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A Physician Weighs in on TikTok Wellness Trends

Discover how rice water hair, facial icing, and parasite cleansing are taking TikTok by storm.

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With the rising popularity of TikTok, many consumers are using the social media platform to search for content on the latest health trends, and we’ve seen a variety of wild, creative, and downright repulsive ideas. Here, Mahmud Kara, M.D., a physician with more than 30 years of experience and the founder of KaraMD, shares his thought on some recent TikTok wellness trends.

Rice Water Hair

For centuries, Asians have used rice water to benefit hair and skin. Rice is full of vitamins and minerals, like folic acid, niacin, and magnesium, that help strengthen hair follicles and boost hair growth. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help combat free-radical damage that may lead to dry scalp or hair damage. When it comes to using rice water for hair growth, it’s important to note that the type of rice matters—just like the type of rice matters when including it in your diet. White rice, especially white rice available in supermarkets that has undergone the refinement process, may be lacking in the antioxidant and nutrient value that makes it more beneficial. If you are going to try this trend, stick with whole-grain rice to ensure you are reaping the benefits the various nutrients have to offer. An alternative to the rice water hair trend is taking specific hair growth products or supplements. The most important and well-studied nutrients for hair growth include vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12, which are all typically available as supplements.

Nature’s Cereal

Many people on TikTok believe that the cereals available on supermarket shelves are harmful to their health, loaded with sugar, and a poor choice to include in one’s diet. “Nature’s cereal” is essentially a combination of fruit and coconut water positioned to be a healthier alternative to sugary breakfast cereals. This trend is great for a lot of reasons. I always say, “we weren’t built for the 21st century,” because so much of what is available to us in terms of food is nutrient-deficient and oftentimes loaded with preservatives or other additives that can be harmful to our health—breakfast cereal included. Swapping breakfast cereal for fresh fruit is a great alternative, just make sure you stick with organic fruits to ensure that you are maximizing the benefits of the nutrients and avoiding any harmful additives. It’s also important to choose a variety of fruits, specifically berries, which are powerful sources of antioxidants and polyphenols. Furthermore, coconut water on its own can help with hydration, nutrient absorption, and combating free-radical damage due to its antioxidant value.

12-3-30 Workout

This recent trend focuses on the belief that one specific workout on the treadmill can help with weight loss. People believe that walking on an incline at a moderate speed for a duration of 30 minutes helps burn more calories than other exercises. While there is currently no evidence to support the 12-3-30 workout specifically over other types of exercise, this type of workout can be a great addition to what should be a well-rounded exercise routine. Physical activity is beneficial for your health. Beyond weight loss, t can help target heart health, digestive health, mental health, and more. But it’s important to include a variety of exercises in your routine including cardio, strength training, flexibility training, and other options.

Drinking Liquid Chlorophyll

One of the most popular trends on TikTok this past year was drinking chlorophyll for a variety of health benefits including strengthening the immune system, eliminating fungus, detoxification, and energy. People believe that chlorophyll, an essential part of keeping plants healthy, has powerful antioxidants and vitamin value that can also benefit humans. While there is some limited evidence to support that chlorophyll may be helpful when it comes to reducing odors, managing weight, or promoting better skin through reduced inflammation, there is still more extensive research needed. If you are looking to target inflammation specifically, natural herbs like turmeric, boswellia, and ginger have more substantial support while vitamin C has been linked in numerous studies to improved immune system functioning. So, while chlorophyll may seem to provide some health benefits, there are more well-studied remedies out there depending on your specific health goals.

Facial Icing

People believe that because ice has been used for other purposes such as easing pain, reducing swelling, or speeding up recovery following an injury that it can also be used for the same purpose when it comes to skincare. Proponents of facial icing believe that it helps reduce puffiness, ease acne, reduce inflammation, and reduce signs of aging. While there is no clinical evidence yet to support this trend, it can’t hurt, and it can actually be a relaxing way to reduce stress and ease tension in the morning or at night as part of your wellness routine. When it comes to inflammation, however, there are a variety of natural remedies that have been well-studied such as the use of turmeric, ginger, and boswellia.

Chia Seed Water

Chia seed water, a blend of chia seeds and lemon water, has become a popular drink that people believe promotes improved gut health and weight loss because it “internally cleanses” the body’s systems. This trend stems from the fact that chia seeds are high in nutrient value, fiber, and antioxidants. The fibrous component of chia seeds can help with digestive regularity, reduced bloating, and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome balance. Similarly, the antioxidants in chia seeds can help combat free-radical damage at the cellular level, which is important for our gut microbiome systems to function properly. When chia seeds are combined with lemons, they become more gelatinous, which may help move the seeds through the digestive tract more effectively. Lemons themselves also have numerous health benefits including strengthened immune system, improved digestive health, cardiovascular support, and weight management support. Before partaking in the “internal shower” trend to cleanse the digestive tract, people should be aware that moderate to severe cases of constipation may become worse with this mix. Ideally, the “internal shower” should only be used with normal bowel movements for improved gut health.

