FALSE: Alkaline food, lemons 'prevent' coronavirus infection
Claim: Posts that are circulating on Facebook say that people need to eat alkaline food in order to prevent a novel coronavirus infection.
The coronavirus, the posts say, has a pH level that ranges from 5.5 to 8.5 and eating food that have a higher pH level than this will "defeat" it.
The posts read: "This is to tell all of us that the pH for the coronary virus (sic) varies from 5.5 to 8.5
"What we need to do to defeat the coronary virus (sic), is to consume more alkaline foods above the virus's pH level.
"Some of them are:
- Lemon – 9.9 pH
- Lime – 8.2 pH
- Avocados – 15.6 pH
- Garlic – 13.2 pH *
- Mango – 8.7pH
- Tangerine – 8.5pH
- Pineapple – 12.7 pH
- Dandelion – 22.7 pH
- Orange – 9.2 pH"
These claims were posted on at least 6 different pages and user accounts as early as Sunday, April 5, and were shared more than 5,000 times as of posting.
They were identified by Facebook's monitoring tool, Claim Check, for fact checking.
A similar claim that is being spread on messaging apps says that a mixture of lemon, baking soda, and hot water is a "cure" for COVID-19 that prevents people in Israel from contracting the virus.
"Mix and drink [lemon and bicarbonate] as hot tea every afternoon, the action of the lemon with hotter baking soda immediately kills the virus completely eliminates it from the body," the message says.
"These two components alkalize the immune system, since when night falls the system becomes acidic and defenses lower."
This claim was sent to Rappler for verification.
The facts: Eating alkaline food and drinking lemon with baking soda in hot water is not an official cure for COVID-19. As of Thursday, April 9, the World Heath Organization (WHO) has said there is no medicine that can prevent or cure this disease. (READ: What you need to know: Coronavirus cures, vaccines being tested)
"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. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19," the WHO says on their website.
"However, there are several ongoing clinical trials that include both western and traditional medicines. WHO will continue to provide updated information as soon as clinical findings are available."
The claim about alkaline food as treatment for COVID-19 is similar to the claim that an alkaline diet can prevent cancer.
However, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research: "It would be nearly impossible to alter the cell environment to create a less-acidic environment in our bodies. For example, the stomach is very acidic for proper digestion, so we wouldn’t want it more alkaline."
They also say that the human body's acid-base balance is well-regulated and blood pH typically stays between 7.35 and 7.45. "If it becomes too acid or alkaline, that could be life threatening and it is typically an indication of a serious health problem, not the underlying cause," they said.
Also, not all the pH levels of the fruits and vegetables mentioned are correct. For instance, the pH level of lemon juice falls between 2 to 3, not 9.9 as the claim says.
Rappler has fact checked a number of supposed cures and treatments for COVID-19. While some of these are harmless home remedies, others could be dangerous and life threatening. Read more about these fact-checked claims below. – Vernise L Tantuco/Rappler.com
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