Chinese vlogger thinks she's eating aloe vera on live stream, then rushes to hospital


Vomitting and diarrhea, says the Google. Just another normal day.


Plants, AKA that branch of nature which specialised on chemical warfare as a defence.

Every plant is edible. The important question is is it edible twice?

(BTW, as an imperfect-but-useful rule of thumb: watch out for anything with white, milky sap. Most of those will inflame skin on contact with the sap)


Even if it was aloe vera, would eating it be a good idea considering it’s laxative effects?


Absolutely nothing. Good God y’all.


If you’ve never seen it person for a size comparison I could see how someone could mistake that. Still you’d think someone eating things for a vlog would have done a better job researching.


Well if your hobby was eating weird things maybe the laxative effect would be welcome?


LOL. Good point.

Reminds me of this cartoon from a book of collected Mad Magazines from the 60s.

Alfred E. Neuman with a bear skin cap saying.
“In Russia, you can say anything you want. Once.”


On the dogs and grass thing… our Vet told me that wolves eat the stomach contents first of herbivores that they take down.


Neil: Vyv, can you like, actually, kill yourself with laxative pills?
Vyv: I don’t know Neil, but I am going to stay and find out!


Some smaller dogs have an issue where they vomit occasionally on an empty stomach. My dog does it, and the vet told me it was normal for him to have some stomach issues if he hadn’t eaten regularly. And like @roomwithaview was saying about eating grass - he decided that he doesn’t like his OLD food anymore, and he wants the “sensitive skin” formula again, so he stopped eating his kibble and went outside and munched on some grass.


Unless you’re a cat, apparently. Cats just love chewing on aloe vera.

EDIT: Oh, and just in case in needs saying, you should not let your cat chew on aloe vera.


Obligatory XKCD:


Making China’s first native Mezcal?


I hadn’t thought of that.


Nope. It’s a mixture of cultural and biological factors which leads to geophagy in humans. There’s interesting scientific literature about this. Fun fact: eating clay-rich soil can be detrimental, even, and despite the contrary popular belief deprive your body of minerals by chelatisation and surface-exchange processes (clay minerals being ion exchangers).
There are also some studies which have shown, albeit with relatively small sample size (if you ask me), that eaters are more likely to catch parasites by the practice of geophagy if the product is not processed.

In East Africa, you can buy the stuff over the counter. Children and pregnant women are culturally inclined to eat it. In Europe, medical clay (often, in fact, silt) can be bought in drug stores. I guess the US situation might be similar.

Animals, on the other hand, vary extremely in the nature and purpose of geophagy by taxon. Salt licks are naturally to take up minerals, so can be geophagy of, e.g. elephants. However, clay-rich soil is sometimes documented to be taken up as potential remedy against plant secondary compounds, like alkaloids. Same chemical story here: surface binding and chelatisation are likely to help digestion of toxic or irritating plant material.

Some of this might be conjectures from early naturalists surviving in scientific writing - but then, those naturalists often are dead right if you have a closer look and a controlled experiment. It’s definitely more than a myth.

Back on topic: this, dear friends, is why science - and especially botany - matters. You can kill yourself with plants, and it’s usually not a nice death.

Oh, and did anyone mention that Aloe vera itself is poisonous, and that you should not eat the green parts of the leaf? I didn’t even read the whole threat yet. :smile:
Ah. Aloin mentioned. Don’t forget the whole bunch of anthraquinones.


Zoopharmacognosy was always one of the coolest areas of animal psych research.

Nifty word, too. :slight_smile:


This is – well, I won’t say impossible – but there is no good reason to believe that it’s true, and lots of reasons to discount it as a reasonable hypothesis.

