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No, breathing steam from boiling orange or lemon peels doesn’t cure or prevent coronavirus

A video shared on WhatsApp claims heating orange peels to boiling point and breathing in the steam can prevent the new coronavirus.

In the video, a woman shows how to make the mixture. She says you must “inhale the steam because from what we have heard, coronavirus enters through the nose, which is really cold, colder than other parts of the body” because “it has been scientifically proven that the virus cannot stand the heat, so the longer you sit around this steam the more your nose gets heated and the more chances of the virus dying”.

She also claims that you could boil lime or lemon peels, garlic or onions instead of orange peels, but that you should add salt to the mixture, and also warns that the procedure is “really hot”. 

Similar videos have been shared on Facebook. As Africa Check has been reporting, there is not yet a cure or vaccine for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. So is there any truth to the claims about inhaling steam? 

Steam doesn’t kill coronavirus

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no way to increase your body temperature to kill the coronavirus. 

“Your normal body temperature remains around 36.5°C to 37°C, regardless of the temperature” of the steam you breathe, or the hot bath or shower you take, the WHO says.

And Isaiah Nnanna Ibeh, a professor of microbiology and medical laboratory science at the University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria, told Africa Check: “There is no research or specific data to prove this is a cure or a way to prevent the virus from getting into the body. 

“Lemons … can aid with the respiratory system, but there is no scientific proof of this effect [on the coronavirus] yet. The disease can be contracted if the virus enters through the nose and the mouth,” Ibeh said.

This confirms advice from the WHO on how to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. 

It says you should wash your hands frequently, maintain at least one metre distance between yourself and someone who is sneezing or coughing, avoid touching your face, and cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze.

Lawrence Chigbu, a professor of medical microbiology at Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria, told Africa Check that while it is “possible” that the use of citrus will help with the symptoms of Covid-19, “there are no documented studies to prove that yet”. 

He repeated that this is a new disease, so research and trials are ongoing. – Jennifer Ojugbeli


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