Raeburn Fairweather

The spread of the coronavirus has caused a global public health crisis that has led many governors to issue mandatory stay-at-home orders and close all non-essential businesses until the virus can be contained. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Americans have tested positive for COVID-19 and thousands have died. One survivor in New York City, however, says using traditional Caribbean remedies helped him beat the virus.

Raeburn Fairweather, a 47-year-old respiratory therapist at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center, looked to his Jamaican heritage for an alternative treatment after he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18.

“I’m going to be honest with you, the staff was still somewhat laid back about it,” he told the New York Post. Fairweather was allowed to return to work the same day he got the result because he hadn’t had a fever during the previous three days. He describes his symptoms ranging from a 104-degree fever, losing his senses of smell, and taste, and coughing up “thick, white mucus” by day three.

“The Tylenol would not bring it down. My body felt like it was falling apart,” he said. “Headaches were immense. They were making my eyeballs feel like they were on springs.”

The married father of five quarantined himself in an extra room in his family’s Canarsie rowhouse, away from his wife and children. After discovering Tylenol wasn’t completely effective, he resorted to using Jamaican remedies he often used growing up for different ailments made with turmeric, garlic, and ginger.

Although Fairweather credits home remedies for helping him recover, the World Health Organization states that there is no cure for the novel virus.

“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease,” reads the org’s website. “WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.”

Some online gurus advise downing mega quantities of vitamin C. Others recommend stacking zinc doses, prompting the swift clearing of pharmacy shelves. Others sing the praises of colloidal silver, a compound natural-health buffs have long touted, or boiling massive amounts of garlic and drinking the fragrant liquid straight.

Claims like these, however, generally fall into the too-good-to-be-true category. Immunologists say there’s no proof these regimens help your immune system fight COVID-19 — and warn that cobbling together your own natural treatment plan can do more harm than good.

Some people, like Fairweather, who try unproven treatments could end up putting others’ health at risk as well as their own. Seductive pitches can lull viewers into the false belief that supplement regimens shield them against the virus, Stukus says, which may dissuade them from following social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines.

For the time being, our best coronavirus defenses don’t lend themselves to sexy social media promos. Getting plenty of sleep, eating healthily, and managing your stress levels all help maximize your overall immune potential.

Dana Givens of Black Enterprise and discovermagazine.com contributed to the compilation of this report.

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