Liver doctor calls out Samantha for ‘dangerous health advice’, she responds

The controversy began on July 3, when Samantha put up an image of nebulising herself using hydrogen peroxide and distilled water to help with a viral infection.
Liver doctor calls out Samantha for ‘dangerous health advice’, she responds
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Dr Cyriac Abby Philips–a hepatologist widely known as 'The Liver doc'-- recently called out actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu for spreading health misinformation after she endorsed hydrogen peroxide nebulisation to combat viral infections. The actor has now responded with a statement, claiming that she was “merely suggesting a treatment as an option.”

The controversy began on July 3, when Samantha put up an image of nebulising herself along with a caption saying, “Before taking medication for a common viral, consider trying an alternative approach. One option is to nebulise with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and distilled water. Works like magic. Avoid unnecessary use of [tablet emoji]”.

On July 4, Dr Cyriac shared the image, along with an advisory of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), which states that inhaling hydrogen peroxide is dangerous and does not treat COVID-19. Calling Samantha “a health and science illiterate”, he wrote, “In a rational and scientifically progressive society, this woman will be charged with endangering public health and fined or put behind bars. She needs help or a better advisor in her team. Will India's Health Ministry or any health regulatory body do something about these social media health influenzas damaging public health or will they remain spineless and let people die?”

Hydrogen peroxide, which goes by the chemical name H₂O₂, is a colorless liquid with a slightly sharp odour, used as a bleaching agent in textile dyeing and paper industries, in manufacturing rocket fuels, as well as in the medical and cosmetic industry. It is also used to sanitise medical equipment and clean surfaces, and as an antiseptic agent to clean minor cuts and wounds, as well as in mouthwashes. During the pandemic, several people had posted on social media claiming that inhaling in hydrogen peroxide through nebulisers can ,prevent and treat COVID-19, flu, pneumonia and other viral infections, a claim that was subsequently debunked by several health organisations.

According to AAFA, hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue damage if you swallow or breathe it. The chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) foundation has also warned that “serious injury can occur to the airway if high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are inhaled” and can also cause other complications that might lead to intubation and mechanical ventilation.  Further, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) stated that “Hydrogen peroxide can be toxic if ingested, inhaled, or by contact with the skin or eyes. Inhalation of household strength hydrogen peroxide (3%) can cause respiratory irritation. Exposure to household strength hydrogen peroxide can cause mild ocular [eye] irritation. Inhalation of vapors from concentrated (higher than 10%) solutions may result in severe pulmonary irritation.”

After Dr Abby made comments about Samantha’s post, the actor took to social media to clarify that she “was merely suggesting a treatment as an option” after undergoing it herself. She mentioned that this is especially for those who are looking at treatment alternatives “because conventional medicine isn't working for them.. especially more affordable options.”

The actor noted, “A certain gentleman has attacked my post and my intentions with rather strong words. Said gentleman is a Doctor too. I have no doubt that he knows more than I do. And I am quite sure his intentions were noble. It would have been kind and compassionate of him had he not been so provocative with his words. Especially the bit where he suggests I should be thrown in prison. Never mind. I suppose it goes with the territory of being a celebrity. I posted as someone who needs medical treatments and not as a celebrity. And I certainly am not making any money from the post nor endorsing anyone.”

Further, she said that she would be careful about sharing information about the treatments that helped her health. “I've had so many well meaning people suggesting ayurveda, homeopathy, acupuncture, Tibetan medicine, pranic healing etc. I heard them all out. I was merely doing something similar. Sharing something that worked for me, as an option. And I know many of us dealing with health issues need that help, especially given how overwhelming it is when every option has qualified people who are so certainly sure of their polar opposite opinions. Both sides, for and against every treatment, are both so sure and persuasive. It's difficult to navigate these and find good help.”

Dr Abby further responded to Samantha’s clarification by saying that she is “playing the victim card”, adding that she is “a serial offender in the context of healthcare misinformation”.

Dr Abby is known for sharing medical research and educational content on his social media account ‘theliverdoc’ and has received more than 15 legal notices over the years. He is also known for his critical comments about how improperly prepared AYUSH remedies pose a threat to liver health.

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