Our Beacon Forum

Dubious COVID-19 Treatments and Preventives
By:Richard Dawkins Foundation, WDC
Date: Wednesday, 17 June 2020, 5:37 pm

Dubious COVID-19 Treatments and Preventives

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have stated: There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Advertising that a product can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19 without rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims violates the federal FTC Act. Nevertheless, various products and services have been touted as being effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. Most lack a plausible rationale for any potential benefit against COVID-19 or are nonsensical. Some hyped treatments and preventives are known to present hazards. For others, evidence of safety is lacking. Consumers of dubious COVID-19 treatments and preventives waste their money and time.

Hyped treatments and preventives for COVID-19 include:

Dubious COVID-19 Treatments and Preventives

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have stated:

There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Advertising that a product can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19 without rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims violates the federal FTC Act. Nevertheless, various products and services have been touted as being effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. Most lack a plausible rationale for any potential benefit against COVID-19 or are nonsensical. Some hyped treatments and preventives are known to present hazards. For others, evidence of safety is lacking. Consumers of dubious COVID-19 treatments and preventives waste their money and time.

Hyped treatments and preventives for COVID-19 include:

Many chiropractors have been falsely advertising that chiropractic care can boost the immune system and thereby prevent novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infections. During the current pandemic, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) posted reports on its website to buttress those claims. However, more than 140 chiropractic researchers around the globe reviewed those reports and concluded that the ICA provided no valid clinical scientific evidence that chiropractic care can impact the immune system. Their conclusion is consistent with a message to chiropractors from the World Federation of Chiropractic.

The College of Chiropractors of BC, the regulatory body of British Columbia chiropractors, issued a public notice, which states that it is inappropriate for chiropractors to promote treatment or supplements as a means to boost the immune system and imply that this will prevent infection from the novel coronavirus. On April 27, 2020, the president of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario reported that the regulatory body sent 74 cease and desist orders to chiropractors making such claims in their advertising.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to:

Fuller Life Chiropractic (Peachtree City, Georgia) to stop making unsubstantiated claims on its website about raising “Innate Immunity” through chiropractic in order to defend against coronavirus.
Epigenetics Healing Center in Overland Park, Kansas (operated by Jay Goodfinder, D.C.) to stop claiming that intravenous treatments of vitamin C, vitamin D and glutathione and supplements of garlic, pycnogenol, and vitamin B12 are effective against COVID-19.

Mathew Martinez, D.C., who operates the Absolute Health Clinic in Bristol, Washington, to stop advertising that stem cell therapy, intravenous vitamins C and D, and various other “immune-boosting” supplements can treat or protect against COVIUD-19 infections.

Other regulatory actions in the United States have included:

The Oregon Department of Justice secured a consent agreement that prohibited Sandra Johnson, D.C., of Bend Oregon from making promotional claims about products that refer to coronavirus or COVID-19.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas has obtained a temporary restraining order to stop Ray L. Nannis, D.C., d/b/a Optimal Wellness Solutions from advertising that his sublingual homeopathic products can prevent and treat COVID-19 infections.

For more information:

Lindsay B. B.C. chiropractors warned about ‘inappropriate’ claims on COVID-19. CBC News. March 14, 2020.
Bellemare A. Ko J. Nicholson K. Chiropractors told to remove posts claiming their methods boost immune system and prevent COVID-19. CBC News. March 30, 2020.
Barrett S. Chiropractors sparring over immune-boosting claims. Chirobase: Your Skeptical Guide to Chiropractic History, Theories, and Practices (part of the Quackwatch network of websites).

Submitted by William M. London

First published May 26, 2020, last updated May 26, 2020.

Dubious COVID-19 Treatments and Preventives

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission have stated:

There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Advertising that a product can prevent, treat, or cure COVID-19 without rigorous scientific evidence sufficient to substantiate the claims violates the federal FTC Act. Nevertheless, various products and services have been touted as being effective in treating or preventing COVID-19. Most lack a plausible rationale for any potential benefit against COVID-19 or are nonsensical. Some hyped treatments and preventives are known to present hazards. For others, evidence of safety is lacking. Consumers of dubious COVID-19 treatments and preventives waste their money and time.

Hyped treatments and preventives for COVID-19 include:

Many chiropractors have been falsely advertising that chiropractic care can boost the immune system and thereby prevent novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infections. During the current pandemic, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) posted reports on its website to buttress those claims. However, more than 140 chiropractic researchers around the globe reviewed those reports and concluded that the ICA provided no valid clinical scientific evidence that chiropractic care can impact the immune system. Their conclusion is consistent with a message to chiropractors from the World Federation of Chiropractic.

