Digging up the dirt on some new health trends

WASHINGTON — In an effort to remain young, healthy and vital, some people have gotten back to the basics. The Earth – yes, the Earth – provides the essential tools we need to live better lives.

Eating clay and swishing our mouths with oils are natural health functions that are decades old, but making a resurgence, thanks to Hollywood.

Actress Shailene Woodley, star of “Divergent” and the soon-to-be-released film “The Fault in Our Stars,” announced on David Letterman’s show that she eats clay.

Actually, she makes a paste out of it and brushes her teeth. This clay is refined and processed, so do not dig it out from the backyard.

For Woodley, clay is used to help detox her body as it attaches to toxins and helps carry them out.

Eating clay, according to followers, can also clear up your skin, ease tension, clear up headaches and ward off diseases.

Clay eating, also called Geophagy, has been around for many centuries and practiced by many cultures, including American Indians.

So does it work?

Well, there are no scientific studies or reports from the American Medical Association to support these claims or for the benefits of Oil Pulling – a decade- old practice again promoted by Woodley, a dedicated environmentalist, and Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow.

Oil pulling involves taking a mouthful of coconut oil, sesame oil, sunflower or user-friendly, not horribly tasting organic oil and moving it about your mouth for 20 minutes.

This folk remedy, practiced as Ayurvedic or Hindu medicine, is thought to refresh breath and whiten teeth. YouTube is offering numerous tutorials and testimonials to this age-old practice.

WTOP contacted the American Dental Association, which couldn’t comment on oil pulling because additional research is needed.

The route to good oral health is brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, eating a healthy diet and visiting your dentist regularly, according to the ADA.

So until the next Hollywood star shows up with a new beauty tip, it seems poet Jane Yolens Earth Day poem was right about us.

“I am the earth, the earth is me.”

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