Claim: Hibiscus flower can help treat COVID-19 and prostate cancer
Source: WhatsApp video
Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu
Hibiscus has been used by different cultures as a remedy for several conditions and been linked to a range of health benefits. But can the hibiscus flower be successfully used in treating COVID-19 and prostate cancer?
That is the claim being made in a 1 minute and 33 seconds long video on WhatsApp. Subsequent checks showed the video was an excerpt from a much longer interview between the Chief Executive Officer of Soul Health and Wellness Center, Nana Ntim-Barimah, and journalist, Kofi Adomah Nwanwani, originally published on April 16, 2020.
After displaying a document with the title “Traditional Chinese Medicine in the treatment of patients infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-COV-2): A review and perspective”, Ntim-Barimah claimed that “the hibiscus flower is what we call sobolo, China is using it to treat coronavirus …and we are here waiting for the WHO. God have mercy on Africa.”
Speaking in an indigenous Ghanaian language-Twi, he further claimed that “we use this same hibiscus flower in fighting prostate cancer.”
To verify the claims made by Nana Ntim-Barimah, GhanaFact perused the research paper he referenced during the interview: “Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Treatment of Patients Infected with 2019-New Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2): A Review and Perspective”, which was published in the International Journal of Biological Science.
Published on March 15, 2020, there was no specific anti-virus drugs or vaccines available for the treatment of coronavirus when the study was made public. The researchers noted that more than 85% of SARS-CoV-2 infected patients in China were being treated with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and that clinical evidence showed the beneficial effect of TCM in the treatment of patients with SARS coronaviral infections.
According to the clinical guideline in China, both conventional medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are being used for the treatment of patients with infection of SARS-CoV-2.
This notwithstanding, nowhere in the study does it state that the hibiscus flower has been used for the treatment of COVID-19 in China as claimed by Ntim-Barimah.
“There is no evidence that hibiscus flowers help treat COVID-19 or help treat prostate cancer”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) told GhanaFact.
“WHO works with evidence, science, and data. WHO does not recommend self-medication with any medicines, including antibiotics, as a prevention or cure for COVID-19. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop treatments for COVID-19 and will continue to provide new information as it becomes available.” A spokesperson of the WHO emphasised when contacted via the Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA).
The claims that the hibiscus flower can help in treating COVID-19 and prostate cancer are UNPROVEN.