Cristina Cuomo, wife of CNN’s Chris Cuomo and sister-in-law to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, is on the mend after a covid-19 diagnosis, a steady recovery she attributes not to mainstream doctors or health heroes, but a slew of alternative health remedies. The self-described “wellness worshiper” is a steadily rising star in the already crowded wellness influencer field, and she even has her own wellness periodical with star-studded covers to help prove her bona fides. However, the experts she turned to for advice during her recent covid-19 scare include a CEO who believes cancer is caused by bad vibes and a Goop-approved naturopathic healer, who claims that bathing in diluted bleach rids the body of radiation.
Not long after her husband Chris made headlines late March following his covid-19 diagnosis, Cristina too became afflicted with the virus. It’s been a stressful ordeal for the mother of three, especially now that her son, Mario, has also been diagnosed with the virus, which has infected over one million people in the United States and has killed 56,500. Cristina Cuomo has been meticulously chronicling both her and her husband’s covid-19 regimen for her wellness publication, The Purist, covering everything from the supplements they took to the Ayurvedic diet both she and Chris adopted.
“Many of the treatments that I relied on are actually cheaper than conventional medicine, like the broth of cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic or the lemon and ginger tea or vitamin C,” Cristina wrote in the blog post highlighting her specific treatment plan.
But Cristina didn’t just boil hunks of ginger root and spiced broth as her treatment: She also took a bath in diluted Clorox bleach, received an IV vitamin drip, and rented a PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) portable machine.
It’s a treatment plan that comes across as an extreme form of indulgence that those with means can pay big bucks to maintain, and Cristina appears to understand this. In her blog, she emphasized that she’s aware of her “privileged situation” and that some of her treatment options were out of reach for most people. But she also wrote that her post was a way to “help people become aware of the various options that are available beyond the overstrained medical system.”
“None of these natural remedies below should be taken without consulting a doctor or naturopath,” Cristina wrote, before launching into a more than 3,000-word screed about how she fought covid-19 and won in nine days, all with the help of an entire GNC store worth of supplements (and devices that lack FDA approval and sound like they’re on loan from the set of Ghost Adventures). As someone who is a celebrity-ish and the sister-in-law to a prominent governor to whom many Americans are looking for leadership, though, her advice might be taken a little more seriously than the average internet wellness personality.
But what do those who actually work within the overstrained medical system actually think of Cristina Cuomo’s covid-19 treatment? I contacted Dr. Nancy (a pseudonym to keep her identity private), an internal medicine doctor practicing in a Philadelphia hospital, and asked what she thought of Cristina Cuomo’s extensive routine, as documented on her blog post. Her first reaction: “WTF to a large majority of it.”
“A lot of the therapies seem to be excessive and with the only benefit of having expensive urine,” Dr. Nancy said.
If nothing else, Cristina Cuomo’s extensive documentation of everything that she put into her body—orally, intravenously, and otherwise—provides a candid anthropological service, showing just how many things there are to spend money on, if you’re fortunate enough to have it. (Cuomo has not yet responded to Jezebel’s request for comment about her promotion of a machine that is not FDA-approved, and will update this post if she responds.)
Dr. Nancy believes that by sharing what worked for her, Cristina’s heart is in the right place. She also noted that some aspects of Cristina’s routine make perfect sense for treating covid-19 symptoms—for example, breathing exercises. “When people develop shortness of breath from covid, typically it is due to a viral pneumonia in the lungs,” Dr. Nancy wrote via e-mail. “Air exchange doesn’t work as well in the infected areas, which leads to shortness of breath.”
Dr. Nancy says that deep breathing likely wouldn’t be useful for prevention, but that for those who have covid-19, deep breathing exercises can “help recruit small airways that normally would be collapsed, giving you lungs new areas to ‘breathe’ into and keep your oxygen levels up.” Dr. Nancy noted that the incentive spirometer Cristina photographed in her blog is used in hospitals to encourage deep breathing.
Other aspects of Cristina’s routine are, according to Dr. Nancy, effective in combating the symptoms of covid-19: Getting plenty of sleep (“I feel this one is obvious,” Nancy said), zinc supplements (“studies have shown that it can shorten the duration of the common cold”), and consuming caffeine (“causes blood vessel constriction and can help reduce sinus pressure and headaches, but can also cause dehydration”). And while some of the other immune-boosting vitamins and minerals Cristina took—like glutathione powder, viracid, echinacea osha—were, perhaps, excessive according to Dr. Nancy, Cristina’s reliance on vitamin C was spot on. “There are a couple of small studies where vitamin C has been used in high doses in an ICU setting,” Dr. Nancy said; patients who partook in the vitamin showed slightly better outcomes.
