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Dubious Social Media Health Trends: The Facts Behind The Fads



Dubious Social Media Health Trends

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There’s no denying the fact that, these days, we live in a world dominated by social media. Facebook alone has over 2.9 billion users globally, and well over half of the world’s population is on some form of social media site.

While there are a number of benefits to using social media – such as the way in which it helps people to stay connected with faraway friends and family members, which can boost their mental health – there are also some marked downsides.

One of these disadvantages is the prevalence 0f potentially misleading health advice that social media users spread via platforms such as TikTok. While some health trends disseminated on social media are rooted in science, others have no research to back them up, and could even pose a health hazard to anyone who gives them a try.

To help you navigate this often bewildering world of social media health trends, let’s explore some of the most popular and find out which are fact and which are a potentially dangerous fiction.

Benadryl Overdosing

One of the most dangerous social media health trends to have swept the World Wide Web in the last couple of years is the Benadryl challenge. To take part, people are encouraged to swallow high doses of the antihistamine in order to get high and possibly even hallucinate.

As this ‘challenge’ made the rounds of the Internet, a number of people who tried it suffered such serious effects that they had to be taken to the emergency room, and some teenagers even died as a result of their purposeful overdose.

In response to these alarming events, the FDA issued a public statement warning against taking part in this challenge, explaining that an overdose of Benadryl can cause “serious heart problems, seizures, coma, or even death.”


If you’re not a keen TikTok user, then you may be wondering, “what is mewing?”

The simple answer is, mewing is a controversial ‘quick-fix’ beauty trend that is supposed to give you a more defined jawline with the help of facial exercises – such as pushing your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

Mewing was invented by a British dentist and his son, John and Mike Mew, who lent the technique its name. While they were adamant about the capacity to alter one’s jawline and face shape with face exercises, other dentists and medical experts have poured scorn on the trend.

Admittedly, trying the mewing facial exercises may help you to temporarily achieve a more defined jawline for a selfie opportunity. However, anyone considering giving it a try should bear in mind that John Mew lost his license in 2017, and his son is awaiting the results of a General Dental Council hearing as it was found that some of his treatments prescribed for children aged 2 and 6 were “inappropriate and/or misleading”.

The good news is that mewing isn’t considered to be particularly risky, although there is always the risk of straining your jaw. If you have been thinking about giving it a try, you should look for more information on mewing so you can make an informed decision about whether or not you feel it could benefit you.

Rice Water Hair Growth Tonic

Having long, thick, lustrous locks is a beauty standard that many women aspire to, so perhaps it’s not surprising that social media sites have spawned a number of hair growth trends purported to enhance your follicles.

While some of these trends are decidedly fictitious – not to mention a little wacky – such as bleaching your tresses using toothpaste, other TikTok hair growth trends have more merit. For instance, making a hair growth tonic out of rice water is actually a time-honored practice that can intensely nourish your hair and promote healthy growth.

To try the rice water trend, all you need to do is soak some rice in water for several days, and then spray the rice water all over your hair, or use the water to wash your hair with instead of taking a regular shower.

The nutrients from the rice will have been absorbed into the water, and by applying it to your hair, you will give your strands a boost of nourishment. However, for some people, rice water may be too drying for the scalp, so substitutes such as rice bran oil are recommended instead to achieve a similar effect.

The 12-3-30 Workout

Another TikTok health trend which seems to hold some water is the 12-3-30 workout, which was first introduced to the world in 2019 via Lauren Giraldo, a health and beauty social media influencer.

This rigorous low-impact workout requires followers to set a treadmill at an incline of 12, and walk for 30 minutes at a speed of 3 miles per hour. Of course, first, you should warm up with five to ten minutes of gentle walking at an incline of 3, before switching the setting to 12 and embarking on your work-out.

While this kind of exercise may not sound particularly taxing, social media users who have tried it have found it to be intense, and have credited it with helping them to lose weight. Experts have also cited the workout’s significant benefits, which range from reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, to toning your muscles, and helping with fat loss. It has also been described as a form of exercise that will work for most people – although, as with any form of activity, it’s important to assess the way you feel and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.


Wellness enthusiasts who enjoy protein, and love their coffee, may be considering putting the two together thanks to the rise of the ‘proffee’ trend on social media.

Essentially, making proffee involves adding your protein powder of choice to your steaming hot cup o’ Joe, or blending a protein shake with iced coffee to make your very own protein Frappuccino. There are a number of recipes available for interested users to try – but is it actually a good idea?

According to the experts, proffee is neither particularly risky – nor is it particularly helpful. While the coffee will certainly help to provide a boost of energy while you work out, and the protein will assist with muscle repair after a tough workout, the combination of the two doesn’t serve any particular purpose.

It’s also important to be careful when it comes to how much caffeine you drink, as too much can cause unpleasant side effects, including a racing heart and feelings of agitation or anxiety. Subsequently, you may be better off sticking to your regular latte and your favorite protein shake, or opting for healthier alternatives such as kombucha or a homemade fruit and veggie smoothie.

NyQuil Chicken

Last on our list of dubious social media health trends, NyQuil chicken is the bizarre and potentially risky fad that involves cooking chicken in the well-known cough medicine. As with the Benadryl challenge, the FDA has condemned this trend as being not only “unappetising” but also unsafe.

As the Administration explains, heating a medication can change its properties, making it more concentrated and, therefore, more likely to have a powerful effect. Merely inhaling the vapors of NyQuil while cooking medicine-soaked chicken could mean you absorb a “dangerously high amount” of the drug – making this particular social media health fad a definite no- no.

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