A video of a man is being widely shared, in which he advises viewers to snort small amounts of dry ginger powder through their nostrils in order to fight COVID-19, amid the rising spread of the Omicron variant. The man claims that he follows the practice twice a day and has distributed many packets of the powder to others.
Social media users are sharing this nearly two-minute long video, claiming that the man speaking in the video is reputed pulmonologist Dr Zarir Udwadia, thus adding a sense of credibility to the claim.
But the person in the video is not Dr Udwadia. The Quint reached out to Dr Arvind Kumar, Founder and Managing Trustee of the Lung Care Foundation, who said that the claim had no scientific basis, and could actually be dangerous to a person.
The claim is being widely shared on social media, where users are identifying the man in the video as expert pulmonologist Dr Zarir Udwadia.
WHAT WE FOUND OUT
First, we looked up Dr Zarir Udwadia and found that he is a chest physician in multiple reputed hospitals in Mumbai. Dr Udwadia is also one of the 11 doctors who make up Maharashtra's dedicated task force to fight COVID-19.
We conducted a keyword search to check whether Dr Udwadia had made any such statements, and did not find any relevant results. We compared a screenshot of the man in the video to a photograph of Dr Udwadia, which we found on his website, and found that the man was not Dr Udwadia.
We also came across a video streamed live on the Bombay Medical Association's channel which featured Dr Zarir Udiadwala. He spoke about the Omicron variant and COVID-19 in the near future. Dr Udiadwala's presentation starts near the 15-minutes-23-seconds mark in this video.
Ginger Versus COVID-19
Next, we tried to verify whether the ginger or ginger powder could be used to successfully combat or ‘cure’ infections caused by the coronavirus. The WebQoof team had debunked a similar claims during the early days of the pandemic, which claimed that ginger, pepper, and honey could suppress COVID-19.
Back in April 2020, World Health Organization (WHO) had denied that the combination had any effect in treating or curing infections caused by the virus. At a press conference in Geneva, executive director of WHO Health Emergencies Program Dr Michael Ryan said that it should not be assumed to be effective in treating the coronavirus.
Dr Ryan noted that such traditional remedies might have soothing effects during common colds and influenza, but it was a "different thing to say that something is effective in treating the disease."
Health Desk, a COVID-19 resource for journalists made available by health experts, also notes that ginger is often prescribed as a supplement to help with nausea and may help people feel better when sick.
However, it adds that it “does not mean that these items cure or treat disease. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that ginger will prevent, treat or cure COVID-19.”
Dr Kumar told us that such claims have been doing the rounds since the first wave of the coronavirus.
"These things have no scientific basis and putting anything into the nose may actually be dangerous for the person who does it."Dr Arvind Kumar
He added that ginger has no local effect. "People will take a large amount and shove the whole thing into the nose. It might lead to blockage of nose, aspiration of some pieces into the windpipe and all kinds of damages," he said.
What About Infections and pH Levels?
In the video, the gentleman says that dry ginger is alkaline and has a high pH value, and upon ingestion “instantly” kills infections, which “are acidic and have low pH.” While debunking a similar claim in 2020, we spoke to Dr Shaheed Jameel, a virologist, who rubbished the claim saying, “The relation between alkaline foods and coronavirus is totally baseless.”
Health Desk too confirmed this, stating that since the novel coronavirus is not a water-based solution, it does not have a pH value.
The platform adds that the claim originates from a 1991 research paper that studied a different kind of coronavirus in mice and rats and does not apply to humans.
Clearly, leading pulmonologist Dr Zarir Udwadia did not suggest snorting dry ginger powder to combat COVID-19. Such practices not only lack scientific backing, but can also be dangerous to one's health.