Health Gimmick of the Month: Potatoes > Antibiotics


Surprise, surprise. Another month has passed, and the tainted wellspring of TikTok “medical knowledge” has coughed up yet another pseudoscientific gem reeking of “trust me bro” energy.

Thankfully, actual doctors and nurses have responded firmly in the interest of public health.

Like a crossover between the medical advice of your Italian great uncle (whatever it is, rub oil on it) and that tinfoil-hatted friend of yours who will never visit the doctor (they’re just trying to poison us, maaaan), this TikTok trend proposes a solution to strep throat that we all apparently missed: potatoes.

Yeah, forget antibiotics – says a certain woman in a certain TikTok we refuse to link – simply have your child drink the juice of a potato and their strep throat will be gone “within hours,” as it supposedly went with her 14-year-old daughter’s case.

Thankfully, within just days, a smattering of concerned doctors and nurses showed up to refute this extremely lofty claim, and considering what’s at stake, with very little mincing of words.

It got doctors really mad

“I normally don’t yell, but this type of bad medical advice can harm a child,” read the caption under the rebuttal video of pediatrician and allergist Dr. Rubin, in which he (loudly) listed the following complications that may result from improperly treated streptococcus infection:

  • Large abscesses that need to be drained
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a severe kidney disease)
  • Acute rheumatic fever

This last issue was labeled soberly by Dr. Rubin as “the most dreaded of all,” as it can have detrimental effects on the heart, brain, and joints that could be “life shortening.”

But wait… did the potato juice work?

Another medical expert, medical toxicology physician Dr. Kelly Johnson-Arbor, brought up a very important point in her comments featured in this Today article covering the dangerous trend: coincidences happen.

In other words, maybe the strep throat really did clear up soon after the potato juice, but strep is often “self-limiting,” Dr. Johnson-Arbor explained. This in no way means that the potato – which, by the way, does contain some antifungal compounds – actually cleared up the infection.

That’s when it clicked for us – this is probably how most of these trends are born. Some undiscerning “home naturopath” clamoring for TikTok ideas tries a natural remedy on their kids, encounters this coincidence, and wouldn’t you know, they discover a simple remedy that centuries of medical research missed.

Normally, we have a laugh and shrug these off, but we’re talking about our kids, people. Let’s stick to antibiotics.

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