Parasite Cleansing

Recent trends, like the parasite detox, come from the idea that most people have some type of parasite that is causing certain health issues (e.g. bloating or poor gut health) and the best way to rid yourself of these parasites is to do a frequent cleanse. The most popular parasite detoxes, or cleanses, include herbal remedies like propolis, clove oil, grapefruit seed, papaya seeds, wormwood, and more. When it comes to whether parasite detoxes work or not, the current research is somewhat limited. One study suggests that natural remedies may be effective but too much is still unknown about side effects and whether this type of detoxification may create resistant parasite strains.

75 Hard

The 75 Hard challenge comes from businessman Andy Frisella who positions it as a “transformative mental toughness program” rather than just a simple fitness challenge. This trend became popular as people believe that 75 Hard can help improve multiple aspects of their health including diet, physical activity, hydration, and mental health. The goal is to follow a strict diet (of your choosing), complete two 45-minute workouts per day (one of which must be outdoors), take a progress picture each day, drink one gallon of water per day, and read at least 10 pages of a book. While there are many benefits for each aspect of this program, there is no current research yet to support the 75 Hard program, specifically. Still, there are many elements of the program that can be beneficial. The first being diet. Encouraging proper eating habits has many health benefits beyond just weight loss, as the foods we eat impact our digestive health, heart health, cognitive health, and more. The diets I would recommend alongside this program are the Mediterranean diet or elimination diet. Along with diet, 75 Hard also places emphasis on physical activity and hydration, which are key areas to focus on if you want to live and feel well. Hydration is an important proactive process, meaning that it is important to keep the body hydrated with the proper amount of water, electrolytes, and vitamins. Drinking a gallon of water per day can certainly help with this goal, and hydration was a key part of why I created my recent product Pure I.V.

Sea Moss

This trend suggests that consuming sea moss will help detox tar and mucus from the lungs, and it is trending with smokers. Sea moss is part of the red algae family, and many people believe that it can be beneficial for heart health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, weight loss, gut health, and immune system strength. The benefits of sea moss specifically are not heavily studied, and like other trends, there are much more well-studied natural remedies depending on the health goal you want to focus on. For example, if your goal is to improve your heart health by reducing blood pressure or reducing cholesterol then it is better to take a look at your diet and include heart-healthy foods, like beets, and avoid foods that can contribute to heart issues, like trans-fats. Another example would be gut health. While sea moss may have some anecdotal evidence, there is clinical evidence to support the use of other remedies such as probiotics.

Onion Water

This trend suggests using onion water as a natural cold and flu remedy to help the body heal faster and fight congestion. This trend stems from a Dominican tradition of drinking onion tea as a natural remedy, but this trend focuses on cutting up red or yellow onions, mixing them with water, and letting them sit overnight. Most people believe that this trend is an effective way to combat the common cold or flu because onions themselves are loaded with essential nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants. The most important aspect of this trend is the fact that onions are a great source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the most well-studied remedies for combating common illnesses and strengthening the immune system.

Saltwater Flush

This trend suggests drinking salt water to flush out “sludge” in the intestines and lose weight. People believe that drinking salt water can help cleanse the colon, detox the body, and treat constipation which in turn can help you shed pounds. When it comes to weight loss, there are a variety of other approaches that are more well-founded than “quick fixes” or “magic pills.” Your liver does the heavy lifting when it comes to detoxifying the body of substances it sees as waste or harmful that are already in the body. It does this by metabolizing these harmful substances into less harmful metabolites that are then eliminated via the digestive tract, kidneys (urine) and skin (sweat). Some of the best ways to support the liver include getting proper sleep each night, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding certain foods. Ultimately, the best way to approach weight loss or weight management is to take a whole body approach based on your health goals and needs. Make sure that you are eating foods that are nutrient-dense and organic whenever possible to avoid harmful toxins, try to aim for 15-30 minutes of physical activity each day, and set aside time for stress reduction. There is no “quick fix” or “magic pill” for weight loss; instead, the better solution is to remain mindful of our choices and evaluate our overall lifestyle to make any necessary adjustments.

Benadryl Challenge

This trend encourages people to take large doses of antihistamines to induce hallucinations. Many people believe that it is impossible to overdose on Benadryl, and by following this trend, it’s a safe way to get “high” or “hallucinate.” This is not a safe practice under any circumstances, and it is possible to overdose on antihistamines such as Benadryl.

Nyquil Chicken

This challenge encourages people to cook chicken in nyquil to get sleepy or “high.” Just like the Benadryl challenge, many people believe that taking large doses of Nyquil is a safer alternative to get “high” because there is little risk for overdose. This simply is not the case, and trends like this can be extremely harmful.

