The worldwide spread of the novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, has meant that many people all over the world are living in a perpetual state a panic. The severity of an infected individual’s disease course remains unknown, and there is neither a full-fledged prevention nor sure-fire cure. While the initial data show that many who contract the illness due to the virus will have an extremely mild course, concerns for the medically frail, including older individuals, those with chronic medical problems, smokers, and those with compromised immune systems, has (and should) put everyone on edge. The rapidity of spread is mind boggling. Whatever numbers I would consider presenting here would be old news by the time this post goes live.
Many folks are asking physicians and other health care professionals: “Should we really panic? Is this hyped news, or is it really the doom and gloom that we hear in the media?” When it comes to something that is so unknown, even to those seasoned in caring for critically ill patients, even physicians are debating amongst each other whether or not this virus will decimate many more than it already has, or pass through with little more damage in a matter of weeks. Such wide ranging views leads to even more panic and uncertainty. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Toilet paper, anyone?
Cue the quackery…
Name the lotion, potion, supplement, or detox, and it’s been recommended to prevent and/or treat Covid-19 infections. As I discuss in a recent Forbes article, there are no ‘miracle cures’ for this beast. Despite, that, companies have tried many angles to dupe the terrified consumer into buying their wares. In the best of times, this would be a mere nuisance and a waste of money. Harmless. But in these times, these claims can potentially lead to real public health detriments. As of March 6, 2020, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued seven warning letters to companies marketing products to prevent or cure Covid-19 infections, offering false claims for prevention or cure. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stated that they will take action against these companies if necessary.
Here are those lucky seven:
- Herbal Amy: Oh, Amy. Save your herbs and teas for dinner and dessert. This web-based company, based in Nampa, Idaho, offers a “Coronavirus Protocol,” which included Boneset Tea, Coronavirus Cell Protection, Coronavirus Core Tincture, Coronavirus Immune System, and Elderberry Tincture. Amy’s hand got slapped for misguided marketing and misrepresentation of products offering prevention and cure. The FTC stated that the company’s claims were unlawful to “advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless you possess competent and reliable scientific evidence, including, when appropriate, well-controlled human clinical studies, substantiating that the claims are true at the time they are made. To make or exaggerate such claims, whether directly or indirectly, through the use of a product name, website name, meta-tags, or other means, without rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims, violates the FTC Act.” A similar statement was made to each of the following:
- The Jim Bakker Show: No, Jim, there is no silver lining to this pandemic. This company, based in Blue Eye, Missouri, most known for its daily broadcast “featuring prophetic and biblical revelations brought to light in today’s world,” is also known for its consumer line of silver products. This company has long touted silver solution as a cure for many ailments,with no data-driven evidence. The show claimed that silver solution has been successfully tested on other strains of coronavirus, and it would work on this one. It goes on to recommend putting the silver solution into a nebulizer to breathe its fumes directly to the lungs, where the virus has settled. Please don’t do that.
- Colloidal Vitality, LLC: On the Jim Bakker silver bullet train. Based in Melbourne, Florida, Colloidal Vitality makes claims such as: “Wellness!! Vital Silver!!! Simple!!! Go on the offense this year against viruses including the Coronavirus—it’s simple!” That’s a lot of exclamation points. They also claim that it is “widely acknowledged in both science and the medical industry that ionic silver kills coronaviruses…taking a teaspoon or two per day of Structured Silver Advanced Formula helps fight the pathogens we are exposed to on a daily basis.” Nope.
- Vivify Holistic Clinic: Tea time. David Raes offers “manual osteopathy” and is a “master herbalist” in Ontario, Canada. Offering many therapies for chronic pain disorders, his “herbalism” section links to Steven Harrod Buhner, who is termed a “world renowned herbalist and researcher. Buhner created a “coronavirus protocol specifically for the Wuhan outbreak.” This included loose leaf boneset tea, with very specific instructions: 1 cup 6 times per day for acute dosage, followed by 2 cups 4 times per day for chronic dosage. Nope.
- Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd: Essentially snake oil. On to the United Kingdom. This company claims that there are essential oils to protect against coronavirus, not to mention influenza A and B, parainfluenza, herpes simplex, and polio. (Hold your ears, Drs. Salk and Sabin). Yes, there was one chicken study published ten years ago looking at virucidal nature of oils against a type of coronavirus, but there is no evidence that this has been tried successfully in humans. They go on to list the most powerful anti-virus essential oils to provide defense against coronavirus. They list 23, in alphabetical order, from Basil to Thyme. Perhaps they can connect with Herbal Amy and make a lovely pasta dish.
- GuruNanda, LLC. We knew there had to be a California-based company in the bunch. And here it is. From Buena Park, California, GuruNanda goes for the more science-y sounding claim touting essential oils: “Essential oils might interfere with virion envelopment, designed for entry into host cells. Possible mechanisms of action include the inhibition of virus replication by hindering cellular DNA polymerase and alteration in phenylproponoid pathways.” So….coronavirus is an RNA virus.
- Xephyr, LLC: Cozy at-home therapy. Along with Jim Bakker and Colloidal Vitality, Xephyr, based in Atoka, Oklahoma, claims that coronavirus has an at-home prevention and therapy. You guessed it— colloidal silver, with varying doses, to both prevent and treat coronavirus infections. (at home!).
What’s with all the silver? Colloidal silver consists of silver particles in liquid form that has for years claimed to be a potent, healthful dietary supplement. This dates back to alchemists, who associated silver with the mind and the moon, which later led to the lunar-derived term, lunatic. The wealthy of years past would ingest silver simply by licking their silver spoons. This would turn their skin to a blue tint, known today as argyria. The term ‘blue blooded’ stems from this phenomenon. While there is no evidence that it is beneficial, it can be harmful.