But the aforementioned studies involved high-dose, intravenous vitamin C, which is not easily obtainable at home... unless you’re Cristina Cuomo, who wrote that she simply hit up Dr. Roxanna Namavar (a psychiatrist) of Pretty Healthy NYC, a boutique alternative health facility offering $300 vitamin C drips. They do not appear to take insurance, but it’s doubtful that many of their services—botox injections, hypnosis, peptide therapy—would be fully covered by insurance anyway. According to Cristina’s post, Namavar showed up in a “hazmat outfit and 3M mask” to administer the vitamin and supplement rich drip.
“After 2 hours, this pricier investment paid off and my intense sinus pain was gone,” Cristina wrote. For the plebs among us, normal oral doses of vitamin C, approximately 1000 mg per day, will do, according to Dr. Nancy.
But Cristina’s routine wasn’t devoid of treatment options that were more questionable to Dr. Nancy. Specifically, she was curious about Cristina’s daily use of a drug called OXO, a type of quinine. “[Three] OXO (nontoxic quinine) daily,” Cristina wrote. “Here’s one you can buy; it’s Cinchona officinalis—Peruvian bark. This oxygenates the blood.”
Quinine is generally used to treat malaria. This should sound familiar. “This is a sister drug to ‘in the news’ medications chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine,” Dr. Nancy explained.
President Trump has heralded hydroxychloroquine as a “total game-changer” for covid-19, and the Trump administration hoped to distribute millions of doses to the American people. But there are no robust findings that have proven its success. “In people, there is only one small study, about 20 patients, in which [hydroxychloroquine] has been tested so far,” Dr. Nancy said. “Assuming that OXO works in the same ways as hydroxychloroquine, there isn’t any definitive data yet on if it works for covid-19.”
Despite this baffling turn to a relatively untested use case for the drug, Dr. Nancy expressed even more skepticism after reading about Cristina’s—now well-documented—Clorox bleach bath. Cristina cited a Mayo Clinic article stating a small amount of bleach added to water can help reduce symptoms of bacterial skin diseases such as eczema. Cristina, however, wasn’t treating a skin condition, she was attempting to excise heavy metals and radiation—caused by cell phones and Wi-Fi—from her body:
“At the direction of my doctor, Dr. Linda Lancaster, who reminded me that this is an oxygen-depleting virus, she suggested I take a [bleach] bath to combat the radiation and pollutants in the system and oxygenate it,” Cristina wrote.
Lancaster is a naturopathic doctor—different from a medical doctor—and founder of Light Harmonics Institute, an energy medicine clinic based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Lancaster is cited regularly in articles from new-age websites—including Goop —about homeopathic treatments, toxins, and parasites... lots of parasites. Lancaster proselytizes raw goat milk cleanses to clients and Goop readers alike, claiming the milk acts as bait for parasites. “Parasites come out of the gut lining to drink the milk, which they love, but they also consume the vermifuge, which will eventually eradicate them,” Lancaster told Goop in an article titled “You Probably Have a Parasite—Here’s What to Do About It.” She continued: “On top of being highly effective, this method is a much more gentle medicine than bombarding them—and your body—with a harsh drug.” There have been no peer-reviewed trials that support Lancaster’s claim.
In February, author Porochista Khakpour recalled a recent consultation with Lancaster in a blog post. Lancaster said she saw parasites in Khakpour’s “energetic field” as well as mold, Lyme disease, EMF (electromagnetic field) poisoning, and a “pre-leukemia state.” Lancaster prescribed the raw goat milk cleanse, which was to be taken with capsules of cayenne pepper and herbs. Khakpour wrote that she didn’t feel any less ill at the end of the eight-day cleanse. “Well, you still have some parasites, but we got some out,” Lancaster told her during a follow-up visit, according to the post. While Khakpour wrote that she adored Lancaster’s personality, she declined to continue with the regimen, one that also included a Clorox bath.
Cristina Cuomo appears to have had a more positive reaction from the bleach-infused dip than Khakpour.
“I added recommended small amount—1/4 to 1/2 cup ONLY—of Clorox to a full bath of warm water (80 gallons),” Cristina wrote. “After her recommended 20 minutes, my pigment turned a little more flushed (I did not submerge my shoulders, neck or head), and I felt relaxed and tired. I rinsed off with a cool shower. I experienced no negative side effects.”
But Dr. Nancy told Jezebel she is skeptical of the so-called detox.
“I did a brief search and could not find a publication that has studied using bleach in baths as a way to detox from heavy metals,” Nancy said. “I honestly don’t think that at-home remedies for removing heavy metals from the body have ever been studied.” She added that diluted bleach is probably okay for the skin for a short period, but that the risk of skin irritation likely outweighs whatever benefits Cristina was searching for.
