Beware of All the Dangerous ‘Cures’

The South China Morning Post recently reported that a Chinese woman had to be admitted to a hospital to be treated for a severely inflamed throat as a result of having consumed more than three pounds of raw garlic.

The lady had no particular hankering for the bulb, but had apparently heard that eating large amounts of it would protect her from becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus.

For his part, a social media personality declared online that the virus could be “wiped out” by drinking a substance called “Miracle Mineral Supplement,” or MMS. The substance’s main ingredient is sodium chlorite, which is a toxic chemical that can cause acute kidney failure. Even in small doses, it usually causes nausea and vomiting and can lead to destruction of red blood cells in some people.

Needless to say, some among his following took his advice seriously, despite the dangers and the fact that no research indicates that the chemical has any effect on the coronavirus.

The same is true about drinking colloidal silver, a liquid medium containing small amounts of the metal, which was touted by a guest on a popular program hosted by televangelist Jim Bakker.

Unlike iron or zinc, silver is not a metal that has any function in the human body. Health authorities warn that there is no evidence that silver solutions are effective for any health condition. And that, in fact, they can cause kidney damage, seizures and argyria — a condition that makes skin turn blue.

Needless to say, ingesting bleach or other disinfectants is not only unhelpful in fighting the coronavirus, it is exceedingly dangerous. Two men in Georgia drank liquid cleaning products recently after hearing that such chemicals could prevent infections. An Arizona man died after ingesting a product containing the chemical chloroquine because of claims that it might be a cure for COVID-19.

Social media have also promoted the recommendation of a “Japanese doctor” who asserts that any virus can be removed from the body by drinking water every 15 minutes.

Actual experts, though, with actual names and credentials, contend that there is no biological mechanism that would support drinking water frequently as having any effect on a respiratory virus, which enters the lungs when breathed in and is not ingested into the gastrointestinal system.

Variations on the theme that heat kills coronavirus have been frequently put forth as well. Drinking hot water, taking hot baths or using electric hair dryers on one’s throat all have proponents on social media. One post attributes the claim that drinking hot water and sitting in the sun will cure COVID-19 to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), which felt forced to issue a statement that the agency has nothing to do with the claim.

Garlic, in moderation, is a healthful food, and even has some proven medicinal value. Water, of course, is essential for life and health, although also only in moderation. (Water intoxication is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions resulting from too much water intake.) And coronaviruses, at least the ones that have caused problems in the past, do tend to disappear with the arrival of the warm summer months. Hot tea and chicken soup, of course, are always helpful in alleviating symptoms such as sore throats and nasal congestion .

There is clear evidence, too, that vitamin C, along with other vitamins like B6 and D, and zinc, help ensure a healthy immune system.

But, as in the old story about traveling from Minsk to Pinsk — with one horse hitched to the wagon it takes three hours; with two, it takes two hours; but with ten, one can barely inch down the road because they will trip over one another — “the more, the better” is not necessarily true or even safe.

And in the case of preventing or fighting COVID-19, recognizing the upshot of that fact is extremely important.

It is obvious that maintaining a strong immune system is important for fending off a host of potential infections. And it is also essential for helping to fight the coronavirus. Most people who contract the COVID-19 virus recover well, and the neis nistar of the immune system is a major factor in that happy fact.

But the key to keeping our immune systems healthy doesn’t lie in exotic chemicals, and certainly not in toxic ones. Nor does it lie in over-ingesting vitamins, minerals or water.

The proper hishtadlus toward the goal of avoiding bad effects of the current germ is eating a balanced diet, exercising moderately, getting sufficient sleep, following the recommended government guidelines, and most importantly, saying Refa’einu with kavanah.