GP Dr Ellie Cannon and Steve Boggan dissect the seedy

GP Dr. Ellie Cannon and Steve Boggan dissect the seedy “health” fads that have gone viral

It is difficult to see your GP. Very difficult. Actually, scratch that. It’s difficult to see a GP. Actually, scratch that again. Getting through to receiving surgery is a feat that requires a superhuman level of cunning and perseverance. After fighting your way up the phone queue from 37th place, can you handle the crushing defeat of being asked to fill out an online consultation form, only to find the drop-down box has no option for your medical condition?

Research released late last year showed that just two percent of GP practices saw all of their patients within two weeks. No wonder people who can’t find a professional to discuss their concerns take matters into their own hands and seek advice elsewhere.

Where this health advice used to be obtained from grandma, the internet – and especially TikTok – is now stepping into the breach. The problem, of course, is that Ellie Cannon, GP of The Mail on Sunday, put it: “It’s like the wild west out there.” Online health and wellbeing advice is often nonsense sustained by a growing ‘wellness’ industry (now worth about £20billion a year) while some of it is downright harmful.

Steve Bogan and Dr. Ellie Cannon debunks the myths about trends like DIY teeth whitening on TikTok

“The main problem is a lack of regulation,” says Gunter Kuhnle, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading. “It’s very easy to make sometimes absurd claims without having to present any evidence. Unlike medical professionals, who are wary of promises and guarantees, the wellness industry ignores this uncertainty and makes rather bold claims.’

Opposite are six at-home health solutions that are popular on social media sites right now — and the experts’ reasons why you absolutely shouldn’t try them…


Why would you do it?

Nowadays people not only have difficulties to see doctors. They are dentists too and treatment prices have skyrocketed as many clinics have left their NHS operations to only offer private treatments. No wonder patients are turning to TikTok for their dental advice.

Why you should avoid it

The main problem with DIY take is that unqualified influencers confuse medicinal products with household products of the same name. Dentists don’t use conventional bleach to whiten their teeth, they use safety-tested, non-toxic concentrations of specially formulated products. There’s a reason bleach carries toxicity warnings. Still, hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening hashtags are instant hits, with videos of young women reaching for 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and cotton swabs. A video of a teenager doing this had over 15 million views and recommended that his followers repeat this for days. Dentists say this can lead to inflamed gums and overly sensitive teeth over the long term.


Why would you do it?

The #Rawmeat Diet has a staggering 610 million views on TikTok. Influencers are encouraging viewers to pick it up, suggesting it can keep your heart healthy and help you lose weight. A TikTok shows someone munching on a raw steak (with an accompanying chewing soundtrack) and then washing it down with raw eggs.

The only weight you lose on the raw meat diet is from food poisoning

Why you should avoid it

Honestly, the only weight you will lose after this diet is cramps and diarrhea caused by salmonella or other bacteria found in raw meat. This is not a weight loss recipe, it is food poisoning.

Additionally, raw meat has never been proven to keep your heart healthy. Reducing meat consumption is a much better option in the long run.


Why would you do it?

Raw carrots and sushi are good for you, right? But raw water? It was perhaps inevitable that someone, somewhere (OK, California) would connect the dots and realize that anything raw must be better than cooked. In fact, “raw” water is simply taken directly from springs, rivers or lakes. It contains, proponents argue, minerals, electrolytes, and probiotics that are filtered out by the treatment process and help fight anxiety, fatigue, and weight gain.

Why you should avoid it

“Drinking raw water is a bad odds lottery,” says Dr. Katrina Charles, Professor of Environmental Health Risks at Oxford University. “Globally, about two billion people do this because they have no choice, and they are the people at highest risk of having diarrhea. Water is naturally contaminated. The droppings of birds, rats, rabbits, cows, lizards and humans end up in water, soil or rivers and lakes and can transmit diseases that make humans sick. These include Campylobacter, E.coli, Norovirus and Giardia. While these pathogens mostly cause diarrhea, they kill people and also cause chronic diseases.


Why would you do it?

People with a breakout-prone complexion worry about using makeup if it clogs their pores and makes breakouts worse. One TikTok star’s advice was to cover your face with calamine lotion before applying makeup.

Why you should avoid it

dr Ellie Cannon says, “I see a lot of kids with chickenpox. I usually tell parents to use good old fashioned calamine lotion – dab it on the stains and wait. But in recent months it has become apparent that no parents can get calamine lotion, so they are coming back to me for an alternative. Thanks, tiktok! If you search #calamine on the site, you’ll find videos with millions of views of the lotion used as a makeup base. The thick pink liquid blocks all moisture and air. If you use it on your face every day, you will dehydrate the skin, irritate it thanks to the phenol ingredient and aggravate any rosacea, eczema or pimples you have. Calamine is a drug, not a makeup. And now my poor chicken pox patients can’t get it for their spots!’


Why would you do it?

Search #teatox on TikTok and you’ll find getty images that have been viewed more than 5.1 million times by bloggers and influencers claiming that Teetoxen can help you lose weight, get a flat stomach and bloat to reduce. Many “weight loss” strains contain senna, a naturally occurring laxative.

Why you should avoid it

In 2017, the Standards Agency (ASA) ordered a post for “Flat Tummy Tea” by Geordie Shore star Sophie Kasaei to be removed. According to the ASA, manufacturer Nomad Choice “did not have scientific data to support its claims that the tea’s ingredients could aid in water weight loss.”

According to Professor Kuhnle, “Using laxatives without medical supervision is potentially dangerous – it can lead to constipation and is also linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.

“Of particular concern are the active compounds – sennosides – in senna, which could be potentially genotoxic and carcinogenic. There is no need for ‘detoxification’ or ‘cleansing’ as the body is quite capable of doing this on its own.’

Vaginal steaming

Why would you do it?

The “V-Steaming” craze was first reported in the US in 2010 and later promoted by Gwyneth Paltrow on her Goop wellness website. According to Harper’s Bazaar, Paltrow recommended vaginal steaming with a blend of herbs and flavorings “to rebalance female hormones and get that super-clean womb you’ve always wanted.”

His popularity has been fueled by social media, not least with an Instagram post from model Chrissy Teigen, sitting over a steaming box, with the words “vagina steam.” No, I don’t know if any of this will work, but it can’t hurt, right?

Women use it to deal with irregular periods, hormonal bloating and menstrual cramps.

Why you should avoid it

In 2018, the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology Canada reported the case of a 62-year-old woman who suffered second-degree burns while steaming her vagina. In the UK, Dr. Leila Frodsham, consultant gynecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG): “The RCOG does not recommend vaginal steaming. This treatment is not medically necessary and may cause harm.

“There is no evidence to support the use of vaginal steam, and this treatment can increase the risk of infection, as well as being expensive. Vaginal steaming can upset the natural balance of bacteria and pH levels in the vagina. This can cause both irritation and inflammation, leading to infections such as bacterial vaginosis and thrush.’