Camphor does not cure COVID-19
List of claims
There is no scientific evidence that the aromatic solution of camphor and carom seed will cure COVID-19. Therefore the claim is FALSE.
The on-going pandemic has yet again thrown another contention, the role of alternative medicine viz-a-viz ayurvedic medicine in combating the coronavirus. A recent post on Facebook has been doing rounds where it is being claimed that Ayurvedic solution of camphor combined with carom seed (ajwain) will provide relief to the patients suffering from the virus. Let us verify the claims in the post.
The archived version of this post can be seen here.
Camphor is an FDA-approved topical analgesic and anesthetic pain reliever and must be used in concentrations of 3% to 11%. It can either be rubbed on the skin or inhaled that in turn stimulates nerve endings that relieve symptoms such as cough, pain related to cold sores, insect stings and bites, minor burns, and hemorrhoids, skin itching, or irritation. However, it is extremely unsafe when consumed orally and there is still insufficient evidence to prove that it is effective against any viruses or even toenail fungus. Therefore, while it is likely safe for most adults to sniff camphor in low concentrations, camphor can cause minor side effects like skin redness & irritation and does not cure COVID-19 in any way.
A similar contention was raised when Telangana Governor Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan suggested camphor as a remedy for coronavirus. However, the tweet was met with stark criticism that camphor is a neurotoxin and can cause seizures, especially in children. She further clarified with a word of caution that it must not be consumed until approved by authorities and so far there is no scientific evidence to prove its effectiveness in treating coronavirus.
On the same note, carom seed (ajwain) along with celery belongs to the Apiaceae family which is typically used in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine to treat numerous issues. This is owing to their characteristics of having antifungal and antibacterial properties and is believed to prevent and fight the growth of bacteria and fungi. Ajwain can also provide relief from coughing and as well as clear mucus from your nose, both of which make breathing easier. Similarly, celery is known to be a superfood and provides an abundant source of vitamins and antioxidants that reduces inflammation, high cholesterol, and blood pressure among others.
However, despite their antibacterial and antifungal properties, there is no scientific evidence to show that ajwain and celery can neither prevent nor cure COVID-19. Also, no authority including the FDA, WHO, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), or ICMR have listed these in the available treatments for COVID-19.
In summary, while ingredients such as camphor and carom seed do possess pain-relieving properties and can probably bring about some relief in the short term, there is no evidence to prove that they will prevent or cure the coronavirus caused COVID-19. Therefore, it is pertinent to follow the treatments prescribed only by the medical authorities.