24.02.2024

Beware the TikTok ‘doctors’ and their bonkers health tips

It started with the cha cha cha. Blitzing the floor every morning helps rejuvenate the digestive system, spleen and stomach, Jimmy Yen suggests.

According to the TikTok ‘biohacking’ influencer, who has amassed a gargantuan 1.1million following, it also ‘sees the organs restore their function’.

But the claims have no scientific backing, top experts told MailOnline.

Mr Yen is not alone, though. Others say cabbage juice can help cure gastritis and a colon cleanse will speed up weight loss.

Blitzing the floor every morning helps rejuvenate the digestive system, spleen and stomach, Dr Jimmy Yen suggests. According to the TikTok ‘biohacking’ influencer, who has amassed a gargantuan 1.1million following, it also ‘sees the organs restore their function’

Blitzing the floor every morning helps rejuvenate the digestive system, spleen and stomach, Dr Jimmy Yen suggests

Experts have long warned about misinformation being peddled on social media, not just TikTok. Yet a third of generation Z and a quarter of millennials — around 6million people in the UK — now say they rely on such sites for healthcare information

Experts have long warned about misinformation being peddled on social media, not just TikTok.

Yet a third of generation Z and a quarter of millennials — around 6million people in the UK — now say they rely on such sites for healthcare information.

Millions of young people who feel let down by the NHS are turning to social media for medical advice, a study found last week.

Influencers on TikTok and Instagram are increasingly standing in for doctors as patients complain they struggle to be taken seriously.

But experts warn there is a dark side to medical influencers, for anyone can type ‘Dr’ in their TikTok profile and give ‘medical’ advice or information.

Lurking alongside qualified advisors stand naturopaths, chiropractors and aestheticians. They are typically not medical doctors, but some may present themselves on social media as such.

THE TIKTOK INFLUENCERS THE KIDS ARE LISTENING TO… AND THEIR ROGUE CLAIMS 

Jimmy Yen

Pumping the palm of your hand with your fist will also help solve heart problems, Mr Yen claimed in one clip seen by tens of thousands of TikTok users.

By ‘stimulating the nerves’ in your hand which are ‘connected to the heart’, you tackle high blood pressure and chest pain, he suggests, urging you to ‘beat it until you defeat it’.

Mr Yen is a licensed acupuncturist and CEO of Achieve Integrative Health in Austin, Texas. He also serves on the medical advisory committee for the Neuropathy Alliance of Texas.

Professor James Ware, a cardiovascular expert from Imperial College London, told MailOnline: ‘Based on our understanding of the physiology of the heart, I do not believe that his claims have any basis in science.’

He added: ‘He suggests that stimulating the skin ‘stimulates the nerves supplying the heart’, which is inaccurate.’

The nerves supplying the hand region — C8 cervical root and T1 thoracic root — ‘do not innervate the heart’, he said.

‘Even if this did trigger some heart reflex, there is no reason to believe that briefly stimulating a reflex would have a sustained beneficial effect on the heart.’

Professor John Chambers, a professor of clinical cardiology and a consultant cardiologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, added: ‘It makes no scientific sense to expect that knocking one hand against the palm of the other might be effective for a wide range of different heart diseases.

‘The possible danger is that a patient might delay seeking help from a qualified medical practitioner for a potentially life-threatening condition like unstable coronary disease.’

Patients must have ‘guidance from their healthcare worker to accurate and balanced sites’ instead, he said. This could include the NHS, the British Heart Foundation and British Heart Valve Society websites.

Dr Simon Teo

Among Dr Simon Teo’s videos include the ten signs that apparently show you need to detox your body, watched by upwards of 92,000 worldwide, or the essential home remedies required to cure gastritis, seen by a mere 10,000.

Dr Teo is a certified functional medicine practitioner in San Jose, California and owner of Simon Teo Total Wellness.

Apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, coconut oil and cabbage juice are just four of the remedies that make the cut.

By contrast, the NHS recommends medicines to control stomach acid, such as antacids, or proton pump inhibitors to tackle gastritis – when the lining of your stomach becomes irritated.

