Ignore That New TikTok Trend: Eating Borax Is Dangerous

THURSDAY, Aug. 17, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Despite what you see on TikTok, don’t consume the laundry powder borax to relieve pain and inflammation or boost bone health.

Even though videos on the social media site tout it as a treatment, this substance is not safe to consume and could cause kidney failure and multi-organ damage, one expert says.

Dr. Karthik Ramani from Michigan Medicine explains why consuming borax is a bad idea.

TikTok videos have shown people washing down a pinch of the powder with water, supposedly to help with pain and inflammation, improve bone health and ease osteoarthritis.

They claim it’s because borax contains boron, a trace element that’s present in many foods. Boron is not classified as an essential nutrient for humans because research hasn’t identified a clear biological function for it.

Plant foods, such as fruit, tubers and legumes, contain boron and are the safest way to consume the ingredient.

“Borax is not boron -- it's a powdery white substance, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate," Ramani said in a Michigan Medicine news release.

It’s also not a food-grade substance, a dietary ingredient or a pharmaceutically active ingredient. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved it for consumption as a food or beverage, Ramani said.

There are reports of acute poisoning causing acute kidney failure and multi-organ damage. This can include symptoms of nausea, vomiting, fatigue, malaise, itching and swelling of the feet. A person may need to be admitted to the hospital and may need dialysis to clear toxins and fluids periodically, Ramani added.

“If you believe you’re experiencing kidney issues due to borax consumption you should contact a qualified health care professional, the local poison center or go to the nearest emergency room right away," he said.

Symptoms of poisoning may include severe symptoms of nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, an allergic reaction, respiratory problems, seizures, lack of responsiveness and significantly decreased urine output.

“I would caution families or parents of children from trying dangerous trends or fads like this on social media without first obtaining verifiable information from qualified websites such as FDA, NIH [National Institutes of Health] and consulting qualified health care professionals,” Ramani said.

More information

The National Kidney Foundation has more on kidney failure.

SOURCE: Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan, news release, Aug. 15, 2023

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