For the last one month or so, a message has been circulating on social media and WhatsApp groups in Bhopal, claiming that “mixing equal parts of camphor and green cardamom, putting them in a cotton cloth and sniffing it on an hourly basis can save you from swine flu”.
With over 195 people having died from swine flu since January 1 in MP, people are paranoid and willing to attempt these measures, without knowing whether there is any scientific evidence to prove their efficacy.
To find out if these measures were derived from the alternative system of medicine and were capable of treating swine flu, HT spoke to allopathic, ayurvedic and Unani experts.
Pulmonary medicine specialist at Hamidia Hospital Dr Lokendra Dave says there is no scientific basis in such measures.
“Swine flu is a viral disease and camphor and cardamom have no role in killing the virus. Camphor does provide some symptomatic relief once you catch cold as it dilates the blood vessels. But sniffing it in no way can protect you from the flu.”
Doctors of alternative medicine say though there is no direct proof of their efficacy, attempting such measures will not cause any harm.
Ayurvedic doctor Dr Anurag Jain, who runs a clinic in Kolar, echoes Dave’s views.
“Camphor oil and cardamom, which are used in detoxification and cleansing in Ayurveda, have a limited effect in boosting your immunity. But that is not enough to protect you from the virus,” he says.
However, Ayurvedic doctor Dr Purnima Shrivastav, who runs a clinic at New Market says she advises her patients to not go in for such measures.
“When you sniff camphor and cardamom, it momentarily increases the temperature of the fine blood vessels inside your nasal cavity. And with the increase in temperature, the cold viruses don’t affect you that much. But once the effect wears off after some minutes, you feel more cold and this can aggravate your cold or make you susceptible to it,” she warns.
Hakim Suleman Khan, who runs a Unani Al Shifa clinic at Imami Gate, says though there is no proof the effectiveness against the flu, camphor is known for its cleansing and bacteria-killing properties in alternative medicine therapies.
“We use camphor for cleaning and killing microbes. So maybe it works against H1N1 too,” he says.