Doctors Warn Against Viral TikTok Remedy of Putting Garlic Up Your Nose

Don't waste your cloves.

Look, we're not doctors, but we'd recommend not trying any of the so-called "medical advice" that regularly trends on TikTok. If you're not convinced, there are a lot of actual doctors who have said the same thing, especially when it comes to this dubious remedy for a stuffy nose.

Fresh garlic on rustic wooden table.
Milan Krasula/Getty Images

Several TikTok videos have racked up literally millions of views with a "hack" for clearing your sinuses by putting a clove of peeled garlic in each nostril. (The videos are pretty gross — especially when it comes to the big post-garlic reveal — so it's probably best if you don't watch any of them while you're eating. Or if you'd ever like to eat again.)

Even though your nose might start running after you pull the cloves out, that doesn't mean that your sinus issues have been cured by all-powerful allium magic. "Anytime you block the opening of the nose, it's going to fill with mucus," Dr. Jay Youngerman, the chief of otolaryngology at New York's Northwell Health Plainview Hospital, told Today. "That's just the nose's response to being blocked."

Another doc told the outlet that garlic is an irritant that could actually further inflame the lining of each nostril. "Garlic is a pretty strong substance," Dr. Dana Crosby, the chair of Southern Illinois University School of Medicine's Department of Otolaryngology, said. "It's almost causing a kind of dermatitis type reaction where the mucosa gets really irritated." (When actress Busy Phillips tried a similar garlic water remedy several years ago, she kept yelling things like "Oh, that's terrible!" and "Oh my god, it really burns!")

Dr. Abisola Olulade just flat-out said that the garlic-in-the-nose thing is "not recommended" and "can be dangerous." She also emphasized that it can make sinus congestion or other symptoms even worse. "It can actually worsen runny nose symptoms, which may make people falsely think it is working to help relieve a stuffy nose," she told Refinery29. "However, this running is actually a reaction to the irritation and to the strong smell.

If you've read this far, and you're still considering whether to peel some garlic the next time your nose is stopped up, another possibility is that the cloves could get stuck in your nostrils, which could lead to an embarrassing (and undoubtedly expensive) trip to Urgent Care.

Several of these docs suggested using a saline nasal spray, or a neti pot to help alleviate the discomfort of nasal congestion. Surely you can find a better use for that garlic, too.

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