Ever since the rumors that opera star Maria Callas ate a tapeworm to lose weight, the populace has been obsessed with celebrities’ bizarre health and diet secrets, even if they seem almost obviously unsafe. While historians now agree that the Callas legend was indeed fake, quite a few celebrities have come out publicly with their worrying health habits. We’re not talking just weird fad diets or Goop-ish green juice cleanses either; we’re talking habits that seem demonstrably false. Here, a look back at some of the strangest.
Tiffany Haddish Drinks Turpentine
In an otherwise delightful interview with GQ, in between watching whales and talking about who bit Beyoncé, Tiffany Haddish admits that she drinks turpentine for health reasons. Turpentine, in case you haven’t been in a garage for a while, is a pungent oil most commonly used today as a paint thinner and solvent. “A teaspoon of turpentine will not kill you,” Haddish told the magazine. “The government doesn’t want you to know that if you have a cold, just take some turpentine with some sugar or castor oil or honey and it’ll go away the next day.” She says she picked up the habit a few months back after discovering its supposed health properties on YouTube. Scientists, however, say that just a few ounces of turpentine can indeed kill you.
Shailene Woodley Eats Clay
Before she was costarring in Big Little Lies, Shailene Woodley, then just an intriguing up-and-comer, told In The Gloss that she eats clay. She first caught wind of the practice from a taxi driver and said that “I’ve discovered that clay is great for you because your body doesn’t absorb it, and it apparently provides a negative charge, so it bonds to negative isotopes. And, this is crazy: It also helps clean heavy metals out of your body.” She claimed to eat a teaspoon a day. Scientists, however, say that while there are clays you can eat that aren’t necessarily bad for you in small amounts, the only real benefit is zinc. But most people can get a healthy amount of zinc in their diets in other ways. Unsurprisingly, eating too much clay can cause constipation.
Oscar Nominee Sarah Miles Recommends Urine Therapy
English actress Sarah Miles might not be a household name in our parts, but she appeared in the classic fashion film Blow Up and nearly won an Oscar back in 1970 for her lead role in Ryan’s Daughter. She also, as it turns out, has the kind of new-age beliefs that make Shirley MacLaine’s seem pedestrian. Among her most striking revelations is that she has drunk her own urine for much of her life. In an interview with Sussex Life, she clarified that she just had a little sip. “It’s wonderful for your skin, fantastic for your hair, your immune system—it’s fantastic for everything!” she also once told the Daily Mail. Of course, medical science has found no evidence for any of these claims. Drinking your own urine may be bad for you.
Steve Jobs Really Loved Apples, Like Unhealthily So
You know why the world’s most luxurious technology company is called Apple? It’s because founder Steve Jobs was on a fruitarian diet at the time of its inception. Yes, he was only eating fruit and some starchless vegetables. This, it turns out, is very, very bad for you, which Ashton Kutcher found out the hard way. The actor attempted to follow the diet in preparation for the biopic Jobs, but ended up in the hospital.
Cocaine As a Hollywood Health Secret
You could argue that cocaine is still a dirty little secret among some celebrity circles, but back in the early 1900s several notable people, including early Hollywood celebs, were touting it publicly as a health cure-all. At one point you could walk into any drug store and buy it for 25 cents an ounce (uncut, mind you). Notables like Thomas Edison, Jules Vern, and Arthur Conan Doyle were big fans. Queen Elizabeth I, President William McKinley, and Pope Leo III were all said to be major proponents. Famed stage actress Sarah Bernhardt was also a fan, and in the early days of silent film–era Hollywood, pro-cocaine messages were baked right into the script. Though once doctors started realizing people were dying because of the drug, cocaine was at first regulated, and then outlawed in the 1920s.
Lord Byron Had a Full-On Vinegar Diet
Back in the early 1800s, the poet Lord Byron was perhaps the biggest celebrity in London. He was at all the right parties, started all the right trends, and, like any good celebrity, had some very weird diet tips. Byron was obsessed with dieting, and his weight fluctuations were a matter of public interest. One of his oddest diet trends, which he promoted publicly, was a diet centered around vinegar. He drank the stuff with water, and only ate potatoes that were soaked in vinegar. Of course, vinegar isn’t in and of itself unhealthy, but too much of it is bad for you (notably, it can absolutely destroy the enamel on your teeth). Looking back, it’s also generally agreed that Byron suffered from an eating disorder.