Modern versions of the panacea, the mythical remedy sought by ancient alchemists to alleviate diseases, are available on the Internet. In the absence of a drug proven to cure Covid-19, many treatments lacking any scientific basis have emerged which promise to magically remedy the disease.
These are products with supposed quasi-universal healing properties, but none of them have shown full efficacy against SARS-CoV-2.
The risk is huge because these new elixirs do not have any experimental support. What’s more, they can be not only useless but also harmful to people’s health.
Paola Castillo Juárez, research professor at the Virology Laboratory of the National School of Biological Sciences (ENCB) at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), explains the dangers of these products in an interview for Tec Review.
1. Chlorine dioxide
On social media, it is also called a “Miracle Mineral Solution”. It is a product that has been publicized for years as a cure for various diseases.
In a statement, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned of the following:
“Chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including Covid-19, but these products continue to be sold as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions, despite their harmful effects.”
Websites selling chlorine dioxide products typically describe the product as a liquid that is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water.
It is also often used, on an industrial scale, to lower the level of certain water-based pathogens, doing the same job as solutions commercially sold as “chlorine”.
“This compound is used for water treatment. Even in that case, care must be taken to use the correct amount so that there are minimal residues left in the water before it is released,” said Castillo Juárez.
According to the scientist, when the amount of the product administered to humans is not controlled, it can lead to severe organ damage.
“People don’t realize that different chlorine ions are released when this substance is used, which can remain in the lungs, affecting breathing capacity.”
“It can also have an impact on the brain because it causes damage to neuronal tissue which leads to cognitive problems. So, people should not expose themselves to this substance, even in the smallest amounts,” added Castillo.
2. Nanocitrus drops
A popular version of this product, called Gasdem B, is sold online. It’s a 30 ml dropper bottle and is advertised as a food supplement with nanocitrus particulates. This means small particles of citric acid, the same acid that gives limes their characteristic flavor.
It’s one of the substances used in western medicine which alleviates symptoms but does not cure infectious diseases. In a statement, the World Health Organization (WHO) explains it as follows:
“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of mild Covid-19, there are no medicines that have been shown to prevent or cure the disease.”
Castillo mentions that the use of nanoparticles to cure Covid-19 has no scientific basis. There is no academic article confirming the efficacy of this treatment.
“The most that can be said about these drops is that they contain vitamin D, some citrus, and flavonoids. So, it’s just like putting a few drops of lime juice on the virus. They’re basically useless,” says the researcher.
This product is similar to a natural hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It is scientifically proven to treat certain skin disorders, as well as severe allergies, asthma, and some types of cancer.
Castillo mentions that, in the case of Covid-19, dexamethasone has provided some good results, but only in severe cases.
“Yes, an improvement has been seen, but only in seriously ill patients. That is to say, in patients who are about to die. However, it is not recommended for onset or mild cases of coronavirus infection. It’s a last resort treatment,” the scientist clarifies.
This academic also points out that if dexamethasone is not used properly, it can cause not only headaches and vomiting, but also glaucoma, blindness, and severe hormonal imbalance.
It is better to stay calm and think objectively
The scientist recommends that you should first visit a doctor for the treatment of any disease and, above all, not self-medicate because there are many side effects unknown to non-experts.
What’s more, Castillo says that, in the face of so much misinformation online, you should remain impartial and consult serious scientific sources before seeking any treatment, whether alternative or those based on established medicine.
“I understand that not everyone has access to information. Not everyone is able to read or interpret a scientific article, but they can speak to people who can,” concludes the academic.