The common man has indulged in self-medicating with minerals, vitamins, and herbs ever since the pandemic struck.
With no definite solution and absolutely no recluse from the virus, people have taken to blindly following mere word-say when it comes to seeking measures to boost immunity. WhatsApp forwards are to be blamed for the widespread rumors and, at times, for these “tips” backfiring.
Self Medicating For Immunity
Apart from the spur in “visionaries” spouting ideas, most of which doctors have strongly advised against, people have also taken to boost their immunity by ingesting self-recommended medicines.
They have been flooding the internet for the best supplements and foods that help boost immunity, along with opting for self-medicating to such an extent that it proves to be fatal.
And when it comes to solutions, the internet has a plethora of answers, whether reliable or not.
Modern Emergencies Require Modern Awareness
Although doctors have been constantly cautioning against self-medication, people haven’t paid much heed unless they’re in an emergency after the overconsumption of vitamins, minerals, and herbs.
“Many people are calling me to ask about vitamins, minerals, and kadhas that can be consumed at home. The general belief is that one will not get the coronavirus by consuming these. But it isn’t true,” says Priya Palan, dietitian, Zen Multispeciality Hospital.
Now the question arises as to how does the immunity get a boost for real? To answer this, I’d like to bring out the fact that both micro and macronutrients are to be consumed in a balanced manner for immunity to built over time.
Simply put, a balanced diet with a defined quantity and quality of food constituting the necessary nutrients is the only way to go.
Read More: Vaccines, Medicines, Food: How India Aims To Attain Contactless Delivery With Drones During The Pandemic
Are Immunity Boosters Fake?
A significant spike has been observed in the consumption of boosting supplements and ingredients. These commonly include honey, chyavanprash, ginger or green tea, amla (gooseberry), tulsi (basil), Haldi (turmeric), lemongrass, saffron, and many more.
As immunity builds over time, so does the ability to diagnose. Unless you’re a professional and have spent years on end in the medicinal study, stop throwing yourself into harm’s way.
If you’re still adamant about self-medicating without consulting a professional, then allow me to shed some light on the side effects of these boosting agents.
Side Effects 101
Boosters have a tendency to give a false sense of security. This is not only the side effect of indulging in self-medicating, but also the onset of further health issues.
Right after being on these meds, people feel entitled to defy all safety norms and precautions and “live life freely”, which results in being altogether “free” from life itself.
How Much Is Too Much?
“High Vitamin D levels have been known to raise blood and urine calcium levels. It could lead to nausea, vomiting, dehydration, dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness,” says Dr. Behram Pardiwala, director, Wockhardt Hospitals, South Mumbai.
This brings us back to the fact that anything in excess is harmful. There have even been cases of people ingesting kadhas in excess, (thanks to the belief that hot beverages kill the virus) resulting in painful mouth ulcers and severe acidity.
Beverages indeed comfort us, but the only thing they don’t do is protect us from the virus.
Moreover, home remedies that feel safe and healthy, can be fatal if over-consumed. Let’s take, for example, fenugreek seeds. If consumed excessively, may lead to internal bleeding.
As for these supplements that are supposed to boost our immunity, many of them are not FDA approved, and thus, affect the kidney and liver.
Another problem that has arisen over time is the intake of Vitamin D supplements. Thanks to self-medication, Vitamin D overdose is as common as a COVID symptom. Adding to that, a drug-drug interaction may also go badly for the person self-indulging in medicines.
What Is The Recommended Dosage?
One thing is for sure, no dosage or combination of medicines is fit for all. Every person has a different mechanism, and thus, requires a different dosage. This can only be decided after proper diagnosis by a professional.
And all nutrients consumed in recommended quantities, or in moderation are alright. It is only when over-consumption occurs, that it becomes fatal. And the overconsumption can only be kept in check with proper and correct consultation.
Vitamin C and zinc supplements are also commonly being used. But they are needed only for the ones who are either undernourished or have been recommended the meds.
“Claims about products that boost immunity within a short span of time are irrational and unscientific,” says Gilada.
Remember to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to enhance immunity. Cut down on smoking and alcohol consumption, and exercise daily. Maintain optimum weight.
All being said, no food is a superfood and no person is a know-it-all.
Let’s take another example. Honey is good for weight loss and is recommended to be consumed daily to reap the required benefit. But if a person, in an attempt to lose weight faster consumed double the amount recommended, he will not only not lose weight faster, but also gain diabetes in the process.
Now it’s up to you whether to stop self-diagnosis and self-medicating right now right away or to fall prey to greater health issues.
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