CNN anchor Chris Cuomo's wife, Cristina, tested positive for COVID-19 and has since recovered. But she revealed on her blog that she used some unconventional methods in her road to recovery that are raising concerns in the medical community.
In the post, Cuomo revealed that she took Clorox baths and used vitamin drips, among other things, to try to speed up her recovery. She wrote that a doctor who makes house calls came to her house in “a hazmat outfit and 3M mask” to administer the vitamin drip, which she says included vitamin C, magnesium, folic acid, and zinc.
Cuomo also detailed how she took bleach baths, adding "½ cup ONLY of Clorox" to her regular baths to help "combat the radiation and metals in my system and oxygenate it."
"We want to neutralize heavy metals because they slow-up the electromagnetic frequency of our cells, which is our energy field, and we need a good flow of energy," she wrote.
The timing of Cuomo’s post is interesting, given that President Donald Trump speculated during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing that injecting disinfectants into the body could help kill COVID-19.
"Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?" the president said after William Bryan, a scientist at the Department of Homeland Security, spoke about how sunlight and disinfectants can kill coronavirus on surfaces within 30 seconds. "Because you see, it gets on the lungs, and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. It would be interesting to check that. That you’re gonna have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see.” (Trump has since claimed he was speaking sarcastically following resounding criticism of his suggestion from health experts.)
Cuomo appeared to anticipate disagreement over her post. She included a message “for those who disapprove of my trial-and-error efforts and my investment to keep myself strong and healthy: ‘Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,’ said Martin Luther King Jr.,” she wrote.
Still, doctors warn that these alternative treatments and treatment ideas are all based on theory, not fact. “None of them have been proven, and some are dangerous,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life.
Here’s what you need to know about each.
For starters, don’t try any of this at home.
There is “no evidence” that vitamin supplementation of any kind will help with recovery from COVID-19, infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Yahoo Life. “Obviously, it’s a different story if you’re vitamin deficient but, for the average person who follows a regular diet, there is no evidence that vitamin supplementation will change the course of COVID-19,” Adalja says.
Adalja says that there’s “especially no evidence for vitamin drips.” Vitamin drips, which involve giving a patient a concentrated dose of vitamins through an IV, can be dangerous with a COVID-positive patient, Adalja says. Hospitals are currently encouraging patients who have contracted the virus to try to take any medication by mouth so that medical staff isn’t exposed to the virus when installing an IV, he explains. “Having a physician come to your house to administer a worthless IV drip doesn’t make sense to me,” he adds. “We’re not even doing that in hospitals for medications that people actually could use.”
Vitamin drips aren’t a harmless procedure for patients, either, Dr. Diane Calello, the executive medical director of New Jersey Poison Control at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Yahoo Life. “Vitamin drips, just like oral vitamins, have not been proven to treat or prevent any viral infection,” she says. “This is also true of COVID-19. Injection of vitamins, or anything without proven benefit, can cause adverse health effects and can be dangerous.”
Vitamin drips can also lead to toxicity if they’re administered in too-high doses, especially if fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K are used, Jamie Alan, an assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Bleach baths are unlikely to do anything, either, and may even be harmful.
As a whole, disinfectants like bleach can be harmful if they’re applied to the skin, Alan says. “They are more dangerous to use on broken skin, but can potentially be harmful on intact skin, especially at high concentrations,” she says.
Diluted bleach baths have been used by medical practitioners before — they just aren’t recommended for patients with COVID-19, Dr. Richard Watkins, an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Yahoo Life. “Bleach baths are useful for patients with recurrent skin infections, such as from MRSA,” he says. “COVID-19 is a respiratory pathogen, so taking a bleach bath is not beneficial for it.”
Adalja agrees. “There is no evidence that taking a Clorox bath is helpful for COVID-19,” he says. “It’s unlikely to do anything.” Schaffner also says that even bleach baths that are done to combat MRSA and other skin conditions have to be done under strict conditions. “You have to be meticulous to make sure the concentration is not too high. You can get a burn if you exposure yourself to too-high a concentration,” he says.
Doctors aren’t impressed with Cuomo’s comments about the baths helping with energy fields, either. “Energy fields and magnetism are not recognized as legitimate concepts by mainstream medical practitioners in 2020,” Watkins says. “Nonsensical things of this nature were commonly believed in the 1800s, which was before most people understood valid scientific concepts and scientific knowledge was much more limited.”
Doctors stress that people should not use disinfectants as a form of alternative medicine.
Lysol maker Reckitt Benckiser issued a warning on its website following the president’s coronavirus task for a briefing on Thursday that said the company “must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."
“Taken orally, these agents can be very dangerous,” Alan says of disinfectants. “Depending on the agent used, when ingested you can have esophageal and GI irritation and burns, blindness, damage to cell membranes, and even death.” Inhaling chlorine gas, which can come from bleach, “can also be very dangerous,” Alan says, noting that it can lead to lung irritation and injury.
“These are toxic chemicals that are not meant for ingestion or bodily exposure,” Adalja says. “They’re useful for surface cleaning but should not be used as medication.”
Schaffner agrees. “Absolutely do not take disinfectants internally in any way,” he says.
So, how should you treat COVID-19?
Supportive care is best for more minor cases of the virus, Adalja says. That includes taking medication like acetaminophen if you happen to develop a fever, resting and staying well hydrated. You may even be able to get some relief from breathing difficulties and coughing if you lie on your stomach for a period of time, Schaffner says. And, if your symptoms worsen, make sure to call your doctor.
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.
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