The College of Chiropractors of BC, the regulatory body of British Columbia chiropractors, issued a public notice, which states that it is inappropriate for chiropractors to promote treatment or supplements as a means to boost the immune system and imply that this will prevent infection from the novel coronavirus. On April 27, 2020, the president of the College of Chiropractors of Ontario reported that the regulatory body sent 74 cease and desist orders to chiropractors making such claims in their advertising.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to:

Fuller Life Chiropractic (Peachtree City, Georgia) to stop making unsubstantiated claims on its website about raising “Innate Immunity” through chiropractic in order to defend against coronavirus.
Epigenetics Healing Center in Overland Park, Kansas (operated by Jay Goodfinder, D.C.) to stop claiming that intravenous treatments of vitamin C, vitamin D and glutathione and supplements of garlic, pycnogenol, and vitamin B12 are effective against COVID-19.

Mathew Martinez, D.C., who operates the Absolute Health Clinic in Bristol, Washington, to stop advertising that stem cell therapy, intravenous vitamins C and D, and various other “immune-boosting” supplements can treat or protect against COVIUD-19 infections.

Other regulatory actions in the United States have included:

The Oregon Department of Justice secured a consent agreement that prohibited Sandra Johnson, D.C., of Bend Oregon from making promotional claims about products that refer to coronavirus or COVID-19.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas has obtained a temporary restraining order to stop Ray L. Nannis, D.C., d/b/a Optimal Wellness Solutions from advertising that his sublingual homeopathic products can prevent and treat COVID-19 infections.

For more information:

Lindsay B. B.C. chiropractors warned about ‘inappropriate’ claims on COVID-19. CBC News. March 14, 2020.
Bellemare A. Ko J. Nicholson K. Chiropractors told to remove posts claiming their methods boost immune system and prevent COVID-19. CBC News. March 30, 2020.
Barrett S. Chiropractors sparring over immune-boosting claims. Chirobase: Your Skeptical Guide to Chiropractic History, Theories, and Practices (part of the Quackwatch network of websites).

Submitted by William M. London

First published May 26, 2020, last updated May 26, 2020.

Claims of immune system boosting or support are often made for dietary supplements, but there is no good evidence that any dietary supplements help people fight off or resist infections such as from the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. There is also no good evidence that any dietary supplement product can fight off or resist coronavirus infection through anti-viral activity. Some dietary supplement products promoted for use against COVID-19 have contained ingredients in doses that can be harmful.

Dietary supplements are broadly defined under current federal law. According to the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) dietary supplements include any products that contain at least one of the following: (1) a vitamin, (2) a mineral, (3) an herb or botanical, (4) an amino acid, (5) a dietary substance “for use to supplement the diet by increasing total dietary intake,” or (6) any concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract. Under DSHEA, dietary supplement products go through no premarketing approval process as do new drug products. DSHEA enables dietary supplement marketers to state how their products may influence body structure or function, but such statements must be accompanied by a disclaimer that they have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and that the products are not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Going beyond structure/function claims to disease claims turns dietary supplements into unapproved drugs. There are currently no FDA-approved drug products for preventing or treating COVID-19.

According to the Therapeutic Research Center’s Natural Medicine database, COVID-19-related claims have been made for dietary supplement products said to contain ingredients such as: astragalus, Baikal skullcap, boneset, cannabidiol (CBD), Ceylon cinnamon, colloidal silver, cordyceps, danshen, dong quai, Echinacea, elderberry, fulvic acid, green tea, halotherapy (salt), hu zhang, humic acid, kudzu, licorice, New Jersey tea, rhodiola, quercetin, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamin C, and zinc.

Vitamin D has received significant media attention for being potentially protective against COVID-19, but a protective effect has yet to be established in randomized controlled studies. Researchers have strongly cautioned against both potentially harmful vitamin D supplement doses “(greater than the upper limit of 4000 IU/day (100 µg/day))” and becoming vitamin D deficient.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulatory authority over advertising claims made for dietary supplement products and may take action when claims are deceptive. The FTC and/or the Food and Drug Administration have warned these businesses to stop making unsubstantiated claims that their supplements and herbal treatments can treat or prevent COVID-19:

