Sour Candy for Anxiety Isn't Just a TikTok Trend, Experts Explain How It Really Works
Could the antidote for anxiety attacks lie in something as simple as sour candy? According to TikTokers and other online sources, the answer is yes—and, intriguingly, many mental health experts agree.
The theory behind the online-famous trend goes that, when a panic attack or bout of anxiety hits, sucking on tart candies distracts the brain from negative emotions, zeroing attention in on the sour, tingling sensation in the mouth. TikTok videos galore extol the virtues of keeping sour candies on hand for when a bout of anxiety hits, such as on an airplane or prior to public speaking. Searches for “sour candy for anxiety” currently have 22.5 million views on the platform.
But does the TikTok trend hold up scientifically? Here’s what experts have to say about the effectiveness of popping a Warhead or Jolly Rancher for panic, and whether it’s a sustainable technique.
Just like the age-old sensory zap of snapping a rubber band on the wrist to deter anxiety, chewing sour candies is a distraction technique. It shifts the brain’s attention from sensations of fear, anxiety, and overwhelm to the vivid, assertive flavor in the mouth.
“Panic ensues when our amygdala triggers the flight or fight response. One way to dampen our amygdala’s response and mitigate panic is by turning our attention to the present moment through our senses: taste, smell, touch, sight, and hearing,” Toya Roberson-Moore, MD, associate medical director and psychiatrist at Pathlight Mood & Anxiety Center, told Health.