How my Mom cured Covid and caused a climate disaster!


Learn something new every day: Talked to my parents this morning. They’re in their Eighties and live in Iran. The latest medical advice against Covid in Iran is to (a) chop up an onion and place it in strategic locations around the house, (b) burn some Esfand (Farsi: Syrian rue, Peganum harmala). The closest approximation to this second advice, in English, is to burn incense in order to avert the evil eye.

The onion cure is apparently not as strong as the incense and needs to be applied locally but the esfand is efficacious at great physical distances and can even be applied in their home for family members suffering from Covid in the US and elsewhere internationally! Both, however, are believed to be more effective than quadruple shots of mRNA based vaccines! Why didn’t anyone inform Donald Trump when he was wasting his time with bleach injections?

I rolled my eyes after the call and sent the above paragraph to friends and family as a joke about superstitious beliefs in third world countries. Then it hit me! Come to think of it, that is the smartest thing I’ve ever heard. It’s just folk medicine but I bet it has stood the test of them. It just makes logical sense.

The onion zest and incense molecules hang in the air for many minutes and cling to airborne virus molecules reducing their ability to infect us. That is absolutely the right thing to do indoors; it’s cheap and I bet it’s somewhat effective in combating airborne pathogens. That’s why they’ve been doing it for centuries.

I suppose the same could be said for running humidifiers indoors in the west but the old fashioned way is much cheaper and can be implemented immediately around the world. Not only that; it’s also much funnier! I even found articles from the NIH talking about the antimicrobial effects of burning Peganum harmala indoors and patents awarded in China for burning incense as a means of combating the plague!

As for remote incense burning? It makes perfect sense! Such instructions were passed around by word of mouth. Until very recently, they could be imparted only to neighbors. What do you say to a neighbor if there’s a nasty plague in town? I’m going to go home and fumigate my house by burning some esfand. Your son was there this morning playing with my kid and now you say he’s sick. I’m protecting myself and my family, not you!

The more homes that burn incense, the better! This is brilliant, cheap, and effective! I think my Mom just cured Covid! The implications of such a cure for climate change, unfortunately, are beyond the scope of this post and left to the reader as an exercise.

Events have been unfolding rapidly since I published the above post. I will continue to update the timeline below as we get more data.

  • Jun. 17, 2022: Original publication date of this blog post.
  • Jun. 18: Post goes viral. #MomCuresCovid becomes top Twitter hashtag of all time as billions of people share the post.
  • Jul. 1: Price of incense skyrockets across the world. Speculators start hoarding sage. Onion futures reach an all time high on the Chicago Commodities Exchange.
  • Jul. 2 early morning: The Oxford dictionary picks frankincense as the word of the year.
  • Jul. 3: My mom is simultaneously nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
  • Jul. 7: Donald Trump tells a rally in Florida that he recommends eating raw onions as a cure for Covid and meant to propose incense burning in the same speech where he talked about injecting bleach.
  • Jul. 9 late afternoon: Scientists point out that there is absolutely no empirical evidence to support the efficacy of onions and incense in fighting any viral disease. Like Ever. Onion futures collapse on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
  • Jul. 10: Fire Departments in a dozen major cities and hundreds of municipalities beg citizens to stop burning incense indoors as it’s significantly increasing the number of false smoke detector alarms and 911 calls.
  • Jul. 12: A class action lawsuit is filed on behalf of indigenous peoples everywhere against my Mom for false advertising. [Footnote: Oct. 27, 2028: The lawsuit is eventually settled out of court with each complainant receiving a complimentary pound of onions.]
  • Aug. 5: Climate scientists cry foul as air pollution levels rocket to levels never before seen. Climate change models have to be recalculated to account for additional air pollution caused by my irresponsible post. CNN headlines compare the situation to the eruption of Krakatoa in the nineteenth century.
  • Aug. 9: The Nobel Committee rescinds my Mom’s prizes. I go into hiding.
  • Aug. 12: The Government of New Zealand bans incense burning and limits onion purchases to only two per household per week. A black market in incense flourishes as prices skyrocket.
  • Nov. 8: Covid rates drop dramatically but no one can tell whether this was going to happen anyway or whether the onion and incense burning caused it. Public debate on the internet rages on for years.
  • Jan. 12, 2032: The CDC reports that lung cancer rates have tripled over the past decade due to all the indoor pollution caused by incense burning.
  • Apr. 1, 2035: I am posthumously awarded the Ig Noble Prize.

I’ve deleted all my social media accounts and now depend exclusively on the kindness of strangers to pass the word around about my blog posts. Please share this post on social media if you liked it. Thanks.



Former {CTO at VMware, VP at Microsoft, SVP at Cisco, Head of Eng & Cloud Ops at Cloudflare}. Recovering distance runner, avid cyclist, newly minted grandpa.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ben Fathi

Former {CTO at VMware, VP at Microsoft, SVP at Cisco, Head of Eng & Cloud Ops at Cloudflare}. Recovering distance runner, avid cyclist, newly minted grandpa.