(Updated on March 7, 2020) With proportionately more protein than cauliflower or lettuce, more carbohydrates than papaya or watermelon, and more calcium than mungbeans or gabi leaves, it’s no wonder that many regard malunggay as an essential vegetable. Even the Philippines’ Department of Health recommends it for inclusion in the average Filipino’s diet due to its nutritional content. Unfortunately, just because a certain type of food is packed with the good stuff doesn’t mean it can kill all the bad stuff—a misconception that unscrupulous individuals are trying to capitalize on by deliberately misrepresenting the health department’s COVID-19 safety guidelines.
Credible news outlets have quoted DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III as saying that Filipinos should “[d]rink a lot of fruit juices rich in vitamin C and put malunggay” in soup and other food stock. He also emphasized that citizens should eat foods rich in “Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E, minerals, and zinc.” These tips make sense, as good nutrition, much like proper hydration, has undeniable health benefits.
However, various articles from unverified and unreliable sources have popped up, twisting the health department’s advice and making it sound like malunggay itself can cure or prevent COVID-19. Predictably, a number of online herbal supplement vendors have jumped on the trend, proudly sharing these fake information sources and inviting people to buy their products.
Worse. some online sellers associated with multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations have even started peddling amulets with “green zone” abilities that supposedly keep the coronavirus at bay.
Can these items really save you from COVID-19?
As confirmed by numerous local and international medical experts, there is currently no cure for COVID-19. Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin also debunked these myths, clarifying that there are no malunggay products, plant-based supplements, or any similar products that are proven to fight or cure the novel coronavirus. She also stressed that buying them specifically for this purpose is just a waste of money.
Same goes for herbal supplements claiming to protect people from COVID-19. And don’t even get us started on those bogus amulets.
The science is clear, as well as the correct course of action: Don’t believe the charlatans who tell you that their herbal supplements or magic “green zone” amulets can protect you and your family. Do not give these quacks an opportunity to make money at the expense of public safety.
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Author: Mikael Angelo Francisco
Bitten by the science writing bug, Mikael has years of writing and editorial experience under his belt. As the editor-in-chief of FlipScience, Mikael has sworn to help make science more fun and interesting for geeky readers and casual audiences alike.