Quick Notes

  • In a recent interview with GQ magazine, Tiffany Haddish advised a teaspoon of turpentine mixed with castor oil to cure the common cold

  • This doesn’t work and can result in severe medical reactions such as lung whiteout, often seen in cancer patients

  • Your body naturally possesses a detoxification process; it doesn’t require any assistance from what are effectively just laxatives

Detoxing isn’t exactly a new player in the world of health. People have been practicing it for most of the twenty-first century, and with more and more celebrities endorsing the practice, it’s only growing in popularity. From the Kardashian’s tummy teas to the world of consuming smoothies solely as your meal plan, detoxes are everywhere.

Unfortunately for many of these consumers, though, the practicality and productivity of the detoxification process via bizarrely colored beverages is questionable at best. The human body naturally detoxifies itself, so many of the products claiming to detoxify the body don’t do anything but encourage rapid bowel movements, to put it politely.

Haddish is hilarious, but her medical advice is questionable at best, and highly dangerous at worst

The world of bizarre detoxes has been taken to a whole new level by none other than lovable comedic actress Tiffany Haddish. In a recent interview with GQ magazine, she is quoted as recommending turpentine as a great detoxifier, and even a cold remedy. We wish we were kidding.

While there’s no doubting Haddish’s unique ability to charm and beguile with her flamboyant wit, her medical advice leaves much to be desired. As many will already know, turpentine is a form of toxic paint thinner. It is not, under any circumstances, to be ingested. In fact, mere contact with the skin can cause severe irritation.


Despite this, Haddish remains convinced in her advice. So convinced that she believes it to be a cure for the common cold. Adding a teaspoon of turpentine to a mixture of honey or castor oil will have your cold-infected self feeling right as rain the very next day, according to Haddish. We can’t stress this enough: but please don’t do that.

Haddish’s exact phrasing to GQ was ‘A teaspoon of turpentine won’t kill you,’ and while that is technically true, just because something doesn’t kill you doesn’t mean that it’s medically advisable. There are plenty of consumable items in this world you could eat that wouldn’t prove fatal; it doesn’t mean that they’re medicine.

Turpentine definitely doesn’t cure the common cold.

Some of the potential side effects of swallowing turpentine are nasty enough to warrant enduring your bout of cold for just a little longer. For instance, if it were to flow down to your lungs instead of your stomach, you could end up with a nasty case of lung whiteout. Also: it doesn’t cure the common cold.

Swallowing turpentine can lead to a condition often associated with lung cancer and severe infection

Lung whiteout is often associated with conditions such as acute lung infection, traumatic injury, or even various forms of cancer. You can enjoy the sensation of all of these with the help of a straightforward teaspoon of turpentine accidentally going down the wrong pipe. Is it worth it for a ‘detox’? No, it isn’t.

The legitimacy of detox products has powerfully come into question recently through the activism of Jameela Jamil. The ‘Good Place’ actress has frequently used her platform to call out the Kardashian’s promotion of detox products that are nothing more than laxatives. We’re not sure what Jamil would say of Haddish’s recommendation, but we can’t imagine it would be a glowing report.

Under no circumstances should you be swallowing turpentine. It’s called paint thinner for a reason

This article is not intended to mock Haddish. She’s a wonderfully talented actress with a sharp sense of humor. Having said that, her medical advice leaves a lot to be desired. Under no circumstances should you be swallowing turpentine. It’s called paint thinner for a reason, and that’s the last thing you need in your body.

It’s important to be continually wary when researching detox products. As mentioned before, your body possesses its own highly efficient detoxification process. It doesn’t need the help of smoothies or teas that, truthfully, do absolutely nothing beyond making you a more frequent visitor to the restroom. That isn’t desirable for anybody.

A deeper dive – Related reading on the 101

It isn’t just the turpentine detox that Science101 is debunking; there’s 25 more we’ve written on

For a potentially real miracle cure that doesn’t involve turpentine, follow the link above

For some practical medical advice, read all about the recent breakthrough in the study of gut health!