Professor Kim Barrett, physiologist and membrane biologist at UC Davis School of Medicine in California, warned that the video may deter patients from seeking medical advice by trying the ‘so-called remedies’.

She told MailOnline: ‘The video providing ten top treatments for gastritis is not evidence-based and might incline patients against seeking help from a physician by trying these so-called remedies, even assuming that someone could self-diagnose gastritis in the first place.’

While it’s useful for patients to have some idea of what they think is causing concern, it can become challenging when professional medical diagnosis differs from a patient’s internet-sourced findings, Professor Ware said.

He told MailOnline: ‘Patients are rightly interested in their own health, and motivated to find information online, and I support this.

‘There is lots reputable health information online – I would direct patients to resources from the NHS or the British Heart Foundation as a first point-of-call.

‘Unfortunately there is also lots of information that is incomplete, misleading, or in some cases completely false on the internet, which can create unnecessary distress, or lead patients to waste time or money on ineffective ‘therapies’.’

Among Dr Simon Teo's videos include the ten signs that show you need to detox your body, watched by upwards of 92,000 worldwide or the essential home remedies required to cure gastritis, seen by a mere 10,000

Apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, coconut oil and cabbage juice are just four of the remedies that make the cut

Among Dr Simon Teo’s videos include the ten signs that show you need to detox your body, watched by upwards of 92,000 worldwide or the essential home remedies required to cure gastritis, seen by a mere 10,000. Apple cider vinegar, yoghurt, coconut oil and cabbage juice are just four of the remedies that make the cut

Bayside Colonic clinic in Brisbane, Australia promotes detoxing your colon of up to seven kilograms of 'waste'

With up to 21.8million views per video, the colon hydrotherapists claim a colon cleanse will help cure IBS, bloating, constipation and brain fog, while also helping to clear the body of parasites and speed up weight loss

Bayside Colonic clinic in Brisbane, Australia promotes detoxing your colon of up to seven kilograms of ‘waste’. With up to 21.8 million views per video, the colon hydrotherapists claim a colon cleanse will help cure IBS, bloating, constipation and brain fog, while also helping to clear the body of parasites and speed up weight loss.

Bayside Colonic clinic in Brisbane

Bayside Colonic clinic in Brisbane, Australia, promotes detoxing your colon of up to seven kilograms of ‘waste’.

With up to 21.8million views per video, in another TikTok, the colon hydrotherapists claim a colon cleanse will help cure IBS, bloating, constipation and brain fog, while also helping to clear the body of parasites and speed up weight loss.

But there is little medical evidence of actual benefits to the procedure, and no evidence that it can alleviate the symptoms that are attributed to the theories of colon cleansing.

As the colon itself typically expels waste, colon cleansing is generally unneeded.

Colonic irrigation can instead disrupt the bowel’s normal activity, leading to severe dehydration.

Dr Arianna Basile, research associate in the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Cambridge, told MailOnline: ‘Both videos from @bayside_colonics are just disgusting.’

She added: ‘I am very surprised that such an intimate exposition of the human body, showing quite explicitly a colonic hydrotherapy is not against the guidelines, but again it’s made more for self-advertising than for giving real suggestions.’

However, Dr Basile acknowledges that a large portion of TikTok videos made by qualified medical professionals are accurate and professional, and that the viral videos lurking on teens feeds do not represent the norm.

‘TikTok is attempting to replace Google as a primary search engine, particularly for the younger generation, Gen Z,’ she added.

‘For experts of any field becoming creators of videos is a way to stand out from the competition and gain more credibility.’

There are equally a growing number of health professionals who are taking it upon themselves to tackle misinformation spread by unqualified influencers.

A spokesperson for TikTok told MailOnline: ‘We care deeply about the health and wellbeing of our community.

‘Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not allow health misinformation that could cause harm, and we have removed the videos that violated these policies.’

They added: ‘We’re proud that TikTok has become a place where people come to learn and for support, and we take very seriously our responsibility to keep our platform safe.’

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