+30 votes
in General Factchecking by Novice (750 points)

This claim was made due to an internet trend that started up in the summer of 2023. There was in influx of people on social media providing the misinformation that drinking borax could help medical ailments such as inflammation and joint pain. This claim is obviously false, as borax is a chemical toxin, and can be deadly if ingested. The original poster of the account does not seem to be spreading this information with bad intention, but it is a dangerous narrative. I looked this trend up and found that it made its way onto many different news sources to advise people to stop. 

Article from NBC News

Article from Healthline News

Article from Medical News Today 

by Apprentice (1.4k points)
It is trends like these that are intended to harm and can be very dangerous to those who are not familiar with falsity on the internet (also probably those of age with chronic joint pain) So I am glad you brought light to the toxicity of the chemical and stated the imminent threat.
by Apprentice (1.2k points)
This is a really good fact check, you really went in depth with the previous sources. Especially how this idea came about from a tiktok trend.
by Newbie (470 points)
indicating that this claim is false is a good practice of debunking "trends" and patterns of information distribution going around the media; especially when there could be health risks to following these trends. Even if someone is told to do this practice in order to combat a health issue, that doesn't mean it should be used for everyone with their health issues.
by Apprentice (1.1k points)
I think you did a great job providing where the claim originated from. I think you did a good job including multiple sources to back up your evidence.
by Newbie (470 points)
good fact check I'm glad you brought up how dangerous this chemical can be. This debunks the claim that was made on tik tok

39 Answers

+13 votes
by Apprentice (1.5k points)
selected by
 
Best answer

The claim of borax helps with inflammation and joint pain is false. This theory spread all over TikTok in the summer of 2023. The intent of the TikTok video that is attached to this post is meant to be helpful with no intent to cause harm. However, this post could cause harm to the viewers because borax is a chemical substance that is used in cleaning supplies. It has been stated that because borax is a naturally occurring substance people believe that it is safe to ingest. The effects of ingesting borax is stomach irritations, vomiting, seizers, anemia, diarrhea, etc. especially when using long term. In one of the articles that was cited in the post writes about how people took an academic paper that was titled “Essentiality of borax for healthy bones and joints” which was written in 1994. There are a couple of explanations to some of the research that was conducted like populations that took more borax had a 0-10% range of arthritis and their bones were harder to cut into than those who didn’t take borax. Another explanation stated that rats were being used and showed that if they had arthritis, they benefited from taking borax. The overall claim of the research is that further research and experiments are “warranted.” Within the articles there was a different video from TikTok uploaded, from a Doctor in Pediatric Emergency Medicine, that was describing the use of borax would be harmful for the kidneys. This doctor also mentioned that anything can be bad for you in a certain amount of dosage and goes on to mention that borax is great in cleaning supplies, like detergent, but not for the body. 

Sources

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/drinking-borax-tiktok-trend-medical-authorities-debunk-rcna95526#

https://www.poison.org/articles/can-borax-treat-inflammation

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7889887/

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCy5LLwkSev6OBd-6EnBf_Ow 

False
by Apprentice (1.0k points)
Great fact check! You get straight to the point and provide a deep background for this claim. I never realized that it was a TikTok trend, so that was useful to know in realizing how false this statement truly is.
by Novice (780 points)
After reading your fact check, I find it very helpful. It's clear and concise, with plenty of medical knowledge to clearly back up your decision. I also appreciate the use of direct quotes and links to back up your claim.
by Newbie (420 points)
I enjoyed how your fact check analyzed the history of the trend as well as the scientific health concerns. You provided great sources and a thorough analysis. I like how you included direct quotes as well.
by Novice (810 points)
This was a great fact check! I did some research on this topic and some digging around on tiktok because I was so shocked that this was actually being seriously talked about. It's crazy to think that some people truly believe this and are using Borax to "help their joints" even though ti is obviously false. You did a great job at including reliable sources and lots of evidence on why this claim is false.
by Novice (850 points)
I appreciate your rigorous response to this claim. You were thorough in the description of what a person normally uses Borax for and if ingested, the side effects on the human body. I would fix the TikTok sentence, referencing back to the source of the claim. I think that it was more exaggerated than posted as helpful. Anyone uploading something that informs an individual to take a substance that isn't generally known to be consumed is harming you.
+5 votes
by Novice (780 points)

