A viral message falsely claiming that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has approved a mixture of black pepper powder, honey and ginger juice as a cure for the novel coronavirus is doing the rounds on social media.
But there is no truth to this message and while honey and ginger may have soothing effects, there is no evidence that they can cure COVID-19.
According to the viral message, an Indian student from Pondicherry University has discovered this home remedy for COVID-19, which has also been accepted by WHO. The cure is apparently a combination of one tablespoon of black pepper powder, two tablespoons of honey and some ginger juice, which if taken for five days, can ‘suppress’ the effects of coronavirus.
The Quint received a query from a reader about the validity of the claims made in the message.
While we could not find the exact origin of the message, we found that it has been circulating on Twitter since 11 June.
The message was also viral on Facebook.
We also found the message being shared on Reddit.
WHAT’S THE TRUTH?
Many such messages with claims about natural home remedies having the ability to cure COVID-19 have been doing the rounds since the pandemic broke. However, as before, none of these have been proved to be effective in curing COVID-19. Further, there is still no approved cure for the novel coronavirus and the world is still waiting for vaccines to be developed and approved.
In fact, WHO had in April 2020, denied that ginger and honey have any effect in curing or treating the disease. Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said that while it could have soothing effects, or even provide reassurance during an illness, it should not be assumed to be effective in treating COVID-19.
“I think we have to be careful from what we would consider to be the traditional remedies that people use for making themselves feel better during the common cold or the flu or any of this. We’ve all had illnesses, and some of us like to take a drink with honey, some like to take ginger...But it’s a different thing to say that something is effective in treating the disease. At this moment there is no therapy that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19.”Dr Michael Ryan
WHO also denied that such a cure for COVID-19 has been approved by the organisation at all. “This is fake news and WHO has not approved any such home remedy to cure COVID-19,” WHO officials told The Quint.
DOCTORS ADVISE AGAINST SELF MEDICATION
Further, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital said that there was no medical basis or evidence to state that either of these elements could cure COVID-19.
“They might soothe the symptoms, they might in some way be immuno-boosters, but in no way do they treat the infection in itself. Once you’ve had the infection, they don’t treat it. They have no definite proven role in the treatment of coronavirus,” Dr Chatterjee said.
Dr Sumit Ray, a critical care specialist in Delhi NCR also told The Quint that there was no evidence that these kind of cures can help in either stopping or recovering from coronavirus.
“Earlier, in pandemics when there was not much medical management, solutions like these were like a solace to people. But at present, there is fairly good medical management which can improve outcomes, so trying to do these and not actually approaching healthcare facilities for the disease could be counter-productive,” Dr Ray said.
While black pepper and honey have antimicrobial properties, according to the USA’s National Institutes of Health, the latter has been considered a good alternative for antiviral drugs for the treatment of some viral infections.
There is currently a study taking place in the USA, in which investigators are trying to determine the efficacy of natural honey in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, but no conclusion has been reached yet.
Further, while ginger is known to be a natural treatment to boost immunity, it is not a cure for the novel coronavirus.
(Update: This story has been updated to include a quote from WHO.)
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