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A wealth of wellness: Misinformation and health trends on TikTok

by | Oct 30, 2023 | Culture, Education | 0 comments

Dry scooping pre-workout, intermittent fasting, alkaline water, and mouth-taping. TikTok and other social media platforms are full of helpful advice on how to get better gains or how to stop snoring. But, how much information is harmful and how much is helpful? How can we navigate the constantly changing social media platform that offers all the solutions to our “problems?”

An easy way to see if a wellness trend works is by checking the source of the information. Checking if a source is reliable is easy in theory, but a pain in practice. It comes down to two questions: Who is the source? What are they claiming?

Who is the source?

Who is this person on your feed? Does a quick google search show that they have the credentials they’re claiming to have?

When you search “Intermittent Fasting” on TikTok, results are filled with people who talk with enough confidence to seem like they could be experts. But, are there any registered doctors on there claiming that intermittent fasting works for weight loss? John Schaefer (@johnschaeferhealth) advocates for intermittent fasting and has a video called, “What to Eat Every Day with Intermittent Fasting for Guaranteed Weightloss.” John Schaefer’s profile bio states that the easiest way to lose weight is to book a consultation with him. I was not able to find any medical credentials associated with him. 

Another self-proclaimed doctor on TikTok, Matthew Lani, was reported by the South African publication TimeLive to be lying about his qualifications.

What are they claiming?

Is the claim based on proven science or does it just sound plausible? Is it a personal documentation of how they used mouth-taping to revolutionize their life? When you search up the claim, are there conclusive studies on the effects of said wellness trend? 

A newer trend on the workout side of TikTok is something called dry scooping. This is when people take a shot of pre-workout powder without mixing it in a liquid. According to the athletic supplement company SixStar’s website, pre-workout products are supposed to “increase energy, build muscle,” and help the user “experience explosive muscle pumps.”  Pre-workout products can include ingredients like caffeine and amino acids, so it’s recommended for people taking pre-workout to mix the powder with water. 

The American organization National Capital Poison Center states: “Fans of dry scooping believe that it increases the effects of the supplement, but some users have experienced significant unwanted effects including heart problems, trouble breathing, and choking after using the product in this manner. The reasons for this are simple: the ingredients in pre-workout supplements can be dangerous and cause toxicity, especially when used in ways not recommended by the manufacturer.” 

Another recommended trend is using raw potato juice to cure strep throat. While there’s nothing particularly harmful about drinking potato juice, the National Capital Poison Center advises against using potatoes to “treat human infections, including strep throat.”

Misinformation is rampant on TikTok, but a little research can help you distinguish between what’s true and what’s false.

Photo by Canva

Rebekah Brunham

The Griff


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