Nutritionist warns TikTok weight loss trend could lead to violent 'diarrhoea'

Woman drinking in her house
A new viral TikTok trend triggers violent diarrhoea, according to a nutritionist (stock image) -Credit:Getty Images

A nutritionist has issued a warning to TikTokers against trying a new viral dieting trend that causes severe diarrhoea.

From celebrity-endorsed skinny jabs to the controversial 'oatzempic' drinks, it's clear that weight loss culture has dominated the global conversation this year. Now, a wave of influencers are experimenting with a new method to lose weight that has left experts utterly perplexed.

The peculiar trend involves consuming a certain type of vegetable oil to 'cleanse' the body for a more sculpted figure. This primarily includes castor oil, a product derived from castor beans, which is commonly used in massages and skincare products.

Health influencer Maryam Hampton is among those who have tried it, sharing her experience on TikTok with her 102,000 followers. "Clear out your weekend and get ready for the biggest cleanse of your life," she advised.

"You're going to be running to the bathroom all day long, but you're going to feel five pounds lighter... I take castor oil orally every few months - one teaspoon orally and that will clean y'all out... you will be cleansed out."

Maryam also suggested a 'castor wrap', which involves applying two teaspoons of the oil on a stomach press and sleeping with it tied around your abdomen. She claimed this would penetrate 'deep inside of you', eliminating cysts and fibroids, which can impact your digestion.

She added: "Castor oil is just overall amazing for your health and your skin. So, I really really love castor oil and I think everybody should at least try it. I know it can be nasty but, if you want a clean out, you're going to get it with castor oil."

The post from Maryam sparked confused comments as many TikTokers questioned the safety of consuming castor oil. "I thought you were not supposed to drink it," wrote one user. Another queried: "What exactly is it cleansing?"

So, is there any basis to this theory?

Nutritionist GQ Jordan described the trend of drinking castor oil for weight loss as 'more of a fad than a fact', although she did advise that it's not as clear cut as that. She told The Mirror: "Drinking castor oil for weight loss is more of a fad than a fact.

"While it may cause temporary water weight loss due to its laxative effects, it does not contribute to sustainable fat loss. Real, sustainable weight loss comes from balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and healthy habits. So, no magic potion here, just another fleeting trend."

It's worth noting that most of castor oil's composition is ricinoleic acid, which has an intense influence on the gut even in small quantities. This is particularly helpful to those struggling with constipation, as the acids instigate muscle contractions helping move faecal matter along the digestive tract.

GQ highlighted that the laxative effect of castor oil does not contribute to fat loss or metabolism enhancement - key factors in weight reduction. The expert clarified: "The weight loss experienced is typically due to water loss and not a reduction in body fat... Drinking castor oil can lead to some unpleasant side effects - cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and dehydration not exactly the dream.

"Overuse can mess with your electrolyte balance, too. Castor oil does have some legitimate uses - I've already mentioned in relieving constipation, it's also used in skincare and haircare for its moisture and anti-inflammatory benefits. Drinking it for weight loss is not recommended and may be potentially harmful."

However, GQ did acknowledge potential benefits of applying castor oil wraps on the abdomen. These wraps are traditionally used to improve circulation and aid liver detoxification while also reducing inflammation.

However, further research is necessary to substantiate these claims, as current evidence is somewhat scarce. "Castor oil packs or wraps are often used in complementary/traditional medicines for liver support like the person in this video uses," the expert added.

"This involves soaking a cloth in castor oil, placing it over the liver area on the abdomen, covering in plastic, and applying heat with a hot water bottle. Scientific evidence for this is quite limited and it's important to note that the benefits are largely anecdotal, and more research is needed to confirm its efficacy.

"Instead of jumping on the next viral trend, focus on a sustainable and balanced approach to health and weight loss. Quick fixes like castor oil come and go, but building healthy habits lasts a lifetime. Remember, there's no substitute for a balanced diet and regular movement."