, celebs can soak with a 24-karat, $105 gold "Royal Chakra Bath Bomb."

The bath bomb invites bathers to feel their "anxiety, fears, and spiritual obstacles dissipate in a wake of lavender oil-infused, moon-charged water." 

Baths are associated with some positive health benefits, but there's no scientific basis for adding a $105 "bomb" to yours. 

There have been few studies on crystals and their supposed health benefits, but those that do exist have found that people report positive reactions from crystals if they are told to expect a certain effect.

Nominees will now be able to pick medicine that works for their genetic makeup using a personalized medicine system.

Not everyone reacts to medicines the same way. In some cases, side effects can be dangerous or even deadly. 

A product, Pharmazam, hopes to reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions, and at least one physician whose practice works with the company called it "revolutionary technology." 

"Why take a chance that you will have a bad reaction/outcome with a drug that is supposed to help heal you?" he wrote in 2017. 

The product, now $500 on Amazon, involves using an FDA-cleared device to collect a saliva swab, which is then sent to a lab for genotyping. Patients can scan medications with an app on their phone which will "helpdetermine which medications may work best for them, according to a press release. 

A lot remains to be seen regarding how well the product, just launched last spring, works and for whom when it comes to preventing adverse drug reactions. 

The bag included a vape pen with a 24-karate gold finish, inspired by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Vaping, even in a gold-encrusted device, is dangerous and deadly. 

As of January 7, the CDC had confirmed 57 deaths in 27 states from EVALI, the acronym used to describe any e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injury, Insider previously reported. 

One of them was a 15-year-old who died on New Year's Eve, making him the youngest person to die from the condition so far. 

There were also 2,602 hospitalizations from EVALI between June 2019 and January 7, according to the CDC.

However, nominee Leonardo DiCaprio loves vaping, so Distinctive Assets wanted to put one in to honor him.

The bag included a CBD cocktail syrup.

CBD, a compound in cannabis that doesn't induce a "high" like THC, infused several Oscar-bag products, including this cocktail syrup and CBD-infused essential oils. 

CBD is scientifically proven to help treat certain rare forms of pediatric epilepsy, and shows promise for easing other conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. 

However, it remains in legal limbo and, like any unregulated substance, is risky because users can't be sure the label reflects the actual contents. It can interact with other medicines as well. 

The stars were gifted a five-day dietary fasting-mimicking program.

Prolon provides dieters with bars, soups, drinks, and supplements said to deliver the benefits of intermittent fasting by using ingredients that "are not recognized as food by your body," according to its website. 

Intermittent fasting of any kind has promising health benefits, including potentially slowing aging and diseases like cancer and diabetes. 

But more research is needed before experts can be sure it's beneficial, or even not harmful, long term. Plus, it's unsafe for certain populations, like people at risk for eating disorders. 

Dr. Caroline Apovian, professor of medicine in endocrinology, diabetes, nutrition and weight management at Boston University School of Medicine, previously told Insider that the only studies done on fasting diets have been small. 

"We are getting insight into early time restricted eating but there is no solid research there yet – it may be that a period of fasting during night hours is good for your metabolism – but studies are still coming," Apovian said.

The bag included pills, such as vitamins marketed to ease breast pain.

The company, Violet, sells iodine supplements marketed to help ease menstrual-cycle associated breast pain. 

Attendees also received vitamins said to increase NAD, a molecule that supposedly "boosts cellular energy and repair." 

NAD is the same molecule Justin Bieber gets IV infusions of in an effort to repair his body after quitting drugs including weed and lean, a drink of opioid cough syrup and hard candy. 

Dr. Mark Calarco, National Medical Director for Clinical Diagnostics for the American Addiction Centers, previously told Insider a form of NAD called NAD+ can help treat conditions like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, but isn't scientifically proven to help with other issues. 

Vitamins and supplements of any kind are largely unregulated, and can interact with medications. 

The A-listers got a gift card for radiofrequency skin-tightening treatment, a popular procedure in Hollywood.

According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, radiofrequency treatments are non-surgical skin tightening procedures that can "enhance [patients'] appearance and self-confidence." 

The procedure has been around since 2001, and its wavelength is about 100 million times slower than visible light, meaning its relatively gentle. 

ABCS deems it safe, so long as it's performed by an experienced provider, as do the FDA and FCC. The World Health Organization, however, considers it a carcinogen. 

Hydrogen-infused water was also in the bag.

If water is good for you, is hydrogen water better? 

Probably not for most of us. Some studies show suggest the water can benefit certain people, like cancer patients undergoing radiation and athletes. 

But more robust research is needed to justify paying upwards of $6 a day when plain-old water is indisputably healthy. 

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  • Posted on February 25, 2020