Health Tips


By Philip S. Chua, MD.

“Cooking” N95 masks

N95 respirator mask has been the standard PPE for COVID-19. Since this face covering is frequently in short supply and a bit pricey, sterilizing it for re-use is in demand. Some wash it with peroxide, others expose it to UV-C light, some even microwave it. A recent study from the University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign, showed that placing the N-95 mask on top of a thick bath towel folded several times over (so the mask does not touch the heated metal wall) in an electric cooker (rice-cooker, power cooker, instant cooker), and “cooking” the N-95 mask for 50 minutes of dry heat (100 degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit) will thoroughly decontaminate and sterilize the mask, inside and out, against 4 different viruses, including the SARS-CoV2 virus of COVID-19. The filtration power and fit of the mask were 95 percent maintained even after 20 repeated cycles of “cooking” decontamination.

COVID-19 damages multi-organs

While the known cytokines storm in severe COVID-19 infection destroys the lungs and kills these patients, new data show that other organs are also adversely affected by the virus. Inflammation of the heart, both among those with previous heart problem and those without, is very common among severe COVID-19 patients (51 percent, 40 percent with arrythmia). The devastating cytokine storm syndrome, besides damaging the lungs, also causes acute necrotizing (brain) encephalitis, kidney damage, hepatitis, gastrointestinal derangement, and venous thromboembolism. It is obvious by now that no one, even children, is exempt from getting COVID-19 when they are careless, non-compliant with the guidelines: frequent hand washing, avoiding non-essential travel and exposure, wearing cap, eye goggles, mask, gloves, and doing social distancing in public. Better safe, even a little paranoid, than sorry. SARS-CoV2 virus is a killer. And we have only one life, no spare.

Disinfectants are poison

A reader inquired if disinfectant could be used to clean food items. The answer is NO. Disinfectants, like Clorox, alcohol, glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, iodophors, etc. are all poisonous. These solutions must not be applied to the skin, either. While they destroy the SARS-CoV2 virus of COVID-19, they are all harmful for use on the body. Fruits and vegetables may be washed with peroxide solution, but this is an expensive way, compared to soaking and washing them with liberal amount of water, with salt if desired. The food industry uses UVC light to sterilize meat, other food items, and water for drinking, to meet FDA guidelines for health safety. Disinfectants are for cleaning surfaces – (FDA approved: 2 tablespoon bleach in one quart water or 1.2 cup bleach ger gallon water, or alcohol, 70 percent, or higher). Good ventilation needed to expel chemical odor after cleaning; turn room vent on.

 Bad for arthritis

The pathology in arthritis (joint swelling and pain) is inflammation. Behavior, activity, food, all affect our body, including our joints (neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger, back, hip, knee, ankle, toe). Lack of exercise or any abuse D any of our joints, and food, can cause inflammatory process that leads to arthritis. As far as vegetables are concerned, the Night Shade family (Latin: Solanaceae), aggravates arthritis of our joints, especially the knees. This variety includes white potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, bell and cayenne peppers, paprika, and tobacco. The alkaloids in them seems to be the culprit. They are also avoided by those with autoimmune diseases.

Skin moisturizers

Our skin, especially of the face, is very sensitive to dryness, which causes the loss of turgor and collagen and encourages wrinkle formation. Dry skin, in the face or anywhere else in the body is not healthy. Drinking 8 glasses of filtered water daily and shower helps hydrate our skin. Since water, especially with soap, robs our skin of our protective natural body oil, it is best to use moisturizers for the face, and the entire body, daily.

Vaseline for callouses

To moisturize the foot and also soften callouses and cracks at the sole (plantar aspect) of the feet, Petroleum Jelly has been around from time immemorial and found effective when used 2 to 3 times a week. There are various creams on the market advertised for calluses but they are pricey.


There are dozens of anti-wrinkle cream out there that could cost up to $200 per jar. The promotional psychology used by the advertisers is that the more expensive it is, the more people will think it is more effective. Some of them have a “starch or crazy glue effect” which lasts a couple of hours (for party goers). This stretches out the facial skin a bit, but without lasting effect. Using it round the clock is not harmless. These anti-wrinkle creams are preferred by some women in their fifties and older, who are wiser to avoid Botox or cosmetic surgery. The majority rely of good diet, exercise, and facial moisturizers.

Alzheimer’s wonder pill

Presently, there are no drugs that could slow down the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, a dementia that erases memories, cognition, and steals  independence and skills, rendering a person helpless, worse than a baby. Biogen, a US company, announced that it has created the first therapy that could slow the progress of Alzheimer’s disease, and that it will soon seek regulatory approval in the United States. This groundbreaking drug is called aducanumab, which targets a protein called amyloid, abnormal deposits toxic to the brain. This new drug “will slow down the clinical decline and preserve more of their memory and every day living skills, things the disease usually robs.” In the meantime, let’s all do mental calisthenics daily to exercise our brain and promote mental health.

Pills for the brain

There are a lot of pills and potion for “brain health,” to boost memory, concentration, and cognitive ability. Since business entrepreneurs know by experience that millions of gullible people are out there, the never cease to manufacture, advertise, and sell various “break throughs” and “miracle cures.” They are actually the snake oils of the past centuries, packaged more elegantly today. The potential side-effects and complications of these “supplements,” will someday be obvious. The best brain health booster is a healthy lifestyle: a high protein diet, low-carb, low-fat, of fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, a little red meat, portioned calories, no smoking or alcohol abuse, daily exercise, and stress management (mini-vacation with family/friends, contemplation, relaxation and rest). Those who wish to try any of these brain health boosters, please email me about your experience.

May God bless all the peoples of the world, especially during this global crisis. We are all in this together, and this too shall end.

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, a Health Advocate, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. Websites:  and   Email: