First Check found videos encouraging unscientific cures of COVID-19 on YouTube in Bengali – a language mostly spoken in West Bengal state of India and Bangladesh.
By Sista Mukherjee
Two YouTube videos promoting unproven COVID-19 cures in Bengali language are gaining popularity and have been shared widely. These claims have been debunked in English but they have resurfaced in Bengali language. First Check team skimmed through various YouTube channels in Bengali language this week and found videos claiming consuming a concoction of spices and inhaling hot water vapours can cure COVID-19. The claims are false and have been fact-checked here and here.
In the video, the anchor claims to be an Indian Bengali, who lives in China. He claims “if someone is tested positive for COVID-19 in China now, they are no longer sent to the hospital as coronavirus can be cured by drinking hot milk, hot tea, and hot water regularly and by frequently inhaling hot water vapours. Given this treatment for four days in a row and the person is tested negative in five days.”
Inhaling steam is a traditional remedy to treat colds, but there is little evidence that it is effective. The World Health Organisation has refuted claims that heat can prevent or treat COVID-19 including sunny weather, hot baths and hand dryers.
Another video in Bengali language claims that there is no medicine in big countries but there are some natural formulas and herbal remedies from which we can get the expected results. It goes on to claim that “one can build immunity against coronavirus at home with some easily available ingredients like black cumin seeds, clove, black pepper, cardamom and cinnamon”. It further instructs users to make a powder of the ingredients and eat three to four times a day. It also advises “mix lemon juice, bay leaves, the bark of Arjuna tree with water and takes the steam three to four times a day”.
We debunked similar claims which promoted drinking concoctions of spices at the start of the pandemic which can be checked here. To verify if there has been any development since then, we contacted our fact check member Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, Associate Professor at AIIMS Bhopal. He said, “there is no published scientific proof in approved databases that black cumin seeds, clove, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, lemon juice, bay leaves or bark of Arjuna trees can prevent/ treat Coronavirus infection in human beings”.
Dr. Kumar further explained that home cures may cause harm, “so many spices together may likely cause erosion of food-pipe (esophagus) even in single doses. We have seen such patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic who reported injuries to their food-pipes due to consistent use of these home remedies”.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, there have been many posts, videos, text and messages promoting one false cure or another. To stay aware, a list recommending practices and advice can be found on the WHO website here.