You’re most likely to find sodium tetraborate in household cleaners or pesticides, but a worrying new TikTok trend is seeing the ingredient used in a very different way.
Not only are some people bathing in the water-soluble alkaline mineral salt – also known as borax – others are ingesting it, falsely believing it has the ability to ‘detoxify’ the body.
Videos on the social media platform show borax being eaten or dissolved in water as a drink or soak for the body, with proponents spuriously claiming there are health benefits to doing so.
As a result, a number of creators have highlighted the dangers of borax, including PhD candidate in synthetic organic chemistry, @Chem.thug, who warned people against ‘recklessly poisoning’ themselves with the craze.
TikToker and medical doctor, Dr Idz, also called it ‘the dumbest health trend ever’, urging viewers to keep the chemical out of their diets and tubs.
Reposting because the original video was taken down for allegedly “promoting dangerous acts”. 😒😒 #sideeye . . . . #borax #boraxtrain #scienceexplained #sciencefacts #chemistryteacher #fyp #boraxchallenge #themoreyouknow
Although borax is banned from sale in the UK and throughout the EU due to concerns about is impact on reproductive and developmental health, it is available in powder form in many parts of the world.
In a statement on the National Capital Poison Center website, US toxicology physician Dr Johnson-Arbor warned of the chemical’s dangers, refuting claims made online that borax can reduce joint pain and inflammation.
‘It can cause stomach irritation and potentially result in blue-green vomit or diarrhoea if ingested,’ she explained. ‘Over time, it can cause anaemia and seizures.’
DUMBEST HEALTH TREND EVER!! Borax 💀❌🤚🏼 #weightloss #fatloss #nutrition #fitness
Additionally, she said that soaking in borax ‘could cause rashes that make the skin appear as bright pink as a boiled lobster and start to fall off.’
‘There’s really nothing to support the use of borax in humans for inflammation or reduction of oxidative stress or anything like that,’ Dr Johnson Arbor added.
Alongside being deemed a ‘substance of very high concern (SVHC)’ by the European Chemicals Agency, Health Canada recommends ‘minimising exposure’ to borax and the US Food and Drug Administration has ruled it illegal for use in foods including as a wax coating for fruits and vegetables.
If you do ingest it or experience a reaction after exposure, seek medical assistance.
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