‘She massaged the inside of my nostrils’: The bizarre world of modern wellness treatments

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 10.28.09What does “wellness” mean to you? Avocado toast and sunsets on Instagram? Fitbits and mindfulness apps? Maybe it’s a silk eye-serum formulated according to the ancient art of numerology, as offered by the Duchess of Sussex’s favourite London wellness centre Ilapothecary? Goat yoga? Or how about a guinea pig facial rub?

I wish I’d made that up, but in the Andes guinea pigs have been used in the manner of foam rollers to detect illness for centuries. Practitioners are trained to interpret the guinea pig’s squeaks as the poor thing is rubbed over your belly. It’s a matter of time before it comes to Notting Hill.

Though it sounds very millennial, the term “wellness” has been with us since the 17th century, when it simply meant the opposite of “illness”. These days it’s defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal”.

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