A Viral Trend on TikTok Has People Eating Borax, Which You Really Shouldn't Do

People on TikTok are eating borax and claiming the common household substance has numerous health benefits. But is it safe? Here's what we know.


Jul. 19 2023, Updated 9:56 a.m. ET

The gist:

  • It's a new trend on TikTok to consume borax, a common ingredient in household cleaners and pesticides.
  • Users claim that eating borax has health benefits, including joint pain relief.
  • Experts say that any benefits might get from consuming borax do not outweigh the potential side effects, which include rashes, vomiting, impaired fertility, organ damage, and more.
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Anyone who is at all familiar with TikTok is likely aware that the trends on TikTok range from pretty silly and totally harmless to pretty stupid and totally dangerous. Unfortunately, one of the recent trends circulating on the platform falls into that second category, and involves people eating something that they definitely shouldn't be eating.

Currently, people on TikTok are touting the health benefits of borax, of compound most commonly associated with cleaning supplies and pesticides. This is not the first time that ingesting the compound has become popular, but there's definitely plenty of reasons you should avoid the trend.

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Why are people eating borax?

People are eating borax not because it's a challenge or a meme, but because they firmly believe in its health benefits. Specifically, those who are eating it and are encouraging others to do the same are claiming that the compound can relieve joint pain.

Although these videos may seem convincing, though, health experts have stated very clearly that ingesting borax is not worth any benefits that might come with it.

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What is borax anyway?

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in nature and is often found in dry lakebeds. The mineral includes boron, oxygen, hydrogen, and sodium, and of course has more scientific names in addition to borox.

The mineral is most often used as a cleaning agent, but it can also be found in specialty toothpastes as well as some mouthwashes, paints, and herbicides.

Many of the TikTokers who are touting the benefits of borax are citing the work of Dr. Rex E. Newnham, who has written papers on the benefits of borax for those suffering from arthritis.

Dr. Newnham, who reportedly had arthritis himself, tested the treatment on himself after discovering that plants need boron to absorb calcium. Some claim that the treatment was effective, but boron and products containing it have been banned by many governments for being toxic.

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Boron may be safe, but borax definitely isn't.

While some studies have shown that increasing your boron intake may actually decrease joint pain, borax is not the safest way to meet that goal. You could instead look for foods that have boron in them, or find another boron supplement that doesn't have all the same toxic side effects that ingesting borax definitely does.

Because, while boron may have health benefits, borax almost certainly doesn't.

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Negative side effects from ingesting borax include skin rashes, vomiting, nausea, eye irritation, respiratory problems, impaired fertility, organ damage, and even death. While some people are touting borax because it's natural and contains elements that are all safe in isolation, that doesn't mean those elements are OK to consume in different combinations.

As it turns out, borax is highly dangerous, and those touting the health benefits of it may not be aware of the side effects that can come with ingesting it. You definitely shouldn't follow along with every trend you see on TikTok, and this trend, which involves ingesting a toxic chemical, is definitely one to avoid.

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