Lots of posts that recommend eating garlic to prevent infection are being shared on Facebook.
The WHO (World Health Organization) says that while it is “a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties”, there’s no evidence that eating garlic can protect people from the new coronavirus.
In lots of cases, these kinds of remedies aren’t harmful in themselves, as long as they aren’t preventing you from following evidence-based medical advice. But they have the potential to be.
The South China Morning Post reported a story of a woman who had to receive hospital treatment for a severely inflamed throat after consuming 1.5kg of raw garlic.
We know, in general, that eating fruit and vegetables and drinking water can be good for staying healthy. However, there is no evidence specific foods will help fight this particular virus.
YouTuber Jordan Sather, who has many thousands of followers across different platforms, has been claiming that a “miracle mineral supplement”, called MMS, can “wipe out” coronavirus.
It contains chlorine dioxide – a bleaching agent.
Sather and others promoted the substance even before the coronavirus outbreak, and in January he tweeted that, “not only is chlorine dioxide (aka MMS) an effective cancer cell killer, it can wipe out coronavirus too”.
Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about the dangers to health of drinking MMS. Health authorities in other countries have also issued alerts about it.
The FDA says it “is not aware of any research showing that these products are safe or effective for treating any illness”. It warns that drinking them can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and symptoms of severe dehyrdation.
A man sitting in a train, wears mask and uses hand sanitiser gel as Italy battles a coronavirus outbreak, in Florence, Italy, March 7, 2020.
There have been many reports of shortages of hand sanitiser gel, as washing your hands is one key way to prevent spread of the virus.
But these recipes were for a disinfectant better suited for cleaning surfaces and, as scientists pointed out, not suitable for use on skin.
Alcohol-based hand gels usually also contain emollients, which make them gentler on skin, on top of their 60-70% alcohol content.
Professor Sally Bloomfield, at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says she does not believe you could make an effective product for sanitising hands at home – even vodka only contains 40% alcohol.
For cleaning surfaces, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says most common household disinfectants should be effective.
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