Dry Scooping Protein Powder

This trend dares a person to fill their mouth with a dry protein powder and try to swallow it. Protein powders have many health benefits, but this trend isn’t necessarily focused on the health benefits but rather a dare to see if someone is able to dry swallow a large scoop of powder. This can also be a dangerous trend as it poses a risk for choking as well as throat and nasal irritation.

Sticking Garlic Up the Nose to Ease Stuffiness

This trend gained popularity based on anecdotal reports that when you put garlic up your nose and remove it a large amount of snot pours out and therefore this indicates that you are draining your system. Experts have suggested the opposite: By plugging your nose with garlic, you cause more mucus to build and the large amount of snot that comes out is actually a response to keeping the nose plugged for a duration of time. Furthermore, this trend can be dangerous if a piece of garlic becomes stuck in the nose or causes irritation.

Garlic & Honey

This trend originates from the belief that garlic and honey are both powerful antibiotics and can help alleviate symptoms of common illnesses and infections. Garlic is indeed a strong antibiotic, as it contains an active ingredient known as allicin. Studies have suggested it can be an effective remedy against a wide range of bacteria strains. Honey is also a powerful antibiotic as numerous studies have suggested. Combining these two ingredients can be a great home remedy in a pinch.

Proffee

Combining protein powder with coffee has become a popular health trend. On their own, people like this trend because protein powders and coffee each offer different health benefits. Coffee is a natural stimulant that can promote energy levels. It is rich in antioxidants, which can reduce free-radical damage, and in turn, reduce inflammation and the risk of disease. It also aids in digestion. Furthermore, certain protein powders can help with weight-management goals as well as other health benefits. Casein and hemp protein both help promote feelings of fullness (which can help people avoid overeating). They are low-calorie, and they even help combat inflammation. When combined, coffee and protein powder seem to offer numerous health benefits as well as a convenient way to incorporate two beneficial options into your routine. There is a caveat here when it comes to this specific trend and that is that not all coffee and not all protein powders are created equal. If you are going to make a “Profee” drink, it is best to select natural protein powders that are not loaded with artificial sugars or preservatives that can do more harm than good for your health. Furthermore, loading up your coffee with high-sugar creamers or artificial sweeteners can also be a detriment to your goals. Instead, go with black coffee, and combine it with a natural casein or hemp protein powder that is free of artificial sugars and preservatives.

Lemon coffee

Mixing a squeeze of fresh lemon juice into your coffee has become the most recent health trend on TikTok as people believe that coffee and lemon both play a role in promoting weight loss. However, the question remains, can this help you lose weight? The answer is no. Currently there is no evidence to support the notion that mixing lemon juice with coffee has any direct benefits on weight loss. In fact, following a trendy diet like this can be counterproductive for your overall health and wellness goals. Although drinking something warm might help you to feel fuller, which in turn decreases cravings and overeating, drinking coffee in excess can also have some health downsides One of those downsides is increased anxiety or jitters as well as increased risk for those with irregular heart rhythms in the first place. Furthermore, excess coffee consumption can contribute to increased stomach acidity, spikes in blood pressure, increased fatigue or “caffeine crashes,” and digestive issues. The same can be said for lemon or straight lemon juice. Although lemons are high in vitamin C, fiber, and other nutrients, too much can lead to decay in tooth enamel, increased stomach acidity, nausea, and certain skin issues.

Ultimately, the best way to approach weight loss or weight management is to take a whole-body approach based on your health goals and needs. Make sure that you are eating foods that are nutrient-dense and organic whenever possible to avoid harmful toxins. Try to aim for 15 to 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and set aside time for stress reduction. Along with this, it’s also important to focus on a daily calorie deficit. When it comes to weight loss, exercise will not add much, and eating too much food, even if it is considered good food, will not push the needle, and in some cases, may even prevent weight loss. Consuming fewer calories than you burn is one of the best places to start before implementing any fad trends. There is no quick fix or magic pill for weight loss. Instead, the better solution is to remain mindful of your choices, and evaluate your overall lifestyle to make any necessary adjustments.

About The Author
julieKeller_author-1

Julie is the co-founder of Well Defined and a longtime influencer and advocate in the wellness world. Along with her work at Well Defined, she is an executive recruiter and marketing specialist for Hutchinson Consulting. She is also a consultant and content strategist for numerous wellness brands. She is the former editor-in-chief and publisher of American Spa and was named a 2019 Folio Top Woman in Media in the Industry Trailblazers category and a 2018 winner of ISPA’s Innovate Award. She is also a seasoned journalist, specializing in spa, travel, health, fitness, wellness, sustainability, and beauty. She has been published in Departures, ForbesTraveler.com, E! Online, Gayot.com, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Luxury Travel Advisor, Marin Magazine, Ocean Home, Smart Meetings, Spa Asia, and Travel Agent.