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Camphor: Uses, Benefits, Precautions, Side Effects & More!

By Dr Siddharth Gupta +2 more

Introduction: 

Camphor is a white crystalline compound derived from the wood of Cinnamomum camphora.1 One of the most important properties of Camphor is its strong odour and pungent taste. Camphor is obtained by the process of steam distillation, purification, and sublimation of bark and wood of Cinnamomum camphora.2  

Camphor comes in many chemical varieties, each having different compositions of essential oils. The main component of the leaves of Cinnamomum camphora is Camphor. It contains other components like linalool, eugenol, safrole, cineol, ß-myrecene, nerolidol, camphene, and borneol. Throughout the world, Camphor has been used for centuries for treating a variety of ailments.2 

Camphor leaves and powder

Properties of Camphor:  

Camphor may have may different beneficial properties like:    

  • It may show antiseptic  activity
  • It may have antipruritic (used to relieve itching)  property
  • It may have analgesic (relief from topical pain)  property
  • It may show anti-inflammatory  activity
  • It may demonstrate expectorant (secretion of sputum)  property
  • It may be anti-infective  properties
  • It may have anticancer  activity
  • It may have antispasmodic property2    
  • It may have antifungal property4    

Discover the ancient secret to soothing inflammation and finding relief naturally! From rheumatism to sprains, bronchitis to muscle pains, let the camphor tree be your trusted ally on the path to wellness.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Potential Uses of Camphor    

There are many potential benefits associated with camphor, described below.    

Potential Uses of Camphor for Treating Respiratory Problems:  

Camphor may have decongestive properties and decreases inflammation in the lungs and throat. It might aid in managing nose blocks and treats congestion. It may work on the nerves and reduces cough by acting as a cough suppressant. It might be effective against several respiratory disorders.2,5  However you must visit your doctor and follow their advice before consuming camphor for respiratory problems.

Potential Uses of Camphor for Managing Pain:  

Camphor stimulates nerve endings that reduce symptoms like pain and itching when topically applied to the skin. Camphor may also used for treating acute pain. It desensitises the nerve endings when applied to the skin and gives a warm sensation. It is also helpful in relieving the pain in muscles and joints.2  However, more research is required to prove such effects of camphor for management of pain. It is advisable to take the doctors advice before consuming camphor.

Potential Uses of Camphor for Skin  

Experience relief and a refreshed feeling with camphor’s skin-calming powers in managing skin conditions. When used as a lotion (0.1 to 3%), camphor may act as a soothing anti-itch remedy and provide a gentle cooling sensation.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Camphor is used on the skin to relieve itching.

Camphor leaves may be used in the management of conditions characterised by allergic skin inflammation like atopic dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory activity and it might help to reduce the level of serum immunoglobulin E.2,6    You must consult a dermatologist for better advice.

Also Read: 16 Home Remedies for Glowing Skin

Potential Uses of Camphor for Managing Osteoarthritis:  

Osteoarthritis occurs due to the wearing away of the protective cartilage that cushions the edges of bones. Camphor might be used with glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis. When applied locally, it can help ease the joint pain associated with arthritis.7  However there are insufficient studies that validate this effect of camphor on humans. Thus you must follow precautions and guidelines given by a doctor before using camphor.

Potential Uses of Camphor for Preventing Low Blood Pressure:  

A study found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure increased using a mixture of camphor and hawthorn extract (korodin). Korodin might be a safe and effective treatment for hypotension (low blood pressure). However, the ideal dose and duration of treatment are still not clear.8    Thus, for dosage and form of camphor safe for humans must be taken under doctor’s supervision.

Although studies show the benefits of camphor in different health conditions, this information is insufficient. Hence, there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of camphor on human health. Furthermore, every person may respond differently to these herbs. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor before using camphor for any medical condition.

Did you know that camphor is a dental marvel? Yes, dentists utilise a powerful blend of camphor (65%) and para chlorophenol (35%) to create an effective antibacterial solution for infected root canals.

Dr. Smita barode, BAMS

How to Use Camphor? 

Camphor can be used in different forms like:  

  • Camphor balm 
  • Camphor oil 
  • Camphor cream2 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

Side Effects of Camphor: 

Camphor and camphor products are easily available in Indian households. However, accidental consumption of Camphor by children has serious side effects.  

  • Ingestion of Camphor by children can lead to hepatoxicity (liver damage) and neurotoxicity (damage to the nervous system).9 
  • Camphor can also cause eye and skin irritation on contact.5  
  • Inhalation and skin exposure can cause acute toxicity leading to symptoms like muscular excitability, causing tremor and twitching, nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, convulsions and delirium depending on the dosage.5 
  • There have been seizures reported in children following gastrointestinal, inhalational and dermal exposure to Camphor.10 

Also Read: Mehendi – Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Precautions to Take With Camphor: 

Precautions should be taken when using Camphor in: 

Pregnancy

Ingestion of Camphor may lead to abortion as it has the ability to cross the placental barrier.5  

Breastfeeding

There is not sufficient information to know if Camphor can be used during breastfeeding. 

