From eating Tide Pods to death diving, TikTok has introduced a number of dangerous social media trends to an impressionable public. The latest trend picking up traction on the platform involves users either drinking or bathing in borax, a substance often found in cleaning products and pesticides. Now, medical experts are coming forward to debunk the claims that consuming borax in small doses could reduce inflammation and help with joint pain.
In reality, it’s a harmful substance and can cause stomach irritation, diarrhea and even blue-green vomit.
“There’s really nothing to support the use of borax in humans for inflammation or reduction of oxidative stress or anything like that,” Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, a toxicology physician and co-medical director at the National Capital Poison Center, told NBC News.
Over time, borax can also cause anemia and even seizures. Soaking in a tub of borax-water solution can cause rashes capable of turning skin bright pink.
“We have seen deaths associated with borax. It’s very rare, but that is a possibility,” Wendy Stephan, an epidemiologist at the Florida Poison Information Center, told NBC News. “This is not a benign substance.”
Dr. Meghan Martin, a pediatric emergency medicine physician, is fighting this dangerous misinformation on TikTok itself. Martin has amassed 1.3 million followers on the platform where she regularly debunks health myths.
With nearly 600 comments, 5,400 likes and counting, Martin has already taken to TikTok to break down what precisely makes borax so dangerous.
“Also, the dose makes the poison,” she said. “Anything can be toxic. It just depends on the dosage. Even things that are necessary for life, like water and oxygen, can be toxic in doses that are too high. Borax is an awesome insecticide, fungicide and it is great for laundry. But it is toxic to you kidneys, and you should not be drinking it.”
“I also think it’s important to try not to attack people,” Martin told NBC News. “I really want to be level-headed, even-keeled and address things in a nonjudgmental way that is authentic.”