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Viral video bloats medicinal plants’ potential vs cancer, hair loss

A TikTok image slideshow has exaggerated the health benefits of guyabano leaves and other medicinal plants, sharing misleading therapeutic claims that they quickly “heal” cancer and reverse hair loss.

The Dec. 24 post by TikTok user spoildbloom also used what is probably an AI-generated image of a man who supposedly “revealed” the healing properties of sea moss, soursop (guyabano) leaves, cocolmeca bark, batana oil, kalawalla root and blue vervain.

The post was meant to promote spoildbloom’s website that sells products with the plants as the main ingredients.

An image showing the medicinal properties of soursop leaves reads, “10,000 times stronger than chemo.”

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill invasive cancer cells in the body.

While there are scientific findings on soursop leaves’ anticancer activity, the plant has only been tested on nonhuman subjects like mice and HeLa cells. It has not undergone any clinical trial to prove its efficacy on cancer patients, unlike chemotherapy, a common treatment for cancer.

Another photo on the slideshow claimed that cocolmeca bark “heals cancer in weeks.” The plant, misspelled as “colcomeca” in the TikTok video, a is a woody vine usually used in health products like tablets, teas and tonics. 

A 2021 study found that natural barks exhibit anticancer potential, but cocolmeca was not among the plants tested for this property. As of writing, no research shows its ability to “heal” cancer.

Doctors consider cancer cured if a patient has been in “complete remission” within five years, which means there is total disappearance of all signs and symptoms of the disease.

The same image also claimed that cocolmeca bark “reverses erectile dysfunction” and “increases testosterone by 210%.”

There are several scientific articles and studies on effective medicinal herbs for erectile dysfunction, but none of them cite the cocolmeca bark.

Meanwhile, the slide on batana oil claims that it “boosts hair growth 3x (the) normal rate; reverses balding and alopecia.” The natural oil is extracted from the American oil palm tree and has been traditionally used for hair treatment by American natives.

Although e-commerce websites promote batana oil to be rich in vitamin E, which is good for nourishing and healing skin and hair, there is little to no scientific data to soundly support claims on hair growth stimulation potential – more so its ability to treat balding or alopecia, an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss on the head or all over the body.

Lastly, several AI detector tools indicate the slideshow cover photo, a man in a red hood who is said to be the source of the remedies,  as probably artificially generated. Hive AI detector recorded a 99.9% probability and Content at scale, 72%. 

The claim about guyabano leaves has been previously fact-checked by PolitiFact while the claim about batana oil by The Healthy Indian Project.

The post has since received over 378,000 views, 12,100 likes, 1,467 shares and 6,289 bookmarks. Spoildbloom has over 42,900 followers and has accumulated over 451,000 likes since its launching last September. (HCV)


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