Claims that borax can help people with join inflammation and pain are false. According to an article written by Doctor Andrew Weil, it is a false myth, and a dangerous one. He claims that the confusion began with the element boron, which can actually help with inflammation. Borax shouldn't be consumed for any reason, as it is poisonous. The doctor also suggests to not go on TikTok for health advice. 

The Myth About Borax | Andrew Weil, M.D. (drweil.com)

by Novice (540 points)
This is a good fact check. I am curious about the credibility of your source and I think it could be helpful to figure out more about the doctor you are gathering information from. I wonder if he is a trustworthy source on this topic or if he has expertise in the question.
by Novice (640 points)
This a good factcheck, but I think maybe you need another source to back up the doctor you quoted, or proof that he's credible.
by Apprentice (1.1k points)
Your response is very agreeable, and I appreciate that you included a qualified doctor's response. I would suggest including other expert opinions though, as generally the only caveat  to an expert opinion is sometimes experts disagree. It may seem redundant to do so with a situation like this, because drinking borax is so outlandish, but it would make your response that much more credible.
by Novice (630 points)
you did great, I think adding more sources to your fact-check could make it more credible and offer more information.
by Newbie (460 points)
This is a good fact check. I would dive deeper into your source's credibility, in finding out who he is, what kind of doctor, etc. Discussing more about this would strengthen your claim.
by Novice (700 points)
While I do think this is a good fact-check but I do think it would be better to have multiple sources rather than just one because it helps to establish that it is false. Another suggestion would be to dig deeper into the credibility of the source as well.
by Novice (950 points)
I would be interested in knowing more about why this myth was spread in the first place. Was it entirely malevolent, or is there a reason people would think it would be healthy?
+8 votes
by Novice (610 points)
The main claim in the post that Borax helps with joint pain is false. The source is TikTok which is largely unregulated when it comes to misinformation. The author is not a legitimate expert on the issue. All of her posts are about some sketchy alternative medicine to help with various issues. The content in the post is from about eight months ago. Media outlet NBC News reported that this trend is false and can be harmful to people who take part. There are lots of medical implications that come from ingesting borax. Nothing presented in the post is backed up with evidence. I believe that the woman who created this post believes this works and is unknowingly spreading this harmful information.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/drinking-borax-tiktok-trend-medical-authorities-debunk-rcna95526
False
by Newbie (440 points)
Your fact check was done very well. I can agree with you that TikTok is not a valid source whatsoever. I like that you dug deeper into the creator's videos to say they come across as misleading and then talk about an actual news source. Overall, great job.
by Newbie (280 points)
This fact check is very informative and legitimate. Your sources included are great to let us know where your research came from. The way you explained the reasoning behind the misinformation was easy to digest and eloquent. I agree that TikTok is an unreliable source of information especially with its lack of regulation across the platform
by Novice (580 points)
I do agree that TikTok is a very illegitimate source of information especially when it comes to medical advice. I like that there was also research done on the background of the author of the post and as you've stated you found a lot of her posts were misleading, whether she realizes it or not.
by Novice (600 points)
TikTok or any social media platform is an illegitimate source. Talking about how the author is also not legitimate due to her other post also helps prove why this topic and source is false.
by Novice (760 points)
This is a very thorough fact check. I agree that Tik Tok is not a legitimate source go information. Unfortunately people, especially the younger generations, are getting most of their facts from this social media platform.
by Novice (590 points)
You did a great job with the fact check. I completely agree that TikTok is an unreliable source. I like how you looked into the creator's work in-depth, pointing out any potentially false material, and then provided a link to a reliable news source. Overall, excellent work!
by Novice (500 points)
Great job on your fact-check! Talking about TikTok's unreliability and the lack of evidence is super important. I also think mentioning NBC News' report adds credibility to the argument you're making. It's super important to highlight the potential harm of following such trends. Great job fact-checking and showing the dangers of misinformation!
by Apprentice (1.1k points)
With the size and speed of TikTok and its videos, misinformation is more likely to spread on this platform compared to other social media platforms. In this article, PhD student from the University of Illinois Urbana-champaign Morgan Lundy, studies the way in which misinformation about Covid-19 was able to spread faster. I think this relates to the original article to show how TikTok's algorithm and features feed naturally into spreading more misinformation.

