Story by: Sara Thompson on May 4, 2022
It’s the popular social media platform that has something for everyone, but are those TikTok health trends safe? Parasite cleanses, brushing your teeth with hydrogen peroxide and more — there’s no shortage of advice-laden content, but medical professionals warn caution if you’re going to try a viral health trend. Here are three of the most popular health trends now and what Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., has to say about them. Dr. Tailor is an internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Barret.
A popular trend on TikTok has participants ingesting ParaGuard*, or a similar parasiticide (a substance that kills parasites in the body) to “deworm” themselves. Parasites are organisms that live in or on a host body and use it for food and an incubator for its offspring. Adherents to this ParaGuard cleanse claim most people have some kind of intestinal worms and should follow the protocol to rid their body of harmful parasites, which they claim are visible in fecal matter after the “cleanse.”
Products such as ParaGuard will certainly make you go, and some effects include diarrhea, cramping and gas. But as for deworming yourself? Unlikely. While they are not out of the question, parasite infections are not common in the U.S. As long as you eat cooked foods, wash your hands and drink clean water, you are not likely to have parasites.
“This is perhaps one of the more dangerous trends right now,” Dr. Tailor said. “These so-called ‘parasite detoxes’ can flush out the good bacteria in your gut, which can cause other issues. If you suspect you have a parasitic infection, talk to a medical professional.
If you remember your grade-school science, you’ll know that chlorophyll is what gives plants their vibrant green color. It is an antioxidant touted as a weight loss secret, clear skin booster and more. Users down the potent green juice regularly, but how much good is this doing people?
“It’s not going to hurt you, but you don’t need it. Ask your doctor about a multivitamin. You’re a person, not a plant,” Dr. Tailor said.
Talk to a provider about all your health questions and goals.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound used as an antibacterial and antiviral. TikTok creators are gargling, swishing and brushing with this stuff. While occasionally use is probably fine, you can damage your tooth enamel if you aren’t careful with hydrogen peroxide.
“You’re better off using a product that has hydrogen peroxide in it, rather than full strength,” Dr. Tailor said.
As you scroll through TikTok and its myriad videos, you may be tempted to try something new, especially if it promises dramatic or quick results. Use your common sense when considering these techniques.
Another thing to keep in mind is how carefully a substance or technique has been studied. “The market is full of supplements that are not regulated,” said Dr. Tailor. “That means there is no control over what goes into it.” It’s best to ask a medical professional for recommendations.
“If it seems too good to be true,” Dr. Tailor said, “it probably is.”
Consult a doctor if you are at all unsure if something is ok for you.
*ParaGuard is not to be confused with Paragard®, the intrauterine contraceptive device.
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