Truth, lies behind herbal remedies for Covid-19

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Two weeks ago, residents of a sleepy village in Kilifi County reportedly drank copious amounts of black tea after they were told it could ward off Covid-19.

From lemon juice to Aloe vera, Neem tree and garlic, many locally available products have been mooted as potential remedies.

Lemon

A few weeks ago, a text was shared more than 40,000 times on social media in Australia, India and South Africa.

The text purportedly from a faculty member at Zanjan University in Iran claimed that drinking warm water with lemon protects one from coronavirus. Experts dismiss this as false.

Director of Abidjan’s Integrated Bioclinical Research Centre Henry Chenal dismissed the claims, saying that a high intake of vitamin C‘‘has never proved effective against coronavirus’’.

Ginger, turmeric and garlic

Dr Elif Samanci, an American food scientist, says that ginger has chemicals that help to fight off colds and deal with stomach problems.

Turmeric contains chemicals that help to relieve pain in the throat and other respiratory organs.

Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which stimulates the release of some immune cells that attack and destroy microbial invaders such as the coronavirus.

A concoction of turmeric, ginger, garlic and honey is said to be particularly effective against fever.

Neem tree leaves

According to the President of the Traditional Medical Practitioners Association Kojo Eduful, inhaling the steam from a concoction of neem leaves has successfully been used in the Ghanaian society to sooth flu, heal coughs and other respiratory ailments for decades.

Scientifically, the neem tree contains zinc that prevents replication of viral cells, allowing immune cells to overwhelm the existing cells.

Aloe vera

A 2017 study by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) observed that aloe-based sanitisers were expensive and ineffective in battling infections.

Even when combined with other active agents such as Ethyl alcohol, aloe vera was found to be the least effective.

Vitamin C

According to an article published by the Harvard Medical School, some hospitals have used high doses of intravenous (IV) Vitamin C on critically ill patients to alleviate the effects of the virus.

There’s, however, no evidence that high amounts of Vitamin C help to cure Covid-19, and it’s “not a standard treatment for this new infection”.

Experts further observe that vitamins are not meant to be used in excessive amounts

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