If you haven’t taken the time to watch Netflix’s new documentary series, Unwell, we are here to convince you that it is well worth a binge. The series contains six episodes, each focusing on a different alternative medicine or form of therapy that is equal parts controversial and intriguing. The series presents a balanced perspective in each episode by including testimonials from those in support of the treatment and from people who demonize it. Scroll to see our breakdown of each episode and what light, if any, the documentary series is shedding on these experimental treatments.
Episode 1: Essential Oils
The series really hits the ground running with this episode. Who knew essential oils were so controversial? The episode explores two different levels of the essential oil industry. First, it looks at individuals who use oils for medicinal purposes in the place of traditional medicine. We explore the positive and negative effects essential oil use has on the human body. The second part of the episode examines the multi-level marketing schemes surrounding essential oil sales. Housewives spend thousands of dollars of their own money and rarely see a return on their investment. The episode is oddly dark and thrilling considering how light the topic is. Once we saw this episode, we were hooked for the season
Episode 2: Tantric Sex
This was…a little strange, and not in a kinky way. Before you gasp and clutch your pearls, you should know this episode actually has very little to do with sex. It’s more about the therapy and healing that goes along with the (non-sexual) practice. It turns more sinister when allegations arise within wellness centers of sexual abuse and cultural appropriation. This episode was a little hard to watch at times simply because many scenes feel quite intimate, but if you can get past that it has good educational value.
Episode 3: Bulking Up with Breast Milk
We thought breast milk was only for babies. It turns out there is a community of adults who continue to drink breast milk for the supposed medical benefits. The episode goes into an entire world of people from bodybuilders to cancer patients who turn to breastmilk to help them bulk up and heal their bodies. Additionally, this episode explores questions including: how safe is breast milk, how are people obtaining it, and what are the morals around it?
Episode 4: Fasting
Intermittent fasting has become quite trendy in the dieting and wellness world these days, but can it become unhealthy? This episode investigates wellness centers around the world that tout water fasting for up to 40 days to cleanse and heal your body. Patrons talk about the nearly magical healing benefits they’ve experienced from water and intermittent fasting, but we also hear from people who have seen terrible consequences from the practice, even death.
Episode 5: Ayahuasca
Say what? For those who’ve never heard of ayahuasca, it’s typically described as a drug people take in the desert while seeking “enlightenment,” but in actuality it’s much more than that. Discovered by indigenous shamans, the plant is being widely used to help unlock trauma and stress in the mind. There are concerning theories, however, that the drug could cause long-lasting brain trauma and lead to psychosis.
Episode 6: Bee Sting Therapy
Bee venom is touted for having amazing restorative properties for the skin and for helping treat various chronic illnesses such as Lyme disease. In this episode we see people speak about how the bee venom has changed their lives—from smoothing their wrinkles to improving their deteriorating health. But do those miracles come at a price?