Here are three golden rules for the 21st century: think carefully about what you read on the Internet, don't treat medical conditions with “home remedies” unless they're thoroughly backed up by science, and – above all – don’t stick frozen French fries up your butt.
Doctors have apparently had to warn against online quacks claiming that sticking frozen potatoes up your anus can treat hemorrhoids, aka piles, an irritating condition that involves swollen veins forming in the lowest part of the rectum and anus that can cause pain and bleeding. Do you want fries with that?
According to WalesOnline, as well as a number of local news outlets in the UK, an unidentified website has been advising people with hemorrhoids to stick homemade potato fries up the anus to help soothe the pain and discomfort.
"Here's what you need to do: Peel a raw potato and cut into thin slices, like you do it for French fries. Put the slices into the freezer and wait until they are frozen,” one website reportedly wrote.
"Insert the frozen potato slice in your anus and leave it inside for 30 seconds. Repeat the process for three to five days. The next three to five days leave the slice inside for 30 seconds more each time.”
Although IFLScience could not verify the quote, medical practitioners definitely advise against sticking vegetables up one's butt.
As per the theory, a frozen potato will help to constrict blood vessels in the anus and reduce swelling. Even though hemorrhoids can be a real pain in the ass, this is certainly not a good idea. Aside from the fact you should be very careful about what you put inside your body, wherever the entry-point may be, there’s zero hard evidence that says this could help reduce any pain associated with hemorrhoids. It also runs the risk of introducing bacteria and other pathogens into the body.
“There is no medical evidence that putting frozen potatoes inside the anus can help cure piles, so I would urge caution to anyone thinking of doing it," said Dr Diana Gall of the “online medical service” Doctor-4-U, according to WalesOnline. IFLScience tried to reach the doctor but have not received a response at the time of publication.
If piles are severe enough, they can be treated with surgery or procedures such as rubber band ligation. However, the go-to treatment typically involves using creams, which can simply be bought over the counter from a drug store.
The Internet is full of pseudoscientific nonsense and straight-up bad advice. In one of the more unsavory examples, Dr Jennifer Gunter, a US-based obstetrician-gynecologist, recently tweeted an entire thread warning about the dangers of inserting garlic into your vagina to treat yeast infections.
Since garlic is known to have some antifungal properties in a petri dish, some took this as a sign that it could be used to ward off yeast overgrowth in the vagina. In case it isn’t clear, that’s not just a silly idea, it’s also potentially dangerous for a number of reasons
If in doubt, keep it out.