AcuIntegra, Inc. (Clarksville, Tennessee)
Alkaline for Life at the Center for Better Bones (East Syracuse, New York
Alternativa (United States)
American Chinese Medicine Association Clinic (Aurora, Illinois)
Apollo Holding LLC (United States)
Arbonne International, LLC (Irvine, California)
Ashland Natural Medicine (Ashland, Oregon)
Beatty Acupuncture (Tulsa, Oklahoma)
benjaminmcevoy.com (United States)
Biogetica (Culver City, California)
Blessed Maine Herb Farm (Athens, Maine) Carahealth (Galway Co. Galway, Ireland)
Carlin Creative Concepts LLC (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Center for New Medicine/Perfectly Healthy by Connealy MD (Irvine, California)
Chronic Lyme Treatments (Canada)
Crescent Moon Herbals, LLC (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Dr. Jill Carnahan (Louisville, Colorado)
DrJockers.com, LLC (Acworth, Georgia)
Dr. Adrian Hohenwarter (Palmyra, Pennsylvania)
Dr. Alan Christianson (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Dr. Ronald Hoffman (New York, New York)
Dr. Nuzum’s Nutraceuticals (Meridian, Idaho)
Energy Wellness Products (Decatur, Indiana)
Ethos Natural Medicine LLC (Reno, Nevada)
Fast Relief Acupuncture (Closter, New Jersey)
Fusion Health and Vitality LLC (Alpharetta, Georgia)
Greenbelt Outdoors (Austin, Texas)
Hansen Clinic of Natural Medicine (Scottsdale, Arizona)
Health Remedies (Sarasota, Florida)
Herbal Amy Inc (Nampa, Idaho)
Herbs Rosalee (Carlton, Washington)
Honey Colony LLC (Walnut, California)
Hunter’s Natural Health (Upper Marlboro, Maryland)
Jill’s Home Remedies (Online only)
Jiva Med Spa (Columbus, Ohio)
Lemus Natural (Miami, Florida)
Life Unlearned, LLC (United States)
Lilac Corp. (Rochester, New York)
Meta-Labs, Inc. (Roswell, Georgia)
Mind & Body Acupuncture (Los Angeles, California)
Mulberry Leaf Acupuncture and Herbs (Studio City, California)
Nature’s Best Relief, Inc. (Littleton, Colorado)
Naturopathic European Medical Centre LLC (Stevens Point, Wisconsin)
Modere, Inc. (Springville, Utah)
Musthavemom.com (United States)
Nicole Apelian (online only)
NutrientCures.com (Anchorage, Alaska)
OrganyLife (The Colony, Texas)
Personal Health Shop
Plum Dragon Herbs (Chester, Maryland)
Pruvit Ventures, Inc.(Melissa, Texas)
Puredia (Irvine, California)
The Raw Food World (Camarillo, California)
REVIV (Miami, Florida)
SpiceTac (Fleming Island, Florida)
StayWell Copper Products (Fort Collins, Colorado)
The Stern Method (online only)
Total Life Changes, LLC (Fair Haven, Michigan)
Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic (Fort Collins, Colorado)
Tranont (Lehi, Utah)
Vidl Wellness (Gloucester, Virginia)
Vivify Holistic Clinic (Sarnia ON N7T1H2, Canada)
WashingtonsLastFrontier.Com (United States)
White Eagle Native Herbs (Fort Davis, Texas)
Zurvita, Inc. (Houston, Texas)

Federal authorities issued a civil injunction to stop Marc “White Eagle” Travalino’s sale of fraudulent COVID-19 cures through his business and his website, “whiteeaglenativeherbs.net,” which has been shuttered by the action. Travalino allegedly sold an undercover special agent a treatment for COVID-19 on May 5, 2020 after guaranteeing that the agent’s hospitalized grandmother would not die from COVID-19 if given the medicine. On May 14, 2020, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent Travalino a warning letter requiring him to cease and desist sales of unapproved and unproven COVID-19 cures and treatments. Almost a week after he was warned to stop, Travalino again sold his COVID-19 treatments to another undercover agent.
For more information:

Adams KK. Baker WL, Sobieraj DM. Myth busters: dietary supplements and COVID-19. Annals of Pharmacotherapy. May 12, 2020.
Gavura S. An incomplete list of COVID-19 quackery. Science-Based Medicine. May 28, 2020.
Vitamin D for coronavirus – not a cure or prevention for coronavirus, but… Skeptical Raptor. May 21, 2020.
Labos C. Smoking, vitamin D, and COVID-19. McGill Office for Science and Society. May 20, 2020.

Submitted by William M. London

First published May 27, 2020, last updated June 14, 2020.
Inoculation Against Misinformation