Potato Socks for Treating Flu: Doctor’s Opinion on the TikTok Trend

The new Potato Socks TikTok trend is taking over the internet, as people are sharing a natural flu remedy using potatoes. It includes slicing a potato, adding a piece to a barefoot, and covering it with a sock. As people claim, it's the natural way to fight the flu.

Key takeaways:

Is there any scientific evidence to support that? In this article, we will explore whether potatoes are truly effective when fighting infections and what are other ways to recover from the flu.

Potato Socks: is it truly a new trend?

Many people have tried over the years to use topical potato slices or onions to cure illnesses. Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence showing that sleeping overnight with slices of potato in your socks can increase your chances of fighting viruses, such as the flu.

The theories are that the potato somehow draws out the virus or toxins from your body or purifies your blood. This home remedy dates back at least to the Middle Ages when it was used to protect people from the bubonic plague or Black Death.

Placing potatoes on the foot may have started earlier in ancient traditional Chinese medicine, called reflexology. Reflexology is based on qi (pronounced “chee”) which is our vital energy. It is believed that placing pressure on the bottom of the feet during sleep allows qi to flow better through our body to battle diseases.

Potatoes have natural antioxidant capabilities

Potatoes are a rich source of natural antioxidants and could potentially help in food preservation. The potato has a high capacity for what is known as free radical scavenging. This means the potato helps protect cells from damage from free radicals.

Interesting fact
Potatoes are the fourth largest crop in the United States after wheat, rice, and corn. Ironically, as much as half of the harvested potatoes are unsuitable for human consumption because the potatoes are subject to drying out or bacterial and viral infections.

Wounded potatoes form their own protective layer called a periderm which guards against foreign pathogens and dehydration. Also, the wounded potato will form reactive oxygen species, like peroxide or superoxide, which are uniquely protective of the tuber.

Therefore, many scientists have proposed that the potato’s natural antioxidant capabilities may work in the same way as high-antioxidant herbs, like ginkgo or ginger. The concept is that potatoes may interfere with oxidative processes and prevent cell death which could lead to antibacterial, antiallergic, and anticarcinogenic properties.

It has been believed for a long time that the natural periderm layer that forms on a potato may be a rich source of antioxidants. The antioxidants may be protective in food additives in particular, but so far, no studies have been successful in demonstrating a process to make the potatoes or potato extracts useful.

Treating wounds with potato peels

Potato peels have been used for covering chronic infections and burns. It is believed that using potato peels as opposed to plain gauze dressings reduces the drying of the wounds and promotes the growth and regeneration of the top layers of the skin. It also retards bacterial infection from developing.

Peels from raw potatoes have sources of glycoalkaloids and phenolic compounds which may be protective. The availability of the peels of raw potatoes may them an easy choice for using them to help with non-healing wounds.

There is a rare and potentially fatal infection, called necrotizing fasciitis. Potato peel dressings have been helpful in treating these difficult, hard-to-treat, and dangerous infections.

The logic in using sliced potatoes or the peels of potatoes makes some sense since they do tend to benefit people with wounds or burns. However, using potatoes or peels of potatoes without any wound present may not have the same effect, particularly if the person has a potato allergy.

Are Potato Socks harmful?

No, Potato Socks shouldn't cause any harm when tried on adults. However, the remedy shouldn't be used on children, even though it widely appears on TikTok.

Some people, usually children or babies, may have an adverse reaction to contact with raw, sliced potatoes. Contact dermatitis may develop involving skin redness, irritation, and itching. The potato may cause a superficial skin reaction that could need medical attention. The safest method would be to try a test with the raw potato slice first for a few minutes to see if there is an adverse reaction that could be avoided overnight.

Alternate flu remedies

Since there is no scientific evidence to support the effectiveness in treating flu with Potato Socks, you should consider other useful remedies. Here is a list of alternative ways to treat the flu:

  • Stay at home. Treatment of the flu involves supportive care at home. There is no definitive cure for a cold or the flu.
  • Drink water. Staying hydrated is paramount so you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Use medication. If fever is present, treatment should include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, like ibuprofen or Tylenol.
  • Wash away germs. Rinsing your mouth with salt water and using nasal saline is helpful.
  • Try well-known remedies. Old techniques of encouraging hot liquids like chicken broth or soup and a room humidifier are recommended.

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