Source: https://ischool.illinois.edu/news-events/news/2023/06/new-study-reveals-tiktoks-spread-covid-19-misinformation
by Newbie (460 points)
Your fact check was well done. I liked how much information you gave regarding where the claim came from and the credibility. I like the comparison of what the TikTok post says versus a credible source.
by Newbie (470 points)
Information coming from TikTok is always fishy. The fact check was well done! the deep dive into the author was a great thing to add as it shows that person who posted that cannot be trusted for valuable information
+2 votes
by Novice (680 points)

The claim that borax can aid with joint pains and inflammation is false. Borax is a poisonous powder used to clean clothing and kill pests. This claim stems from a TikTok trend, not a reliable source. According to Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor and NBC, this claim is a dangerous piece of misinformation. 

Source: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/drinking-borax-tiktok-trend-medical-authorities-debunk-rcna95526

by Apprentice (1.2k points)
I like that you used a quote from an expert in the field addressing the claim. I would try to elaborate on the idea and incorporate more sources in your work next time, but you directly addressed the claim which works
+3 votes
by Apprentice (1.1k points)

The claim that drinking borax helps inflammation and joint pain is false. A lot of health-related trends on TikTok are usually met with an influx of health professionals clearing the air. According to the National Capital Poison Center, "there is minimal evidence supporting the use of borax as an anti-inflammatory agent in humans." Although borax is used as an industrial chemical, food preservative, and household cleaning product, it is not intended for human consumption. Additionally, it may even cause toxic effects when ingested or in contact with skin.

https://www.poison.org/articles/can-borax-treat-inflammation

by Novice (590 points)
This is a good fact check because it adds context to the trustworthiness the social media platform the information was distributed on. It also adds a source that is more reliable in the context of this information.
by Novice (710 points)
The context you give that there is many claims, which are more similar to a trend on Tiktok fueled by false information is significant. Arguably, people are too quick to believe claims, especially bold, potentially harmful ones due to overexposure of information. In order to improve your claim I think you should choose the category "false" for organization. Also, I like how you added the intended use of borax to show the contrast of the incorrect claim, but I think you should have added another source solidifying your claim with evidence of harm (in cases where people have consumed borax), or referenced other instances of fact-checking against these claims.
by Novice (650 points)
This fact check is useful since it provides context for the reliability of the social media site where the item was shared. Additionally, it includes an additional source that, given the facts, is more trustworthy.
+1 vote
by Novice (590 points)
This is false. From what I've been able to research and asking my mother who is a Medical Doctor directly, Borax is very toxic to the body and doesn't have any medical benefit. The Associated Press did a good article about this, and it along with my previously mentioned question, was my research.

https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-borax-cleaning-health-447072931634
False
by Novice (590 points)
Before today I had never even heard of Borax so I could have been tricked into false ideas of what it does. Thank you for providing evidence to help me verify the truth about the substance.
by Novice (780 points)
I agree with your fact check, but I think that it is a bit vague. Adding the AP link as a source is good, but you didn't go into any depth of what the article stated, and instead used your mom as your main source, and while she may be right, there is no way to verify her knowledge in the sense of a fact check.
+2 votes
by Apprentice (1.0k points)
edited by

The claim that borax helps with inflammation and joint pain is false without a doubt.

