Indian film actor under fire for promoting alternative medicine online

Indian actor Samantha Ruth Prabhu has been accused of spreading medical misinformation after she shared a post on her Instagram advocating alternative treatment for viral infections.

Prabhu, who has been appearing in Tamil and Telugu language films for over a decade and has 35 million followers on Instagram shared a photo of herself using hydrogen peroxide nebulisation.

“Before taking medication for a common viral, consider trying an alternative approach,” the actor wrote in her now-deleted post.

“One option is to nebulise with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and distilled water, she said. “Works like magic. Avoid unnecessary use of tablets.”

Her post invited criticism from doctors who said inhaling hydrogen peroxide could cause damage to the lungs.

Dr Cyriac Abby Philips, who runs an account called “The Liver Doc” where he posts about medical misinformation online, called Prabhu “health illiterate”, prompting a verbal spat between the two.

Providing studies that show the risk of nebulising with hydrogen peroxide, Dr Philips said the actor should be “charged” for “endangering public health and fined or put behind bars”.

Prabhu, in a detailed three-page statement on her Instagram said she shared the information with “good intentions” and not to harm anyone.

She also defended herself saying that her doctor with 25 years of experience suggested it to her.

Prabhu said she was diagnosed with myositis, an autoimmune condition and alternative treatments have been helpful in her journey.

Doctors say hydrogen peroxide can cause oxidative stress for lungs and could potentially cause respiratory issues.

“Both hydrogen peroxide and distilled water nebulisation come with potential risks. Hydrogen peroxide is generally not recommended for nebulisation due to its potential to cause oxidative stress, mucosal irritation, and other serious respiratory issues,” Dr Rituja Ugalmugle, a doctor at Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai, told Hindustan Times newspaper.

Indian badminton player Jwala Gutta also weighed in on the issue, asking, “My only question to the celeb who’s prescribing medicine to the huge number of people who are following her… I understand the intention is to help… But… just in case… just in case the prescription doesn’t help and causes a fatality… will you be taking responsibility too? Will the doctor who you have tagged also take the responsibility.”

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