An Essay by Korey J. Brownstein

I believe in the potential of medicinal plants.

As more of us work from home because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), we are exposed, more than ever, to misinformation and fake health news on the Internet. Health claims that state dietary supplements and natural medicines can treat and prevent COVID-19 are untrue. Vitamin C to chlorine dioxide (an industrial bleach marketed as Miracle Mineral Solution or MMS) are two examples. What we do not want is another 1918 flu pandemic where the case fatality rate increased due to aspirin overdoses (Starko 2009; Because I researched medicinal plants and am the founder of, people are asking me how they can prevent COVID-19. I am at a loss on answering this question. All I can recommend, like many researchers in the biological and health sciences, is social distancing and wash your hands.

Since dietary supplements are natural, they are perceived as safe. Nonetheless, kratom and yohimbe are two supplements that can be deadly. Please do not drink diluted bleach or colloidal silver. Their ability to prevent or treat coronavirus is unknown. But if you must take a supplement, take something that is safer such as Echinacea or elderberry. Research has shown that these herbs stimulate the immune system. Eat foods rich in vitamin C and zinc instead of taking supplements. The body absorbs vitamins and minerals more readily from food.

We will get through this, but do not die trying like an Arizonan man after he saw President Donald Trump’s hydroxychloroquine tweet.

(Korey Brownstein, Ph.D., received a doctoral degree in Molecular Plant Sciences from Washington State University. His many achievements include the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Program, NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Biology, and others. Presently, he is the founder of NatureClaim, LLC and a researcher at The University of Chicago.)

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