Camphor risk and danger

March 16 2014

Camphor is distilled from the bark and wood of the Cinnamonum camphora tree native to Southeast Asia and adjacent islands.

Uses
Camphor is found in common cold medications.

Risk and danger, reason to be worried
Camphor ingestion, inhalation, or absorption through the skin, as well as a combination of these exposures may cause seizures up to an hour or two after exposure. Dr. Hnin Khine, with Children's Hospital at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York saw three camphor-caused seizures over a two-week period. Two of the camphor-related seizures involved boys, 15 and 22 months old, accidentally ingested camphor cubes placed within their reach. Neither child had a history of seizures and both recovered following treatment. The third case involved a 3-year old girl, with previous seizure history. When directly questioned about camphor use, the child's mother noted she had been rubbing a properly labeled camphor ointment on the child to relieve cold symptoms, while also using other camphor products extensively throughout the home. Within weeks after stopping camphor exposure, no further seizures occurred among their children. Moreover, the 3-year old girl, as well as her older siblings who also had seizure history, successfully stopped all anticonvulsant medications. Pediatrics, 2009