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Ben Carson says he used unproven COVID-19 treatment recommended by MyPillow CEO
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said in a new interview that he took oleander extract, an unapproved herbal supplement that has been promoted by the CEO of MyPillow, after contracting COVID-19.
The Washington Post reports Carson, a former neurosurgeon, said he took the extract after it was recommended by Mike Lindell. Lindell, who also served as President Trump's Minnesota campaign chairman, has a financial stake in the company that makes the extract, the Post notes.
Carson told the newspaper that his symptoms disappeared within hours after taking the supplement, also called oleandrin.
"Anybody who has ever gotten COVID and taken it, they are fine in five hours, and the next day are running around playing floor hockey in the hallway," Lindell has said, despite the lack of scientific evidence to suggests oleander extract is useful in treating COVID-19.
In an August interview with ABC News, Carson appeared more reluctant to give the plant extract his full seal of approval.
"It's not time for it yet," said Carson, adding that it should go through human trials. "What hopefully will happen is that clinical trials will occur. This should go the same route as other things do. We shouldn't, you know, skip the process."
He also said the Food and Drug Administration was studying the extract and referenced Lindell's reported push for the extract's use during meetings with Trump.
"You know, what happened with Mike Lindell, who is a fantastic salesperson, but not a scientist, perhaps distorts the process," Carson said at the time.
However, Matthew Heinz, a physician caring for COVID-19 patients, told ABC News in August that oleander extract can be dangerous.
"This is not a friendly plant ... don't go near this plant," said Heinz, who added that he had to field calls about oleandrin poisoning while he staffed a poison control center hotline.
"Accidentally ingesting even small amounts can kill you," cautioned Heinz.
In August, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper referred to Lindell as a "snake oil salesman" for pushing oleander extract as a therapeutic treatment.
During his interview with Cooper, Lindell said promoting the unproven extract was what "Jesus has me do" and claimed the extract had been studied, though he failed to provide any details.
When pressed, Lindell shot back at Cooper: "Why would I do this? Ask yourself why would I ruin my reputation if I didn't believe in this product?"
"Money," answered Cooper. "You don't have a great reputation. ... You have an 'F' from the Better Business Bureau."