Some dangerous rumors began to swirl this past week about an unconventional drug being used to treat COVID-19. The drug, called ivermectin, is often used to address parasites and heartworm disease in horses and, in some cases, to treat parasitic worms in humans, according to the FDA. (Topical formulations are also used to address head lice and rosacea.) However, the use of ivermectin as a COVID treatment has zero support in the scientific and medical community.
The FDA has made multiple statements to reinforce that it has “not reviewed data to support use of ivermectin in COVID-19 patients to treat or to prevent COVID-19.” The organization also urges against taking ivermectin for unapproved uses—and that even approved amounts used for approved purposes can have notable side effects, including hypotension (low blood pressure), dizziness, seizures, coma, and death.
Overdosing on ivermectin is a very real concern—and one that feels even more urgent given suggestions on social media that you can use it to treat COVID-19.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has called for an “immediate end” to the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19, and for doctors to stop prescribing it for that purpose.
“Use of ivermectin for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 has been demonstrated to be harmful to patients,” the AMA said in a statement with the American Pharmacists Association and Society of Health-System Pharmacists. “Calls to poison control centers due to ivermectin ingestion have increased five-fold from their pre-pandemic baseline.”
While there is research underway investigating the potential applications of ivermectin in the context of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic, more research is needed—and organizations including the FDA, CDC, and AMA oppose its use before a clearer understanding is established. Even the drug’s manufacturer, Merck, says there is insufficient evidence to support the use of ivermectin to treat COVID-19.
As COVID continues to impact everyday life, here’s what you can do to support your immune system naturally:
- limit added sugar and highly-processed foods
- eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats (think avocado and salmon)
- exercise regularly
- prioritize at least seven hours of sleep per night
- reduce stress through practices like meditation or seeing a therapist
- maintain healthy vitamin D levels through diet, sun exposure, and supplementation
- meet your daily needs for vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, and zinc
And, while you’re at it, check out our article on signs you shouldn’t trust a social media influencer’s health advice to protect yourself from all of the misinformation floating around out there.