Why Aaron Rodgers Spent the Last Two Weeks Violently Expelling Fluids

The man is yet to reach a decision. He's been busy puking his guts out care of a Panchakarma cleanse.

February 23, 2022 8:28 am
Aaron Rodgers walking on a football field.
The reigning MVP's head-scratching detox, explained.
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

A few days before Super Bowl LVI, Joe Burrow offered some thoughts for younger athletes on how to navigate social media as a professional. The main takeaway? Restraint. “Don’t have a workout and post it on Instagram the next day,” he said. “Work in silence. Don’t worry about all that social media stuff.”

It’s sound advice, and kudos to him for such a level-headed approach, but broadly speaking, it’s probably too much to ask. If we’ve learned anything about today’s high-profile stars, they really enjoy educating the masses on how they became (and remain) so goddamn spectacular. This BTS content usually arrives via posts depicting drills and lifts. Sometimes in the form of a cookbook. This week, it came in the most 2022 way possible, with one man talking to another man on a podcast.

During his latest appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Aaron Rodgers segued a conversation around his latest cryptic Instagram — uploaded on Monday, which expressed gratitude to both his ex-fiancee Shailene Woodley and Green Bay Packers teammates — into a conversation on his recent 12-day detox. To hear the 38-year-old describe the process, you’d think it standard meditative fare, a retreat predicated on finding some sort of reset after another grueling season.

He explained to Pat McAfee: “I just came out of this cleanse where you’re eating a specific diet and you’re going through these treatments everyday. You’re not really doing anything else. You’ve gotta kind of turn everything else off. You’re not working out, you’re not straining or anything. It’s kind of a re-centering, it not only heals you physically but I think it takes away mental stress. And then the spiritual part, I think it allows you to kind of enjoy the meditations a little bit more.”

Sounds pretty nice, yeah? Hang tight. It’s unclear exactly where Rodgers had his cleanse, but internet sleuths deduced almost immediately that he was referring to an Ayuverdic detox, which includes a notorious intensive therapy called Panchakarma. It’s a 3,000-year-old form of medicine with roots in India, which among a longer laundry list of treatments, calls for forced vomiting, nasal clearance, digestive clearance and bloodletting.

If you grew up in this hemisphere, you’re probably passingly aware of the four “humors” — blood, yellow bile, black bile, phlegm — as first described by Ancient Greek physicians. Their supposed impact on human health and behavior influenced medicine for thousands of years, until germ theory and virus research came to prominence in the 19th century.

Ayurveda shares DNA with many of the strange systems that predate modern medicine. It relies on its own set of humors, though it refers to them as doshas (they’re called vata, kapha and pitta) and instead of fluids in the body, they’re more so seen as “energies.” The primary goal of someone who observes Ayuverdic medicine is to identify a primary dosha, find balance between all the doshas, and then leverage that balance to properly eliminate waste: urine, stool, sweat.

It gets more complicated from there; Ayurveda also divvies life into five elements (air, earth, fire, space, water), which combine to make up distinct doshas. Just know this: the practice umbrellas a variety of treatments — from daily meditations to herbal medicines to targeted diets — and taken as a whole, is considered an extremely dubious form of alternative medicine. In fact, the Indian Medical Association has recently taken pains to communicate its stance on Ayurvedic practitioners, officially declaring them “quacks.”

Where does Rodgers fit into all of this? At the end of 2021, you might recall that he promised a quick decision on his uncertain future with the Packers come this offseason. That’s partly why so many people tuned in to watch McAfee’s show live on YouTube this week. But it would appear that Rodgers decided he needed an Ayuverdic detox (which could be a February ritual for him, it’s unclear) before committing to anything.

On one hand, that’s entirely the man’s prerogative. He’s the reigning MVP. He’s allowed to treat his brain and body however he likes. Plus, he didn’t exactly name-drop Ayurveda itself on the podcast.

Still, Rodgers has to be aware of the scrutiny following his interviews at the moment. And there’s something odd (smug?) about invoking homeopathic nonsense mere months after his “I’ve been immunized” controversy reared its ugly head.

We can’t know for sure what remedies Rodgers opts for during 12 days of Panchakarma. To be fair, there are some tame ones on the table, like guided yoga, wet steam rooms, lots of naps, oil massages and time to journal. You know, spa stuff. It’s also a total tech detox, by design, which would undoubtedly gives Rodgers the time and space he needs to make a massive choice. Does he want to stay in Green Bay? Does he want to go play for the Tennessee Titans? Does he want to retire?

It’s possible to find those treatments, though — and that time and space — without attending an Ayuverdic detox, especially if you’re Aaron Rodgers. (He made $26 million this year.) At this site, he likely engaged in “forced purging” with enemas and laxatives. He might have been administered strategic cuts, Game of Thrones style, in a debunked process called Rakta moksha. He probably inhaled fumes meant to clear out his nose.

What’s the point of this? At their inception, millennia ago, these “detoxifying treatments” were believed to cure disease. We now know, as Cancer Research UK attests, that Ayuverda can’t cure anything, and actually has a tendency to produce serious side effects. Bowel stimulants, after all, deplete the body, causing dehydration, exhaustion and electrolyte imbalances. Ayuverdic equipment has an unfortunate affiliation with metallic contaminants, which isn’t great when you’re cutting people open on purpose.

The word “detox” is used so frequently these days that it’s lost all meaning at all, but it’s important to remember that when one’s health is actually in danger, the helicopter doesn’t rush the patient to a voguish Malibu retreat. It heads to the hospital. Healthline sums this point up well: “If your body accumulates actual toxins, you would need to seek immediate medical attention — not do a detox.”

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