A supposed home remedy for boosting blood oxygen levels is unfounded

South Asia Check / April 29, 2021

This post shared on Facebook by former television news anchor Rama Singh claims sniffing a mixture of camphor, cloves, carom seeds and eucalyptus oil boosts blood oxygen levels. We found the claim has no basis.

By Deepak Adhikari

As the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic rages in Nepal, people have been sharing various kinds of information related to the disease including some supposed home remedies on social media platforms. One such social media post accompanied by a picture suggesting a traditional remedy for low blood oxygen levels has been widely shared on Twitter and Facebook.

The post reads as follows: “Take three-four cubes of camphor, three-four cloves, a teaspoon of carom seeds and two-three drops of eucalyptus oil, wrap up the mixture in a piece of soft cotton cloth and sniff it from time to time. [Every time] After sniffing, put the pouch back into a Ziploc bag. If Eucalyptus oil is not available, you can do without it.”

On April 26, Rama Singh, a former news anchor of the state-run Nepal Television, shared a picture along with the message on her Facebook page. Facebook users have thanked Singh for the information. One user also shared a Hindi-language video clip with instructions for preparing and using the remedy. Singh’s post has received 30 responses and more than 4,000 shares on Facebook. The post along the picture has been shared here and here on Twitter and here and here on Facebook. The post had gone viral in India. In Nepal, it appears that many social media users have shared Singh’s post.

South Asia Check found the supposed remedy is misleading and baseless.

According to Prakash Gyawali, a doctor of traditional Ayurveda medicine, although camphor, cloves and carom seeds are natural ingredients used in traditional remedies, the claim that their use boosts blood oxygen levels in humans is unfounded. “The Ayurveda hasn’t described these items as medicines. In order for something to be an Ayurvedic medicine, it has to be mentioned in the related literature,” Gyawali told South Asia Check.

Camphor helps to open the nose in case of cold while cloves dry the phlegm, Gyawali said. “Carom seed is also mixed in various medicines. If you have chest problems, it is used because of its expectorant or drying properties,” he said. A mix of eucalyptus oil and herbs can be used to relieve cough symptoms, according to him. “It can be used as nasal decongestant. It makes it easier to breathe but there is no evidence that it raises oxygen levels,” he said.

Dr Pushpa Mani Kharal, Medical Superintendent at Mulpani Municipal Hospital in Kathmandu, said there was no evidence that using the herbs would increase the blood oxygen level. “To increase the oxygen level, your lungs have to be healthy. Or oxygen should to be given artificially,” Kharal told South Asia Check. “There are other ways such as lying in a prone position (sleeping on your knees and belly), deep breathing, etc. These exercises can make breathing easier,” he said.

Also, we did an extensive search on Google but couldn’t find any reliable information to support the claim that the aforementioned mixture boosts blood oxygen levels. You can read about the benefits of camphor, clove and other herbs on WebMD, a US-based publisher of health-related information.

Based on the statements of the two doctors and other references, the widely shared claim that the use of a mix of camphor, clove, carom seeds and eucalyptus oil increases the oxygen level is misleading and baseless.

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