Camphorated oil: still endangering the lives of Canadian children

CMAJ. 1995 Jun 1;152(11):1821-4.


Camphor is a volatile, aromatic compound familiar to many people as a principal ingredient in topical home remedies for colds. It is highly toxic when ingested. Although camphorated oil in concentrations of 11% or greater is not longer sold in the United States, preparations containing concentrations of up to 20% are still sold over the counter in Canada. The authors describe two children who suffered severe poisoning after accidental ingestion of a small amount of camphorated oil. Both children exhibited generalized tonic-clonic seizures with subsequent respiratory depression. Treatment was symptomatic, consisting of seizure control and respiratory assistance. The authors argue that because camphorated oil is of questionable benefit and poses a danger to the public it should be removed from the market.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Camphor / poisoning*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / chemically induced
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy


  • Camphor