CLAIM: A WhatsApp broadcast message (likely from a Nigerian who lives in the United States) has been circulating in Nigeria with claim that the steam from boiled Uda (Negro Pepper), Uziza (Benja Black Pepper), Lime and ginger can cure Coronavirus.
Part of the message reads, Nwunye dim’s (my sister-in-law’s) younger sister is a nurse in New York City and she contracted COVID-19. While she was waiting for her test result, she gave the virus to her husband and kids. Because hospital bed wasn’t available, she had to be treated at home. Her husband boiled Uda, Uziza, Lime and ginger, covered her with a towel and she inhaled the steam. Right now, they are all coronavirus free. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼buy Uda, Uziza, Lime and ginger and keep in the house just in case because it work’’.
The message has been shared among Nigerians on WhatsApp targeting those from South Eastern part of the country.
In times of an epidemic such as the current global health battle the world is facing, people out of anxiety and fear can easily result to self-medication as their human instinct for survival is activated.
While this steam therapy is rumoured among Nigerians, especially from Igbo speaking areas, to have various curative effect, it has not been scientifically proven that it can cure Coronavirus.
In traditional Igbo culture, the use of such combinations that include Uda and Uziza as outlined in the message is believed to treat various forms of ailments and conditions including post-natal care.
Also, a wide range of pharmacological properties have been linked to various members of the citrus species, ranging from antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-typhoid, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiulcer and hypo-lipidemic.
The peels of the citrus fruits, especially grapefruit, lime and lemon which researchers say are rich in flavonoid glycosides, polyphenols and volatile oils have been used in several cultures for weight control, amongst other pharmacological uses. However, there is no research to show that it is anti-viral and if it is effective against COVID-19.
Coronavirus is a new virus and research is ongoing across the globe to determine how best to prevent, cure and even get people vaccinated against the virus. The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organisation has maintained that there is no approved single drug or therapy that cures the disease yet. At best, confirmed cases of those who show symptoms are managed in medical facilities until the virus life span is elapsed without causing damage to the host.
According to Mr Martins Ekor, a Nigerian pharmacologist, the general perception that herbal remedies or drugs are very safe and devoid of adverse effects is not only untrue, but also misleading.
Ekor told the Tribune that: “Herbs have been shown to be capable of producing a wide range of undesirable or adverse reactions some of which are capable of causing serious injuries, life-threatening conditions, and even death.’’
As the time of writing this report, Nigeria confirmed 14 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of people who have been tested with the virus to 65, as at 8.35 pm on Thursday, March 26, 2020.
According to the NCDC, 12 cases were in Lagos state while the remaining two were discovered in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Out of the 14 cases, six were detected on a vessel, three were said to be returning travellers and one had a close contact with a confirmed case.
The claim that a combination of boiled Uda, Uziza, Lime and ginger can cure Coronavirus has not been scientifically proven. The WHO and the NCDC have advised against self-medication; whether through the use of drugs or herbs as such use may compound a patient’s medical history or lead to life-threatening conditions and even death.