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Health Benefits of Camphor And Its Side Effects

Last Updated: Aug 07, 2020

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Camphor and its strong relaxing smell is appreciated worldwide. It has a long-lasting beautiful smell and various kinds of medicinal properties. Camphor is a common ingredient in many pain balms.

Camphor offers lots of health benefits which include digestive problems, nerve problems, inflammation, cold, congestion of the airway, and various other issues that are a daily affair. It also helps in increasing blood circulation, stimulating hormones and reducing osteoarthritis.

What is Camphor? - Types, Benefits & Uses

Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora) is a terpene (organic compound). There are two types of trees from which Camphor is extracted. Though the properties are mostly the same, a slight difference in smell and the concentration of some of the chemicals present in them. This beneficial compound is traditionally obtained from the bark and the wood of camphor trees.

Interesting Facts: Depending on its source camphor is classified into two types – Common camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora) and Borneo camphor (Dryobalanops Camphora).

These days it is also produced artificially from turpentine oil.

Camphor has a wide range of uses from health to perfume to even keeping ants away. Camphor trees are evergreen and belong to the laurel family. They can grow as tall as 40 meters and can live up to 1000 years.

Nutritional Value of Camphor

Camphor is extracted from the essential oil that is contained in the secretory cells all over the tree. While the leaves contain 1% essential oils the wood of the trees contain 3%.

Health Benefits of Camphor

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Mentioned below are the best health benefits of Camphor. Camphoe can be used in different form such Camphor oils, Camphor blocks, Camphor water and even edible camphor are also available.

Camphor Good For Digestion

Camphor stimulates the digestive system and optimizes its functioning. It enhances the secretion of digestive juices and enzymes that is essential for the process of digestion to take place smoothly. It also prevents formation of gas and problems related to it. Camphor is a good remedy for diarrhoea, gastroenteritis and other digestion related ailments.

Camphor offers anti-inflammatory properties

Camphor has proved to be an extremely effective anti-inflammatory. This property of the compound has been made it a common name in conventional medicine apart from being active in Ayurveda and other forms of alternative medicine.

Camphor anti-inflammatory nature feature makes it a key ingredient in many pain balms that target towards reducing inflammation along with pain elimination. Camphor can easily penetrate the skin and hence gets easily absorbed for working miracles to heal external injuries and inflammation caused by it.

Camphor skin care benefits

Various skin diseases can be treated with camphor. It is effective on itching and irritation, acne, soothing burn injuries, eczema, nail fungus, cracked heels and provides relief from pain. It is commonly used in various skin care products due to its beneficial attributes.

Camphor oil for chest congestion

Camphor’s strong aroma is an extremely effective decongestant. It helps to free blocked bronchi, larynx, pharynx and other parts of the air way off phlegm and mucous. Decongestant balms and cold rubs use camphor for this purpose. Rubbing these medicines on the chest and throat gives a lot of relief.

Camphor for rheumatoid arthritis

Camphor oil improves blood circulation and helps in detoxification. These properties make it good in relieving pain specially those caused by rheumatic diseases, arthritis and gout. Camphor improved blood circulation also helps reduce inflammation. Its soothing smell helps relax too which helps a lot to cure pain.

Camphor for neuralgia treatment

Neuralgia is a painful condition that is caused by the swelling of the blood vessels surrounding the 9th cranial nerve. Camphor oil helps by making the vessels contract and relieving the pressure created on the nerve. The easily absorbent nature of camphor oil increases its efficacy as it can easily penetrate the skin. The aroma works as a sedative and soothes the pain more.

Camphor oil for erectile dysfunction

Consuming camphor oil is a good way to improve sexual functions. Camphor stimulates those parts of the brain that control sexual urges and abilities. Applying camphor oil externally also works as a good way to treat erectile problems. Camphor improves blood circulation and a better flow of blood to the affected parts improves its functioning.

Camphor oil benefits for pain relief

Spasms and cramps can occur at any time without any prior warning. The pain can be excruciating. They happen while you are sleeping too. Camphor oil is the best way to relieve such painful encounters. Pregnancy and spasmodic cholera are often accompanied by spasms and cramps. Massaging with camphor oil is a good way to sooth and calm the muscles.

Uses of Camphor

Camphor has a range of uses from medicinal to aromatic and many others. It is used to keep ants away. This justifies its use in various sweet dishes. It is used in making perfumes and balms.

Camphor’s soothing smell helps people relax and induces sleep. Dandruff can be treated with the application of camphor. Its antiseptic property makes it an effective disinfectant and can be used in cleaning your home.

Cockroaches hate camphor. To rid your house of these tiny beasts boil few neem leaves and add camphor and spray it to the cockroach infested areas. It also has a very good anti-inflammatory, painkilling, decongestant and antispasmodic property.


Camphor Side-Effects

Camphor when applied and consumed in moderate quantity is safe and beneficial. Do not apply products on areas where the skin is gaping and open wounds as there are high chances of camphor causing poisoning. Inhaling camphor is fine till a certain extent for decongesting blocked air ways. Consumption or inhaling higher levels of camphor can be very dangerous and may also cause death.

Symptoms of camphor toxicity are burning of the mouth and throat, nausea and vomiting. Children should be kept away from camphor as they might not be able to tolerate its toxicity as they are more sensitive.

Pregnant and breast feeding women should not consume camphor. There are slight side-effects of applying camphor like redness and skin irritation.

Cultivation of Camphor

Camphor is a crystalline substance that is obtained by distilling the bark and wood of camphor trees. Originally camphor belongs to the Southern islands of Japan and Taiwan. China too has camphor trees growing in the wild. Tropical and sub-tropical climate is favourable for growing camphor and has hence become popular India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Madagascar, South Africa and the US.

Previously all the parts of the tree was used to extract camphor, but now only leaves are used to preserve the tree and make the process eco-friendly. The ancient Chinese used camphor as an embalming agent. The distillation process gives three grades camphor, white, brown and yellow. Only the white fraction is safe for therapeutic purposes and the rest should neither be applied or consumed as it is highly toxic.


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    Written ByDrx Hina FirdousPhD (Pharmacology) Pursuing, M.Pharma (Pharmacology), B.Pharma - Certificate in Nutrition and Child CarePharmacology
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    Reviewed ByDt. Ms. Shilpa MarwahB.Sc (Home Science), Post Graduation Diploma in Dietetics and Public Health NutritionDietitian/Nutritionist

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