Can inhaling camphor and carom seeds increase oxygen levels for COVID-19 patients? Fact Check

Among the plethora of home remedies going viral on social media for COVID-19 patients, this remedy claims to increase oxygen levels simply by inhaling this concoction. The now-viral home remedy asks patients to take “a cube of camphor with a spoon of carom seeds tied in a piece of cotton cloth”.

The remedy asks the patient to smell the mixture “10-15 times with deep breaths and repeat the same action every two hours”. It claims to increase oxygen levels within 24 hours without any need for hospitalization.

Several users on social media have shared this claim.

Fact Check:

Camphor, as well as carom seeds (ajwain), have been used individually in a variety of traditional medicines.

In a study titled, ‘The Effects of Camphor, Eucalyptus and Menthol Vapour on Nasal Resistance to Airflow and Nasal Sensation’ the researchers found out that five-minute exposure to camphor, eucalyptus, or menthol had no effect on nasal resistance to airflow but the majority of subjects reported a cold sensation in the nose with the sensation of improved airflow. Exercise caused a decrease in nasal resistance but did not induce any nasal sensation of cold or improved airflow.

The cooling sensation provided by camphor is similar to the sensation one gets on using an inhaler for a blocked nose or any similar balm. Experts have noted that the daily maximum dose of camphor inhalation should not exceed 1.5 mg. Any increase can lead to camphor poisoning. Research shows that small doses of camphor can cause serious toxicity and is potentially fatal. The onset of action is very rapid (5–15 minutes). The common manifestations are confusion, restlessness, delirium, and hallucinations, muscle twitching, myoclonus, ataxia, hyperreflexia, fasciculations, and seizures. Seizures are a common and serious complication in camphor toxicity. The treatment is supportive including decontamination, gastric lavage, activated charcoal, and seizure control. While inhalation of camphor in minute quantities has not many side effects (for instance, camphor fumes used in religious processes) but when inhaled in quantities exceeding the limit or even ingesting it can prove to be toxic and lethal.

Carom seeds are a common home remedy for improving digestion. However, there is no scientific study to prove that inhaling carom seeds will improve oxygen levels in COVID-19 patients or any other patient suffering from any respiratory illness.

Claim:

Inhaling camphor and carom seeds will improve oxygen levels.

Conclusion: There is no scientific study to prove this claim. Camphor only produces a cooling sensation and no change in airflow. There is no study to support the claim for carom seeds improving oxygen levels either.

Rating:  Our rating is – Totally False.

 

About Snigdha Nalini

Snigdha Nalini is an intern with Digiteye India and a student of journalism at the Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication (SIMC), Pune. She can be reached at admin@digiteye.in.

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