“Mega Oxygen boosts the Oxygen Levels in the body,” claims the description of a video posted on Facebook. The video suggests that the capsules can cure Covid-19.
The product contains magnesium peroxide, an antiseptic and bleaching agent. This has harmful side effects and can be dangerous when taken with iron supplements.
The product will not increase oxygen levels in the body. And an expert dismissed the claim that it cures Covid-19 as “nonsense”.
In the 22-minute video, people talk about how they were sick with Covid-19 and took Mega Oxygen. Many of them attribute their recovery to the product.
South Africa is currently experiencing its third wave of Covid-19 infections. The government and advocacy organisations have raised alarm about a shortage of oxygen and oxygen delivery equipment for patients.
Concerns about a lack of oxygen could lead people to seek alternative treatment. But medical experts told Africa Check the claims about the product were false and its ingredients could be dangerous.
Magnesium peroxide ‘poses more risk than benefit’
Mega Oxygen’s ingredients include “Magnesium Peroxide, Vitamin C, Hypoxis (African potato), Sutherlandia (cancer bush) and Selenium”. Magnesium peroxide is a white powder used as an antiseptic and bleaching agent. A bottle of 90 capsules retails for R270 (US$18.90).
The Oxygen Products website advises: “When Mega Oxygen is taken with water, the capsule shells break down in the digestive system exposing the contents to water. Magnesium peroxide; once in contact with water, releases oxygen at a controlled rate.”
Pharmaceutical sciences professor Mahmoud Soliman, head of the molecular bio-computation and drug design laboratory at South Africa’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, warned that the capsules could be dangerous. He said there was not enough research into the safety and long-term effects of magnesium peroxide.
He added that available scientific evidence showed that magnesium peroxide “poses more risk than benefit”.
Soliman directed Africa Check to a product safety summary which warned that “magnesium peroxide can cause numerous adverse effects including: bloating, belching, abdominal pain, irritation of the mouth and throat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea”.
In the video, a woman says she feels “nauseous” after taking the capsule. “When I eat then it felt like I was going to the toilet.”
Soliman backed this up. “If the proposed formulation was taken with supplements or meals that have iron, dangerous reactive free radicals will be produced,” he said. He added that this “messes up the normal gastric pH”.
‘This is a nonsense product’
Many people in the video claim that their recovery from Covid-19 was due to Mega Oxygen. One man says in Afrikaans: “Hoekom ek oorleef, is as gevolg van oxygen.” This translates as: “The reason I survived is because of oxygen”.
“We don’t even know if they had Covid-19, and the vast majority do have it get better anyway,” he said.
“This is a nonsense product. It’s the ‘chicken soup theory’. It is comforting to believe that something readily available will cure you.”
Patients requiring oxygen should seek medical help
“None of these ingredients can do anything to increase oxygen levels in the blood,” said Richards. He explained that oxygen is delivered to the body by haemoglobin, an oxygen-carrying protein, in the blood.
When this happens a patient will require “life-saving” medical oxygen. This oxygen is taken from the air and concentrated, often in a cylinder. Patients receive medical oxygen through face masks or tubes in the nose or windpipe.
“The main symptoms of low oxygen are chest pain and difficulty with breathing,” Prof Shabir Madhi, director of the Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, told South African news website TimesLive.
Madhi said you should immediately seek medical assistance if you experience any of these symptoms, start feeling dizzy or take “more than 20 breaths per minute”.
Conclusion: Mega oxygen won’t cure Covid-19 or increase oxygen levels
But medical experts said scientific evidence did not support the claim. They warned that the capsules could have dangerous side-effects, especially if they are taken with other supplements.
People experiencing low oxygen levels and shortness of breath should immediately seek medical advice. Don’t be fooled by unproven and potentially dangerous treatments.
We rate this claim as incorrect.
Correction: A previous version of this report stated that Prof Mahmoud Soliman was the dean of health sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He is the head of the molecular bio-computation and drug design laboratory. We apologise for the error.