Gargling salt water is a common remedy to cure illnesses such as colds and coughs, and it is backed with science. Mayo Clinic has identified saltwater gargling as one of the cold remedies that work. Additionally, scientists from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland have confirmed that it can reduce coughs and cold symptoms.
Now they are trying to see if this remedy can treat COVID-19 patients. They want to find out if it could help with mild symptoms of the infection, which infects the airways in a similar manner with common colds and coughs.
They are now recruiting people to take part in their study to test whether gargling with saltwater could boost the body's antiviral abilities.
Until now, treating COVID-19 patients is still a gray area for doctors, with mild cases advised to stick to paracetamol and ibuprofen. For those critically ill-patients, NHS has approved the use of steroid dexamethasone and anti-Ebola drug remdisivir.
Saltwater Intervention for COVID-19 Mild Cases
People with colds and coughs were found to benefit from gargling regularly with saltwater in a trial dubbed ELVIS (Edinburgh and Lothians Viral Intervention Study).
Results from this trial were published last year, which found that people had less severe coughs, congestion and colds lasted only for two days after gargling saline water.
They were also less likely to transmit the disease to family members or to resort to taking medications.
The researchers suggest salt may be used by the cells to create hypochlorous acid, which is bleach commonly known to kill the virus.
"We are now moving to trial our saltwater intervention in those with suspected or confirmed Covid-19, and hope it will prove to be a useful measure to reduce the impact and spread of the infection," said Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of Edinburgh University's Usher Institute.
Since it only requires salt, water, and some understanding of the gargling procedure, this method, if proven effective, will be easy and inexpensive to implement.
The study is open to adults in Scotland who have symptoms of COVID-19 or are tested positive of having the virus. All of them will gargle salt following the same lockdown rules.
In the previous study on testing the saline water's effectiveness in reducing coughs and cold symptoms, participants had kept diaries of their symptoms for two weeks and reported it back to the scientists.
Can Gargling Salt Water Help Prevent COVID-1 Intervention?
In a report by MSN in April this year, Dr. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India, noted that there is no scientifically proven evidence yet that regularly rinsing the nose and mouth with saline can work against the virus.
Gargling, a common hygiene routine in several countries, is encouraged with other practices such as hand washing and social distancing, especially during the pandemic crisis.
Though it helps soothe a sore throat, there is no evidence yet that it can prevent the person from contracting the virus, according to the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.