Drinking salt water can kill you

Corona: does gargling protect against infection?

Status: 07.12.2020 4:04 p.m.

The mucous membranes in the mouth and throat play a crucial role in the multiplication of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus. According to a recent study, gargling could reduce the amount of virus in the throat.

Gargling with an iodine solution has long been customary before interventions at the dentist's in order to reduce the germ load in the mouth and thus the risk of infection for doctors and nurses. Since coronaviruses multiply in the throat area right at the beginning of the disease, they can be rinsed from the mucous membrane by gargling with salt water, tea or mouthwash solution during this phase. It is important to gargle for at least 30 seconds and let the liquid penetrate into the throat.

However, gargling does not prevent the virus from multiplying inside the cells, so that new viruses can be found on the throat mucosa shortly after gargling. No one knows how long gargling can actually reduce the amount of virus in the throat. Experts assume it will be effective for a few minutes.

Study: Gargling kills viruses

Researchers at the Ruhr University Bochum have shown that some mouthwashes can kill Sars-CoV-2 viruses - at least in the test tube. Whether this also works when gargling has yet to be investigated. A virus-killing effect has so far been proven in the laboratory for a PVP iodine solution.

Covid-19 cannot be cured by gargling. But it could be another building block for prevention. However, mouthwashes should only be used in a targeted manner, for example before a meal together. Because if you gargle too often, the oral flora could suffer.

Gargling in naturopathy

Basically, gargling supports the defense against pathogens: It moisturizes the mucous membrane and ensures that it is better supplied with blood and immune cells. This enables the body to better defend itself against intruders such as viruses. Gargling with lemon balm tea is particularly recommended, because lemon balm is known for its antiviral properties. Green tea can also inhibit viruses through its tannins.

Gurgel test is intended to simplify diagnostics

A saliva sample after gargling for 30 seconds is supposed to simplify the corona diagnosis by means of a PCR test and make it cheaper. The idea: Anyone can gargle, and no medical personnel in protective equipment is required.

In order to further reduce the effort, the saliva samples of several people are mixed in the laboratory and examined together. This so-called pooling saves test capacity, because all saliva samples are only re-examined individually if the entire sample is positive. The prerequisite for good results, however, is that you gargle for at least 30 seconds and not with too much liquid. This is the only way to get enough virus material into the gargle.

Experts on the subject

Prof. Dr. Johannes K.-M. Knobloch, Head of Hospital Hygiene
Institute for Medical Microbiology, Virology and Hygiene
University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
Martinistrasse 52
20246 Hamburg

Prof. Dr. Axel Kramer, director
Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine
University Medicine Greifswald
17475 Greifswald

Toni Luise Meister, PhD student in natural sciences
Department of Molecular and Medical Virology
Medical school
Ruhr University Bochum, Universitätsstrasse 150
44801 Bochum, Germany

Prof. Dr. Andreas Michalsen
Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics
Charité - University Medicine Berlin
Head of the Department of Naturopathy
Immanuel Hospital Berlin, Berlin-Wannsee location
Koenigstrasse 63
14109 Berlin

additional information

Study of the Ruhr University Bochum on mouthwashes


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Visit | December 8th, 2020 | 8:15 pm