TikTok users are „training“ others to consume Borax, a common ingredient in laundry detergent and household cleaners that has been banned as a food additive in Australia.
Also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, borax is a colourless crystalline compound comprised of boron, sodium, and oxygen. You’ll find it in your laundry detergent and even as a standalone cleaning agent — where it should belong. Its close relative, boric acid, is widely used as a pesticide against ants and cockroaches.
Despite this, TikTok is flooded with videos of people getting on the „Borax train,“ consuming it in their water, coffee, or baths. Why? They claim that borax can be used to treat inflammation, joint pain, arthritis, lupus, and various other ailments.
None of these health claims are supported by scientific evidence. In fact, they’re all washed up, and you should try to avoid direct contact with borax as much as possible.
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Borax and its cousin, boric acid, have made quite a name for themselves in everyday household items. They’re found in everything from laundry detergents and wood preservatives to fertilisers and even contact lens solutions. Borax crystals can also be found in supermarkets, hardware stores, and garden centres.
Borax contains the element boron, which is known to be necessary for the growth and health of plants and some animals. Its role in human health, however, is less clear. Boron is found in some foods, such as grapes and potatoes, but it is not considered an essential human nutrient. It is suggested that consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables can safely provide our bodies with minimal boron required.
Several studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between dietary boron, and bone health, brain function, and immune response. However, just because borax is natural does not mean that it is safe to consume or apply liberally to our bodies.
In fact, intentional exposure to borax, whether through skin contact or inhalation, can cause irritation wherever it comes into contact. As far as swallowing goes, this implies it is a no-go.
First, a quick lesson in science. The median lethal dose, or LD50, is a term used in toxicology to describe the dose required to kill half of a tested population. According to The Conversation, the LD50 for borax in rats is approximately 5g per kilogramme of body weight. That’s a fairly large dose, implying that acute toxicity resulting in human death is unlikely. But just because something doesn’t kill you doesn’t mean it’s harmless or good for your health.
Borax was used as a food preservative in the early twentieth century until research revealed various side effects associated with borax consumption, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, and gastric discomfort.
Now, Borax is classified as a reproductive toxin. This means that it can potentially impair fertility and harm an unborn child. As a result, it has been banned as a food additive in a number of countries, including Australia and the United States.
It also contains precautionary statements, recommendations for appropriate personal protective equipment, and safe storage and disposal methods. Simply put, we should not consume borax. This warning is clear as day in the product’s safety instructions, which include statements like „CAUTION“ and „KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.“