Camphor is the white crystalline aromatic substance obtained from the root and bark of camphor tree, a plant native to Japan and China but now widely cultivated in Egypt, Taiwan, Madagascar, Argentina, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, Canary Islands, southern Europe and the United States. The tree is evergreen and can grow up to 100 feet tall. It is cultivated mainly for the white, volatile crystalline compound extracted from it. The compound is highly regarded for its many medicinal uses.
There are two cultivated species of camphor tree: Cinnamomum camphora and Dryobalanops camphora. The former is cultivated to make commercial camphor while the latter is traditionally used in the East for medicinal purposes. Camphor oil is traditionally extracted through distillation wherein the root or bark is steamed to produce the volatile, white, crystalline compound with characteristic pungent odor.
Today, camphor is not only produced by extracting it from camphor tree bark or root but can also be produced chemically from turpentine oil.
Camphor is taken orally to cough up phlegm, treat respiratory tract infection, diarrhea, and flatulence (intestinal gas). However, experts warn people that taking camphor orally, especially in high dosage, is unsafe and can cause serious side effects, even death. Camphor can be toxic to the liver, a very important internal organ. Don’t ingest camphor without getting the advice or supervision of a medical professional.
Camphor is usually applied topically. It has local analgesic effect; it helps relieve muscle pain, joint pain (arthritis), and skin itching. Camphor desensitizes the nerves and relaxes the brain so that we cannot feel the pain temporarily.
It has been found that camphor has antiseptic properties, which means it is capable of killing bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that may cause infection. It has also the power to drive away insects which don’t like the pungent aroma of camphor.
Camphor is effective in relieving spasms and cramps.
If you are looking for a natural decongestant, camphor is one of the bests. It has been shown that the penetrating aroma of camphor oil open up congestions of the bronchi, pharynx, larynx, nasal tracts, and lungs. Because of its decongestion power, it is not uncommon to find camphor in many cold rubs and decongestant balms. Inhalation of camphor vapor can keep decongestion away!
When applied in the skin, camphor can improve circulation or blood flow by relaxing the blood vessels. Thus, if you have swelling or inflammation, applying camphor in the affected area is a good remedy for it.
- Camphor – Botanical.com
- Camphor – WebMD