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Boost your immune system while avoiding quack cures

Does anything help defend against COVID-19?
Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 18:58:54-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources, frequently asked questions and more here.

While standing in that epic line in the grocery store in recent days, you may have seen the National Enquirer headline shouting “Coronavirus Cures Finally Found!”

If that’s true, why are we all fighting over toilet paper and staying home?

The reality is that doctors say there is no known cure for the novel coronavirus.

Dr. Carl Fichtenbaum, Infectious Disease Specialist at the University of Cincinnati, is very blunt about hopes of miracle cures.

“It is not clear there is any supplement or anything you can do that will protect you from coronavirus,” he told us.

The Federal Trade Commission is now going after quack cures popping up online, recently shutting down Reverend Jim Bakker’s ads for Silver Solution Gels, which claimed to be effective against the virus.

The New York Attorney General has ordered Alex Jones of Infowars to stop selling "coronavirus treatments."

The FTC has also halted advertising for seven other claimed cures, but like a game off Whack-a-Mole, they continue to pop up.

Supplements to help your immune system

Doctors and pharmacists are telling customers that there is nothing proven to prevent coronavirus. However, they say there are some supplements you can take that may be able to boost your immune system.

Andrea Allen was stocking up on some natural supplements at Clifton Natural Foods, a longtime Cincinnati health food store.

“I am adding this along with Vitamin C," she said.

Manager Bob Craig has seen a flood of new customers in recent weeks, all hoping to find something to help strengthen their immunity.

But he warns all of them that he is not hawking anything as coronavirus prevention.

“I don’t want to give anybody false hopes,” Craig said. “The best we can do is help you get your body healthy enough so that if something comes along, it can fend it off.”

To that end, he shows customers his large selection of herbal teas and natural multivitamins that boost overall health.

His store's biggest seller? Good old Vitamin C.

“The experts suggest large doses of vitamin C, simple as that,” he said.

Vitamin D is another possible immune booster, as is elderberry, which Craig sells in syrup and gummi form.

"You can’t go wrong with it,” he said.

Exercise, meditation, and rest

Others suggest adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Kristyn Worley and Melissa Kidd own a wellness center called LifePath in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky.

They sell natural vitamin supplements and oils, and to ease stress teach yoga classes in a converted church in the hills above the Ohio River. They say exercise is key to strengthening your immune system.

“We recommend daily exercise, something as simple as 15 to 30 minutes getting your heart rate up every day,” Worley said. “Resting and managing our stress is important as well."

While they too say they have no proven cures, they feel exercise and meditation, along with supplements, can strengthen the body.

“Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of liquids, keep yourself eating right, do the right things,” she said.

Bottom line: exercise, get rest, eat your vegetables and take vitamins. Mom was probably right all along.

And that way you don’t waste your money.

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