Fact Check: Steam From Boiling Orange Concoction Will NOT Kill COVID-19

Hoax Alert

  • by: Gita Smith
Fact Check: Steam From Boiling Orange Concoction Will NOT Kill COVID-19 Doesn't Work

Will inhaling the steam from boiling orange peels with garlic, onions and salt kill COVID-19 in your body? No, this is false. Lead Stories already debunked an earlier version of the orange-peel steam recipe. There's currently no cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and several home remedies circulating on the internet are bogus.

Lead Stories talked to a pulmonary critical care physician who quickly shot down the orange-peel claim, which appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook by Shamaine Sam on April 7, 2020. It had over 33,000 shares, and it opened:

It's a Caribbean ting ...Orange peel, Onions, Garlic and Salt boiled... stand over it for 10-15 minutes while it boils, let the steam go into your body THIS HELPS KILL ANY VIRUSES."

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

"That is absolute nonsense," said Dr. David Thrasher, a pulmonary critical care physician affiliated with Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama. "There is zero evidence that steam from boiling orange peels, onions and garlic affects COVID-19."

Asked why people may believe the claim, he added:

Maybe because flu viruses die down in hot, humid summer. They think steam will do the same."

Previous claims include one (archived here) by Steven Earnest, which was published on Facebook 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!!!"

Other debunked home remedies include drinking freshly boiled garlic water, drinking lemon juice with bicarbonate of soda, and eating a high alkaline diet.

Lead Stories reported on March 23, 2020, that herbal home remedies would not ward off the novel coronavirus. University of Melbourne Professor of Virology Damian Purcell told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation this:

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.

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.


  Gita Smith

Gita Smith covered news for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Montgomery Advertiser, and she wrote/edited medical newsletters for American Health Consultants at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic when clear, factual information was as needed. 

For a time, she taught in Auburn University’s journalism department and ran the History-Geography lab at Alabama State University, where she taught students to write research papers . She believes the following to be true: The power of the free press may appear to be a weak reed to lean on, but it separates democracies from juntas.

Read more about or contact Gita Smith

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