Myth Busting on Covid19 with Dr Rupert Critchley

From blowing hot air up your nose to drinking lemon juice, Dr Rupert Critchley sets the record straight on Coronavirus Myths

Social media is awash with tips on how to prevent contracting the Coronavirus – but do any hold water or are they simply a load of hot air that distracts from the simple message of wash your hands and stay home. And, could some of them even be dangerous?

GP Dr Rupert Critchley has run through some of the common ones (or watch the video below!)

1.Myth: Heat will kill the virus

a. Blowing hot air up your nose with a hair dryer.

As far fetched as this sounds some people have latched on to a theory that exposing the virus to temperatures above 25-26 degrees celsius will kill the virus. Often the information presented in slick videos with graphics that show a virus melting away when it is exposed to heat. This is then followed by suggestions like taking your hair dryer and blowing hot air up your nose.

“That’s just dangerous,” says Dr Rupert Critchley. He says there is some research to show that the replication rate of other members of the coronavirus family is slowed at higher temperatures, but it’s a considerably higher temperature – 56 degrees celsius.

“If you were to use anything in the area, especially a hair dryer up the nose, it’s never going to get to that temperature and if it did, it would be dangerous,” he says. “There is absolutely no sensible way I can see that this would do anything except result in you needing to see a doctor. So, one to be avoided.”

Verdict: Busted


b. Hot baths and saunas

“We know that it’s 56 degrees and above,” Dr Rupert says.  “A regular bath is around body temperature, 37-38 degrees. If you have it any hotter you’re going to feel like you’re being scolded and it’ll do more damage than good.”

Verdict: Busted


c. Drinking hot water

Dr Rupert says it’s great to drink high-antioxidant drinks like green or mint tea, along side eating a well balanced and healthy diet to help with your immune system.

The virus “adheres to respiratory membranes and that where it causes infection – the ear, nose and throat. … It’s non-sensical to think that you’re going to have a hot drink that’s going to flush it through.”
Drinking scalding hot drinks is ‘dangerous for you and it’s not going to do anything to shift the virus.” And, a drink that is too hot can burn your mouth or oesophagus.

Verdict: Busted


2. Myth: Gargling or flushing will kill the virus

Salt water gargling or nose flushing

This is along the same lines as the idea of hot water flushing the virus out, but Dr Rupert says ‘it’s non-sensical.” He can not see any reason why these would work.

Verdict: Busted


3. Myth: Acid drinks will kill the virus

Drinking lemon juice or apple cider vinegar

A balanced pH is important for you health and there are mild variations of pH in many drinks or foods we consume. But Dr Rupert says there hasn’t been any research to show that pH is going to kill the virus. “I would expect an extreme pH maybe” – but, you don’t want to be drinking things that are extreme acid or alkaline as they are corrosive or can cause caustic burns.

Verdict: Busted


4. Myth: Garlic will kill the virus

Drinking garlic and milk

“Garlic is good for you. It has anti-microbial properties, but nothing in particular that would kill a virus, or this particular virus,” Dr Rupert Critchley says. “Use these things in context,” he says. “We want to be eating healthily … but none of those things are going to kill the virus.”

Verdict: Busted


5. Myth: Honey will kill the virus

Propolis is particular is said to kill the virus, but Dr Rupert says “I’m going to just say a flat no to that.”

Honey has been used in various ways in medicine due to its anti-bacterial properties but he says: “It is not going to kill the virus, no matter how much we consume or smother on our face masks.”

Verdict: Busted



6. Myth: Lavender, eucalyptus, hemp or tea tree oil will kill the virus.

There are numerous recipes going around for making your own hand sanitiser out of various oils that ar often used for their anti-bacterial effect.

“The research is based on surface disinfection using 62-71% alcohol or a hydrogen peroxide bleach or sodium hydrochloride. We haven’t done any studies using these more naturopathic ingrediednts. One thing for sure is that if we are given recommendation to use that are to use medically proven substances to help with disinfection then we should be sticking to that list because that’s where we’ll get the best effect,” Dr Rupert says.

“It’s a nice thought… but once again, they aren’t going to do anything,” he says. “They aren’t going to reduce your risk of infection.”

Verdict: Busted


7. Myth: Anti-malarial drugs such as Chloroquine will kill the virus

Anti-malarial drugs like Chloroquine are used to kill the parasite that causes malaria. Their use in COVID19 hasn’t been proved and they do have some quit serious side effects, Dr Rupert says.

He advises that people do not self-medicate with these as they have significant side effects including diarrhoea and seizures.

“We don’t have enough research at the moment to suggest that they are useful in the context of COVID19.”

Verdict: Busted 


8. Myth: “Miracle” Supplements with chlorine dioxide will kill the virus

“Chlorine dioxide is an activated version of sodium hydrochloride. It’s another compound that used for disinfecting.” It’s been used for water treatments, Dr Rupert says. It has anti-bacterial properties but it is a ‘highly toxic compound and it has lots of side effect. It can cause nausea, diarrhoea and dehydration. Essentially it is very dangerous.”

He says “This is something you’d put in your pool for disinfection. It’s not something you’d want to ingest.”

Verdict: Busted


9. Myth: Colloidal Silver will kill the virus

Apart from sometimes turning you a lovely shade of blue, this can cause some serious problems like kidney damage.

It has anti-septic properties and has been used in bandages in wound care, be=ut he does not recommend consuming it.  “There is no clear evidence that it can be used against any infectious disease and I think we should be mindful that it can have some serious side effects.”

Verdict: Busted

10. Myth: cold will kill the virus

Again, Dr Rupert says there is no evidence to suggest that temperature – heat or cold will make any difference.

Verdict: Busted


What can help: Dr Rupert says the danger of these myths is that they distract from what does work and that’s washing your hands with soap for a good 20 seconds.

Every time you come home, head straight to the wash basin and wash your hands and wipe down anything you may have touched such as door handles, benches, taps and kettles etc. Give them a wipe down and then clean whatever you used to do the cleaning.

The other thing that is important, he says, it that you do not to stop taking any prescribed medications without consulting your doctor.

The best thing we can do to stay safe is:

  • Stay Home
  • Keep Safe Distances if you have to go out
  • Wash your hands.

“That’s where we’ll make the most impact and save lives,” Dr Rupert says.


You can find more information on COVID19 Myths on the World Health Organization website  here: WHO

Watch the Covid19 Myth Busting Chat with Dr Rupert.