By Steve Bond, Pharmacist

They say you never know how low you can go until you hit Rock Bottom. By today’s social media standards, we could change this to “Tok bottom”. Since its inception in 2016 as a portal for 2-to-10-minute humorous clips, TikTok has grown into an uncontrolled repository of challenges and trends.

Many of these trends are started by individuals with hopes of improving people’s health. These influencers share secrets and hidden gems that conventional medicine doesn’t want you to know about. Some of these health trends are helpful. Some have little or no merit. Some are downright dangerous.

One such trend is the use of potato juice to treat strep throat (yes, you can juice a potato). I will say that there’s no great risk of drinking potato juice and I’m certain that those people who have tried this “cure” believe in its merits. There is no reliable evidence that it works. To further the issue, in some cases, strep throat resolves spontaneously. That means that with or without the juice some people will get better. The other side of this coin is that in other cases, strep throat can become a serious even life-threatening condition. Not seeing your doctor or nurse practitioner for proven therapies could lead to hospitalization or death.

Another trend is mouth taping. That’s correct- using tape (duct, hockey, etc.) to shut your mouth while you sleep. The people suggesting this claim it will help you sleep better and reduce other health problems like bad breath and snoring. I will agree that breathing through the nose is better- it humidifies the air, reduces dry mouth and helps to filter air borne bugs. The problem is that mouth breathing is often a sign of something that should be discussed with your primary health care provider. Taping your mouth can lead to reduced airflow which can increase risk of a variety of health conditions such as diabetes and stroke. The better solution would be to find the reason why you mouth breath and address it.

Finally, there’s the 30-gallon challenge- people are encouraged to drink 1 gallon of water every day for 30 days. That’s around 4.5 Litres for us Canadians. Now, my wife can tell you that I need to drink more water, but 4.5 litres is much more than the standard 2-2.5 litres most experts would suggest. Excess water can lead to more low sodium levels resulting in nausea, vomiting, cramps and weakness.

So, while a million views seems impressive, I would strong suggest getting your health advice from a qualified professional before acting on it. Take care of yourselves and each other.