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Covid-19 'cures'? Don't try these at home

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From downing silver potions to cow urine, here are seven dodgy Covid-19 cures people have tried, often at their own peril.

Do not attempt these at home.


VIOLET LEAF OIL

Condemning Western medicine as "un-Islamic", Iranian cleric Ayatollah Tabrizian prescribed his alternative: Before bedtime, drench some cotton in violet oil and apply onto your anus.

Mr Tabrizian, who is from the city of Qom, believes the oil to be miraculous. According to The New Arab newspaper, he has also claimed that it can reverse Down Syndrome.

COW URINE AND DUNG About 200 people gathered in New Delhi on March 14 to drink to the city's health - with earthen cups of cow urine.

In the Hindu-majority country, cows are considered sacred and some hail their urine as cures to ailments such as arthritis and asthma.

Ms Suman Haripriya, an assembly member of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, also suggested that cow dung and urine could help cure the coronavirus.

This claim was debunked by the Indian Virological Society's Dr Shailendra Saxena, who told the BBC: "There is no medical evidence to show that cow urine has anti-viral characteristics." It is also a potential danger as "bovine faecal matter could contain a coronavirus which might replicate in humans".

SILVER SOLUTION

In just 12 hours, certain strains of the coronavirus could be "eliminated" by a drinkable silver solution, claimed a guest "natural health expert" on the American television programme The Jim Bakker Show. The guest was hosted by televangelist James Bakker, who had previously been convicted of fraud in 1989.

According to CBS News, the show had been selling the Silver Sol and Optivida Silver Solution on its website since last month.

Sales stopped after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the show a warning letter for "fraudulent prevention and treatment claims".

BLEACH COCKTAIL

In January, a bleach cocktail was touted as a solution to the coronavirus outbreak on social media.

American YouTuber Jordan Sather, among other far-right conspiracy theorists, suggested that the 28 per cent sodium chlorite and distilled water mixture is deadly to pathogens but safe for humans.

Business Insider reported that consumers were told to "activate" the product by mixing in citric acids such as lemon juice.

After receiving reports of people suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea, low blood pressure and acute liver failure after drinking it, the FDA warned the public against the "dangerous industrial bleach".

COCAINE

A doctored headline claiming that cocaine kills the coronavirus caused such a frenzy on the French Internet that public health officials had to crack down on it.

In a Twitter post on March 8, the country's Ministry of Solidarity and Health wrote: "No, cocaine does not protect against Covid-19. It's an addictive drug that causes serious adverse and harmful effects."

GARLIC

Posts saying eating raw garlic "could help" against the coronavirus have been making their rounds on social media.

A woman in Tiantai County in China's Zhejiang Province ate such copious amounts that she lost her ability to speak and had to seek hospital treatment for an inflamed throat. Over two weeks, she consumed about 16 bulbs, or 1.5kg, the South China Morning Post reported.

On Feb 2, the World Health Organisation took to Twitter to debunk the myth, stating: "Garlic is a healthy food that may have some antimicrobial properties. However, there is no evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from 2019-nCoV."

HOT AIR UP THE NOSE

"There's a lot of baloney out there on social media," said Florida County Commissioner Bryant Culpepper at a meeting on March 20, shortly after claiming that one can kill the coronavirus by holding a hairdryer to one's nostrils and inhaling the hot air.

He theorised that nasal passages and membranes are the "coolest part of your body", so viruses settle there before entering the lungs. They can be eliminated by applying heat, he said.

The following day, Mr Culpepper responded to criticism by saying he would not offer any more suggestions "unless they are tried and proven". He said he had wanted only to "give comfort" to citizens who did not have health insurance to treat their families, reported USA Today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 29, 2020, with the headline 'Covid-19 'cures'? Don't try these at home'. Print Edition | Subscribe