Fact Check: Smelling Camphor Can’t ‘Increase’ Body Oxygen Levels

We spoke with pulmonologist and chest specialists who called this claim a myth.

3 min read

A message going viral on social media claims that smelling a combination of camphor, cloves (laung), carrom seeds (ajwain) and a few drops of eucalyptus oil can help in increasing oxygen levels in the body. The viral message is accompanied by a photo showing the above-mentioned ingredients on a small white cloth.

The claim comes when several states in the country are going through massive oxygen shortages amid the second wave of COVID-19.

However, we didn't find any scientific evidence to back the claim. We also spoke with chest specialists who called this claim a myth.


The complete message in the viral post read, "Camphor, lavang, ajwain, few drops eucalyptus oil. Make potli and keep smelling it throughout the day and night. Helps increase oxygen levels and congestion.”


This potli is also given to tourists in Ladakh when oxygen levels are low. Many ambulances are now keeping these too."

The same message was also shared in Gujarati and was shared widely on both Facebook and Twitter.

We spoke with pulmonologist and chest specialists who called this claim a myth.
An archived version of the tweet can be accessed here.
(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

We also got the message as a query on our WhatsApp tipline. More such Twitter and Facebook posts can be seen archive here, here, here and here.


We looked for research papers on the use of camphor and other products to alleviate oxygen levels and didn't find any papers that validated the claim.

We reached out to a Dr Aditya Agarwal, a pulmonologist and chest specialist based in Mumbai, who dismissed the claim and said it was a myth.

"It's a myth. Smelling camphor does not increase oxygen levels. Smelling camphor clears blockages in the nasal passage that gives the feeling of better airflow," Dr Agarwal said in a phone conversation to The Quint.

A report published by the University of Szeged said, "The inhalation of camphor vapours (so as the one of eucalyptus and menthol vapours) on a sample of volunteers increased the nasal sensation of airflow through the induction of cold sensation in the nose, despite of actually not affecting nasal resistance to airflow."

The report that said that the daily maximum human therapeutic dose of camphor is approximately 1.43 mg. It also said that several cases of camphor intoxication in humans, especially children, have been recorded, primarily due to accidental ingestion.

Evidently, the claim that smelling camphor, laung, ajwain and eucalyptus oil increases oxygen levels is false. One should also be careful in using it as an inhalant because most of the camphor available in the market is synthetically produced and might cause irritation.

(The story was first published on FIT and has been republished with permission.)

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