Children

Camphor might not be safe for use in children. Children must not take Camphor by mouth, as ingestion of Camphor by children can lead to neurotoxicity and hepatoxicity.9 There have been reports of seizures in children following ingestion of Camphor.10 

Also Read: How to Get Rid of Skin Tags: A Step-by-Step Guide Based on Science

Interactions With Other Drugs: 

It is essential to keep in mind not to use Camphor with hepatotoxic drugs (medications that can damage the liver) as this can increase the risk of liver damage.9  Therefore, your Ayurvedic physician’s advice is to be followed thoroughly, as their prescription is based on keeping your health condition in mind. Please ensure to disclose all medications prescribed and currently being used to your doctor at the time of consultation.

Also Read: Suhaga – Uses, Benefits & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What is Camphor? 

Camphor is a crystalline compound, white in colour, derived from the wood of Cinnamomum camphora.1  

2) What are the various products available of Camphor? 

Camphor can be used in different forms like balms, oils, and creams.2 

3) Is Camphor safe for children? 

Camphor might not be safe for use in children as its ingestion can lead to hepatoxicity and neurotoxicity.9 Seizures have been reported in children following dermal, gastrointestinal, and inhalational exposure to Camphor.10 

4) What if I accidentally ingest Camphor?  

It can lead to acute toxicity symptoms like muscular excitability, causing tremor and twitching, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, headache, convulsions and delirium, depending on the dosage.5 

5) Can Camphor be used as an insecticide? 

Camphor has great potential for development as an alternative green commercial insect repellent to substitute the injurious synthetic agents currently in use.5 

6) What are the Potential uses of Camphor?  

Potential uses of Camphor include antiseptic, antipruritic, analgesic (topical), anti-inflammatory, expectorant, cough suppressant, nasal decongestant, contraceptive,, anti-infective, anticancer, and antispasmodic.2  These benefits of camphor are still to be studies for further evidence, till then you must follow your physicians advice.

Also Read: Avipattikar Churna – Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

References  

1. Lauraceae. Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs. 2016;484–6.  

2. Hamidpour, Rafie, Hamidpour, Soheila, Hamidpour, Mohsen, et al. Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), a traditional remedy with the history of treating several diseases. International Journal of Case Reports and Images (IJCRI) [Internet]. 2013 Oct 24 [cited 2022 Feb 14];4(2):86–9. Available from: http://www.ijcasereportsandimages.com/archive/2013/002-2013-ijcri/001-02-2013-hamidpour/index.php 

3. (PDF) Effects of Camphor on sexual behaviors in male rats [Internet]. [cited 2022 Feb 14]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284891289_Effects_of_camphor_on_sexual_behaviors_in_male_rats 

4. Ivanov M, Kannan A, Stojković DS, Glamočlija J, Calhelha RC, Ferreira ICFR, et al. Camphor and eucalyptol-anticandidal spectrum, antivirulence effect, efflux pumps interference and cytotoxicity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021 Jan 2;22(2):1–14.  

5. Chen W, Vermaak I, Viljoen A. Camphor-A fumigant during the black death and a coveted fragrant wood in ancient egypt and babylon-A review. Vol. 18, Molecules. 2013. p. 5434–54.  

6. Kang NJ, Han SC, Yoon SH, Sim JY, Maeng YH, Kang HK, et al. Cinnamomum camphora leaves alleviate allergic skin inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo. Toxicological Research. 2019;35(3):279–85.  

7. Grove ML. A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial of a topical cream containing glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and Camphor for osteoarthritis of the knee. The Journal of rheumatology [Internet]. 2004 Apr [cited 2022 Feb 14];31(4):826; author reply 826-7. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15095742 

8. Csupor D, Viczián R, Lantos T, Kiss T, Hegyi P, Tenk J, et al. The combination of hawthorn extract and Camphor significantly increases blood pressure: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology [Internet]. 2019 Oct 1 [cited 2022 Feb 14];63. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31255877/ 

9. Camphor hepatotoxicity – PubMed [Internet]. [cited 2022 Feb 14]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10881777/ 

10. Patra C, Sarkar S, Dasgupta MK, Das A. Camphor poisoning: An unusual cause of seizure in children. Journal of Pediatric Neurosciences [Internet]. 2015 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Feb 14];10(1):78. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC4395957/

Also Read: Kanchanar Guggulu – Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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