Fact Check: Boiled Orange Peels With Cayenne Pepper Are NOT Effective Treatment For Coronavirus

Hoax Alert

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: Boiled Orange Peels With Cayenne Pepper Are NOT Effective Treatment For Coronavirus Not a Cure!

Will boiling orange peels with cayenne pepper help treat or prevent the novel coronavirus? No, that's not true: There's currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and several home remedies circulating on the Internet are bogus. There is no scientific evidence that this formula will help treat the virus.

The claim originated in a post (archived here) published on Facebook by Steven Earnest on March 22, 2020. It opened:

Boil some orange peels wit cayenne pepper in it stand over the pot breathe in the steam so all that mucus can release from yo nasal .... 🙏🏿.... DON NOT SWALLOW ANY MUCUS THATS TRYNA LEAVE YO BODY!!!! Keep BLOWING YOUR NOSE TOO!!! MUCUS is the problem its where THE VIRUS LIVES!!!

Users on social media only saw this:

Facebook screenshot

The post advised that a concoction of boiled orange peels and cayenne pepper would help prevent or treat the coronavirus (the user doesn't specify which).

University of Melbourne Professor of Virology Damian Purcell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that herbal home remedies would not ward off the coronavirus. He said:

It's a risky strategy to believe something works without proper clinical trials and as yet there are no trials focused on examining whether specific herbs would be effective.

This is not to suggest that this orange peel method would not provide some relief to someone suffering from a buildup of mucus, a cold or a sinus infection. However, it is not a medically-approved treatment for COVID-19.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the fake home remedies being shared on social media. It observed:

Officials say that not only do the false claims for cures and tests fuel the national anxiety, they could prevent sick people from seeking the help they need, or discourage healthy people from adopting best practices such as social distancing and washing their hands.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the best way to prevent illness is to avoid close contact with others.

The Facebook post does not offer sound medical advice, and it joins a growing list of online misinformation surrounding the coronavirus. Here are some other fact checks by Lead Stories you may want to check out:

Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

Read more about or contact Ryan Cooper

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