A doctor explains why the latest TikTok trend of stuffing garlic up your nose to relieve congestion is a terrible idea

  • The newest TikTok trend involves people placing garlic up their nose to relieve nasal congestion.

  • One doctor said that placing too much garlic up your nose can cause serious inflammation.

  • TikTok has a long history of potentially dangerous food crazes, like the "Nutmeg Challenge."

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

While garlic famously pairs well with foods like bread, pasta, and chicken, a new trend on TikTok has people putting full cloves of raw garlic up in their nostrils.

In the viral videos, people leave the garlic up their nose for around 20 to 30 minutes. Then, they remove the cloves and watch in disbelief as a thick stream of mucus drips out.

Videos following the garlic trend posit that this release of mucus can help cold symptoms like congestion, but the unproven medical claim can also have dangerous consequences.

The most popular videos have garnered over 1 million likes. The most commonly associated hashtag with the craze, "#garlicinnose," has a total of over 50 million views.


Since tik tok took it down the first time. THIS IS NOT DANGEROUS. The garlic cleans out your sinuses ##safe ##snot ##fyp ##comedy ##garlic

♬ original sound - hwannah5

Many TikTok users are doing the garlic trend to relieve congestion, or just because they saw it on their feed and wanted to test it out themselves.

"Is it gonna work?" the user @__blackprincess wrote in her video's description, adding that her nose had been stuffed for four days.

"Not congested but kinda wanna do this for fun," one user commented on a video.

"How did my For You Page know that I have a sinus infection!?" said another user.

The garlic-nostril trend is not based in medical fact

Generally, garlic is considered a healthy food. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the Allium can remedy problems related to blood pressure and the heart.

But there's no scientific proof that supports garlic as a magical sinus-saver, according to Dr. Richard Wender, the chair of Family Medicine and Community Health at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

"Evidence is important, and it would be wrong to say that we've done extensive research about garlic in noses," Wender told Insider. "But in general, garlic itself and the chemicals of garlic don't interact much with human tissue."

In fact, shoving garlic cloves up your nose can actually have the reverse effect: it might irritate your nostrils and make them less effective, Wender said.

"I don't think that putting garlic up your nose one time is likely to do any harm to the mucous membranes of your nose," he said. "But if you made a habit out of it, there is at least worry that putting garlic repeatedly against the inner part of your nostril could cause inflammation, [which] can cause bleeding and thin your mucus."

Wender said the TikTok results may be due to the garlic generating excess mucus that wasn't there before, as the nose produces mucus when it is irritated. He also said that sticking cloves up the nose blocks the mucus flow for a bit, which is why it all comes pouring out after.

"That's not the same as eliminating the congestion that's sitting higher up in your nasal cavities or your sinuses," he said.

Instead, Wender suggested that people try safe solutions like antihistamines, over-the-counter saline sprays, or a neti pot to alleviate congestion.

The trend follows other dangerous food challenges on TikTok

TikTok has a history of off-kilter, somewhat dangerous food challenges and "health hacks" that experts have warned against.

In 2020, there was a fad on the app where people would consume nutmeg, which in large quantities provides a "high" feeling, but can also cause comas or even be fatal. Earlier in 2020, there was a trend called the "Salt Challenge" where TikTok users would eat huge amounts of salt, which can be poisonous if too much is eaten in too short a time frame.

Claims that the garlic trend will relieve congestion also follow the platform's work to combat viral COVID-19 misinformation circulating around the app.

In February, TikTok announced a new system where fact-checkers would flag content for containing unverified information and place a banner on the video to persuade viewers not to share it. The platform implemented a feature in April where users could report videos containing misleading information and send the content directly to an internal task force.

In the description of the most popular garlic-trend video, the creator @hwannah5 wrote that TikTok took their video "down the first time." None of the most popular videos associated with the trend are flagged as containing unverified content or misleading information.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Insider