The worlds of celebrity-endorsed pseudoscience and Tide Pod munching teens have united to create their most surreal monster yet. Tiffany Haddish, comedian and actress of Girls Trip and Keanu fame, has recently suggested that she drinks turpentine, the stuff you buy in a hardware store to clean your paint brushes.
“A teaspoon of turpentine will not kill you,” Haddish said in a new interview with GQ magazine. “The government doesn’t want you to know that if you have a cold, just take some turpentine with some sugar or castor oil or honey and it’ll go away the next day.”
You might think, perhaps she's joking? This is the figure behind the #WhoBitBeyonce debacle, after all. However, she's not the only person advocating this, so it's worth stressing: No, don’t drink turpentine – or any other toxic paint thinners.
Haddish said that she learned about the benefits of turpentine on Youtube and bought some on Amazon a few months ago. She explained that slaves in the US drank turpentine as a medicinal elixir in the absence of any other healthcare. There is some evidence that suggests turpentine was used as a "miracle" cure in 19th-century rural America, typically to rid people of intestinal parasites or rubbed on the chest with lard to alleviate colds, but this certainly does not mean it is a good idea.
She went on to explain to the GQ journalist that after her first dose “everything just felt so much better, clarity-wise.” The journalist, Caity Weaver, pointed out she probably just felt light-headed from inhaling the toxic substance.
Turpentine is obtained by the distillation of resin drained from pine trees. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains, it can irritate the skin and eyes, and damage the lungs and respiratory system, and central nervous system when inhaled. While Haddish is right that a few drops are not likely to kill you, ingesting it can cause severe damage to your kidneys and can easily be lethal, as numerous scientific studies have shown.
Still, the batshit idea prevails. One of the most passionate advocates is Jennifer Daniels, a former doctor who once ran a drug-free medical practice. She has reportedly been stripped of her medical license, but can still be found on “alternative medicine” blogs spouting the health benefits of drinking paint thinner. In one radio interview, Daniels even claimed she ate a few sugar cubes soaked in turpentine and it felt like "her IQ went up like 50 points."
Sorry, but a celebrity endorsement, a de-licensed doctor's claims and the desperation of a people in the 1800s who notoriously had poor health and no access to medicine just isn't enough to convince us it's a good idea. Experts suggest if you do ingest turpentine, call either 911 or the poison control helpline. Though if you do decide to do it, you, like Hadish, probably think the government is behind hiding turpentine's "benefits" and probably won't heed their advice.