Experts are warning the public about alternative remedies Cristina Cuomo says she and her family used during their fight against the novel coronavirus.
The Cuomo family has been hit hard by COVID-19, which first struck CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, then Cristina and recently their 14-year-old son, Mario. The couple share two other children.
Cuomo, the founder of the health and wellness platform PURIST, has shared health updates on her family's recovery on her blog, crediting a number of unconventional methods with their improvement.
"If you think these are far-fetched treatments think again," Cuomo writes. "I went through tons of antibiotics for Lyme Disease this past year, which did not help eradicate the Lyme. Only when I took a natural course did I get better. I’m applying that information to this virus because I believe in natural medicine."
However, medical professionals disagreed with several of her tactics for managing COVID-19 symptoms, which range from pricey at-home vitamin drips to Clorox baths.
Here's what experts say about the methods:
According to her post, Cuomo says she takes oxygenated herbs every day to strengthen her immune system, including Echinacea Osha and nontoxic quinine (aka, Peruvian bark). She also takes the decongestant Sinex, antivirals and numerous vitamins to fight sinus symptoms.
Cuomo says she enlisted a doctor to make a house call in a hazmat suit to administer a vitamin-packed drip, including folic acid, zinc and caffeine, to combat a sinus infection.
Physician LaMar Hasbrouck, a former senior medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control, tells USA TODAY to caution against this practice saying that a high-concentrate drip runs the risk of "potential toxicities." He adds, "Too much of any good thing at a high enough concentration can be toxic. … And you can potentially introduce infection if you’re not cleaning the (drip) site right."
Clorox bleach baths
As President Donald Trump wondered aloud Thursday about possibly injecting disinfectants into people infected with the coronavirus – to the dismay of medical professionals – Cuomo says she adds "½ cup ONLY of Clorox" to her bathwater to "combat the radiation and metals in my system and oxygenate it."
"We want to neutralize heavy metals because they slow-up the electromagnetic frequency of our cells, which is our energy field, and we need a good flow of energy," Cuomo explains.
She adds there is "no danger in doing this," comparing it to "a simple naturopathic treatment."
However, Hasbrouck says soaking in a Clorox bath can do harm on the body: “Where’s the harm going to come? Just the abrasiveness of the chemical on your skin."
He says the suggested remedy doesn’t make sense for several reasons, including the fact that the bleach doesn’t have clear path of getting through your skin and to the virus. And don't even think about drinking bleach – it's unsafe and "is not going to get to your respiratory system," says Hasbrouk.
Dr. Jose Luis Ocampo, a board-certified emergency medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente in Baldwin Park, California, also urged the public to use caution.
"As a physician, I would never recommend something that was not proven efficacious and safe for patients to use or do," Ocampo tells USA TODAY. "As such, I have never recommended Clorox baths as my knowledge of its medicinal use and safety is limited. While bleach baths have been used to treat eczema, for example, it must be done carefully and should always be done in consultation with a physician."
The FDA warns against ingesting disinfectants, saying consumption of “products can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration."
In response to Trump's comments, the Washington Military Department's Emergency Management Division pleaded Thursday, "Please don't eat tide pods or inject yourself with any kind of disinfectant," asking Americans to not "make a bad situation worse."
'Body charger' and PEMF machines
Cuomo also mentions use of a "body charger" machine that she says sends electrical frequencies to rebalance your energy. She adds, "The key to healing the human body is directly related to the body’s ability to allow energy to flow through it."
Cuomo also uses a portable pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) machine, saying it "increases the speed with which your lungs and whole body can recover."
Hasbrouck says he hasn't heard of either machine, but strongly urges people against taking "matters into their own hands."
"A lot of things people do to help their own psyche, because they want to be in control of this," he explains to USA TODAY. "So we train our mind to say, 'Hey, I'm doing something active. I'm doing all the right things.'"
The bottom line, according to Ocampo, is not to make uninformed decisions, particularly as it pertains to a person's health when opting for alternative remedies.
"You don't want this to be the last decision you ever make," he warns, adding: "Always consult with a medical professional."
Both Cristina and Chris Cuomo have been battling COVID-19. While the CNN anchor has finally emerged from quarantining in his basement, Cristina is still experiencing symptoms. She's working to help her son through the illness, as well.
"The fact is there is no standardized treatments for this virus," Cuomo writes in her blog. "We are all trying to find tools to help beat this."