Quinine, or tonic water, taken with zinc on a daily basis is an effective treatment for COVID-19.


False. Tonic water is a poor source of quinine, there is no proven link between zinc or quinine and treating COVID-19. The recommended doses could be dangerous.


In a video originally posted on Facebook, Dr Eric Nepute, a chiropractor from Missouri, urges viewers to take “quinine with high doses of zinc” as a treatment and preventative measure against coronavirus. Stating that “tonic water has a ton of quinine”, he promotes tonic water as a source of the substance.

Hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial and advanced synthetic form of quinine, is currently being investigated as a potential cure for coronavirus. However, as we have previously reported, the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment remains unconfirmed and more research is needed. Equally, we have also written that there is no proven link between a ‘zinc formula’ and treating COVID-19.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “there is currently no proof that hydroxychloroquine or any other drug can cure or prevent COVID-19. The misuse of hydroxychloroquine can cause serious side effects and illness and even lead to death.” Additionally, the WHO announced on the 17th June 2020 that the hydroxychloroquine is no longer being used as part of the Solidarity trial to find COVID-19 treatments “as evidence showed it did not result in the reduction of mortality of hospitalised COVID-19 patients, when compared with standard of care.”

The statements made by Dr Nepute are also misleading. These include that “at least 50 to 100 mg of zinc” should be taken everyday. The NHS clarifies that the adult daily requirements of zinc are between only 7-9.5mg and that taking high doses of zinc such as that promoted in the video “can lead to anaemia and weakening of the bones”.

Furthermore, levels of quinine in tonic water are too diluted to have any medical effect. Harvard’s Health website states that “tonic water contains no more than 83mg of quinine per litre – a much lower concentration than the 500 to 1,000mg in the therapeutic dose of quinine tablets”. Consuming excess quinine, which Dr Nepute proclaims as “very healthy”, can have serious side effects, including nausea, stomach pain and skin irritation.

The recommendation for the general public to combine doses of tonic water and zinc is also misleading. Dr Anthony Cardillo, the US doctor referenced by Dr Nepute who is trialling the combination on patients with COVID-19, cautions against prescribing it “for patients who have COVID[19] who are well”, admitting that it has not been widely tested and is still in preliminary stages.

Dr Eric Nepute himself is not a physician but a chiropractor, and thus his medical advice should be queried. His video goes on to further claims of misinformation, including the potential for mandatory vaccination and “fake news” in the established media to promote an exaggerated narrative regarding the virus.


The Guardian: Report on hydroxychloroquine

The Lancet: Hydroxychloroquine in the management of critically ill patients with COVID-19

WHO: Coronavirus, Overview

WHO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters

WHO: Q&A : Hydroxychloroquine and COVID-19

NHS: Vitamins and minerals 

Harvard Health Publishing: Concentrations of quinine in tonic water

Consumer Reports: Quinine side effects

ABC7: News report following Dr Anthony Cardillo interview

Origins of Claim


00.00 – 03.27

Let’s have a conversation about what we do know about COVID-19. I want to know what we do know about COVID-19. We know it is a respiratory virus, we know that. We know that it attacks the epithelial cells in the lungs and that’s the deal, so the healthier your lungs are, the healthier your body is, the less chances you have. There’s a report this morning that we got, there is a physician out of Los Angeles, he’s a physician taking care of a ton of COVID-19 patients – Dr Anthony Cardillo.  He’s an ER doctor at a hospital locally in LA. He’s also CEO of ‘Mend Urgent Care’. He’s been prescribing the combination drugs of the chloroquine and zinc and is crushing this thing. And what he’s saying is, when people get on this protocol and typically within 12 to 24 hours they’re literally walking out of the hospitals – they’re just doing so much better. So like that’s one thing and we’re going to talk about that because right now I’m telling you right now the answer is quinine.

I want everybody listening right now to go do this. I want everyone of you go today, see if you can buy some quinine, if not go get some Schweppes tonic water. Tonic water has a ton of quinine in.  Now let me tell you something, listen to me, interestingly enough there was a law that was signed into effect, it was an FDA law that Bill Clinton actually signed a long time ago, now hear me on this. Bill Clinton signed this law to effect taking a bunch of nutrients off the market in the 90s and quinine was one of them, okay. Quinine acts similar to hydroxychloroquine, okay. Quinine acts as a transport chain to allow nutrients to get into the cells so I’m telling everybody right now if you know someone who’s got flu like symptoms, if  they’ve got symptoms of COVID-19, the cold, the flu, whatever, go and get some – either quinine and or Schweppes tonic water. Let me say this again, quinine and or Schweppes tonic water. 

I need everyone of you people to be sharing this right now, I mean everyone, every person needs to share this because there’s a lot of ******** going on right now that everybody needs to know about and I’m going to throw some common sense at you because most people aren’t looking at this. Go get some quinine and get some zinc and you’re going to hear people say, oh quinine is bad for you that’s why we took it off the market. No it’s not. It’s in tonic water, it’s very healthy, it’s amazing what it does for muscle aches and pains. I use it in my office all the time for people and if you can’t find quinine online to buy it go get yourself some Schweppes tonic water – it has a ton of quinine in it. Take the quinine with high doses of zinc. 

Now I’m going to tell you what the dose range is. Now I’m not your doctor, this is not medical advice this is the suggestion I mean I guess that’s my disclaimer. But here’s the deal, what they’re using is high dose hydroxychloroquine and zinc and they’re using between 100 and 250 milligrams a day of zinc, that’s a lot. You cannot take that much zinc for a long period of time but if you are preventatively taking zinc and want some Schweppes in your body for quinine,  have about 3 to 4 ounces a day that Schweppes tonic water. Take it before you go to bed or first thing in the morning and take at least 50 to 100 milligrams of zinc. And say that again, 50 to 100 milligrams of zinc, okay, do that everyday as a preventative.