While boiling water can be used to disinfect medical equipment during a pandemic, using boiling water and seasoning to clear your nose is not proven to protect you from COVID-19.
One post on Facebook claimed that if you “boil some orange peels wit cayenne pepper in it” and “stand over the pot breathe in the steam so all that mucus can release from yo nasal” you can get rid of all the mucus because that is “where THE VIRUS LIVES.” The spelling errors may have tipped you off that this isn’t sound advice.
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) We’ve also seen plenty posts suggesting that boiling orange peels or lemon peels with sea salt and inhaling that steam is a treatment.
The World Health Organization has a page on false COVID-19 “cures,” which lists lemon and turmeric as unproven cures for COVID-19. In that same vein, there is no evidence that oranges, another citrus, or cayenne, another spice, can cure COVID-19.
Mucus is actually the body’s first defense against virus microbes that could enter airways, and blowing it out may not be the best way to protect yourself against COVID-19. A study published in the journal Cell Host & Microbe found that the “mucus layer… can prevent pathogen invasion and subsequent infection.”
Currently, there is no specific treatment for people with COVID-19. Cough medicine, pain relievers, rest and fluids are all recommended because they alleviate the typical symptoms of COVID-19: cough, shortness of breath and fever.
So clearing out your sinuses will definitely not make you less likely to catch COVID-19 or cure you if you are sick, and there’s no evidence that orange peels, lemon peels or cayenne contain any healing properties, either. We rate this Pants on Fire.
Facebook post, March 22, 2020
WHO, Fact or Fiction, visited on March 24, 2020
NCBI, The interaction between respiratory pathogens and mucus, Feb 10, 2017