And then there’s Cristina Cuomo’s use of a “revolutionary” device called The Body Charger:
The Body Charger sends electrical frequencies through the body to oxygenate blood and stimulate the healthy production of blood cells to fortify my immune system. It also rebalanced my energy, which was gravely off from the stress of caregiving, catching the virus, figuring out what works for me, and the anxiety of my kids getting it. “The key to healing the human body is directly related to the body’s ability to allow energy to flow through it. I discovered in my 40-year career as a personal energy specialist that every person I ever worked with has blocked energies. The Body Charger is a device that transfers energy, breaks up, and pulls out the low frequency while replacing with a higher rate,” says [Randall] Oppitz, who works with cancer patients and people suffering from chronic disease.
Cristina’s pal Oppitz is the founder and CEO of The HEAL Process, a service that claims to “[teach] people how to manage their personal energy in a revolutionary way.” According to his LinkedIn, Oppitz is the “founder and pioneer of Energy Medicine” and has “20 years of success in clearing the energy that causes cancer.”
Cancer is not known to be caused by bad vibes, but try telling that to Oppitz, whose official site for The HEAL Process explains:
The soul’s Emotional Memory (EM) draws you to the events your soul needs to complete, in order to release energy held in the EM. For most, the EM is repeated until the soul has completed the experience. The EM draws old events from the pain body to present time for the soul to experience once again. This allows the soul to approach old experiences, often with the same souls it has encountered in the past (while some or all “players” have a new bodies, minds and personalities) allowing the old experience to be re-experienced and re-examined with a new opportunity for the soul to grow and evolve while clearing the EM.
With each EM release, retained energy is freed and exchanged for fresh energy and the flow of energy is restored. The Heal Guide coaches the client to a higher vibration or state of frequency and a deeper state of peace by teaching the client how to transfer emotional energy at a very high rate of speed. With each successive encounter, more karmic blockages are released and the client is able to maintain the “higher vibration” associated with a higher level of consciousness.
But according to The HEAL Process, a higher vibration is also associated with better health. Under a section of the site dedicated to the so-called science of the Heal Process reads, “The frequency of a healthy body vibrates between 60 – 80 MHz. When the body’s frequency drops below 60, so does the energy level, health and the quality of life. This leads to a succession of illnesses and then disease.” Diseases like cancer, or in Cristina Cuomo’s case, covid-19, are then quite literally caused by bad vibes. The Body Charger is meant to fix that but, of course, there is no solid evidence supporting the veracity of its claims.
Cristina’s dabbling in energy medicine didn’t stop there, however.
“I also used a PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) portable machine, which optimizes the ability of cells to start healing,” Cuomo wrote. “It uses low-energy fields to stimulate the self-healing mechanisms of the cells after a physical injury or a viral attack on the body’s tissues or bones.” Many PEMF retailers tout the machine’s ability to balance the body’s pH.
Both devices left Dr. Nancy baffled.
“I just don’t know,” Dr. Nancy said. “Not FDA approved, [and] your body has a built-in mechanism to regulate its pH and electrical systems, which runs every cell in your body.”
She added, “If your pH is so off that your body can’t regulate it anymore, you probably need to be in the hospital.”
Cristina Cuomo’s blog post reveals she received a treatment plan approved by the medical professionals at her disposal, some of which have the backing of mainstream medicine, some of which are far more unorthodox. Ultimately, the path she chose led her to a full covid-19 recovery, which is worth celebrating. But while the teachings of the alternative medicine practitioners are beloved by granola celebrities and people convinced that their bodies are inhabited by parasites, the veracity of their claims leave a lot to be desired, especially as covid-19 disinformation wreaks havoc around the world. And it doesn’t help that early versions of Cristina’s blog post did not include a disclaimer telling readers to get a doctor’s approval before emulating her routine.
As Vanity Fair reported, shortly after Cristina’s blog was roundly criticized, the post was edited. A before and after side-by-side shows that large swaths of text were added, filling in readers with additional information, emphasizing that only up to half a cup of bleach should be added to one’s bath, quoting her trusted healers, and linking various articles in an attempt to validate her treatment plan and quell snark. But there was a clear defensive tone in the edit as well, like the addition of the line, “Sharing new knowledge is not elitist, it’s revolutionary.”
And in her grand conclusion, the new version of her blog post added a message for those, like me, who are skeptical of some of her claims:
For those who didn’t get enough of the doctor recommendations above and disapprove of my trial-and-error efforts and my investment to keep myself strong and healthy, this information isn’t for you. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that,” said Martin Luther King Jr. And, as our trusted New York Governor said, “Love wins.”
I’m sure this—a wary response to health procedures that rely on faith, money, and little else—is exactly what Martin Luther King Jr had in mind when he said those powerful words.