The internet has opened up a growing conversation about wellness, and in many ways, that's a good thing. But let this Chinese blogger who was poisoned by what she thought was an aloe vera plant serve as a reminder that whatever topic we're dealing with, we should not always follow the advice we get online.
Some wellness bloggers have advocated eating raw aloe vera, with many in China live-streaming themselves eating it, Vice reports. One 26-year-old Chinese vlogger — known as Ms Zhang, according to Delish — decided to try out this trend herself and share her experience in a now-viral video, which she named "aloe vera feast."
At first, she deems it "not bad," but then she adds, "Wow, very bitter. So bitter."
The plant she ate may have actually been the poisonous agave americana plant, according to Vice. She reportedly ended up hospitalised with mouth and throat burns and sores. The agave can also damage your livers and kidneys, according to SF Gate. Delish reports that Ms Zhang's stomach is being pumped.
This video represents the aloe vera trend at its worst, since you could accidentally end up eating something far more dangerous. But even when you know what you're eating, eating aloe vera probably won't do much good for you, according to the National Institutes of Health. In fact, it can actually cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramping.
Tim Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta, told Vice this incident reflects a larger problem: People are subscribing to useless and even potentially dangerous "wellness" practices just because they're "natural."
"The underlying assumption is that if it's natural it's healthy and safer than things produced by humans. But that just isn't the case. It's a fallacy," he said. "You couple the myth of 'natural is better,' with the myth of 'chemicals are bad,' and it creates a dichotomy that allows this kind of behaviour to seem sensible."