What works and doesn’t once you have Covid-19

There is no specific medication or vaccine for Covid-19, but there are a few suggested home remedies for patients with or without underlying diseases, says public health medicine specialist Dr Atiya Mosam.

It has been nine months since South Africa recorded its first Covid-19 case and the vaccine is still far from hitting our shores. Those who test positive are inundated with information about what can help them during the time they have quarantined at home.

Some home remedies include drinking umhlonyane (Artemisia afra), hot baths, steaming and using vodka to wash hands – none have been scientifically proven to help with Covid-19, though.

Some people swear by vitamin C and zinc supplements. And don’t forget eucalyptus, which was flying off shelves recently.

But this is the advice from real specialists. 


Dr Mosam says the best thing to do after contracting the virus is to consult a doctor for more information. She said people struggle with what to use while they are in quarantine and try out anything they can in desperation to recover more quickly.

But the best thing was to relax and continue taking pills for underlying diseases – if any.

“The first thing that needs to be acknowledged is that some of the home treatments can help one feel better, but we really cannot confirm anything that is said to cure Covid-19 right now. Steaming, for example, is like using hot water and that can only help open nasal blockage and pores but not cure Covid-19. It’s a myth.”

“Many people also opt for ginger and lemon to prevent them from getting the virus or helping them heal the virus. But these remedies can only help with flu-like symptoms, as they have been trusted for flu over the years. Too much lemon will build up acid in the body and upset the stomach,” she said.

Dr Mosam says patients should not exercise to avoid straining the lungs and heart. She said symptoms included a dry throat and exercising could only make things worse. She suggests the best treatment is to relax and keep stocking up on Vitamin C if you’re not getting enough from your diet.

Trove Wellness founder Juanita Khumalo agrees patients should not rush into exercising or force themselves to do workouts after testing positive for the virus. She said that exercising put the lungs and heart under pressure, which might cause severe damage to the organs.

She advised patients to consult their doctors before returning to their exercise routines. Once given the go-ahead, they can start by walking around the yard, using the stairs instead of the elevator and consider hiking on short trails – until they are fit and ready for more.

“People tend to think that exercising helps with everything. The truth is it neither cures nor treats Covid-19 but helps to better one’s health in general. Please don’t strain yourselves; it might be suicide.”

The World Health Organisation WHO) says temperatures above 25ºC do not help prevent Covid-19 and neither are hand dryers effective in killing the virus. Human body temperature, under normal circumstances, is around 36.5ºC to 37ºC and taking a warm bath will not raise your body temperature.

According to the WHO, “The best way to protect yourself against Covid-19 is by frequently cleaning your hands. By doing this, you eliminate viruses that may be on your hands and avoid infection that could occur by then touching your eyes, mouth and nose”.

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