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Should You Be Turning to TikTok for Health Advice? 

Any social media lovers with time on their hands have probably found themselves more than a little addicted to TikTok. The short-form video app is the newest widespread social darling, with more than 1 billion active users worldwide. Its format of quick video snippets and ability to personalize a feed with “For You” selections has people scrolling through offerings at an amazingly high rate. Fans love the variety. The app offers everything from cool dance videos to pranks, food, fashion and even health tips. But should you really be turning to TikTok for health advice? 

As far as social influencing apps go, TikTok has massive appeal right now. Health care workers have tapped into the craze. People who identify themselves online as registered nurses, chiropractors, or even massage therapists are trying to corner the TikTok audience to give advice on one health topic or another. As a society, we’ve become accustomed to searching the internet for the answer to our health questions – many times before we even call our doctor’s office – and now social media apps have become the go-to spot for health advice. But some critics say following health suggestions from TikTok can be a waste of time, or even dangerous. 

Vaccine misinformation. Some of the heaviest criticism falls on TikTok posters who are sharing false information about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines. According to a report from NBC News, analysts for the Institute of Strategic Dialogue recently tracked 124 TikTok videos that included misinformation about the vaccines. They’d amassed some 20 million views and millions of shares, likes and comments. TikTok told the network that it does try to combat misinformation. On TikTok, audio gives new virality to misinformation (nbcnews.com) 

Trending health videos. Much of the health news TikTok users share falls under the umbrella of health tips and lifestyle hacks. Some snippets can go viral pretty quickly. But before you embrace that new weight-loss trick or skin care miracle that can be found in your refrigerator, health experts say you should approach them with caution – and some healthy scepticism. Here are some examples of TikTok’s most-shared health advice from recent months: The Truth Behind These Viral TikTok Health Trends (yogajournal.com) 

Jamaican orange remedy 

Details: Char an orange over an open flame on the stove, peel it and eat the fruit with spoonfuls of brown sugar. It’s supposed to bring back a sense of smell for those who have lost it after contracting COVID-19.  

Does it work? Experts say it won’t hurt you, but there’s not medical evidence to back up the cure.  

The garlic shove 

Details: To combat congestion, shove garlic cloves up your nostrils and leave them there for up to 30 minutes.  

Does it work? Doctors say this can actually irritate your nose and sinuses, making you feel worse. So don’t shove anything up your nose. 

Put a frozen cucumber on your skin 

Details: Slice a cucumber in half and place it in the freezer. When it’s frozen, take out half a cucumber and press it to the skin around your eyes. It’s supposed to hydrate your skin and remove dark circles. 

Does it work? It won’t hurt your skin, but it likely won’t have any long-lasting positive effects, either.  

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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