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Online health gurus advise 'near-lethal' vitamin doses to combat coronavirus

Online health gurus advise ‘near-lethal’ vitamin doses to combat coronavirus

Since the first case of coronavirus was identified in December, effective treatment continues to elude researchers, while it’s spread to more than 82,000 people worldwide, claiming the lives of nearly 2,800 so far.

And now “wellness influencers” on social media platforms are making matters worse by offering virus prevention in the form of possibly “near-lethal doses of vitamins,” Business Insider reports.

Doctors still aren’t certain about how exactly the virus is transmitted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which currently recommends frequent hand-washing and avoiding contact with sick people as preventative measures. Faced with shortages of face masks and imprudent hospital protocol, the ill-informed are now stoking public panic by touting their homespun remedies on YouTube.

Conspiracy theorists have already advised followers to drink something alternately known as Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement or MMS, which is made with an industrial bleaching agent, to stave off illness. And it should go without saying that guzzling Clorox is a no-no.

But now, other self-proclaimed health experts are feeding followers with dubious remedies made of herbs, extracts and potentially deadly amounts of dietary supplements. While some suggestions, like eating some herbal remedies, could be relatively harmless — so long as it’s not replacing conventional methods of hygiene — megadoses of vitamins A, C and D could land someone in the hospital or worse.

The advice is particularly insidious due to the “health halo” effect of over-the-counter vitamins, which some don’t realize can be too much of a good thing.

Dr. Peter Osborne of the Gluten Free Society on YouTube acknowledges the fact that there is no cure for coronavirus. In the meantime, Business Insider reports that he told his 56,600 YouTube followers to start with a daily dose of 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 150,000 international units of vitamin D to help support immune health, even though the National Institutes of Health recommends only 400 IUs per day for infants, and 600-800 for those up to 70 years old. Over 4,000 IUs could cause abdominal pain, vomiting, confusion, heart arrhythmia and kidney damage.

He also added a two-week-long vitamin A treatment consisting of 25,000 IUs (or 7,500 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents) a day, which could cause a toxic reaction with symptoms including dizziness, nausea, headaches, coma and even death, according to the NIH. It says adults aged 19 or older need just 2,300 to 3,000 IUs (700-900 mcg RAE) per day, and more than 10,000 IUs (3,000 mcg) could be considered dangerous.

However, Osborne told The Post these recommendations are meant to be preventative and not appropriate for all types of patients.

Vitamin therapy is safe, especially if it is monitored correctly,” he said. “I don’t recommend people follow a high dose therapy protocol indefinitely,” adding that this treatment isn’t for everyone, particularly those with preexisting illnesses that might impact how their body metabolizes vitamins. Osborne also noted that treatment involving high-doses of vitamin D, called “stoss therapy,” is already used in clinical settings, often to treat vitamin D deficiency.

“I’m not advocating … that people treat their diseases with vitamins,” he said. “The higher doses are a prevention method” that will “help your immune system be better prepared to fend-off [a virus].”

Other medical establishments are dolling out similar advice, such as the Loveland Medical Clinic in Loveland, Colorado. They’re offering a high-dose shot of vitamin D3 and intravenous infusions of vitamin C — the same approach they use to stave off flu, they say.

“If you have a flu-like disease, I’m just gonna treat you with vitamin C,” a practitioner from the clinic says in a Feb. 20 YouTube clip. “I’m not gonna swab your nose to see if you have influenza A or B. I don’t care. The treatment is actually the same.”

Loveland’s vitamin C treatment delivers a whopping 15,000 milligrams a day, which would be 200 times the recommended daily amount for women (75 mg) and 166 times that for men (90 mg), according to the NIH. Taking too much vitamin C, it says, could cause a patient to experience diarrhea, nausea or stomach cramps, or promote iron overload in those with a condition called hemochromatosis, which may lead to liver disease, heart problems and organ failure.

Siegfried Emme, a registered nurse at the clinic, told The Post in an email that their advice comes from Andrew W. Saul, the editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, a site focusing on alternative medicine that touts heavy supplementation for optimal health. Emme specifically referenced an article by Saul that claims that Chinese doctors are already using vitamin C to help prevent coronavirus, as well as evidence that high doses could be used to treat cancer.

Emme added that it is “practically impossible to hit the LD50 [median lethal dose] of vitamin C in humans,” which would be some 770,000 mg, he said, and that their vitamin D3 shot is administered only on a case-by-case basis. But, as the clinic’s YouTube page is quick to point out, “there is no MD affiliated with this facility.”

Saul’s own YouTube channel, which boasts nearly 24,000 subscribers, says it would take some 14,000 mg of vitamin C to prevent coronavirus contraction, adding that megadoses like this is good for a host of viral infections, including flu or cold, allegedly because it makes the immune system stronger.

“It’s a good idea to strengthen the immune system, because that’s all you’ve got,” Saul says. “To fight a virus, if you don’t have a specific anti-viral — if you don’t have a vaccination for it, you have to rely on your immune system.”

In an email to Business Insider, Saul claimed that vitamin dosages are “widely misunderstood,” and that dietary guidelines only address what a typical individual can “tolerate,” rather than the limits of what is “safe” — despite NIH standards.

“By analogy, one might say that the volume of ambient background noise that a sleeping infant will tolerate is far lower than the limit that would begin to cause eardrum damage,” he told his thousands of followers.