The Emergence of Wellness Vapes: Potential Benefits and Concerns
A new product category is emerging in the vaping industry – wellness vapes. These non-nicotine vaping products are marketed as inhalable ways to consume a range of vitamins, hormones, and essential oils that offer health and wellness benefits. These wellness vapes work using e-cigarette style devices that heat the e-liquid containing the vitamin, hormone, or oil, which forms a vapour that can be absorbed into the body through the lungs.
The adoption of wellness vapes is growing, and the young generation is the key demographic for these products. These vapes come in attractive slim cartridges with bright packaging and eye-catching brand names. Some even make claims to fight ADHD, anxiety, or depression.
Wellness vapes have the potential to be more effective than traditional ways of consuming supplements, such as swallowing pills or consuming powders, as inhaling them through the lungs increases the rate of absorption into the bloodstream. This offers the potential for quicker results, especially if the product is supportive of stress reduction or sleep. Additionally, it’s a more tactile and sensory way of consuming wellness products, which could boost uptake.
However, there are potential risks associated with using wellness vapes. Although there is growing scientific evidence to show the benefits of taking vitamins, supplements, and essential oils, there is a lack of scientific evidence to show how inhaling these substances through vaping affects the body. Furthermore, supplements rated as safe for ingestion may not be safe when inhaled within a vapour. Currently, there is a lack of understanding about how various substances are absorbed in the lungs and how they react with cells.
The use of complex and synthetic chemicals within vaping products to make them taste more appealing is also a concern among health professionals, who argue that our lungs are designed to process oxygen, not complex chemical compounds. Furthermore, it is unknown how vaping products affect people with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung conditions including asthma, or even long-COVID. There is also little evidence to suggest that inhaling wellness products has a greater positive effect than swallowing or applying them topically.
Wellness vapes currently evade regulation as they don’t contain nicotine or prescription medication. This marks a challenge for regulators, as new brands are popping up online at an increasing rate. For example, at least ten different brands of wellness vapes are currently for sale online. This unregulated marketplace for non-nicotine vape products is concerning for regulators, with no guarantees for consumer safety or the ingredients they contain.
Although regulators worldwide have so far stopped short of introducing regulation or legislation to control the selling and consumption of wellness vaping products, it cannot be ruled out in the future. As with the e-cigarette market, regulators will need to keep a close eye on any marketing that promotes uptake among minors. The FDA has already warned consumers about the unproven health claims and safety risks of wellness vapes. Furthermore, there is concern that wellness vaping culture could influence the uptake of nicotine vaping and tobacco cigarettes, especially among younger consumers.
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