ST. LOUIS — A St. Louis chiropractor’s Facebook video recommending viewers drink tonic water and take zinc during the coronavirus outbreak is racking up millions of views, but medical doctors caution the combination is likely ineffective.
Chiropractor Eric Nepute runs Nepute Wellness Center in St. Louis. His Facebook video about the coronavirus has reached far beyond his regular patients — with more than 15 million views and counting.
"I'm telling you right now the answer is quinine. I want everybody who's listening right now to go do this: I want every one of you to go today, see if you can buy some quinine. If not, go get some Schweppes tonic water,” he told viewers of the viral video.
Quinine is an ingredient in tonic water. It was first used to treat malaria hundreds of years ago, according to the National Institutes of Health website.
Now, another anti-malarial drug, hydroxychloroquine, is being tested in the fight against coronavirus.
In the video, Nepute summarizes a report out of Los Angeles in which another doctor claims to see positive results from treating COVID-19 patients with hydroxychloroquine and zinc.
"Have about 3 to 4 ounces a day of that Schweppes tonic water and take at least 50 to 100 milligrams of zinc, 50 to 100 milligrams of zinc. Do it every day as a preventative,” Nepute said in the video.
Nepute does tell viewers this is not medical advice, his "disclaimer," a point he reiterated when he spoke to 5 On Your Side's Jenna Barnes by phone.
"I've never made one claim at all that any of these nutrients cures or prevents coronavirus,” he said.
Nepute said on the phone the combination of quinine and zinc is a well-known homeopathic treatment with few, if any, side effects.
We checked the chiropractor’s recommendations with Dr. Fred Buckhold, who works for SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.
He said drinking tonic water and taking zinc likely won't hurt you, but it’s not going to prevent coronavirus.
"If you're doing this and not washing your hands and not social distancing, good luck to you,” Dr. Buckhold said.
Buckhold said hand washing and staying home is still the best way to prevent the coronavirus until FDA-approved therapies and vaccines are ready.
We double-checked with the FDA.
A spokesman confirmed there are no FDA-approved drugs to treat the virus and added the best prevention is to avoid being exposed in the first place.
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