Woman uses controversial hack in bid to beat hay fever – but it's not for fainthearted

Young woman blowing nose on tissue.
A doctor warns that a new TikTok remedy to rid of sinus issues should be avoided (stock image) -Credit:Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF

For many of us, this month is synonymous with sniffling, sneezing and eye irritation, all thanks to the unavoidable hay fever.

But now, a number of influencers are turning to a rather unconventional remedy to combat their sinus woes – and it's certainly ruffling a few feathers. Unbelievably, the popular 'solution' chiefly involves taking cloves of garlic and inserting them in your nostrils to 'alleviate congestion'.

Moore Wellness (@moorewellness) is one among numerous TikTokers to have tried it out for themselves, showcasing the results online. A post read: "Cleaning out my sinuses with garlic," as a woman sat with the cloves in her nose.

Fast forward 10 minutes and she exclaimed: "IT WORKSSSSS!!!", providing a quite revolting sight of snot flowing from her nostrils.

The post was rapidly flooded with bewildered reactions – as many users were intrigued about the method and its effectiveness. One user questioned: "Do you not smell garlic for ages after this?," as another queried: "I keep it in for how long?" Someone even remarked: "Don't invite me for dinner."

So, does it really work? Helen Bell, a health expert at the UK Care Guide, sadly doesn't seem to think so – claiming it's more of a 'TikTok fad' than a legitimate remedy. She told The Mirror: "In my experience, putting garlic cloves in your nostrils to unblock the nose does not hold any scientific merit for treating nasal congestion."

"While garlic does have certain health benefits when ingested, there is no scientific evidence, that I am aware of, to support its ability in clearing nasal passages when used in this manner."

Congestion, or a stuffy nose, usually occurs when the inside of our nostrils are irritated and swollen, with mucus generated in response to the inflammation. Blocking your nose with garlic while enduring these symptoms will not only prevent your sinuses from draining, but may even irritate the mucus membranes further.

As a result, your nose is far more likely to generate even more snot, which may be why so much flows out when the garlic cloves are removed in these videos. Helen continued: "Inserting garlic cloves into the nostrils can irritate the sensitive membranes, leading to discomfort, swelling, and even bleeding.

"The strong smell may cause a temporary sensation of opening in the nasal passages, but this is more likely due to irritation rather than an actual decongesting effect."

While garlic does have some anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, these benefits are best received when the ingredient is eaten, according to Helen. She explained: "Garlic contains allicin, a compound known for its antimicrobial properties, which can be beneficial when garlic is consumed.

"However, inserting garlic cloves into the nostrils likely does not produce a concentration of allicin that is significant enough to have a therapeutic effect on nasal congestion...I'd also add that prolonged contact can also result in dermatitis or burns caused by garlic's natural oils and compounds. In some cases, pieces of garlic might become lodged in the nasal cavity, requiring medical intervention to remove it."

Helen suggests more traditional remedies to alleviate congestion and hay fever symptoms. This could include breathing in steaming hot water to help loosen the mucus.

Saline nasal sprays can also be used to safely clear out the sinuses, while eucalyptus oil or peppermint oil may offer some relief when used in a diffuser or added to steam. "It's crucial to approach health trends, especially those popularised on TikTok, with scepticism and caution," Helen emphasised.

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