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HomeHealthExploring the Negative Impact of TikTok on Health Advice Through Eight Examples

Exploring the Negative Impact of TikTok on Health Advice Through Eight Examples

Worst TikTok Health Tips

Jan. 16, 2024

There is no shortage of reasons why getting health and life advice from TikTok is a bad idea. We’ve scoured the site to present you with a list that might horrify or amuse. But more importantly, it will hopefully provide fodder for important health conversations with your loved ones and, more ideally, prompt a trip to the doctor’s office to discuss evidence-based alternatives to the wacky and sometimes dangerous world of TikTok health tips.

Here are the eight of the worst TikTok health tips of 2023, ranked from least to most potentially dangerous.

8. Castor Oil Navel Pulling

Evidently, placing castor oil in and around your bellybutton will improve digestion. The “how it works” is important here, because influencers claim that the oil is “pulled” or absorbed through the bellybutton into the gut. Hope or hype? Castor oil has been around for more than 6,000 years. It was used as fuel for lamps in ancient Egypt, and today, as an ingredient in skin and beauty products, and as a laxative. There may not be any harm in rubbing it on and around the bellybutton, but as far as benefits go, all bets are off. ”The bellybutton is just like any other part of your body that’s completely occluded or has barrier protections,” said Marc Kai, MD, an internist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. “It’s not a keyhole or another entrance or access point into your body any more than your arm, your leg, or the rest of your stomach would be. The absorption there is very, very minimal.”

7. ‘Medical Grade’ Alkaline Water

If you don’t feel like trekking to the store, an expensive appliance offers a do-it-yourself option that will “alkalize” your water. Hope or hype? Drinking alkaline water isn’t dangerous, per se, but evidence of its benefits is mostly lacking. “Although the trend is based in logic, it’s oversimplified logic,” said Marissa Scavuzzo, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Your stomach produces acid to digest good effectively; the amount of water you consume is not going to combat this constant production.”

6. Raw Potato Snacks

Snacking on raw potatoes appears to improve digestion and alkalize stomach acids, according to TikTok influencers. Hope or hype? Like other nightshade vegetables, potatoes contain naturally occurring compounds called glycoalkaloids. “Generally speaking, glycoalkaloids are potentially toxic and are going to give people more gut issues,” said Danielle Omar, a registered dietitian, and integrative culinary nutritionist based in Northern Virginia. The same is true for lectins, a naturally occurring protein, which are resistant to digestive enzymes. In excessive amounts, “they’ve been reported to damage the lining of the intestine and the cells that line the inside of your gut,” said Scavuzzo.

5. Earwax Removal

These ear candling backers claim that placing a fabric tube soaked in beeswax in the outer part of the ear canal, lighting the other end, and holding it in place for about 15 minutes will “suck out” excess earwax, debris, and bacteria. Hope or hype? “The best-case scenario is that you’re able to avoid burning your face from the wax, and the worst, you end up with foreign wax in your ear,” said Marc Kai, MD.

4. Eye Mucus Fishing

Is your teen collecting odd-looking hollowed-out candles? Chances are, they’ve gotten an earful of bad advice from a TikTok influencer. hope or hype? “Anytime it gets irritated, it produces mucus, so using a rough Q-tip can irritate the eye surface, and the more it occurs, the greater the reaction.”

3. Bed Rotting

Bed rotting is a form of “soft” self-care, according to TikTokkers who believe that staying in bed for hours, days, or over a week is helpful. Hope or hype? “We’re definitely seeing a lot of negative ramifications – both physical and mental – due to trends such as bed rotting,” said Bushra Rizwan, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore.

2. BORG (Blackout Rage Gallon) Challenge

Generally, the human body can process one to two drinks, explained Kai. Adverse effects range from sedation and sleepiness to passing out, vomiting, and choking.

1. Borax/Baking Soda Libation

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in cleaning products and for pest control. “Borax is toxic, it’s poison even in small amounts,” said Kai.


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