According to the National Library of Medicine, although Borax is a low-toxicity mineral even naturally occurring in evaporate deposits, it is still harmful to humans depending on dosage with effects of reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and nephrotoxicity. Based on these findings and more, Healthline agrees that Borax, while mostly safe to handle, should never be ingested for the sake of your health, with fatalities occurring in some cases, especially with small children. A study on the toxicity of Borax by Niels Hadrup, Marie Frederiksen, and Anoop K. Sharma, funded by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund, found that boron is indeed toxic, with toxicity after skin exposure including fatalities, as well as abdominal and local effects. They also found that "Oral toxicity endpoints in animals are weight loss and reproductive toxicity," but that their studies did not indicate a link between boron-containing compounds, like Borax, and genotoxicity/cancer. 

Overall, it appears that most sources are in agreement between the toxicity of Borax and other boron-containing compounds, but cannot yet conclude that it is carcinogenic. I would never recommend ingesting Borax willingly and would also pay attention to food substances or other products containing Borax in the future. 

Sources in order of reference:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2776007/#:~:text=Borax%20causes%20irritation%20of%20skin,unconsciousness%2C%20depression%20and%20renal%20failure.

https://www.healthline.com/health/is-borax-safe#safe-uses

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0273230021000131

False
+1 vote
by Apprentice (1.4k points)

The claim from Tik Tok is false. This claim stems from the fact that borax contains boron. Avccording to poison control, "In humans, boron deficiency is associated with reduced brain function and may also affect bone density. Because of this, some people take dietary supplements that contain boron, although sufficient amounts of boron can also be easily obtained through food intake. There are limited published studies that demonstrate beneficial effects of boron supplementation in humans. In one study involving postmenopausal women, boron supplementation was linked to changes in calcium, estrogen, and testosterone levels, suggesting that it may also prevent the development of osteoporosis. However, the exact dose and duration of use of boron needed to affect bone health have not been determined."

 https://www.poison.org/articles/can-borax-treat-inflammation

False
+1 vote
by Apprentice (1.0k points)

Borax is a toxic chemical and should not be ingested. The National Capital Poison center says, "Borax and other boron-containing compounds can be poisonous when eaten, inhaled, or applied to the skin. Short-term consumption of borax can result in stomach irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Vomit and stool may turn a blue-green color after eating borax. Skin redness, rashes, and peeling skin can also occur in people who eat borax. People who eat borax for weeks or longer may develop anemia and seizures. When borax comes into contact with human skin, it can cause skin rashes, itching, and allergic reactions in susceptible individuals." The claim is false and can be physically harmful to anyone that believes it to be true. Borax should not be ingested. The trend originated on TikTok and while I'm not sure how most audiences took it but it's harmful misinformation.

https://www.poison.org/articles/can-borax-treat-inflammation#:~:text=Borax%20and%20other%20boron%2Dcontaining,green%20color%20after%20eating%20borax.

by Novice (910 points)
Great fact-check! I really appreciate how you go into detail as to why Borax should not be ingested. I also like how you found the origin of this claim and how it is an example of disinformation that turned into a trend on TikTok.
+2 votes
by Novice (670 points)

The claim that drinking borax helps inflammation and joint pain lacks credible scientific evidence and is dangerous. According to Full Fact, an independent fact-checking organization, the US National Capital Poison Center states there is minimal evidence for borax having an anti-inflammatory effect in humans. The evidence base is very small and primarily consists of test tube and animal studies in specific conditions​​. Reputable health experts, including Andrew Weil, M.D., have debunked this claim as a dangerous myth. Drinking a solution with borax or using it in bathwater for purported health benefits like reducing inflammation or easing arthritis pain is not only untrue but also hazardous​.

https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/bone-joint/the-myth-about-borax/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324167#:~:text=Borax%20is%20not%20safe%20to,and%20organ%20damage%20can%20result.

by Novice (630 points)
I like how you included the fact that ther is minimal evidence of borax being anti-inflammatory, perhaps also adding why people came up with this thought would be helpful.
by Novice (650 points)
I appreciate that you pointed out that there isn't much proof that borax reduces inflammation; perhaps you could also explain how individuals arrived at this conclusion.

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