There are many well-documented examples of animals that are capable of adjusting their diet to self-medicate. Ingested a toxin? Eat a bunch of clay to act as a physical binder and chemical chelating agent to absorb the toxin. Infected with a parasite? Start eating this bitter leaf you never eat because it contains high concentrations of a secondary metabolite that will kill the parasite. It’s not clear how much of this is physiologically-driven ‘instinct’, and how much is individually-learned or culturally-transmitted behaviour (e.g. gram bonobo taught ma bonobo taught baby bonobo). However, this behaviour is always in response to the presence of a toxin or infection, dealing with an acute medical condition rather than a chronic dietary one – it’s a response to a pharmacological need, not a nutritional one.

Obviously, humans and all other organisms are capable of responding physiologically to nutritional deficiencies. In the broadest sense, that’s just called being hungry. When it comes to wide categories of marconutrient (carbs proteins fats), you might get cravings for a particular category, particularly if you’re regularly very active. Again, some of this is perhaps physiological and ‘instinctive’, but a lot of it is simply learned behaviour: you figured out before you were three years old that sugary things gave you energy, so if you’re low energy you know you should find something sweet.

But roomwithaview is suggesting something very different from these scenarios. They are suggesting that Mister44 felt a sudden craving to consume a material they had never before seen – and did not even regard as food – in an unconscious but direct physiological response to a micronutrient deficiency.

a) Mister44 is running low on zinc
b) Mister44’s body / brain are unconsciously aware that they need more zinc
c) Mister44’s body/ brain becomes unconsciously aware that the plant root contains zinc
d) Mister44’s body/ brain compels them to eat the plant root

There is no compelling evidence that the human body is capable of parts b) and d). There is no reason to believe that your body can tell your brain, consciously or otherwise, that it is lacking in specific micronutrients, or to compel cravings for specific foods that will satisfy those deficiencies. People suffering from vitamin A deficiency don’t naturally crave carrots, sweet potato, and papaya. Even with pregnancy cravings, the classic case that everyone “knows” is true, probably isn’t true. I’m not aware of any good evidence that cravings for specific foods during pregnancy correlate with genuine nutritional needs; it’s far more plausibly explained by hormonal swings and changes in taste perception.

There is no plausible mechanism for part c). Your eye isn’t an atomic absorption spectrometer. Vitamins and minerals are non-volatile, so you can’t smell them. You cannot feel the presence of specific molecules with your skin, because your skin lacks the molecular-scale receptor proteins in your nose and tongue. There is no possible way for your body to detect the presence of 40 parts per million zinc in a plant root. So even if Mister44 were suffering from a specific mineral or vitamin deficiency, there is no mechanism by which their body could realize that it would be in the plant.

(Beyond the obvious inference, that is. Plants are living things that always contain some amount of iron and zinc and copper and quinones and ascorbic acid, because all animals and plants need all those things. If Mister44 is suffering from a specific micronutrient deficiency and they have a functioning instinctive micronutrient detector, it should be pinging at any of two dozen foods in the produce section far more loudly than at a random plant root they have never seen before.)

tl;dr While macronutrient-driven hungers and self-medication in response to a medical condition are both well established in both animals and humans, the proposed scenario is very different in both kind and degree from these phenomena. I’m not aware of any compelling evidence that micronutrient-deficiency-induced craving occurs in humans, and there is no plausible mechanism by which it could operate as suggested.


Given that we are physically capable of detecting a single photon there’s some possibility that in fact we could do something along those lines.

Some vitamins are quite volatile, having a shelf-life of days if not stored properly, and most minerals are as well to some degree, ever take a whiff of an unpainted hot metal roof?

Again, hate to disagree, but if your skin cells are lacking that nutrient and suddenly they get to absorb a few molecules, then there’s no reason to assume there wouldn’t be a reaction, (a microscopic sigh of relief as it were).

And if he were standing in the store in front of that produce that might well be the case.

To clarify, I’m not really arguing against any of your points here, (and I fully agree with the self-medication), but at the same time there’s equal argument in the other direction. Perhaps @Mister44 can oblige us with a double-blind test? :stuck_out_tongue:


I see wut u did dere…


The root compels you.